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Doug Whittaker - River Recreation and Human Waste


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Doug Whittaker - River Recreation and Human Waste, some history, a review of strategies, and lessons learned

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Doug Whittaker - River Recreation and Human Waste

  1. 1. River Recreation and Human Waste Some history, a review of strategies, and lessons learned Doug Whittaker • Confluence Research and Consulting Exit Strategies: Managing Human Waste in the Wild Golden, Colorado • July 2010
  2. 2. Origins: Grand Canyon • Bury in sand – wind uncovers – tp flowers or land mines • Dig large single latrine at site – dig up others • Port-a-potty – blue land mines • Realization: Grand Canyon is not big enough…
  3. 3. Some Numbers • 500 to 17,000 visitors from 1965 to 1972 • 6 to 18 day trips & 40 people per trip • Good camps used every night: 20 lbs. per night • >1 ton per year (before dehydration) • Glen Canyon Dam: No annual flood • Today: 25,000 visitors
  4. 4. Carry-out experiments Pioneers: Steve Carothers, Roy Johnson, Larry Stevens @ MNA Smart, creative, curious scientists – Grand Canyon “lifers” Many innovations and studies Main protocol: Piss in the river Carry out solid waste
  5. 5. Carry-out paradigm shift Changed some traditions (understatement) • Piss and poop in different places • Handle hazardous waste in diverse, rough environments • On boats that occasionally turn upside down • Need for some technology / equipment development • At personal, end-point, and community levels • Took some time…still on-going
  6. 6. Lessons learned Havasu story Use enough chemicals Pay attention to the heat Be careful how you relax
  7. 7. Lessons learned Dory story Don’t use friction-top containers Pay attention to the heat Careful storage is an issue
  8. 8. Lessons learned Bag story No cheapskates – use good bags Bag in a bag OK? Improved biodegradables
  9. 9. Lessons Learned Show up with right gear Explicit instructions (not just interpret the canyon)
  10. 10. User technologies
  11. 11. Agency / take-out infrastructure Dump stations & “scat machines” User: Low fees (+ straps) Agency: $44,000 Location is critical Partnerships with gateways Fly-out issue ~10 rivers nationally ~5 “home grown” versions Community overload?
  12. 12. Technology goal: Sanitize the experience Trade-offs: weight, bulk, complexity
  13. 13. Diffusion & adoption • Interagency Whitewater Committee  RMS • ~50 rivers have regulations • Nearly all – multi-day trips where rafts are common • But it has spread – at least in the West
  14. 14. Why it works (sometimes) Room in the boat Gear-intensive activity Agency support: infrastructure Outfitter acceptance: professionalize gear Now in the “river culture”
  15. 15. Resistant populations
  16. 16. • Cat holes on low use rivers • Vault, pit, or composting toilets • Floating or seasonally placed- portapotties • Mixed systems – Deschutes, Rogue, MF Salmon •Veteran manager advice: don’t mix – commit! The alternatives
  17. 17. Problems with pit toilets 1980s Gulkana burn-outs and toilet digs
  18. 18. River carry-out systems work… • Enhance convenience & privacy • Hygiene – on-river at take-out • Easy to use • Easy and safe to carry • Not so expensive • Part of multi-day trip culture Summary
  19. 19. There is much more to say about outhouses, but if you’ve ever used one you’ve probably already said it. Jay Hammond, Former Alaskan Governor Comments and questions