From waste to water

News from Anakiwa

If you’ve ever carried a poop bucket back from your solo camp to Anakiwa, you’ll know that caring for the environment is a big part of the Outward Bound experience.

 

But did you know that with a pinch of OB wizardry, the contents of said poop bucket are magicked into water that’s probably cleaner that your tap water?
Get a behind the scenes sneak peek of our environmental operations at Anakiwa from the Wizard of Oz himself, Head of Maintenance, Vic Koller.

 

A special place
Vic fell in love with the Marlborough Sounds when he first passed through during the 1970s, a two-year working holiday having turned into permanent migration to New Zealand.

“On a trip to Wellington when I saw the Marlborough Sounds, looking down from the ferry, I said to my wife ‘this is the place’,” he recalls. “You know this is where you’d like to bring up children, basically this is it.”

For the past 16 years, Swiss-born Vic has been at the helm of making sure instructors and participants alike have the resources to support their journeys of self-discovery. During those years, his piece de resistance is without doubt the Caractacus Potts-style wastewater plant.

The first of its kind in the area, the plant made short shrift of effluent heading directly into the sea, even though this was fully compliant with council regulations at the time.

As kaitiaki of our Anakiwa site, we have a strong sense of responsibility to care for our land for future generations. And as our watchmates spend much of their time sailing on our seas and kayaking in our rivers, the treatment plant has an obvious role to play.

Here’s the science bit:
The contents of those infamous Resene paint pots is stored in holding tanks. Here we add oxygen to help micro-organisms begin the treatment process. The water is then gravity fed into a settling tank, and pumped into an extensive wetland with a UV filter.

Plants in the wetland feed on any remaining waste and the resulting water is clean enough to brush your teeth with!

Through the efforts of Vic and his team, water quality in the Rai River and at Deep Creek and Te Kainga has vastly improved over the years.

treatment plant

Passing on the baton
With every passing year, 1,800 more Outward Bounders learn more the importance of water quality, with the plant used as a teaching tool. Each Watch that passes through the School then contributes to the area’s biodiversity by planting a tree.

Besides the conversion of waste to water, Vic has spearheaded the building of Ecolodges and the use of solar power. He also gets involved with service groups building tracks to improve pest control. But what’s kept him going all of these years?  “There is so much positive energy here, all the time. It certainly keeps me young, I can tell you.”