Collapse authors like Dmitri Orlov and James Howard Kunsler tell us that someday muicipal water systems will stop working and, as a result, we won't be able to flush our toilets.
You don't seem to address that issue in your blog so I imagine there is no problem flushing your toilets?
Hi Jeff, lots of authors say lots of things will happen... "someday". :-)
The questions you have to ask yourself when you read those claims are: 1) Did it happen ever before? 2)How long did the situation last? 3) How was it, really?
It may be a surprise to most people that visit Buenos Aires, but 55% of the people in the city of Buenos Aires and its suburbs don’t have sewers. 45% of those in the suburbs don’t have running tap water. This of course means that all the well water you have in the extended area is contaminated to some degree, and I’m not even taking into account the countless industries that ruthlessly throw unprocessed waste to the sewers or directly to the streams and rivers. You have to see the Riachuelo river to believe it: Most polluted river on Earth, it’s a stinking black mass with no life in it.
Of course in the more developed areas you have services just like in any other important metropolitan area. Its this contrast in Buenos Aires that fascinates some people: On one hand you have European Architecture, modern buildings, subways, yet 10 blocks away you have villa 31 where people live in the worst conditions imaginable, same thing if you cross the Riachuelo river into Avellaneda and Dock Sud.
Having said that, water infrastructure is usually very robust. It may work ½ as well as it should, even worse, the tap water itself could be polluted like it is here in Buenos Aires, but all in all, no matter what happens, water systems will eventually be restored in the areas where they want to. Villas? Shanty towns? Poor neighborhoods? There’s no money to be made there, the economic and public image impact isn’t that bad, there’s no respect for those people that are treated like animals, so there’s no interest to set up the water infrastructure in the first place.
Again, I fall back to the Bolivia example, a country that is as crappy as a country could get. Do they have power? Water system in the areas they want? Sure. So rest assured it is possible to eventually restore these services after a large scale disaster.
Guys, there’s certain knowledge and “know how” that will never be lost. Other than getting blown out of the galaxy by a meteor, after a SHTF event, no matter how bad, as long as there’s people there will be society, and the progress made so far wont be undone unless we all get blown to pieces.
Regarding toilets, many of the houses that don’t have city sewer have pits. This is something that pollutes the ground an water but has been a common solution back when houses had outhouses instead of in house toilets. Of course, when this is done in mass by hundreds of thousands within a small area the problem is significant.
I certainly don’t expect city water and sewers to go down for good like these guys seem to believe. Again, its not rocket science and it can get fixed eventually.
But what if something like that does happen? You don’t have much time. Imagine that a city is a mess after just a couple days of trash not getting picked up (we saw that here) and it downright stinks after 5 days, with trash piling up on the streets, rats running around (we saw that too during a strike). After a 2 or 4 weeks tops, if the location you are living in still has no services, you should really move to somewhere else until the situation is solved. After 4 weeks of no trash being picked up or no water or sewer with people relieving themselves in gardens or on the streets, diseases will start spreading fast.
If you have no choice, you can at least set a location (far from the house) for digging a trench to be used as a toilet, have dry leaves for covering after use. Hopefully you’ll have pine needles or some other leafs that have a strong scent. For winter or indoors you can improvise a bucket toilet, used with a plastic bag. If you have some, baking soda spread on the bucket will help avoid smells (read 101 uses: Baking soda)
Again, this will not be a long term situation in a city simply because its too serious to ignore and its nothing that cannot be fixed in a realistic period of time.