My neighbor told me about an incident involving an older pickup truck with a metal septic tank using the public water-pumping station. The truck owner was seen emptying raw sewage from the septic tank into the drain area and then rinsing out the tank onto the pavement in front of the pump. My neighbor called emergency dispatch and gave them the license plate number and description. I’m outraged over its misuse and the attendant health risk the practice poses. What does the city say about this? – Terrence Burke
The city was outraged, too, and they followed up with the sordid septic suspect. But it’s not as bad as you think.
The tank on the pickup truck wasn’t one for sewage but potable water, according to Steve Sulka, the city’s director of utilities and a fellow fluent in effluent.
There was something in the guy’s tank all right, but it wasn’t nasty stuff.
Um, sort of. We’ll let Steve explain.
“I think what happened is the guy keeps the truck in a barn, and he left the lid open because it appears there was a packrat nest inside,” he said.
“When our guys went to clean the facility immediately after that report, we didn’t find any toilet paper or anything like that in the drain – only a few twigs,” he said.
Which makes you wonder. What was that pickup guy thinking, merely rinsing out vermin debris from his water tank and calling it good? Anyway, city crews hustled to the pump station, between Animas Auto Spa and Serious Texas Bar-B-Q across from Bodo Industrial Park.
Despite no evidence of sewage, they cleaned the area quickly and thoroughly.
“We take every report of misuse very seriously,” Steve assures. “We want people to know they can trust the potable water we provide. That’s the most important thing.”
The water station is getting a lot of use these days with the ongoing drought and drying wells.
“Our guys visit the area daily, sometimes three or four times, to make sure things are clean, the coin machine is working and the pump is operating. We even clean any oil drops on the asphalt.”
Steve said icky incidents are “few and far between.” Nevertheless, the city plans to add a license-plate camera in the coming months. It will really dry up the number of sketchy schleppers.
Most water-haulers are conscientious. But there are a few miscreants.
Like the guy who used the water pump facility to clean his fertilizer-spraying truck. He was nabbed and fined.
“Last year, we caught a person using the water hose to clean up his filthy horse trailer. We had the police there,” he said.
The one thing that hasn’t happened is Steve busting a cattle rancher hosing down a fully loaded livestock truck on its way to market.
Action Line kind of hopes this happens sometime – because then we could say, with a straight face: Steve wrecks the hauls with cows of folly.
’Tis the season.
This week’s Mea Culpa Mailbag offers a wry observation from one of our astute correspondents:
“Why don’t we move the $47 million Bridge to Nowhere over to the $500 million Lake Nighthorse? That way, we can consolidate the dubious taxpayer-funded projects. How perfect is that – a bridge that doesn’t have a use for a reservoir that no one can visit?”
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you knew there are a mere 183 shopping days left before Christmas.