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'Smell of rotten eggs' in Sacramento neighborhood identified

Due to stressed supply chain, it could take 10 months to get a custom-made part for a broken valve at the 35th Avenue plant.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — While doing laundry a few weeks ago, Corri Calderon caught a whiff of something rancid in South Land Park.

“It really smelled," Calderon said. "I thought maybe it was something that was inside my house, then I came outside and there was a smell of just rotten eggs, maybe sulfur."

Calderon said the stench would come and go. Neighbors also complained, but they could never figure out what was in the air.

“Just not really knowing where it came from was the big concern," Calderon said. "It was just everywhere, and it was just very pungent.”

For the past three weeks, the smell overpowering the South Land Park neighborhood has been coming from a wastewater plant on 35th Avenue, just a block away from Calderon's house. 

The facility is owned by Regional Sanitation, but they partner with the Sacramento Department of Utilities to operate it. The plant serves as an interceptor for the collection of city wastewater as it moves through to a regional treatment plant in Elk Grove. 

Nicole Coleman, public affairs manager for the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District, said initial steps to reduce odors will be in place by the end of this week.

"A more permanent solution is expected to be in place by the end of March," Coleman said. "While these odors are a nuisance, they do not pose a risk to public health."

City officials said it fully contained a sewage leak on the city's part of the system, but the regional side of the plant is in need of emergency repairs. 

It's been emitting the stink of sewage throughout the area, depending on the time of day and which direction the wind blows. City officials said there is a hole in one of the gate valves and it could take 10 months to get the valve replaced due to the nation's stressed supply chain. The valve is 48-inches long, and it needs to be custom-made. 

Utility officials tell ABC10 that engineers are flushing out short-term solutions while working every day to find a supplier who can provide the missing part as soon as possible.

One solution is to turn to "chemical dosing" to alleviate the odor while emergency repairs can be made. The goal is to have equipment operational by March 22, if and when approved by Regional Sanitation, according to Councilmember Rick Jenning's office. 

That request went before Regional Sanitation on Wednesday. Officials said they would have answers to share on Thursday. 

Repair orders must first be approved and funded by Regional Sanitation, before being carried out, according to Councilmember Rick Jenning's office. 

His team said they have been working closely with Regional Sanitation and utilities to expedite both long-term and short-term plans since constituents brought it to their attention during a community meeting on Saturday.

Councilmember Jennings told ABC10 Wednesday night that the city manager is making an emergency approval of the contract, instead of waiting for an April 5 City Council meeting. Once parts come in, repairs can start immediately.

Councilmember Jennings provided the following statement to ABC10 in response to the stench in South Land Park.

"The City is working with the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District to expedite odor control and emergency repairs to address the issues with the Regional San equipment at our facility on 35th (Ave).  Having the short term fix of a chemical odor suppressant along with the long term repairs is my focus.  I am working with our City's utility department staff and Regional San so that both the odor suppressant and the emergency fixes can be expedited and implemented as soon as possible."

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify the 10 month estimate was for a part that needs to be replaced, not the smell. 


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