What can we do with our poo?

What can we do with our poo? Human waste is so ‘now’ in Whangarei - much like it was in Wellington 20 years ago when we happily pumped raw sewerage into Cook Strait. Those were much simpler times; I remember a disturbing walk on one of the beaches on the far side of the harbour where the council employed two full-time bulldozers to bury everything from doll’s heads to needles under the sand.

Mr. Semenoff stated categorically in his weekly address to the populace that we will be disappointed on the issue if we thought that zero spillage into the harbour was an option. False hope is such a killer – so it’s good to get the ground rules straight but I still have a lingering delusion that one day I may live in a town where I can eat the fish out of the nearest river or harbour without first having to wade through ‘urban jellyfish’ (the floating condom phenomenon seen on Auckland beaches after sewerage spills) or dying of cholera for my efforts.

Knowing that we will be disappointed in the hope of a ‘zero tolerance’ policy goal by council - helps, we’re obviously going to have to get creative.
The True Blue Roo Poo Company was an exciting discovery – a genius way to get rid of Roo Poos, apparently they make an ‘instant conversation starter’ when on display at home and at 25 bucks a bottle a nice little earner. They also have a more upmarket range of Koala poo – which apparently smells of eucalyptus, an elegant addition to any potpourri. I’m not sure that our people poo or dairy effluent will attract the same tourist dollar but hey – there’s no harm in a little brain storming on the issue.

Then there’s the export market. Apparently New York exports thousands of tonnes of ‘sludge’ which is code for sewerage and unlike most products the recipient gets paid to take it. This has huge potential. Several European nations have tried shipping container loads of poo to places like Uruguay and Argentina, all it takes is a few corrupt officials - a dime a dozen in places like that. Japan was looking to the Philippines not so long ago with this in mind. Understandably the locals took umbrage at being dumped on at such a distance and it never happened but Whangarei could perhaps look closer to home – maybe shipping it to Coromandel or Waiheke and calling it organic grape fertiliser – surely this could reap top green dollars?

We could sell it to social researchers. I’m serious. Oregon State University discovered they could practically urine test an entire city by checking the sewerage outlets and find out what drugs the citizens had been partaking of during a weekend. The cities had varying drug profiles according to the sewerage data; i.e. one was an ‘ecstasy’ abuser, in another, cocaine appeared to be the drug of choice. Seeing that Whangarei seems to be developing into the methamphetamine capital of New Zealand does that mean that we should warn those brave souls fishing down at Port Road by putting up big signs saying ‘These mullet are on P and are possibly armed’?

And then there’s Sri Lanka. Some bleeding heart has come up with the idea of giving the unemployed the work of collecting and processing elephant dung in a business called, ‘Ellie Poos’ and turning it into excrementally inspired designer cards and gifts. The formerly jobless get 5% of the profits. Lucky them. Surely this idea is the ultimate recession beater for Whangarei?

But are we overlooking the obvious solution? What happened to that cultural icon that so represents our colonial heritage that it once stood as an exhibit in Venice from the people of New Zealand? What has happened to the great kiwi long drop

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