Your poop and mine

The word on turds

The cleanse I did in 2011 deepened my appreciation of poop, which is the term I use now, as opposed to feces, for instance. Poop gives shit a lilt I rather like, and should go a long way toward its eventual respectability and justly high regard.

At the Temple of Peace, I had a colonic every morning for 10 days while listening to inspirational audio. Then Shelley Saint John and I would examine the results. Once I learned what was what and why, I looked forward to our daily examination of the morning’s production to see how I was doing. Very well, by the way.

I hadn’t been around other people’s poop much lately. Aside from the occasional encounter with a privy, I rarely even smelled other people’s poop until I recently took a turn around the Chico Water Pollution Control Plant. There in spotless surroundings I got to smell what seemed at the time to be the Poop of the Western World. It turned out to be just the poop of Chico, probably including your own personal turds.

From all over Chico the output of tens of thousands of toilets enters our sewer system and makes its way to the WPCP out on Dayton Road, to a spot far enough underground for gravity to get it there. At some places in town the elevations and slopes and things don’t quite jibe, and there pumps raise the sewage high enough for gravity to take over again.

Harley Perez, who says fecal matter, told me about the process, from our collective influent through the grates and clarifiers and settling tanks and centrifuges and weirs and skimmers and aerobic and anaerobic bacteria to the effluent that leaves the plant headed for the Sacramento River, allowed 30 parts per million of suspended solids by the regulations and showing around five, sometimes less. Nice work.

The non-poop crap that comes into the plant is filtered out first by metal grates and then settled out in tanks or caught by a skimmer or a jagged weir or thrown out by a centrifuge and eventually ends up after some drying in the Neal Road landfill. It would be nice to use the sludge better, maybe on gardens.

Six or seven million gallons of water go through the Chico Water Pollution Control Plant every day. Thank goodness. Cops and firefighters get the press, but if the sewers back up, we’ll see who’s a hero.