Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Tale of Two Cities

I was at the physiotherapist yesterday and I commented that I was getting exercise by walking back and forth to the Portaloo. She looked at me in some surprise and said "are they still using them" as if she thought everything would be fixed by now.

In fact it's been estimated it will take two years to fully fix the sewerage system. Half of Christchurch is still using Portaloos and chemical toilets, the other half (north and west) really seems to have no idea of how great the damage to the eastern half is.

At our place the choice is :
1. Use the toilet but flush very sparingly - the trucks come round every few days to suck silt out of the sewer pipes, and there are broken sewers leaking into the river.

2. Chemical toilets - one per household, actually quite clean and hygienic but they are a pain to empty. Since there are five to six people in our household, it fills up a lot faster than, say, at my daughter's where there is one.

3. Get some exercise walking to the nearest portable toilet on the street. Also surprisingly clean and hygienic. Not so much fun at night time, or in heavy rain. After the first earthquake the areas with damaged sewers had portable toilets distributed, one to every couple of households. But now we are pretty much using up the available world supply, and there are a couple per street if you are lucky (none on our street, we have to walk about a block).

I mentioned that the boil water notice was lifted the other day. However it is heavily chlorinated to make it safe. I read some advice on how to remove the chlorine taste: boil it!


Zeborah said...

I think letting the water sit for hours and hours works too (and would let silt settle) but isn't so useful if you need to actually use it.

(My friends in Redwood are running water through some handitowels in a sieve to remove silt, though they're finding a lot less now than a week ago.)

Helen Lowe said...

Andrew's colleague, who lives at Kirwee, said yesterday, blankly: "But why isn't the sewer system fixed yet?"

Obviously the whole bit about the violence of the earthquake and 2/3 of the pumping stations being taken out and the physical fragility of what's left has completely passed them by ...