Words on Waste

1% POO
ANAEROBIC DIGESTER
BACK WASH, BIO REACTOR, BIO SOLIDS, BIO WASTE
CONFINED SPACE , COTTON BUDS , CLARIFIER
DENTURES , DON THE BUS DRIVER
ODOUR CONTROL DRIVE
DO NOT DRINK (THE WATER), DON THE BUS DRIVER
“ENVIRONMENT”
F.O.G (fats, oils & greases), FOOD WASTE , FOUL AIR
HUMAN IMPACT
MUD CAKE, MUST FACE LADDER WHEN DESCENDING
POLITICS OF POO, PROBE
RECLAIMED EFFLUENT, RENEWABLE WALK
SANITISATION, SANITATION, SCRAPER ARM, SCREENINGS, SEDIMENTATION, SLUDGE – WATER – SCUM SOLID STREET
TERTIARY LANE
VORTEX
WASTE WATER, WET WIPES

While on the tour of the Cronulla Sewage Treatment Plant we couldn’t help noticing the street and equipment signs, and parts of the tour spiel, particular words and phrases that popped out at us (as you can see listed above).
What surprised me at the most at the end when asked “What was the weirdest things people had flushed down the drain?” Not flinching our tour guide said dentures, legos and barbie doll legs. The thing about the dentures, was that people would actually call if they’d turned up and if they could have them back! I guess that is understandable, considering the expense but all the same. I was shocked because I’d never even thought of trying to flush things, let alone toys down the drain. (What a waste!)

When it came to making an artwork for Drawing Week from the experience, I felt stuck. Although interested and inspired I had no clear direction and Cronulla Sewage Treatment Plant being a secure site (that I don’t actually live near) made it hard to recapture the same impressions.
However I quickly became obsessed with the words sludge and scum, repeating them over and over and over:
SLUDGE SCUM SLUDGE SCUM SLUDGE SCUM SLUDGE SCUM SLUDGE SCUM
SLUDGE SCUM SLUDGE SCUM SLUDGE SCUM SLUDGE SCUM SLUDGE SCUM
SLUDGE SCUM SLUDGE SCUM SLUDGE SCUM SLUDGE SCUM SLUDGE SCUM

As I was repeating the words, I remembered a story my mum told me from when she was younger. She used to play with her younger brothers and they would make “mud pies”, pies of dirt in their backyard. Which reminded me of something our tour guide said about what happens to the sludge and scum once separated from waste water and digested by microorganisms in a bio reactor. Essentially it gets turned into what is called biosolids which we were told “looks just mud cake!” I thought what if I make a “mud cake” recipe? Which sparked the true beginning of my sewage obsession and research.

2 thoughts on “Words on Waste

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