The Drought is Making SF's Poop Problem Worse

California’s historic drought continues to take a toll on the state in new and alarming ways. Recently, reports surfaced that houses in the Central Valley are literally sinking into the earth, while, closer to home, CBS 5 reported yesterday that San Francisco’s aging sewer system is eroding due to the water shortage.

[jump] According to CBS, parts of the city’s 1,000-mile network of sewer pipes are more than 100 years old. Reduced waterflow through the pipes means that sewage is building up and releasing hydrogen sulfide, which eats through the pipes and surrounding concrete.

Perhaps more alarming than news of a decaying sewer system are the comments left on the CBS article. Aside from a torrent of homophobic trolling, many commenters see a dysfunctional sewer as no surprise in San Francisco. As one person wrote, “Smelling feces in San Francisco is like smelling incense in India…It's everywhere.”

Another wrote, “How are those decades of ignoring water management techniques working out for you Cali? That smelt still thriving?”

Still another chimed in, “If you think the sewers are suffering from the onslaught of human feces, you should check out the condition of the sidewalks (and of the bottoms of people's shoes as they unwittingly step in one turd after another).”

San Francisco’s feces situation has become a common punchline at this point. A feces map was widely circulated last year, and the website Ratter briefly cornered the SF turd beat. But a drought that’s not lifting anytime soon, and a sewer system that continues to age, give the phrase “hold your breath” an urgent new meaning.


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