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Why has Sacramento smelled so bad in recent days? Here are some possible explanations

Water from rains fills the Yolo Bypass west of Sacramento on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017.  Some blame the Yolo Bypass for causing some bad smells in West Sacramento and Sacramento as heat begins to decompose organic materials around the beginning of May following wet springtime weather.
Water from rains fills the Yolo Bypass west of Sacramento on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. Some blame the Yolo Bypass for causing some bad smells in West Sacramento and Sacramento as heat begins to decompose organic materials around the beginning of May following wet springtime weather. Sacramento Bee File

The consensus among Sacramento social media users and residents with functioning noses: The city did not smell very pleasant for much of Friday.

The stench was powerful enough to prompt concerned tweets, an on-air report by CBS 13 and two separate posts to Reddit regarding midtown and downtown, the latter claiming Sacramento "smells like trash everywhere." Others said the city smelled like a toilet.

Users also reported the pungent odor in East Sacramento, West Sacramento and Natomas.

Prevailing theories on Reddit and stories by local news stations in recent years agree that the smell in Sacramento is likely coming from the sewers and is probably a result of warmer weather.

Back in 2015, FOX 40 reported that the downtown and midtown smell was due to storm and wastewater systems that clog up this time of year, according to city officials. And ever since the drought, the city hasn't been flushing those systems as often, if at all.

Also in 2015, the Elk Grove Citizen reported a similar phenomenon in that city. Elk Grove is partnered with the Sacramento Sewer District, which ensured at the time that no sewage discharge or gas leak was responsible for those odors.

Reddit comments mostly agreed with this theory: In other words, the sewers warm up around May, they "ferment" in the heat, and the result is that awful odor. Sacramento reached a high somewhere in the mid-80s Friday.

Or is the smell coming from a bit farther away? Frequent explainer stories by CBS 13 blame the Yolo Bypass. As organic material decomposes, it gives off a strong odor that can reach West Sacramento and beyond. Again, heat and drying conditions spur this process.

Whichever it is — and it's possibly some combination of both — the smell tends to improve as summer progresses.

Or do Sacramentans just get used to it and spend less time outside in the summer enduring those smells? Hard to tell.

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