That pungent smell that was wafting across Pleasanton Thursday was nothing more than compost being put down by parks workers at Muirwood Community Park.
"What we put down is a product called super humus compost," said Craig Higgins, assistant director of operations services at the city's parks department. "Periodically, we put this down in different parks. It's an organic product. People said it was steaming and that's a good thing. Compost steams."
The odor was especially noticeable on the northwest side of town, west of Interstate 680.
Police received a number of complaints and the smell made its way past Foothill High School. There were reports of some minor health problems there due to the smell, but Higgins said the compost has been thoroughly tested.
"This product is tested in all areas," he said. "We would never put down a product that we feel would harm our residents in any way."
A parks worker said the smell should dissipate in less than 24 hours and the odor becomes less aromatic the farther from the park one gets.
"We feel it's a pretty safe product," Higgins said. "It does smell, but after it gets watered in and put down, the smell goes away."
Putting down the compost mixture is part of a roots-up effort to save water. Instead of putting down fertilizer, which makes the grass green but doesn't penetrate the soil, Higgins said the compost will work beneath the surface.
"What we're trying to do is grow the dirt better so we need less water," he said. "Our goal is to try to find ways to keep our parks healthy."