Tuesday, May 02, 2006

My House Needs to be Sucked

For those of you who have not been following this blog for long, it is important to realize that many of the public services we take for granted in most of the world simply do not exist in my part of the Arctic.

The taps in my house are not connected to an endless supply of water piped in underground: instead, I have a relatively small (about 1.5 days) supply of water stored in a plastic tank in my furnace room. Similarly, we have no sewers. All our waste waters from toilets, sinks, the washing machine and shower are stored in another plastic tank in the same room.

Adding fresh water and removing waste is done by municipally-operated trucks fitted with tanks. Clean water is pumped in, and sewage is sucked out. In this town there are 3 sewage trucks which service about 240 houses, but due to poor maintenance and incredibly shoddy driving, their ranks have been decimated and we are down to one lone vehicle. Consequently, our sewage tanks have been full since Saturday, which also means we have been without running water because a sensor on the sewage prevents the water pump from operating if full. And since the assholes in charge of municipal services in this town haven't figured out that they can take up the slack by running three shifts a day rather than one, this situation promises no improvement in the near future.

There is always a work-around for a no water situation: haul it in yourself, borrow from the neighbours, melting ice, etc. But what the fuck can you do when your sewage tank is full? My enthusiasm for do-it-yourself projects dissipates where siphoning off sewage into pails and carting them away (to who knows where) is involved.

So, we are now on to our third day without water. The toilets haven't been flushed in days and we need a gas mask in most parts of the house. Our kitchen counter is completely covered with food-encrusted pots, pans, juice glasses and the like. The dirty laundry is piled up in mounds in each of our five bedrooms, and is threatening to start marching out into the hallway. In short we are living in conditions rivaling those who live in the dumps of Rio de Janeiro or Mombai.

Our situation is not without its humourous aspects, at least from my vantage point. One of my teenage daughters decided on Sunday to dye her hair deep red without having first ascertained there was no water to rinse it out. Consequently, she now sports a wine red birthmark on her forehead, ear tips and down one cheek. To her credit, she bravely goes to school and hangs out with her friends despite this embarassment. To her discredit, she throws things at me everytime I call her Gorbachev.

So the next time you flush a toilet, think of me and flush it a second time out of solidarity with those less fortunate than you. Meanwhile, I think I'll take a crap on the front porch of the mayor's house. Every dark cloud should have its silver lining.

A 9:15 AM Update

I went driving around town to find the single working sewage truck, and where did I find it? Sucking the sewage out of the fucking mayor's house, that's where!! I feel like hijacking the truck later on and running the pump in reverse on his house. A pox on him.


Blogger merlinprincesse said...

My Nanuk! Send a copy of this post to our Prime! But I'm not sure he's able to read... :(

7:36 AM  
Blogger Fuff said...

A sorry state of affairs. Reminds me of every time it snows in Athens. The last time I was in my flat for the sight of snowmen and snowball fights, my water was off for five days and the street (not gritted) was just like an ice rink. The enthusiam for frolicking in the white stuff was short lived.

8:27 AM  
Blogger amaruk-nanuk said...

Good Morning there Nanuk
Over on this range haven't encoutered that particular problem probably because when I built this fort I doubled the size of both the water and sewage tanks. There has been a about 4 times that we have not been able to do anything just like you are feeling in the last 6 years in this fort. Maybe the SHQ and KMHB should do the same while looking at building their houses. They should not put the same size tank into a 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, 3, 4, 5, and 6 bedroom. Maybe letting our elected officials get a honey bucket full of this accompanied by a letter requesting that larger buildings get larger tanks. Only makes sense. But who am I to make these changes for them.
Soon they will come and then doing laundry, dishes, showers and so fourth within 4 hours either your out of water or sewage is full for another 4 days. Good luck

8:31 AM  
Blogger fairscape said...


Fairscape's No water/No flush/No matter
Handy Dandy Disaster Plan

1. 5 days water supply of bottled water in the pantry,(! gallon per family member per day)
2. 5 days worth of plastic cups and paper plates.
3. No Rinse shampoo and No Rinse Body Bath
(800-23-9348 or www.norinse.com)it really works
4. Purchase a commode -Line the bucket with plastic bags-toss after each use(on the mayor's front porch?)
5. Laundry to the Laundromat(if in fact any such thing exists up by you)other wise I guess it is time to play "dress up" with all the old clothes from the back of the closet that you never wear.

That's all I can think of and it's time for me to take a long, hot shower now that the washer and dishwasher are finished.

Seriously. I would recommend low flush toilets except my experience with them has been you wind up flushing them 2-3 times anyway. Our new,disgustingly-expensive-still revolving-on-our-credit-card-front-loading-
washer is suppoed to use less water but I'm not so sure about that either. Good luck.

8:44 AM  
Blogger nanuk said...

Merlinprincesse: I think both prime ministers can read, but are so obsessed with their own narrow agendas they wouldn't care. Maybe I should crap on the doorsteps of M. Charest and Mr. Harper.

Fuff: Snow in Athens??? How often does this happen? Is the water trucked in?

Amarok-nanuk: Can I take a dump at your house please?

Fairscape: Good suggestions, and I never knew there was such a thing as no-rinse shampoo or body wash. I will certainly check those out.

12:10 PM  
Blogger amaruk-nanuk said...

come on over and at the same time bring some clean clothes if you have any and take a shower, if need bring your wife and take a shower at the same time but time limit of 8 minutes in the shower.
hehehehe but your more than welcome to use our facilities, we'll let the drawbridge down.

1:31 PM  
Blogger D said...

My suggestions:

1. Shower with friends.
2. Drink beer instead of water.

hmmm now that I think about it... bathe in beer?

2:28 PM  
Anonymous Nunya said...

And you find this area where you live appealing because...?

4:00 PM  
Blogger Fuff said...

Yeah. Greece gets cold in Winter, in the North, very cold. Athens' climate is more temperate, about as cold as the South coast of the UK and didn't used to see as much snow as the rest of the country, though over the past few years, we have had up to a metre. Reservoirs supply Athens and most other cities, though quite a lot of islands have theirs brought in by ship. I had no water due to frozen pipes, as did many others.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Eternally Curious said...

Hate to admit it Nanuk, but your post (parts of it anyway) made me giggle (and not behind my hand either)! Your solutions for lack of water are workable and good. Your solution to backed-up sewage accumulation (mayor's front porch) is nothing short of genius. Go for it, I say! Nothing gets politicians acting faster than their own discomfort! And, so, how is your daughter's aim, eh? Any improvement with all the practice she's evidently getting? hehehe...

Just gotta side with nunya on this one: the appeal of living where you do is, exactly ... what??

7:24 PM  
Blogger Mr. Fabulous said...

Oh yeah, I'm going to move up there real soon...

7:47 PM  
Blogger nanuk said...

Dené: I guess I'd have to shower with beer since there's not water coming out of the taps. Unfortunately, this being a "dry" community, I'd barely be able to rinse my hair.

Fuff: Never realized that. Thanks for the info.

Nunya: I've been bitten, and after 20 years I'm not fit for living anywhere else.

Eternally Curious: My daughter's aim is still no good, but her upper cut could lay out a caribou.

Mr. Fab: Is the lack of lemurs the main deterrent?

10:03 PM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

Since the Mayor's tank is empty I know where you can dump your honey buckets.

9:48 PM  

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