Cruise industry has read writing on wall

Posted: Monday, September 18, 2000

Juneau's scheduled three hours of public input on Sept. 8 turned into six hours to address several topical environmental issues, one being fecal colonies. This is a very English way of addressing the nasty bacteria we humans have in abundance, particularly the "colonies" found in our intestinal waste.

When I think of colonies I think of bird nests, porcupines, legislators and tourists. Some I admire viewing until they fly over me or shoot at me, regulate or smother me. Now we have fecal colonies. I don't know how many constitute a colony but those who actually count them have come to terms with population control. Too many colonies and we close the toilets until we can dilute the stuff in open waters.

Then I started doing the math. I figure 9 million colonies (in a recent test sampling) is a pretty robust number. Naturally the tour ships want their passengers to flush on shore the equivalent of Lemon Creek Valley every day to save space for the voyage to open waters. Even then a voyage on a typical ship will crank out more than 200,000 gallons of raw or "treated" sewage (not including the water doing the flushing). The only people we let even come close to that are North Douglas residents. One summer alone and Alaskan waters could be the depository of more than 80 million gallons of prime fecal colonies and 400 million gallons of graywater kissing cousins.

I can understand it may be difficult to "hold it" until some get back to Australia or Japan and in these cases alien colonies had been granted potty asylum in S.E. waters. Fortunately the discharge occurs in the direction these visitors have already gawked at. The asylum granted these out-of-staters is based upon the foreign flag each ship displays. These ships are under the jurisdiction of those Washington folks recognized for their expertise in fecal production.

At this public forum as many as 30 speakers spoke from their hearts and wallets regarding the issue. On the whole I was very proud of Juneau's representation at this forum. Everyone was extremely polite, cordial and rather subdued as forums in this town go. Several communities were represented and a common theme would be "not in my neighborhood." I take it we prefer not to introduce non-indigenous fecal colonies which might compete with our own.

On the whole, the cruise industry, including those flying stars and stripes, has read the writing on the wall. I await with great anticipation their efforts to address it to our satisfaction, particularly since their numbers are projected to grow exponentially.

Ken Dunker II

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