John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Plus, a terrorism memorial becomes a magnet for public urination and the location of a British town's death registry office is questioned.
Tuesday Thursday is loaded with death and dishonor:
TERROR MEMORIAL BECOMES LAKE OF URINE, IN INDONESIA
Is it an obscure custom to honor the dead by peeing on them? Because if not, what's happening at the demolished Sari Club is a little disrespectful. The former Bali night spot was leveled by Jemaah Islamiyah militants in twin 2002 bomb attacks that also took out the nearby Paddy's Bar; more than 200 tourists and Indonesians lost their lives. A flower-strewn memorial had gone up outside Paddy's, but because of a real-estate dispute, the Sari lot is to this day a trash-covered disaster zone.
Depressingly, its run-down, useless appearance has become magnetic to people looking for a public restroom. At night, the sacred site "doubles as a toilet for passing drunks," reports The Age – so much so, in fact, that Bali officials have erected a sign warning off potential pissers. Bali's governor says the problem won't end until somebody can make a deal with the landowner, who's asking $7.2 million for a three-quarter-block plat. Bemoaning the state of the Sari grounds, which are dusted by the ashes of the dead, bombing survivor Phil Britten told The Age: “'We've tried to plant trees there. There were beautiful banana plants... and they've been taken down. And to see the sign about urinating... it's a bit disheartening.”
WOULDN'T WANT TO LIVE THERE, IN SOUTH AFRICA
With water getting scarce and no time to build more dams, people in Cape Town and Durban are preparing for a psychologically challenging life adjustment: drinking recycled sewage water. This grim dictum was delivered by Department of Water Affairs planning director Johan van Rooyen at a meeting of water professionals in Umhlanga, a resort town whose name sounds like an utterance South Africans might make upon hearing this unsavory news. The switchover could happen as soon as two years from now in Durban, according to a government estimate.
But it shouldn't be as terrible as people are expecting, because locals have been drinking crap for a long time, The Mercury explains:
Jo Burgess, vice-president of the Water Institute of SA, said the first reaction of many people to drinking sewage water was: “Yuck.” However, South Africans had indirectly been drinking recycled sewage water for several decades from rivers contaminated by sewage overflows from shack settlements and municipal treatment works.
Since 1969, residents of Windhoek in Namibia had been drinking purified sewage water which was blended with dam and river water after being purified with a variety of technologies such as ultra-filtration, reverse osmosis and ultra violet light.
DEATH BE NOT SMELLY, IN ENGLAND
The British port town of Dover is questioning the location of its legal-registry office after one grieving woman pointed out that it's an arm's length away from a public toilet. Dawn Hyde went to the Dover Discovery Centre recently to register the death of her mother, who passed away from the stroke, only to find herself standing among a procession of people wishing to void their bowels. Bathroom users are so close to the bureaucratic outpost, in fact, that if they desire reading material they can reach out the door and snag a booklet on how to handle death.
The town's deputy mayor visited the center and judged the positioning as “very impersonal,” according to the Dover Express, saying that the sights and sounds of the bathroom environment were not helpful when the “pain is raw.” However, regional officials haven't vowed to move the registry, with one cabinet member saying: “Many customers find it useful to have toilets nearby, particularly those with children but we do continue to review registrations to keep improving the service.”