Monday, November 16, 2009

The Gnarly Fart Bomb of Orange County


In the inland reaches of Southern California’s Orange County, east of the 5 freeway, up where the foothills begin, lies the Upper Oso Reservoir. It’s no big deal. But a couple of weeks ago it started to stink like rotten eggs. The smell of hydrogen sulfide was the result of an algae bloom following a weather-related inversion in the water layers of the reservoir. So now it is a big deal—annoying the usually mellow residents of nearby Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita. According to the chief engineer of the Santa Margarita Water District, a 24-year veteran, the stink is “probably the worst one in recent memory.”

Reporter Rashi Kesarwani of The Orange County Register has been all over the story like a bad rash, documenting steps taken by the water district to re-oxygenate the water and encourage the disappearance of the algae. She’s also tracked the response of the local citizenry. 
Fifteen-year-old Trabuco Hills High School student Natalie Caporuscio, a resident of Melinda Heights in Rancho Santa Margarita, described the stench as a “gnarly fart bomb.”
 Not content to vent to the OCR’s man on the scene, residents took to their blogs as well.
Mission Viejo, CA stinks. I mean, it reeks to high heaven. There is a sulphurous odor so malignant and intrusive, it has enveloped the neighborhood and penetrated the walls of my house for nearly 48 hours.
High school student Chase Miller took the next logical step and set up a Facebook group called Oso Reservoir Smells Like Rotten Eggs. It now has 207 members.

This strikes me as an historical moment in the annals of malodor. Instead of quietly seething or complaining to one another in the checkout line at Vons, people suffering through a big stink can assemble in cyberspace and do something useful. They can log time and place and intensity of stink. They can report on remediation efforts. They can know they’re not crazy and not alone. And they can get something done. The online agitation may have helped incite a protest at City Hall in Mission Viejo.

This being California, the city has taken to its blog (yes, the city of Mission Viejo has an official blog) to update residents on its efforts to smother the gnarly fart bomb. No doubt this beats the way local authorities would handle a similar problem in Chicago or Philadelphia. But the old lyrics still haunt: 
Zen fascists will control you
100% natural
You will jog for the master race
And always wear the happy face
Jerry Brown is on the move again Chase Miller. Keep an eye peeled for the suede/denim secret police.

1 comment:

Andrew Chase said...

It seems quite doubtful that the official explanation is correct, as mass fish die-offs in this area happen each year and the Santa Anna winds often blow toward the LA basin at those times. In other words there is really nothing unique about the conditions suggested to have caused this effect. However, the Salton Sea sits atop the southern most end of the San Andreas Fault and is one of several places in California to feature mud volcanoes, which out-gas volcanic fumes. In 2005 Russian geologists suggested that they had observed out-gassing across the entire western side of the North American Continental plate, which may explain the mysterious bird and fish die-offs that have been occurring here. There was also a swarm of seismic activity in this are for the first time in 40 years just ten day before the stench manifested. All of this is consistent with a severe build up of stress along this Southern most part of the San Andreas Fault, which is almost 100 years overdue for a large seismic event. There is a good reason that our ancestors evolved to find the scent of hydrogen sulfide offensive! Bad Juju! It would not be incredible to assume that all of this may represent precipitating events to what will be one of the most devastating earthquakes ever to strike CA, and if supercomputer models are correct will lay waste to the LA basin. All we can do is hold our breath and try to ignore the theories on the zipper effect described by some seismologists as we watch the large seismic events slowly work their way North! So far so good?