Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sewage and other aspects of isolated living

Juneau is directly connected to North America. Juneau is actually the largest state capital in area, and it also is the only one that borders a foreign country. Habitable Juneau is quite small. On one side, there is the sea, and on the other- high rocky peaks. For all intensive purposes, we live on an island. There are no roads out of Juneau- although some would like to build one along the Lynn Canal to Skagway. That road would be expensive and usage limited (it could only be open for a short period in the summer due to avalanche activity).

I'm starting to understand better some interesting aspects of living on an "island".


There's a barge that comes in once a week- on Wednesdays. It brings all of the groceries and consumer goods. I was told the other day that to get the best quality produce- go to the supermarket on Thursday for it will be the freshest you can get really. Speaking of which, produce sucks here no matter what. In Boston, I could stop by Whole Foods any day of the week and get high quality ingredients. That is not the case here. So far I've learned: forget about fresh tomatoes. They don't exist here. Spinach is cheap because it doesn't weigh much. Usually, regular dry goods cost 20% more. It's strange how prices work, but in general, you pay a lot more at the grocery store.


This topic prompted my post tonight, actually. I'm living at the end of a dead-end 6 mile road in Juneau where there's no sewer lines. As far as I understand, each house has a small septic system that treats household waste and then there's a pipe that runs out to the Gastineau Channel. Hmm. I'm really no expert, but this all worries me a bit. With so many individual systems, things are likely to go wrong. For example, we've been smelling a strong sewage smell for the last few weeks here. Professionals have not been out so we don't know yet if it's our system or a neighbor's. In the meantime, it's pretty darn gnarly. You people in the big cities should count your lucky stars for public sanitation.


I still don't know a lot about trash and recycling here. There is a landfill in Juneau and limited recycling. I know a lot still needs to be transported by barge down south. There was a barge that left the other day with a load full of scrap metal including old school busses. You see a lot of ruined docks, structures and beached boats that have been rotting in place for a long time. I'm betting that they haven't been removed because there's no place to put them... or it would be very expensive to get them out. It's cool but sad to see the old ruins around town. How long can we continue to bring shit in and abandon it when it dies?

I think this topic is an important one and will come up again soon.

Until then....

1 comment:

  1. I shared this one on Facebook...interesting the things we take for granted! Good luck with the sewage issue. When my daughter moved to Rhode Island, I worried about whether or not SHE could get enough fresh produce...(I live in Texas, we have fresh everything year-round)...I love your photos...they are awesome!