The post illuminates not only the courageous life of a "flusher" of London's pipes but also what I think is pretty clear: the concept of "the sewer", not unlike the concept of "away" (you know... the place one throws things?), needs desperately to be rethought, and definitely to be re-designed. Here's an excerpt:
"With the air of a connoisseur, Rob uses his shovel to point out the difference between congealed "old fat" and more yellow-toned "new fat," picking out rats, condoms, and the offending wet wipes, which remain intact throughout their journey, and which, "believe it or not, we have to wash and compact and put into landfill." The rest of the fatberg will be broken up using a jetting unit, which simply "stirs it up and blasts it through."
...If the ways in which a city is supplied with food are often hard to visualise, the infrastructure through which that food, transformed into metabolic excretions, is once again removed are usually even better hidden..."
This reminded me of another post I read recently which illustrates a related point: waste = food. All that fat(oil) could be powering... something... other than the cost of city "utilities". It is completely possible to design our "waste" streams to function like any output does in nature, supplying vital life giving nourishment to a living organism or ecosystem:
"... say your electricity came not from a dirty coal-steam plant but from algae that grew in a wetland cell that treated the effluent from your kitchen and bathroom? Suppose that once you had wrung out the algae mat for its rich gardening nutrients, you separated the oils from the biomass and refined those into fuel for your car. Then you took the leftover biomass and fed it to a pyrolyzing stove, which cooked your meals, heated your house, made your electricity, and left you not with ash but biochar — recalcitrant carbon ready to enrich your garden for the next 1000 years, staying out of the atmosphere all the while. Cool food, cool fuel, cool waste treatment, cool climate."
So while we don't yet have the financing (or the code approval) to install a wetland cell or composting toilet at the homestead, we at least have a good solution for how to avoid the troublesome wet-wipes. So I thought I'd share that with you.
To complement our one-size-fits-all re-usable diapers, GrittyPretty made a whole bag full of cloth wipes made from scrap soft cotton fabric. We get them wet, use them and easily just wrap them up in the poopy diaper and throw the lot in the wash (with some vinegar to help keep things healthy). We use a water efficient Asko front-load washer and a great strong yet gentle biodegradable HE detergent called "Country Save" and have had no problems with either. I can attest to the fact that they work every bit as well, and are even a bit easier than the wet-wipes. And I don't know if Provo City has flushers, but if they do, I know they're not picking wet wipes out from pipes clogged with congealed fat, rats and condoms on our account...
The changing table with bag of clean, reusable wet wipes.