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Poop Trucks of Dubai December 7, 2011

Posted by Retired Geezer in Gardening.

NSFW Language warning on the video.

Where does all the poop go in Dubai? Millions of people and no sewers, just holding tanks and “poop” trucks. We found this lineup out on the highway and never found the end of it. We asked the drivers and they had been there for 3 days. Maybe that’s why they now just dump it in the ocean and the beaches are closed.

Tourists are warned of the risk of contracting serious illnesses like typhoid and hepatitis if swimming on Dubai beaches. Wikipedia on sanitation in Dubai.



1. Retired Geezer - December 7, 2011

>insert Compos Mentis joke here<

2. Russ from Winterset - December 7, 2011

Typical Arab Culture. Build a blinged-out city on top of a rotten foundation. That high-rise hotel that they’re so proud of? I wouldn’t be the least bit shocked to find that it’s got a freakin’ plywood foundation.

And the worst part of the whole damn septic problem? They’re not doing it this way because it costs less. Providing collection systems and sewer pipes to centralized treatment systems would actually be less expensive than trucking all the poop from holding tanks to wherever the hell they take it.

The only difference between these Arabs and “Ozzymandias”? Ozzymandias’ kingdom took decades or centuries to collapse. I’m convinced that Dubai will regress to a bunch of poor goat-humpers living in the ruins of what once aspired to be a great city sometime in my lifetime. Hell, I’ll bet that it doesn’t even make it until Moses graduates from high school (2026).

3. Mitchell - December 7, 2011

Ode to Poo

Oh what shall we do
With all of our poo?

The Louvre was originally constructed without any bathroom facilities at all. People just found an out of the way place to do their dirty, sinful business and left it for the servants to clean it up. The hall of mirrors was a favorite place.

4. Retired Geezer - December 7, 2011

That’s pretty interesting, Mitchell.

*imaginary conversation back when the Louvre was new*

“So you got a job at the Louvre?”
“Yeah, it will be great, I get to see all the artworks every day”

*two weeks pass*

“So how’s the job going?”
“Kill me now.”

5. Russ from Winterset - December 7, 2011

Let’s look at logistics:

There are three options for septic disposal.

1. A centralized treatment system (or multiple smaller centralized treatment systems) where the waste is moved to the treatment system by a gravity sewer system combined with strategically placed pumping stations to provide pressurized flow when gravity flow is not an option.

2. Individual on-site systems for each business/residence, where the waste produced from each individual user is treated, and then the “clean” water is either transported away or used as non-potable water at the site (watering plants, etc.)

3. Individual on-site collection tanks, where waste is regularly pumped into trucks and transported to a common treatment facility.

Option 2 can be used in areas where development is spread out (like rural Iowa/Idaho, or SMALL towns with large lot sizes). Option 1 is typically used in cities, while Option 3 is used in areas where high-capacity uses (restaurants, apartment complexes, businesses, etc.) are located in areas without central sewer systems. I know that a lot of these “holding tanks” are used in less dense portions of Wisconsin or Minnesota where topsoil is too shallow to provide good on-site treatment or dispersal of treated effluent. They’re also used in other states, but my experience is in the Upper Midwest.

If you’re located in a dense urban area, only a fool would take a pass on using Option 1 for your septic systems. The cost of installing centralized sewers is a pittance compared to the cost of trucking sewage to a remote treatment plant. Now there MIGHT be a reason why sewage in this region is not conveyed via gravity sewer……but that depends on the solids/liquids ratio of the sewage.

Sewage in your typical American city is predominantly liquid. Water is used to help wash waste through the system, which works well in most areas of America, but it could be a problem in a desert environment. So you might be asking yourself, “Russ, if they have a good reason to not use gravity sewers, why are you busting their balls?” My answer? Because they’re trying to have it both ways. They build a “great city” in the desert, with more ameneties than every American city……but they don’t provide the water that makes this “American Model” city work properly? That’s just lazy, and it is ultimately unsustainable.

IIRC, Dubai and other wealthy Arab nations use desalinization to provide potable water from seawater. If the capacity of their desalinization plants were increased to provide enough water, they would be able to provide “Western” sewers to go along with their wannabe “Western” city. But that sort of spending doesn’t impress the tourists. They find it more worthy to spend their money on indoor snow skiing parks versus spending it on infrastructure that would improve their quality of life.

This is why I am unimpressed with Third World engineering feats. Dubai, the Three Gorges Dam in China, and anything larger than a 3 bedroom ranch house built in Venezuela are all “Potemkin Wonders” that are fated to fall into disrepair and crumble long before their time. It’s all just a colossal waste of money, and I’m amused that supposed “smart people” like Richard Branson are falling for the scam.

6. Russ from Winterset - December 7, 2011

Holy crap that was long.

7. Russ from Winterset - December 8, 2011

Oh, and while “poop truck” is an appropriate term, the actual industry-approved term is “honey wagon”.

8. Winnie the Pooh - December 8, 2011

Oh bother. I don’t think this is the sort of honey wagon I was looking for.

Come on, piglet. Let’s see if rabbit has any honey we can borrow.

9. Mrs. Peel - December 8, 2011

Mitchell, the Hall of Mirrors is in the palace at Versailles, iirc.

And now I’m sorry I ever went there.

10. skinbad - December 8, 2011

New Discovery Channel hit show:

Poop Road Truckers

11. Mitchell - December 8, 2011


VERSAILLES! Yes, sorry I mixed them up. Not the Louvre.

12. OBF - December 8, 2011

Love the landscaping job on the sides of the road!

13. Spad13 - December 8, 2011

Russ it is even worse than you stated. You don’t need desalinized water to flush toilets. A secondary water supply line only for toilets and some wash water would solve the problem. Many old time US Navy ships had “saltwater for shitwater systems.

14. Retired Geezer - December 8, 2011

Many old time US Navy ships had “saltwater for shitwater systems.

Yeah, I think we had that on the ship I was on, back in the day.

No, it wasn’t a WOODEN ship!

*glares at Dave*

15. Retired Geezer - December 8, 2011

Come to think of it, what does happen to the poop on a ship? Does it get flushed out into the ocean?
That seems like the best solution… recycling and all.

16. Tushar - December 9, 2011

>>Many old time US Navy ships had “saltwater for shitwater systems.

>>Yeah, I think we had that on the ship I was on, back in the day.

Noah had that built on the ark? Impressive.

17. skinbad - December 9, 2011

what does happen to the poop on a ship?

Poop deck?

18. Russ from Winterset - December 9, 2011

Spad, a saltwater toilet system would work OK if you’re going to jettison the waste into the ocean (“the SOLUTION to POLLUTION is DILUTION”, as my old wastewater professor used to say), but for a land-based system? Assuming you’re going to do traditional treatment on the wastewater, a saltwater base would be a bit of a problem. The “bugs” (bacteria) that break down wastewater so that it can be discharged are not amenable to saltwater. In closed septic systems, one of the biggest problems I used to see was homeowners piping the water softener filter recharge system into the septic. That saline water would knock down the “bugs” and make their job harder.

19. Spad13 - December 9, 2011

Huh learn something new every day. I knew bleach and and some other cleaning products killed the bacteria in septic systems but I did not know about salt.

Geezer I always say I was in the Navy when we had wooden ships and iron men.

20. Retired Geezer - December 9, 2011

We had our septic pumped after about 6 years. We used detergent and fabric softener in our wash loads but not much bleach. I also would put a tablespoon of bread yeast down the drain every month or so.
Bottom line was that the septic guy said my tank was fine and didn’t need to be pumped.


21. Snug - July 3, 2012

This is not just shit! This is “Holy Shit!”. The Holiest of the Holies. Do you not know that Muslim shit comes directly from the mouth of Allah?

22. Cliff - February 3, 2013

I have just seen the never ending line of poop trucks. Is this a con by some prankster? Surely this could not happen in the 21 st century, can it? Been there, done that, got the skid marks!!
I will change my winter vacation to somewhere more salubrious, say Angola, or somewhere similar.

23. don - February 22, 2013

As someone currently living in Dubai, I will keep an eye out for these trucks. So far I have never seen one.

24. MJ - May 1, 2013

I am an American that lives in Dubai as well and I have never seen one of these trucks. I find it hard to believe that the waste is or ever will be an issue here, given the largest desert in the world with virtually no ground water usage ever at risk.

Also, this is by far the cleanest and safest city I have ever lived in.

25. Retired Geezer - May 1, 2013

There is no date on the video.
This is from the Wiki entry:

During Dubai’s economic boom in 2009 the city’s rapid growth meant that it was stretching its existing sewage treatment infrastructure to its limits. Sewage from areas of Dubai not connected to the municipal piped network at the time was collected daily from thousands of septic tanks across the city and driven by tankers to the city’s only sewage treatment plant at Al-Awir. Because of the long queues and delays, some tanker drivers resorted to illegally dumping the effluent into storm drains or behind dunes in the desert resulting in much controversy. The result of sewage dumped into storm drains was that it flowed directly into the Persian Gulf, near to the city’s prime swimming beaches. Doctors warned that tourists using the beaches ran the risk of contracting serious illnesses like typhoid and hepatitis.[10]

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