Last week, I took a tour of Pemberton’s Waste-water Treatment Plant.
I pulled my hazmat suit out of the attic, borrowed a snorkeling mask, and flip-flopped down to Airport Road, braced to discover what really happens after I hit the flushbutton.
And I discovered that Pemberton’s shit don’t stink. No bull.
In fact, the Waste Water Treatment Plant is more like a farm, than a cesspit. A bug-farm.
10,000 cubic metres of blackwater goes through the Treatment Plant every day, and the hyperactive little bacteria that digest all the solids do such a good job that the odour is negligible. The dumpsters at Function Junction smell worse.
The entire journey from downtown Pemberton dunny to Lillooet River takes about 6 hours. The water is treated biologically, to separate out the solids, then screened with ultra-violet light to neutralise the bacteria.
The sludge is digested for 15-20 days, separated out, the water is pressed out with the same kind of belt press that fruit leathers are made with, and the remaining schlubbery biosolid is taken to an industrial composter once a week to become landscaping soil.
When you spend your life going “away” on holidays, throwing things “away”, rinsing them “away” and flushing them “away”, it’s good to be reminded that there is no “away”. Local ducks and dragonflies, who regularly paddle around in the “sequential batch reactors” could have told us that.