United Site Services brought their “A” game to the playa in 2009. Compared to previous years, 2009 didn’t see a big spike in population, so it seems our vendor might be given something of a reprieve, but the overall use of port-a-potties did not diminish. In fact, reports from early in the week show the potties being hit harder than usual for that time of the event, and with more garbage being thrown in units. Speculation rages as to what might have caused the increase in early volume as well as the poor potty etiquette but there is no smoking gun.
Luckily, by mid-week the message had again made the rounds that it IS NOT OK to throw anything other than single-ply toilet paper (and the wrapper it comes in) into the port-a-potties. That is not to say that there was little trash in the effluent, there were actually two whole dumpsters filled with baby wipes, RV potty bags, clothes and assorted garbage. For the past few years it has been better than in previous years but there is still a LOT of room for improvement. Just remember, if you’re standing there about to throw a bit of trash in the crapper, some person is going to have to fish that thing out. It doesn’t just magically go away, you are making someone handle your trash and separate it from the stream of human waste.
In 2009, anticipating a slight drop in population, we reduced the number of potties by two banks. This was largely invisible to most folks as the banks we removed were “additional” banks that had been put into service in 2008 in response to city design changes that year. We kept all regular banks at 25-30 units each and placement at two banks per radial street with the exception of 6:00 where there is only one. Operationally, USS had six people permanently on toilet paper restocking duty. This change helped keep paper in the potties and is a good indicator of just how much toilet paper Black Rock City goes through!
A special thanks goes out to the volunteers who help to raise awareness of proper potty etiquette and hang signage on the potties of Black Rock City. Also, thank you to all of the theme camps and participants who stepped up to assist our volunteers, take ownership of their local banks and to otherwise make the potty experience better for everyone.
Matt Morgan and RobbiDobbs