EDITOR’S COLUMN | I know why poop is on the rise

Take four or five squares of toilet paper, six at the most, fold them together neatly and proceed. Never use a wad. It could cause a backup, and it’s a waste.

Thirty-five years later and I still remember, and adhere to, the appropriate post-movement-cleanup etiquette. Thanks Mom. The lesson stuck.

Readers are likely wondering why I’m venturing into such private and delicate territory, a discussion of bathroom practices that’s usually best left at home. The answer is simple. I have a theory, a theory about Island County’s startling news concerning our poop.

If you missed Saturday’s paper, officials at the county’s treatment plant near the Coupeville dump say they need to expand the facility because intake has doubled over the past three years. Doubled! And the hypothesis is that new requirements about regular septic tank pumping are too blame.

Well, I think that’s a load of… malarkey. You thought I was going to say crap, huh? Come on, let’s remain adults here.

Anyway, according to county officials, the treatment plant is operating at near capacity, handling about 300,000 gallons a day. If waste has really doubled, and my math is right, that means the facility is processing 150,000 gallons more per day — nearly 55 million gallons more per year — than it did in 2013.

That’s a lot of poop.

The postulation that simple adherence to septic tank maintenance rules are responsible for such a sizable increase doesn’t fit. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. A letter writer on this very page is questioning it as well. And though she points to population growth, a reasonable theorem, I suspect she and county experts are both wrong.

They are discounting the obvious explanation, and that is that people are using the restroom twice as much. My evidence, and we’re coming full circle here, is toilet paper. I wasn’t kidding when I said I’ve remained faithful to Mom’s lessons of years before, and I’ve attempted to pass on that wisdom to my son as well. There’s been no such discussion with my wife, and for obvious reasons I’m reasonably sure there never will be, but I’m certain we’re all conservative users. Yet we go through toilet paper like ice cream. It doesn’t matter how much we buy, and we purchase rolls by the dozen, it seems like we’re always out.

Now I’m not claiming sole responsibility here, not at all. I suspect this is true for everyone. If nothing else, why else would toilet paper be sold in such bulk? The only reasonable explanation is because people are buying, and using it.

Just saying.