Dirty little secrets

Puck Norell

15th July 2018

When he told us and his dejected eyes met ours, we did not really believe it. We did not think that people were so unaware of the matter that they would do something like this. But the truth was right in front of us. At least this is the truth in Åland, but it would not surprise us if this happened in Sweden as well.

I don’t think that I am speaking out of the blue when I say that we, when we were small, were taught that nothing else should be thrown into the toilet other than body contents and toilet paper. But the fact is that today, people are throwing in more than just these things. What we discovered in Åland meeting Tomas Mörn was that people throw away things like food in the toilet. Once, he found a whole cucumber that was stuck in the grid that is separating big solid waste from the liquid waste. Another time, he saw a 50 euro bill stuck in the grid! But the most worrying and shocking part was not the food or the sad stories of people losing their money, but that people would flush down clothes in the toilet.

It sure brought up a lot of emotion in the whole human practices team when we stood there, looking down in the grid, full of plastic chocolate wrappers and baby wipes. I almost became furious. People in the wastewater treatment plants are the secret heroes that are making sure that our waters are staying clean, and it is indeed not an easy task when seeing what things that people are flushing down. A wastewater treatment plant is definitely not cheap, not the sewage systems either and clothing could do serious damage to the equipment found in the treatment plants, but also to the sewage system.

Thinking further on the matter, we came to the conclusion that people doing this had to get rid of these things in order to hide an inconvenient truth. In flushing down the evidence, they did not only do one act of wrong, but two.

A wastewater treatment plant is a dirty place, but an even dirtier place than we even imagined. You may think that some secrets can be kept by flushing them down, but your dirty little secrets will forever be remembered in a wastewater plant.