Street-dwelling RVers now get free honey wagon service

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If you live in an RV on the streets of Seattle a minor miracle has occurred. The city is now dispatching honey wagons to pump your holding tanks, free of charge. Dumping on the street, whether intentional or unintentional, has been a problem. 

Dealing with human waste is an ever-present issue in Seattle, where hundreds of otherwise homeless people live in RVs, some of the rigs so beat up they can’t even move. For most of these RV street dwellers, living in an RV with a bed, a roof over their head and a toilet is far better than sleeping on the ground or in a tent.

But there’s a problem: Seattle has no public RV dump sites in the city limits.

In the five years before the pandemic, the number of wastewater spills from RVs quintupled, rising to 100 in 2019, according to Seattle Public Utilities and reported by The Seattle Times.

Sometimes, the gate valves on the outside of the RV are broken and can drip sewage. Over time, the tank can empty of waste water and only the solid feces remain behind.

So Seattle Public Utilities, an agency that normally deals with pipes and sewer grates, did something it has never done before – dispatch honey wagons to pump the poop and liquid waste. The Seattle Times reports that they’d pumped 1,000 tanks since late January. The cost to the city: $179,000 for the first year. The result is that in the first half of 2020, illegal wastewater spills from RVs were cut in half.

Source: Seattle Times (read the full story)

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Charles A Howard
1 month ago

A nice idea.
However the First time a Honey Wagon PUMPED out my circa 2005 pretty full Black Tank in 2017, I’m sure that was what caused all the ABS plastic around the Black Tank outlet to the drain pipes to bulge out and crack causing a nice constant drip leak. Repairs failed too (ABS patching and followed by Flex seal tape) so I ended up replacing the Black Tank.
Pumping out has to be much more stressful to the plumbing than just gravity draining!

Wayne
1 month ago

1000 tanks pumped for $179,000. That’s $179 per dump. Article claims 3000 homeless. An every two week dump for 1500 homeless couples comes out to 39,000 dumps needed per year. At $179 each, it would require a budget of nearly 7 million dollars to serve 3000 people, or $2300 each. That is more than double my water and sewer bill combined. Seems like a program with lots of room for improvement.

Lynn Wagoner
1 month ago

Take some of those old FEMA trailers out of storage and establish a “homeless” RV park somewhere out of the city….with proper hook-ups. Get them all into one unified area so their needs can be addressed.

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  Lynn Wagoner

Not a bad idea.

Cecilia
1 month ago
Reply to  Lynn Wagoner

No services way out yonder. They prefer to be in the city.

Gary Stone
1 month ago
Reply to  Lynn Wagoner

NIMBY!

Bob Salmi
1 month ago

None of the comments are addressing the real problem.
The reality is that the extreme wealth disparity in this country. Too few have gained an enormous amount of wealth causing the proliferation of Dollar Stores, Tiny houses, street people. Reagan turned out the mentally ill from the asylums. Walmart and their low paid workers on public assistance has not helped either. Tax cuts for the wealthy has caused a glut of poor folks. yes there are lazy poor folks as there are greedy rich people. The disparity caused by wealthy people that can push laws through their lobbyists has divided this country and it is not good.

cee
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob Salmi

Amen Bob!

LdN
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob Salmi

Yes,, totally agree!! Rich people should be stripped of their wealth and minimum wage should be $150/hr. (If $15 an hour is good, then $150 an hour is TEN TIMES as good). Then they won’t have to go shop at the Dollar Store or live in a Tiny House. Of course, that will put ME on the street as I have never gotten a job from a street person, but maybe that will change in time. And, upon further reflection, the Tiny House concept is CHOSEN by some that are far from poor by why bring up that fact. My own son, who is a hard worker, has chosen the minimalist lifestyle and CHOOSES to shop at the Dollar Store. But of course, when you close them all down I am sure he can buy his toilet paper and canned goods from Macy’s or Amazon.

Before you come at me with “hope you never get in that situation”, well here is a news flash…I HAVE been in that situation, so don’t even go there.

Gary
1 month ago

At this time of year, it’s nice to see all these kind, caring comments on the plight of others. Such good Christians, such compassion. NOT. I just hope some of YOU aren’t in this situation and have others like YOU talking this way about you. Disgusting how hateful people are anymore.

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  Gary

Amen. Seattle tries to solve problems, not make them worse by turning their backs on them.

Uncle Swags
1 month ago

Further proof that liberal policies are devoid of common sense. The solution is to round these people up and deploy them across the country in works programs like repairing and replacing the aging water and sewer lines.

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  Uncle Swags

Most of the homeless and near homeless are drunks, addicts and the mentally ill. I doubt you’d want them doing anything.

CTK
1 month ago
Reply to  chris

Chris, you are one sad individual.

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  CTK

Actually I’m not sad at all. We have a new president, and I’m giddy with joy.

cee
1 month ago
Reply to  chris

Uncle Swags & Chris: Where is your humanity? Mean heartless people like the two of you is a huge part of the problem. I hope you were just being sarcastically rude due to the stress of our times.

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  cee

From what I know of the homeless or near so, these are, in fact, drunks, addicts and the mentally ill. They are not just “down on their luck” and looking for work. I was stating what I know to be the truth, not anything meant to be rude. If you read my other posts you’ll see that.

Last edited 1 month ago by chris
cee
1 month ago
Reply to  chris

I don’t believe all homeless or near so are drunks, addicts and mentally ill. But if you are correct, what are you doing in your community to combat the problem?

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  cee

No, ALL of them aren’t. If it were up to me, I’d provide clean needles, drugs, and a place to shoot up. Where this has been done it’s reduced the spread of AIDS and crime, big win for decreasing the harm to society. I’m doing nothing, What are you doing?

Rick
1 month ago

Some of these comments are disgusting. Put the RVs in junk yards and throw the people out on the street where they have to use the bathroom in alleys and recessed store fronts? How does this fix anything? What happened to compassion for our fellow human beings? I don’t know the true answer to fixing this serious problem, but throwing people into even worse homelessness doesn’t sound like any type of humane solution to me. $179K is nothing compared to the environmental damage it prevents plus the inhumane treatment of throwing people out on the street. Even if some of these people are drug addicts, is killing them the solution to all our problems? I don’t want to live in a world that is that cruel.

Denny
1 month ago
Reply to  Rick

Absolutely!

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  Rick

Seattle is a compassionate, caring city. I lived there most of my life, and saw people trying to solve problems, not ignore them or make them worse with the attitude of punishment.

ken
1 month ago

Enablers. Politician enabling the abusers because they are too chicken to confront the problem head on. Keep giving stuff and services away, squatters will never quit asking for more. Politician never realize where the money is coming from, unless it’s defunding a program to pay for, yet, another giveaway program. If it was coming out of the council member’s checkbook, I know it wouldn’t be a blank check. Send them packing, without gas money, without their syringes, without their dope, without their methadone. People, time to take back your streets. $179,000 could of been better spent on towing these RV homes to the junkyards.

Trish Draze
1 month ago
Reply to  ken

AMEN!!! that is Seattle way, we used to live there and moved out because the local govt is catering to the ones that are the dreads there. They just keep taking and taking from the paying tax payers.

Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  ken

Send them packing where? “Just not in my backyard” seems to be your answer. I don’t have the answer either but for that price cheaper than dealing with their crap on the street. Better yet why don’t we just determine what a living wage is, and if you don’t earn it we euthanize you and your family. Bet you would be thrilled to help with the needle!

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  ken

Could have, not could of

Vic
1 month ago

The headline says free service then the story puts a price tag on the service. Someone somewhere is always paying for free services usually taxpayers and since we know that they’re all rich that makes it all right.

Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Vic

Putting people up in homeless shelters is a lot more expensive for the city than paying to pump poop.

Vic
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

Looks like you missed my point. ITS NOT FREE

littleleftie
1 month ago

While the City of Seattle has made a decision that works for them, the problem is not just Seattlle’s alone, of course. So many towns and cities have seen their streets overwhelmed with dilapitated RVs and trailers, parked but most not moveable.
Homelessness is a huge issue. However, taxpayers aren’t likely to want to see this situation become the new normal. Living for free, not paying taxes, dumping their tanks onto the roadways, often garbage left everywhere….so many issues.
I don’t have any good solutions. But I do know one thing—it is going to get worse before it gets better, sadly. It is a sign of the times.

Rick Sorrenti
1 month ago
Reply to  littleleftie

It’s a sanctuary city that has gone rudderless without any leadership. The taxpayers will continue to suffer and continue to pay.

Jim
1 month ago
Reply to  Rick Sorrenti

How about an overhaul of the education system. Kids are not taught to take responsibility for their actions, rather that they are entitled to a freebee (which is never free) so why work for something that another program will give you free of charge? What happened to teaching school kids civics? Learn to take responsibility for yourself and live within your means. Does “don’t slap the hand that feeds your face” sound familiar? The only socialistic countries to survive long term had a fair, flat tax system with no way out. You don’t need a million page tax code to do your taxes, you need a W2 and a no deduction flat tax form. Make a million and pay $100k in taxes. Make $60k and pay $6k in taxes. There would be millions more in the coffers, and with a balanced budget law to go with a flat tax law there would be a fixed amount to be used in social programs. Most of which should be to get those who need it back on their feet and productive.

John C Jackson
1 month ago
Reply to  littleleftie

How about enforcing existing laws in every city instead of ignoring the laws for those who don’t care about them. Because you may be down on your luck doesn’t mean you can do what ever you want. If I opened the valve on my RV on my street someone would call the authorities and I would pay a hefty fine. If it was someone this post is talking about, the authorities would be forced to walk away, REALLY!!

Leaders need to wake up and stop allowing this, fix it and get them, or force them, into help if that’s what they need. Ask anyone who pays taxes and they would say stop wasting our money on making these people entitled. Fix the problem even if it takes a little more money.

The correct solution is the quick fix… the quick fix is the right fix; not what we’re doing now.