7.30am...post-earthquake Christchurch...Wednesday morning..
All is quiet. A few people heading to work, but no longer the low grumble of commuters heading into the CBD (I guess, one of the blessings of having no CBD anymore is no commuter traffic noise, my city fringes townhouse feels almost surburban) Then, creeping into the pre-caffeine haze is the awareness of trucks going up and down the street, and idling at the intersection three doors down. The clank of manhole covers meeting ashphalt, a brief pause then it begins...loud truck motor revving.
An all too familiar sound for Christchurch people, especially from our area eastwards. These early morning/daytime/late at night happenings are the waste removal trucks (aka the shit sucker trucks or SST's), sucking all the liquefaction sand, backed up sewage and water from our broken and shattered sewer lines. The area I am in (St Albans) with its tree lined streets, it's beautiful wooden villas and small creeks and waterways is one of the hidden suprises of land damage after the earthquakes. Our area is zoned green/blue which basically means the land is ok to build on but the word on the street is that piles will be needed to be driven at least 15metres into the ground for new buildings or foundation repairs.
We have little liquefaction at my house, February and June's series of 6's left us with silt under the kitchen corner of the house, but also an omnious lump right where the driveway meets the footpath. We call it the Liquefaction Lump. When the 5.8 happened on the 23rd December, LL erupted with a lava flow of water and silt - or should that be a lahar? Not a lot, but enough to show there is liquefaction brewing there, waiting for the next big one.
So, after February we were introduced to the SST's. Usually the first warning is the trucks idling. It's when the revving starts things get interesting..
The toilets in the house start to plop. Normally its who is on the toilet who does that, but no, this time its the water in the bowls. Then the tide goes out, and comes back in, and out, and in. This hapens for a few minutes, then the revs get higher. The truck now pumps water and air back into the sewer lines. There is some chemical they put in as well, so an ominous, yet now familiar smell emanates from the toilet - the chemical smell, mixed with fermented toilet smells. Then, if we are unlucky...BLOWBACK!.
Blowback is when the cocktail of water,air and chemicals erupts from the bowl in a geyser, spraying all over the toilet, the floor and the walls. And I have TWO toilets doing this at the same time. Once, before the lateral sewer lines to the flats behind me got cleared I had blowback from two toilets and the upstairs vanity sink! Wrapping glad wrap over the bowl, putting the lid down and weighing the lid down with books or bricks does help somewhat but the worst ones are when you have been out and the SST's have been visiting while you have been out doing your business.
But for now, it is quiet. The trucks have moved off down the street and all I can hear are the birds singing, and the rush of water as Miss K takes a shower...bags not be the first person needing to go to the loo though!