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Slow Sewage A Smelly Side Effect Of California's Drought

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Wednesday's rain was good news for those responsible for moving and treating the area's raw sewage.

It seems an unintended consequence of conserving water during the drought has created stronger odors and more maintenance for the area's sewer lines.

Californians have been told to use less, and we've listened. But with less water going down the drain, it seems to be wreaking havoc on the sewer lines.

"Basically the sewage is moving slower so material is setting out, it's not getting flushed down," said Christopher Dobson with Sacramento County Regional Sanitation.

He says with much less water being put down into the sewer, the waste people produce isn't moving nearly as quickly to the area's treatment center.

"We do have more odor complaints both in the pipeline system, as well as out at the treatment plant," he said.

Crews are trying to keep things moving with high-pressure hoses to push sewage on its way. Sitting sewage can produce sulfuric acid, eating away at material like concrete.

"A structure that might last 50 years, that lifetime could drop in half for example, if there is a lot of corrosion going on," he said.

Does that mean you should let the tap run a little bit longer to help? Dobson says absolutely not.

"We understand the need to conserve water is definitely important, it's just on us to make sure to keep the pipes clean," he said.

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