Riggins facing 'crappy' situation after shutdown of human waste disposal machine

Posted at 5:52 PM, May 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-01 19:55:18-04

Each year thousands of people head to Riggins, Idaho to embark on multi-day whitewater rafting trips, creating a huge boost for the local economy. But as of late, all of those visitors going number two is the city of Riggins number one problem.

“Going down a river for four, five, or six days and camping out, one of the requirements in BLM areas that are managed by them or Forest Service is that you have to carry out all of your human feces,” said Riggins City Councilman Roy Akins.

Thirty years ago for the use of whitewater rafters, the Forest Service installed a SCAT or a highly specialized portable toilet cleaning machine at one of the local gas stations. 

“I would say it’s used one hundred times a day when we are peaking,” explained former gas station owner Steven Crump.

The Forest Service pays the gas station a fee to maintain and run the machine, but for years the gas station has dealt with a high amount of foreign debris like beer cans, diapers, even rocks in the SCAT machine that were causing it to break down. The station said it became extremely costly. When new owners took over the business the burden became too much and they notified the Forest Service they were going to shut the machine down. 

"It’s a necessity for this town and for the whole whitewater community,” said Crump. 

The city of Riggins met with the forest service last December to discuss some of the options for moving the machine.

“We were hoping that the Forest Service through the winter and the ample amount of time it seemed they had would come up with a solution,” said Akins.

But the peak of the whitewater season in Riggins is fast approaching and a solution has yet to be found.

With the only other SCAT machine in excess of a hundred miles away, residents are worried the waste may end up in places it is not designed to be like the dumpsters, business bathrooms, the riverbank, or the river itself.

Many residents have said they would like to have the machine located in Riggins but farther out of town ideally on Forest Service property.

“Maybe a better place for the people would be where they don’t have to go into a food service place to wash there hands,” said Rubicon outfitters owner Lenard Hansen.

Regardless of where it’s located they said they mostly just want a solution found quickly so that is is ready come the rush of the whitewater season.

6 On Your Side reached out to the Forest Service and they said they are working diligently to find a solution, but because of the complexity of the issue they cannot give a timeline on when a solution may be found.