CAROLINA BEACH — Perhaps one of the dirtiest jobs in the Town of Carolina Beach, and one that has caused frustration from town employees, is the maintenance of the portable toilets at Freeman Park.
In an email to town staff, Mark Meyer, utility system superintendent, outlined his concerns with the treatment of town property – as well as some interesting finds when servicing the toilets.
Servicing and maintaining the toilets has proven to be an uphill battle, and in April, Meyer requested the town provide additional support from police, fire, and parking attendants to report anyone seen damaging the toilets.
“Starting the last week on March in the spring of 2017 the north end of Freeman Park really generated a huge challenge to keep the sanitary service acceptable and serviceable for public use,” Meyer wrote. “Not only were the (Port-a-Jon) units being damaged by people, (they) were cutting holes in them, removing parts, tearing off the hinges, removing the springs and latches, and literary trashing the town property.”
Portable toilets must be maintained by town staff, and under normal circumstances it takes about 7-10 minutes per facility to sanitize and empty the contents by suction hose – but according to Meyer, last year staff often had to visually inspect the toilets to ensure there were no unwanted object placed in the toilets.
Unwanted debris placed into the toilets is not only time consuming for operators of the suction systems, it also causes damages to the trucks. Four pumps were ruined due to debris clogging the system and burning out the motor, which cost about $250 each to replace.
Operators were required to put on gloves and manually remove items from the suction hose and in the bowl. During holiday’s, staff had to make trips twice daily to handle the volume of the waste and in one weekend, replaced 96 rolls of toilet paper and still park goers called to report the units were out of toilet paper.
Town staff also ran into lots of discarded fish in the toilets, everything from mullet to sharks and blue crabs, Meyer said.
“This is not seen or encountered much at all in other locations. North ends have had several times when the entire bowl was filled with rotten fish. Weekend and holiday, it seems that some type of dead fish is place in each unit for whatever reason. Remember these fish must be removed by hand. If you have ever have had to handle rotten fish, you will not forget it for a long time and once the smell gets in and on your clothes, it is with you for hours or until you change clothes and shower, good,” he wrote.
Other items found in the toilets include: diapers, cast nets for fishing, smoking paraphernalia, rocks, beer cans, pants, shirts, jackets, shoes and needles.
Meyer also listed fried chicken components as being specifically numerous in the toilets.
Meyer estimates 250 gallons of material unable to be collected through the suction tanks per day on weekends. The excess waste costs the town money in labor, as well as when equipment is damaged.
Send tips or questions to Michael Praats at Michael.email@example.com