This article is reproduced from the discontinued, but much loved Mainichi Waiwai column by Ryann Connell. Read more about this at the bottom of this article.
Drinkable turds have saved the fortunes of troubled Japanese municipalities, according to Weekly Playboy (3/9). Many Japanese municipalities like tiny Tenkawa in a rustic part of Nara Prefecture were hit hard by the London Convention, which bans the dumping of human waste in oceans from July 2007.
But, thanks to Kunihiko Yamamoto, the president of an Osaka water purification company, they can now pooh-pooh their problems with a scatological soda.
“The village of Tenkawa generates 1,500 tons of human waste a year. We used to use a tanker to carry that waste to the sea and dump it. But we can’t do that any more. We needed to come up with a new method of treating human waste, so decided to treat poop biotechnologically to turn it into drinking water,” Tenkawa Municipal Government Environment and Hygiene Section Manager Haruhide Morita tells Weekly Playboy.
Yamamoto was entrusted with the alchemy-like task of metamorphosing the dumped into the drinkable.
“One of the most difficult problems using microbes to purify water was the sludge left over in sediment created along the way. This sludge is made up of the dead bodies of the microbes used for cleaning. I just made a plant that allowed me to continue introducing all these different bacteria that kept eating away the dead microbes until we got water that was clean enough to drink,” Yamamoto tells Weekly Playboy.
Though many may raise a stink at being presented with water made from recycled fecal matter, Yamamoto’s concoction is actually cleaner than most rivers running through Japan. Under the Waste Water Law, Japanese river water is considered drinkable if it has a biological oxygen demand (BOD) of 20. BOD is the index used to calculate water pollution. Yamamoto’s poop water has a BOD of just 2.3.
“Even under the naked eye the water retains some of the coloring of turds, but this is merely the bile pigment,” Yamamoto says. “This water is easily clean enough to drink.”
Yamamoto’s bog beverages can also be made in plants that cost a comparatively cheap 100 million yen — about one-thirtieth what it would require to build a brand new wastewater treatment center. Operating costs are also cheap, not even reaching a tiny 5 million yen a year.
Yamamoto may have the poop now on what it takes to raise a big stink in the business world, but his achievements come only after years of research that can only really be described as, well…******.
“Every day was a huge battle against poop. We didn’t know the plant could only handle 120 liters of fecal matter, but were shipping in over 600 liters of human waste inside. There was **** everywhere, overflowing tanks, causing blockages and spraying back at us,” the company president tells Weekly Playboy. “But, after a little while, I got used to the idea of wearing clothes covered in a bit of poop.”
(The Mainichi Waiwai column ran online from April 19, 2001 – June 21, 2008. It was a much loved form of entertainment amongst foreigner in and outside of Japan. To any reader it was obviously not serious news, but it was a set of articles that portrayed quite well how the Japanese tabloids actually write about their own country. In 2008, a small number of Japanese people bought it to the attention of rival news groups that Mainichi was running an anti-Japan column on its website. With the bad publicity, Mainichi was forced to shut the page down, and take punitive measures against the journalists that were working on it, claiming that it was receiving opinions that were critical of the column, such as “its contents are too vulgar” and “the stories could cause Japanese people to be misunderstood abroad”. A perfect example of how Japanese consider what they write in their own script to be an acceptable secret code, that the rest of the world cant understand. When that same tabloid rubbish gets inconveniently translated to English to make light of some aspects of the Japanese people, it gets canned. Stippy.com finds this unacceptable, and will reproduce as much of the Waiwai content as possible in order to bring it once again to our computer screens for a good laugh. Of course we claim no credit for this content, and attribute it to it’s writers who were former Mainichi employees. Waiwai in its true and glorious form has been discontinued, but it’s legacy will live on at stippy.com for all to enjoy.)