4th, 5th, 6th Person Perspective

The "other" ERE. Societal aspects of the ERE philosophy. Emergent change-making, scale-effects,...
Riggerjack
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4th, 5th, 6th Person Perspective

Post by Riggerjack »

Jacob recently posted his thoughts on investments. Showing some of his models and how he uses them.

I'm interested in his models and thinking in general, not in his investing. His models won't work for me. But I'm curious if my models will work for him. I tried this conversation from within my journal, but that became a monologue, and I am looking for dialogue. So I am going to try a more direct inquisitive approach.

My communication style is overly explicit, especially when I am trying to express abstract thoughts. If you read something here that makes you feel that your own sacred cow has been gored, please take a breath and consider:

1) I am insane.

It took 2 separate professionals very little time to independently confirm this for me. Their diagnosis were:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asperger_syndrome
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-trau ... s_disorder
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depression_(mood)

If I say something that you find upsetting, feel free to ignore my words as the mutterings of madness. You will be in good company. ;)



Links:
4th person: https://medium.com/@CellestialStudios/t ... b10302dd14







@jacob,

I found your 4th person link startling. I can completely see how it is vital to your investing style, and well being. This answers the question I keep asking when media/culture questions come up, "What are you getting out of this media/culture exposure?"

You need those perspectives to invest as you do.

Whereas when I read:
Now that everyone is able to be a participant within narrative, there is an influx of subjective voices. And thus, even though the 4th person is composed of all subjectivities, what makes the 4th person point-of-view unique is that it is neither fully subjective nor objective. It is a collective subjective viewpoint which resembles objectivity.
All kinds of alarm bells went off in my head. The 4th person bears no resemblance to objectivity in my models. In fact, this is very close to a signal I am trying to tune out as misinformation.

So my first question to you is, "How will learning to view the 4th person as noise affect your ability to continue to use it as you do?"

I ask, because while I can do both to some extent, my preferred model gets the attention, and the other suffers over time. And this is a model strongly tied to your well-being.

So, is making progress on the metacrisis worth the potential damage to this model's use to you?

jacob
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Re: 4th, 5th, 6th Person Perspective

Post by jacob »

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reflexivi ... _economics

It's possible to see a signal timeline as trend + cyclicality + noise. It is also possible to see it as just trend + noise. If the cyclical aspect remains undetected or ignored, it just folds into the noise term. It's even possible to see a timeline as pure noise.

For humans, you could see behavior as the sum of rational + emotional + physiological or simply cortex + limbic + brainstem. A hyperrational person may wish to tune out or alternatively not be able to latch onto the limbic inputs. They can in turn be treated as noise.

However, this also means the inability to see part of the signal. So the question is whether the signal is predictable or not predictable. If one can not predict it (for example how a group reacts emotionally), it is better to treat it as noise. If one can predict it, it's best to take it into account.

I linked to an article about different poker levels in the post. One can consider all levels beyond a given level to be noise. However, this usually happens at one's peril. OTOH, engaging at a level one does not understand is also a mistake. For example, trying to bluff other players without understanding the mathematical value of one's hand would be a huge mistake(*). This is also why hierarchical models are useful to check to see to which degree they're built on a solid foundation. Otherwise it's just words.

(*) Or would it. Not understanding the math would definitely make the bluff more believable, but are bluffs based on ignorance really bluffs? In game theory, it is actually possible to add to the strategy by inducing an element of randomness because your volatility can be a cost for the adversary. Taleb has written some about this.

daylen
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Re: 4th, 5th, 6th Person Perspective

Post by daylen »

If objectivity is to be found somewhere below perspective N, then perspective N+M will necessarily refer to objectivity. Given limited memory or time, there may be a constraint whereby at some point additional perspectives blur objective data points through a top-down renormalization imperative (required to restructure the data for ease of access given finite memory capacity).

In particular, if the forth person perspective is like having a heap of models with variable sampling/usage rates, then the fifth person perspective may erode some of the first-hand experience of applying such models in favor of a modularization of the heap that lowers the cost to learning new models. The other direction is also possible in that the fifth person perspective could be abandoned to focus more on execution and narration of the heap at hand.

jacob
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Re: 4th, 5th, 6th Person Perspective

Post by jacob »

Another way of seeing it is that higher order perspectives allow for more interpersonal coordination and thus behavior that cannot be explained at lower orders.

1st person: egotistical, self-motivated behavior, "I do what I want", me first
2nd person: perceives oneself from the perspective of another, individual relationships, being considerate to others
3rd person: perceives the interaction between the self and someone else as it looks to others (the third persons), learning how to fit into a new group
4th person: perceives that fit is relative to a group, experience in fitting into different groups with different cultures
5th person: perceives similar patterns in different cultures, finds the common threads of humanity in themself and by extension in others (meta-cultural awareness, the evolution of culture)
6th person: perceives the pattern of pattern-making, likely to the point of absurdity

There are generally two questions/objections here. The first one is everybody and their uncle claiming that they understand all these perspectives. I'll agree with that in theory but in practice, the understanding of the average person, that is, their tendency to include perspectives of a given order when spontaneously translated into personal behavior, is surprisingly limited. The vast majority of humans fall into the first three persons. For example, consider someone who is against gay marriage until it turns out their daughter is gay. They can't see the 4th person perspective. Only when the "issue" appears in their own group are they able to relate. Or consider the person who does not believe in helping others until they need help themselves and quickly proceed to change their mind. They are only capable of holding a 1st person perspective.

The second is how far does it go up. As with the "guess 2/3 of the average"-game, when dealing with humans, there's a limit to how far one can take this and still remain functionally interactive with the rest of humanity. This is likely why we're not talking 7th or 10th person perspectives. Note that the majority of human grammars only have three personal pronouns: I, you, and he/she/it. Some languages (German, Danish) have an expanded third pronoun which in English can be approximated with "one" as in "one might want to consider" as a sort of generic third person; but no language has a real 4th person perspective as far as I know.

So lets say one is functionally operating from the Nth person perspective. Does it make sense to consider everything (much) above this as "noise"? I think so to a degree. For example, I just mentioned that everything above 6ish is unlikely to make a difference.

Yet someone operating from a 3rd person perspective might consider cultural awareness (different tribes have different ideas) to be a waste of time. OTOH, this would make it hard to get along with random people in a big city or visit other countries. When in Rome, they do not act like the Romans. (Case in point, the average obnoxious tourist.) A selfish person might also see other people's opinions about themselves as completely irrelevant: "Hell, they'll just adapt to me. Take it or leave it". However, this will probably not work in the long run as they find themself increasingly left out. Thus what really matters is how many people operate more or less at the same perspective.

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Re: 4th, 5th, 6th Person Perspective

Post by jacob »

Also, a way to visualize the build-out would be as a pyramid. The 2nd person builds on the 1st person. The 3rd on the 2nd. And so on.

Each person is a different pyramid.

Pyramids obviously have different heights. However, they don't all scale to the same shape. Some are wide and some are narrow.

A very narrow pyramid, however tall, may not offer much when it comes down to it. It's one thing to be able to talk about cultures as a concept (4th person). It's quite another to have lived experience from several different cultures. This is the difference between wissen and kennen. The higher order perspectives build on the quality of the lower orders.

One way to understand the building complexity mathematically would be to simply think of each new order as adding a dimension and then consider the total (hyper)volume. If there are 10 people in a group, there are 10 different 1st person perspectives. There are 10*9=90 different 2nd person perspectives. There are 10*9*8=720 3rd person perspectives. Of course not all of them are equally important. Heuristics begin to enter. However, it should be clear that the complexity of what one takes into account increases exponentially. This creates mental load ... and this load may or may not be worth it.

Riggerjack
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Re: 4th, 5th, 6th Person Perspective

Post by Riggerjack »

:lol: thanks guys, not really where I meant to go. This is the ERE2 forum, I'm hoping to go a bit more meta.

I had long post, but the wind blew, and there's no power. This storm was bad, I may be out of power for a week or so.

And one of my trees crossed the road to meet my neighbor, only slowed by power lines, a fence, an RV, and his new shop. I have new complications there.

And top it off with a big tree coming to see us from the far side of the gully. Shattering 6 smaller trees on its way to us. It stopped about a foot from my deck, but 7 full size trees do make a mess.

All that to say I may be a bit slow to post for a while.

.....

Back on track.
@jacob,

I was thinking of (Taintors?) theory of societal collapse. A challenge comes up that the culture cannot muster the creativity to overcome. That many parts of a culture could still be fully functioning, but the reality within the culture optimises for conditions that don't allow the right reaction to novel challenges.

And how well the metacrisis fits just that bill. All that we know works, when continued as we know how to do things, ends badly.

So, if we wish to make progress on the metacrisis, perhaps understanding the reality outside of our cultural reality better, would yield result.

But how exactly does one break out of one's cultural reality?

Well it turns out your 4th person perspective link and description of how you use it triggered the thought that your "results " are close to the signal i have been trying to tune out, but had selected by other means.

This is exciting because it gives me a different way of looking for filters. But also in giving me a potential bridging point of a gap in communication.

I have at times in the past obliquely asked you to widen your framework and play in different space. This thread is me trying to more directly point the way to the playground.

But I am still concerned that playing here in this playground may throw off your game in our cultural playground.

Since mapping this cultural reality/reality difference is pretty much the opposite of what you are doing, I am concerned that too much thinking along lines parallel to mine, may throw off your "cultural sense".

.....

Let me give a simple example of my lines:

If I go to Costco, inside their garage sized refrigerator, there will be 4 lbs of white table grapes from Chili. The last price I remember was $8.

I live in wine country, but I couldn't find a hobby farm where i could pick my own grapes for $2/lb.

So there is a cultural reality that the:
Currency exchange rate
Just in time delivery
Power of industrial scale
Trade agreements
Transportation networks
Blah blah, ad nauseum

Combined, create the circumstances where grapes from chile are more efficient than local grapes.

Unchanged in reality, is all the externalities that needed to be shed for this this cultural reality to work. They still exist, but not in the accounting of our culture.

This gives me a data point. Take lots an lots of data points, map them out. What I see is something like a landscape of cultural distortion in resource allocation. Stare at it long enough, and see how networks could have been arranged in other ways, with other priorities.

This is important, because resource allocation allows for powerful, fast changes. Finding a slightly more efficient path of resource allocation frees up lots of resources.

But it doesn't answer the question of what to do with those freed up resources.

Google freed up lots of resources with search. But with our cultural model, that concentrated lots of resources, and contributed to the death of a lot of formerly viable businesses. It used that vast amount of resources to build a very large hierarchy, quickly...

So even if i find a new, more efficient resource path, i still need to find a better use for those resources, to effect the kinds of changes needed.

And if one is considering making changes, what are the downstream effects of those changes, how could those be predicted? How could they be tied together for better effect?

Framing the metacrisis as a resource allocation problem makes some aspects clearer, but doesn't touch other problems.

But framing the metacrisis as a cultural crisis does offer other framings.

One framing i have had much progress with is something like:

A. What would a self aware culture be like?

B. How would such a culture choose to transmit itself?

C. What infrastructure would it choose for itself to accomplish this transmission?

D. If we built that infrastructure, could we bootstrap that culture?

E. Could bootstrapping in one aspect allow further bootstrapping in other cultural aspects? :ugeek:
.....


The outputs of the 2nd framing give interesting answers to the question of how to use freed up resources from the first framing.


....

One of the hard parts of being insane, is it is very difficult to know if one is chasing shadows. Reference points out here are few and far between.

Being among the least educated on the forum, means I don't know what I don't know, but I do know that it is a lot. There are literally libraries of information i am unaware of. I could be walking well trodden ground, and not know it. It wouldn't be the first time for me, by far.

The implied bias of the least educated, framing the problem around culture and education, should be considered...

So I'm throwing this out there to the forum at large.

Does this seem like useful framing?
For that matter, does what I am saying make any sense at all?

What are your thoughts on questions A-E? What is your vision of a self aware culture? How do they solve problems, which problems do they solve?

chenda
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Re: 4th, 5th, 6th Person Perspective

Post by chenda »

I genuinely think these questions exceed my intellectual bandwidth :lol:

But I hope your power returns soon.

jacob
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Re: 4th, 5th, 6th Person Perspective

Post by jacob »

Riggerjack wrote:
Mon Nov 07, 2022 3:13 pm
What are your thoughts on questions A-E? What is your vision of a self aware culture? How do they solve problems, which problems do they solve?
Have you watched my Stoa2 presentation. That is my answer/my kind of answer to those questions.

daylen
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Re: 4th, 5th, 6th Person Perspective

Post by daylen »

A. What would a self aware culture be like?
If self awareness is like a folding of reality into itself then a self aware culture could perhaps be visualized as a field of social constructs with dynamic singularities where culture folds sufficiently to disrupt how agents view the field near such singularities. These singularities may already exist depending upon what it means for agents to move in this field. Happening upon the influence of these cultural singularities may contribute to the feeling of never stepping in the same river twice. Perhaps there are several (or just one) switch(es) at the base of culture that can be flipped, cascading through all meaning/interpretation to give rise to a novel cultural paradigm. A collective neural annealing procedure that cools into a switch-modulated mold.

Like a bunch of dancing black holes. In some sense, these holes are like garbage collectors and in another sense they are like springs of novelty.

B. How would such a culture choose to transmit itself?
If this culture is self-aware then there is a long history of self-sex to explore viable self-constructs. In other words, we are part of an ongoing orgy and bloodbath going back billions of years to genderless cells that chose to replicate. We are in some sense along for the ride beyond a lifetime.

C. What infrastructure would it choose for itself to accomplish this transmission?
Carbon chains and silicon bridges. :)

Or bounded harmonic resonators that jam together.

D. If we built that infrastructure, could we bootstrap that culture?
Already have and continuing to do so will simultaneously close off some resonate paths and open up alternative paths.

E. Could bootstrapping in one aspect allow further bootstrapping in other cultural aspects?
Agents sometimes like to follow paths that lead to mushrooms. Sometimes we are shroomed and sometimes we are doomed.

Riggerjack
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Re: 4th, 5th, 6th Person Perspective

Post by Riggerjack »

Sorry it's taken so long. I meant this thread to develop slowly, but this is slower than I would prefer. I started this when life was less demanding. I'll try to pick up the pace.



@ Daylen
:lol: As with most of your writing, I greatly appreciate the half I think I understand, then there's always that other half, that I clearly do not...

@jacob, I have watched the video. Before writing this, I watched it again. If your answers are there, I missed them.

But you talk about a Danish restaurant brute forcing cuisine, but "we couldn't do that with humans". Why not?

It seems to me, reading the journals on this forum, that much brute forcing on the themes of the forum have already been done. Other forums with other interests are doing other brute forcings.

But the most relevant part of your video was you talking about the Noosphere. That is an expert's view of it. And I agree that other perspectives are needed.

I'm not an expert. If my knowledge were mapped on that scale, it would look like long connections between other's expertise. But I have no recognized expertise of my own.

What I'm trying to describe is how much more actionable the metacrisis is, with the right perspectives and once the right patterns are established. This thread is where I wanted to try to share those perspectives/patterns.

@ anyone else reading along,

At the beginning of the year, one of the members here reached out, and one of the things he mentioned was that I wasn't posting here, anymore.

I used to do my ERE reading during my overly long commute. But I have been WFH for over 2 years now, and that cuts into my posting. And I'm trying to create original content. I'm trying not to post anything I've said before, and focusing on trying to get Something Else across.

And for a while there, jacob was calling for peace. For good reason.

I bring many gifts, but peace has never been among them. So, at the same time that I wanted to post less, life threw me a curve-ball opening other doors. I guess I could say I have been spending my time in quiet contemplation, while playing a waiting game with my career, which should span 18 more weeks.

But then I watched "Don't look up". (SPOILER ALERT- watch the movie, it's great, and nothing you are about to read will improve the experience. Go on, this post will be here when you have watched it.)

What a triggering movie that was for me. Let me see if I can sum up the plot:

Act I:
2 Certified Very Very Smart people (CVVS) looked into their Sciencey Stuff TM, and saw a cataclysmic and nearly certain future. They then freak out, and proceed with the greatest urgency through a bureaucracy not intended to help them.

Act II:
Our 2 plucky CVVS protagonists find that at the highest levels of political life, different selection processes have resulted in a leadership completely incapable of understanding, let alone preventing this cataclysm. It seems nobody remembered to leave the levers of power vacant, in case CVVS people needed them. Yet, somehow our 2 plucky CVVS protagonists continue to help, knowing nothing they do or say is helping anyone. In comes the alternate Tech-bro solution. Hope swells, then reality shows its disappointing head.

Act III:
our 2 plucky CVVS protagonists get depressed, act in self destructive ways, get laid, and get comfortable with the end of all they know. Then they reconnect, hold hands at the dining room table as everyone dies and everything anyone cared about is erased.


Jacob called this movie Idiocracy II. The parallels to CC are plain as day.

For me, this movie highlights the weaknesses of our culture's thinking.

There were 2 CVVS people. Literally the high end of our educational sorting system, cream of the cream. They got to the top levels of government and media. The top Technologist Billionaire sunk his fortune into a solution. All the cultural symbols of power.

And when all the symbols of power combined were shown to be clearly not up for the task, our 2 plucky CVVS protagonists, stop being so plucky. Having exhausted BOTH possible solutions, they consign themselves and all they know to destruction.

:evil: GAH!!!!! :shock:

or maybe, you know, DO SOMETHING ELSE!?! :roll:

.....................................

So, that's what I have been thinking about for the last few years. How to do Something Else.

My thoughts are concerned with transition. How to peaceably get from here to there. Knowing that "here" is disputed territory, and "there" is the part of the map labelled "here be dragons".

...

So I'm going to talk about human waste. Not because I have a scatological fetish, but because it's an area where my viewpoints differ from my culture's, and this difference is most easily documentable. I'm just going to point to what my culture knows, and what it does with that knowledge, then I'll talk about how I think it can be done better.

There is a fantastic line from G&J's journal:
If I was smart enough to figure this shit out when I was still fresh in the music industry I would've almost definitely stuck it out for 5-10 years, bc that shit was fun as fuck. But I realized I would fucking die if I tried to live that life for 35+ years and dissatisfaction seemed to set in around 20. Since I assumed that I had to do a career for most of my life, I quit to try to figure out something else to do. I think changing the knowledge of what's possible also changes the solution set.
This thread is about cultural assumptions, and that which I see as possible. Because from here, the solution set seems to include far more than we need.

But don't forget 1). ;)

Riggerjack
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Re: 4th, 5th, 6th Person Perspective

Post by Riggerjack »

RIGGERJACK TALKS POO. Part I.

I like to go camping at a friend's family beach property on the Hood Canal. They have a cool old logging cabin they barged over, back when the Navy was buying up the land for the Bangor sub base. I spent a lot of time there as a teen. It's good to go back and reconnect with friends there.

About a decade back, I wanted to go fishing on one of those trips. Looking up the rulebook, I find the Hood Canal is closed for all fishing. I thought “Weird, but whatever, there must have been too much commercial fishing allowed.” But I talked to the friend's family, and they had all kinds of reasons why the fish weren't there. Navy. Or sometimes Navy, plus commercial overharvesting. And if you look at a map, you can see there's just not much else going on out there. It's a reasonable assumption.

But soon thereafter, I saw some story in the local paper about how scuba divers were seeing deep water fish moving to the near surface, because the oxygen levels below 30 feet were too low to sustain them.

So, I looked up what the Dept of Ecology had to say about this.

They had a nifty little PDF explaining that the problem was low dissolved O2 in the waters of the Puget Sound. That this problem was caused by Eutrophication. That bio-avalable nitrogen was leaching into the Puget Sound, feeding bacteria, which used up the oxygen.

Since bacteria can survive in lower O2 levels than fish can, these bacteria blooms were creating fish kills. Then the dead fish dropped down to feed more bacteria.

It was a 30+page document, (I wish I could still find it) and the really important message delivered on each page was how varied and diffused the sources of these nutrients were. Leaking septic systems, farm and lawn over-fertilization, wastewater processing etc.

The message was clear; we need general widespread regulation of all these sources to come to grips with this situation.

But about halfway thru, there was a graph of nutrient flows at the mouth of a river. It wasn't quite a visual representation of a square wave, but it was close.

I'm no expert, but I have never seen varied, diffused sources produce a graph that looked like a square wave. A square wave is indicative of a point source with an on/off switch. Looking at the caption the authors wrote something like the source of the nutrients were unknown, because the researchers weren't allowed to know the pumping schedule of the sewage processing plant just upstream.

Wow. That seems suspicious. That note and graph were at odds with everything else the PDF was talking about.

Well, I'm no marine biologist, or septic engineer. So I just had a little flag in my mind about sewage processing and O2 deprivation. Something seems off here.

But life is busy, and I have other things to direct my attention.

A few years later, the push to build a sewage processing plant for Freeland Wa was coming to a head. The county health dept was all for it, and pushing for a plant as a required part of WA state's urban planning updates.

At the same time, that health dept was taking measurements of Fecal Coliform on my local beaches, and pushing that this was evidence that maybe we needed a sewage processing plant. Or maybe just stop allowing the building of on-site septic systems, until a plant could be approved...

Now I was both suspicious (by nature, and because I already had a red flag here) and concerned, because now this could now directly affect me. I started to look into how wastewater is processed.

So let me go into some detail of how my septic system works.

I have a well, I pump water from the well, to the house, thru me, and into my septic system. We all understand how that works.

My waste enters my septic tank. My tank is set up for a 3 bedroom home, or up to 6 people. It is a 1500 gallon tank, divided into 2) 750 gallon chambers.

Part of drilling a well here is installing a water meter. We go thru about 75 gallons/day, but the regulatory number is 375 gallons per day/per well.

Using my numbers, waste goes to the primary chamber and processes for an average of 10 days, using the regulatory number and flushing all that water thru my septic system, yields 2 days' processing. So the more water I use, the less time waste spends in my septic tank. But it's somewhere in the range of 2-10 days, before going to the secondary chamber where is sits processing for another 2-10 days.

Let's talk about what is happening here. I have a tank with my waste and bacteria that feed on my waste. It operates at just above ground temperature, year round. It's a bacteria farm that I keep regularly fed. The secondary chamber is the bacteria farm that is only fed by the output of the primary chamber. This is where those bacteria go to starve. If the primary chamber is overfed, the secondary chamber processes the excess, but mainly this is a place to finish the anaerobic bacterial processing, and ensure that process goes to completion (ie that the anaerobic bacteria starve). This takes 4-20 days.

After the septic tank, effluent leaves the tank, goes thru a distribution box, gets separated out to the various drainfield pipes, and flows to my drainfield. The whole system operates at volume capacity. So if one were looking at this D-box, the flows would be very similar to the household flows. If nobody is using water in the house, there is no flow. If someone is showering, the flow here is similar to the flow down the drain. A few minutes after the shower stops, this flow stops. But the D-box splits that flow 5 ways, one for each trench in my drainfield. A shower turns into 5 trickles to 5 different trenches.

So each trench gets 15-75 gallons of effluent per day, with irregular dosing. What is happening is taking the output of the anaerobic bacteria farm, and regularly dosing a patch of dirt with it. The effluent flows thru the soil particles, leaving these particles covered in this nutrient rich fluid that has already been processed by anaerobic bacteria, creating an aerobic bacteria farm. In the industry, this is known as a bio-mat. It is the purpose of the drainfield to take the wastewater that has been thru the anaerobic farm, and the anaerobic killing fields, and put it thru aerobic bacteria, before the water drops down to the water table.

Again, I'm no expert, but my understanding is that in a properly functioning drainfield, bacteria and viruses are removed by the time the water drops 18 inches into the soil under my drainfield.

That's how I process my poo. It takes time and space, but very little effort or energy. I would certainly prefer that the system be modified for water and nutrient recovery, and there could be very simple changes to the system that would allow that. But I didn't install them. I didn't know enough at the time, and didn't have the resources to tackle this kind of challenge at the time I built my home.


Now let's compare how I process my poo, with how poo is processed at a sewage processing plant. Let's use Langley, WA as our example.

I'm choosing Langley because it is close to me, wealthy, and very proud of its sewage processing facility. They are a small marina community, and their property values are higher than average. If anyone in our culture has their poo together, these would be the people. Additionally, they are so proud of their system, they post their sewer plan online, so you can download it and follow along:

https://cms4files1.revize.com/langleywa ... cument.pdf

This is a 264 pg engineering document. I'll give pg numbers with appropriate quotes. (Bolded highlights are mine)

Executive summary page iii:

'As of December 2014, the sewer system had a total of approximately 450 sewer billing accounts. Of the 450 accounts, 111 are commercial, 4 are public facility, 37 are multifamily and 298 are residential. '

“Flow data for 2012 and 2013 show that flows have been very uniform over that period. The average flows for these years were 0.075 mgd and 0.065 mgd, respectively. The average maximum monthly flows were also very similar at 0.10 mgd and 0.09 mgd, well within the 0.15 mgd capacity. Maximum average influent BOD and TSS loads in 2013 were 263 lbs BOD/day and 214 lbs TSS/day. “


Page 5-2:
5.1 PROCESS DESCRIPTION The existing WWTP was completed in 1992 and contains three basic wastewater treatment process steps: preliminary treatment, secondary treatment and disinfection. The treatment plant is designed to remove at least 85% of the BOD and suspended solids present in the incoming wastewater. The treatment units consist of a grit chamber, influent Parshall flume, 3/8-inch bar screen with screenings washer and compactor, two Sequencing Batch Reactors (SBR), and a chlorine contact chamber. At the headworks, wastewater from the grit chamber passes through a Parshall flume flow meter. Flow measurements for permit reporting and for analysis are based on the effluent flow meter, which is an ultra-sonic device. Following screening, wastewater flows by gravity to one of two SBR basins (171,600 gallons each). Both SBR basins are in service throughout the year. Flows alternate between the two SBRs; one processes wastewater while the other fills with wastewater. The SBR processes the wastewater in 5 to 6 cycles per day. Each cycle includes fill, react (alternating aeration and anoxic mixing), settling, decant, and idle. Effluent is decanted from the top of the SBRs to one of two chlorine contact chambers for a contact time of at least one hour. Both contact chambers are usually in operation and are cleaned every 6 months. Each chamber can be isolated for cleaning or operation. Liquid chlorine is used for disinfection. Effluent flows by gravity from the chlorine chambers to the outfall line and eventually to the Saratoga Passage in Puget Sound. A plant flow diagram of the treatment facility is shown in Appendix D. Waste activated sludge is digested in two aerobic digesters. The digested sludge is dewatered on a belt filter press and then composted on site. The Class A compost is available for free to the community. A fee is charged if City personnel and equipment are used to load trucks with compost.


Table 5.1 on page 5-3 shows Langley's permit limitations. Note how well Langley conforms to these limits. This is not a barely functioning system, this is an exemplary example of such a system.

Pg 5-6:

5.2 OUTFALL The effluent from the treatment plant is discharged through a 12 inch ductile iron effluent pipe extends 6,200 feet north through the City and to the treatment plan outfall to Saratoga Passage. The original 12 inch ductile iron outfall was extended 100 feet (to approximately 1,000 feet offshore) to a depth of 46 feet below mean lower low water by connection of a new high density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe. The last 43 feet of the 12 inch HDPE outfall contains ten 3 inch diffuser ports alternate locations on each side of the outfall at 40 feet below mean lower low water. The first six ports are 5 feet apart and the last three are 4 to 6 feet apart. The final diffuser port is in the end plate of the outfall diffuser section. This configuration ensures diffusion of treated effluent to minimize impact on water quality. Saratoga Passage is designated as a Class A marine water in the vicinity of the outfall. Characteristic uses include the following: fish migration; fish and shellfish rearing, spawning and harvesting; wildlife habitat; recreation; commerce and navigation. Saratoga Passage is considered an estuary for the purpose of assigning a mixing zone.


Pg 5-9:

“Between 2009 and 2014, the influent TSS loading averaged 193 lbs/day and the maximum month average was 383 lbs/day. The design influent TSS loading for the plant is 425 lbs/day; 85% of design load is 361 lbs/day. The maximum month average daily load of 383 lbs/day of TSS exceeded 85% of the design capacity in June 2011 and was noted in the 2014 NPDES Permit. This maximum month coincided with an unusually high influent TSS daily peak load of 1,265 lbs/day. The peak load in June 2011 appears to be reflected in the effluent; the maximum month effluent load of 5.3 lbs/day for the five year period, and the maximum weekly effluent concentration of 8.6 mg/L both occurred in June 2011. Notably both the load and concentration are still very low relative to the permit limits and do not exceed expansion criteria. “

Pg 5-13:
Read figure 5-4. see how much BOD5 is allowed, versus how little is actually being discharged?



Ok, that's enough engineering gibberish for now. There's lots more pages talking about just how well Langley conforms to standards. I have no dispute with any of their conclusions. If one is measuring by compliance, this is an exemplary, well designed and maintained system.

But let's take a closer look at what exactly they are talking about.

First, what is BOD5?

From https://www.graf.info/en/rainwater-harv ... -bod5.html


“Biological oxygen demand (BOD5)
The BOD55 indicates the amount of oxygen which bacteria and other micro organisms consume in a water sample during the period of 5 days at a temperature of 20 °C to degrade the water contents aerobically. BOD5 is thus an indirect measure of the sum of all biodegradable organic substances in the water. The BOD5 indicates how much dissolved oxygen (mg / l) is needed in a given time for the biological degradation of the organic wastewater constituents. This value is an important parameter for the assessment of the degree of pollution that wastewater represents for the environment (receiving water). Since the wastewater contents in the receiving water are degraded by the bacteria therein, the oxygen is completely or partly drawn from the water. If the limit values are exceeded, creatures breathing oxygen (crabs, fish, etc.) may die.


So BOD5 isn't the complete BOD, rather it is the easily measured regulatory number. I don't know the relationship between BOD5, BOD90, and BOD, except BOD will be higher than BOD90, which will be higher than BOD5. I suspect BOD5 is probably at least 90% of BOD, but I haven't been able to confirm this. So for my purposes, I will use BOD5, but understand the real number is certainly higher than this.

But remember, Langley is well within standards, so let's look at oxygen levels in saltwater to see what this number means.

From:
https://www.fondriest.com/environmental ... oxygen/#10


“The amount of dissolved oxygen needed varies from creature to creature. Bottom feeders, crabs, oysters and worms need minimal amounts of oxygen (1-6 mg/L), while shallow water fish need higher levels (4-15 mg/L)⁵.
Microbes such as bacteria and fungi also require dissolved oxygen. These organisms use DO to decompose organic material at the bottom of a body of water. Microbial decomposition is an important contributor to nutrient recycling. However, if there is an excess of decaying organic material (from dying algae and other organisms), in a body of water with infrequent or no turnover (also known as stratification), the oxygen at lower water levels will get used up quicker.”

“Dissolved oxygen enters water through the air or as a plant byproduct. From the air, oxygen can slowly diffuse across the water’s surface from the surrounding atmosphere, or be mixed in quickly through aeration, whether natural or man-made 7. The aeration of water can be caused by wind (creating waves), rapids, waterfalls, ground water discharge or other forms of running water. Man-made causes of aeration vary from an aquarium air pump to a hand-turned waterwheel to a large dam.
Dissolved oxygen is also produced as a waste product of photosynthesis from phytoplankton, algae, seaweed and other aquatic plants.”

“Saltwater fish and organisms have a higher tolerance for low dissolved oxygen concentrations as saltwater has a lower 100% air saturation than freshwater. In general, dissolved oxygen levels are about 20% less in seawater than in freshwater ³.
This does not mean that saltwater fish can live without dissolved oxygen completely. Striped bass, white perch and American shad need DO levels over 5 mg/L to grow and thrive ⁵. The red hake is also extremely sensitive to dissolved oxygen levels, abandoning its preferred habitat near the seafloor if concentrations fall below 4.2 mg/L ²⁹.


Consequences of Unusual DO Levels
If dissolved oxygen concentrations drop below a certain level, fish mortality rates will rise. Sensitive freshwater fish like salmon can’t even reproduce at levels below 6 mg/L ¹⁹. In the ocean, coastal fish begin to avoid areas where DO is below 3.7 mg/L, with specific species abandoning an area completely when levels fall below 3.5 mg/L ²⁹. Below 2.0 mg/L, invertebrates also leave and below 1 mg/L even benthic organisms show reduced growth and survival rates ²⁹.


“Fish kills are more common in eutrophic lakes: lakes with high concentrations of nutrients (particularly phosphorus and nitrogen) ⁴¹. High levels of nutrients fuel algae blooms, which can initially boost dissolved oxygen levels. But more algae means more plant respiration, drawing on DO, and when the algae die, bacterial decomposition spikes, using up most or all of the dissolved oxygen available. This creates an anoxic, or oxygen-depleted, environment where fish and other organisms cannot survive. Such nutrient levels can occur naturally, but are more often caused by pollution from fertilizer runoff or poorly treated wastewater ⁴¹. “





Dead Zones
A dead zone is an area of water with little to no dissolved oxygen present. They are so named because aquatic organisms cannot survive there. Dead zones often occur near heavy human populations, such as estuaries and coastal areas off the Gulf of Mexico, the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, and the East China Sea. They can occur in large lakes and rivers as well, but are more well known in the oceanic context.
Hypoxic and anoxic zones around the world (photo credit: NASA)
These zones are usually a result of a fertilizer-fueled algae and phytoplankton growth boom. When the algae and phytoplankton die, the microbes at the seafloor use up the oxygen decomposing the organic matter ³¹. These anoxic conditions are usually stratified, occurring only in the lower layers of the water. While some fish and other organisms can escape, shellfish, young fish and eggs usually die ³².
Naturally occurring hypoxic (low oxygen) conditions are not considered dead zones. The local aquatic life (including benthic organisms) have adjusted to the recurring low-oxygen conditions, so the adverse effects of a dead zone (mass fish kills, sudden disappearance of aquatic organisms, and growth/development problems in fish and invertebrates) do not occur ³¹.

It's worth pausing over that map. Note where the dead zones are. Note where human population densities match up with dead zones, and where they don't. What pops into your mind, looking at that map?

I should mention that I did some work for NOAA back in the 90's. Their maps of dead zones looked very similar to this map.

“Estuary stratifications are based on salinity distributions. Because saltwater holds less dissolved oxygen than freshwater, this can affect aquatic organism distribution. The stronger the river flow, the higher the oxygen concentrations. This stratification can be horizontal, with DO levels dropping from inland to open ocean, or vertical, with the fresh, oxygenated river water floating over the low DO seawater “

OK, so let's review. What do we now know about Langley?

1. They have flows of 65-75k gal/day for 450 customers, 144-167 gallons per customer per day, even with groundwater infiltration.

2. Their influent BOD is 263 lbs per day and effluent is only 2.54 lbs/day average, with a high of 11 lbs/day. (99% BOD removal in processing!)
3. Their process takes 4 hours, rather than the 4-20 days mine does. And theirs involves adding oxygen and chlorine (better living through chemistry!). Odd, isn't it, that “treatment” means adding chlorine, and the appropriate treatment for chlorine seems to be saltwater...
4. They pump this 2.54 lbs of BOD to the seafloor, about 1000' offshore.
5. O2 levels drop as depth increases.
6. If O2 levels are low enough, bacteria are the only form of life.
7. If O2 levels drop, adult fish will leave if possible. But shellfish, young fish, and eggs will die.
8. The place Langley puts its wastewater is “is designated as a Class A marine water in the vicinity of the outfall. Characteristic uses include the following: fish migration; fish and shellfish rearing, spawning and harvesting; wildlife habitat; recreation; commerce and navigation. Saratoga Passage is considered an estuary for the purpose of assigning a mixing zone.” So this shouldn't be a problem...


So, I guess we should look at how 2.54 lbs/day of BOD5 affects seawater.

2.54 lbs=1152000mg

1152000/5=230,400

That's enough biological demand to drop nearly a quarter million liters of saltwater from a healthy 7mg/l to a deadly 2mg/l. Look at the charts to see the few life forms that survive at 2mg/l.

That's not BOD, that's only BOD5. The Dept of Ecology may not care about the remainder, but it doesn't stop killing because the government stopped counting.

Now, I'm not a marine biologist. I don't know what the normal O2 levels 1000' offshore are, let alone how far the O2 level needs to drop to start killing. I don't know the recharge rate of the waters of the Puget Sound. I don't know how human fecal BOD compares with the waste BOD rest of the life in the Puget Sound.

But pumping BOD to the seafloor in estuarian waters seems like a really, really bad idea. These are the waters that sealife reproduces in.

They say one should not poo where one eats. We seem hellbent on not being able to eat from this poo hole.


….


This story started with the Dept of Ecology, nearly a decade ago. They have been working on it since, so we should check their progress.


https://ecology.wa.gov/Water-Shorelines ... on-studies

It seems they are studying the problem.

If you look at the study, it looks like they are showing water quality problems in fairly remote inlets. But look closer.

James C. Scott of “Seeing Like a State” couldn't have put it any better, they are mapping:

“Predicted days of Noncompliance.”

Maybe that's eerily Orwellian only to my ears... :shock:

But if one plays around a bit with their model some odd features stand out. They only model specific cells. The relationship between Noncompliance and O2 is not linear. IDK what they are aiming for, but the red cells are sometimes predicted to drop below 1mg/l. Low enough to kill most bacteria, and everything else.

In layers, one can find “Marine Point Sources” Click it. This is a map of waste water treatment plants, WWTP for short.

Unfortunately I can't find a BOD point source number anywhere in this model, but the Carbon and Nitrogen loading numbers should give you an idea of the scale of the issue we are talking about. These seem to be permit numbers, not real world measurements.

…............


Ok, so that's the basic science of fecal waste disposal, and an overview of how the city and state view the issue.

I don't have a STEM education, so I linked to sources. Those who do, please raise any points of contention, now. I'm open to the possibility that I have misunderstood something technical.

If one were to speak to a septic engineer, a public health official, or a marine biologist, they may disagree with my framing, but I don't think they could say I'm wrong about any of this.

I'll follow up with Poo part II when I write it up. In the meantime, I'm open to questions.

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Re: 4th, 5th, 6th Person Perspective

Post by jacob »

Riggerjack wrote:
Sun Nov 20, 2022 7:18 pm
@jacob, I have watched the video. Before writing this, I watched it again. If your answers are there, I missed them.
Maybe I'm not guessing correctly at where you're going.

In Stoa2, I described how experts form their constructs and develop their minds to a high degree within the same narrow field. E.g. a phd physicist thinks like a physicist and has a physicist's perspective. Likewise woodworker becomes a master carpenter and thinks like master carpenter and has the corresponding perspective. And so on.

These perspectives don't overlap very much. For example, me being a physicist helps a bit on understanding the principles of engineering (I understand what makes a combustion engine go) but I am in no way able to build one because in reality it is more complex than my simplified understanding. And physics in no way makes me a compassionate nurse or a sly politician.

The world is therefore like a Tower of Babel of expertise.

The problem is that our actions connect in ways that we don't understand. (I think this is where you're going with your sewerage story.)

The most recent term for these connections is a hyperobject. A hyperobject is a good mental model because it looks different depending on which dimension (field of expertise) you're looking at it from.

So using CC as an example, a politician would see it as a political problem, a woke activist would see it as a social equity problem, a technologist would see it as a technology problem, a scientist would it as something to write papers about. And when I say "it", I mean the hyperobject that nobody actually sees.

There is a number of these so-called "wicked problems".

The set or collection of all the wicked problems is called the meta-crisis. The idea (amongst philosophers---another specialization) is that they are caused bt the same issue, which is basically this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vn9BUfUCL4I (blind men and the elephant)

Like the proverbial definition of insanity, when specialists fail in solving wicked problems they try even harder doing the same thing. They stay within the petal (field). They rarely move laterally. The reason is that lateral movement is hard.

My proposal to solving this is that humanity needs more transdisciplinary people (renaissance thinkers) which they can connect the various specializations mentally with deeper understanding than the current "conversational connections" which happen at a very low (layman) level. Building up this mentally interconnceted capacity is what ERE is about. ERE1 does it at the home/family level. ERE2 is about doing it at the societal level. The problem for ERE2 is that nobody is hiring these generalists or giving them any kind of influence.

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Re: 4th, 5th, 6th Person Perspective

Post by guitarplayer »

Hi, I pushed forward my deliberations on multidimensionality

viewtopic.php?t=12036

I find my drawing more intuitive (if less pretty) than the usual depictions of hypercubes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypercube

or here

In my drawing, the key is to remember that the edges (lines) or some dimensions overlap. Who knows, maybe someone will find this useful in the thread.

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Re: 4th, 5th, 6th Person Perspective

Post by Riggerjack »

The problem for ERE2 is that nobody is hiring these generalists or giving them any kind of influence.
That is an odd way to express the problem on an early retirement site. Why would we want such people to have jobs? How would/could anyone give anyone influence over a wicked problem? If we have influence over any aspect of a wicked problem, that influence, by definition, is part of the problem.


I'm certainly not a generalist. I don't know if such a thing is possible, but that is definitely not me. I remember “future shock” as a kid. One of the concerns was that the expansion of human knowledge was exceeding our “library-ing” capabilities. At the time, this seemed like an opportunity to me. My relationship with information was clearly different than everyone else's. But then most of that opportunity was replaced by Google.

I would describe myself more as a specialist, in a specialty of my own definition. In my mind, the boundary of knowledge you describe as a circle (for simplicity) I would describe as more of a metaphorical coastline. You describe how knowledge is mapped from the landward side. My understanding is built from the seaward side. My specialty could be thought of as the study of the geology that formed the coast, and the wind and currents that connect these places.

Of course, in that metaphor, my culture does not swim or sail, and has unflattering things to say about those who claim to float (How do we test for witches, again?). This thread is about the connections that seem obvious from my... unique perspective. The winds and currents show easy connections between points landsmen agree are difficult or impossible to navigate.

But those winds and currents only exist between my ears. Everything I say in this thread should be considered deeply speculative. That's why I started this thread with 1).

So in trying to describe the way I see the world, I chose fecal waste as a starting point, because my culture would describe this as a solved problem, at one level. A regulated problem at another. I recognize the difference between a solved problem, and observable reality; and this is a regulated solution, so it is very well documented. Reality will be highly documented (thus easily observable) in the form of compliance monitoring.

Lots of documentation will allow landsmen to map to areas I point to. In a navigation exercise, having nav points in common will help. I included lots of links in the next post, because there is a lot of material to cover, and the kinds of people who want to look in detail should get the chance.

But most people are not going to be interested at the level of detail I am. For those people, I would recommend skipping my links, instead looking up your own local systems, and comparing your numbers to those I list. Go to your city/county website, look under Public Works. See what is available, usually the details you are looking for are in a linked .pdf report. Look for administrative reports, or public disclosures. Search BOD, Effluent, Biosolids. There will be something you can use. It shouldn't take but a few minutes.

I chose the data I did, to tell the story I'm trying to relate. But I can't possibly cherry pick the data, if you pick your data.





This post was delayed as I waited for the ERE1 V. ERE2 kerfuffle to die down.

It's not that I don't have things to say on the subject, that I stayed quiet. It's that there are lots of raw emotions surfacing over this stuff, and that is not an area in which I am of much help.

But this thread is in the ERE2 subforum for a reason. ERE2 is my primary attraction to this site, though I consider MHC and Spiral Dynamics to be something of a box canyon. I haven't explored that canyon in any depth, I'm just waiting for something interesting to come out of there.

In the meantime, I'll try to describe a framework I do find hopeful.
....


And now! Ladies and Gentlemen, the moment all three of you have been waiting for!
Without any further ado,
Riggerjack Talks Poo,
Part II:

Riggerjack
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Re: 4th, 5th, 6th Person Perspective

Post by Riggerjack »

RIGGERJACK TALKS POO. Part II.



So far we've talked about modern, small systems. Let's look at some bigger/older systems.

Staying here in the Puget Sound, let's look at Bellingham. In my youth, Bellingham was a run down second rate port town, with the fisheries dying off. But today it is a vibrant progressive college town with high property values.

Bellingham processes its poo at the Post Point plant. (Or, more specifically, Post Point is the largest of the 5 WWTP's in the Bellingham area.) Looking at the State's model, Langley puts out 3kg of nitrogen load per day. Bellingham, over 1,000 kg of nitrogen per day. Maybe sewage systems improve with scale?

Here's a page with the sewer history of Bellingham:
https://cob.org/services/utilities/wast ... ham%20Bay

Here's the highlights:
Sewers were first installed in 1892 throughout the developed areas of Bellingham. Consisting of heat-hardened clay pipe, the sewers collected both sewage and rainwater and discharged into Whatcom Creek and Bellingham Bay. Starting in 1908, probably because of sewer overloads, some storm sewers were installed in developed areas of the city.
Most of these early sewers are still in use. The ones carrying sewage have been intercepted ahead of their discharge points, and flows are now pumped to the wastewater treatment plant. Original storm water connections into sewers have since been disconnected.
The City first provided primary wastewater treatment in 1947, discharging effluent into a shallow part of Bellingham Bay, from a treatment plant located near the mouth of Whatcom Creek.
In 1974, Bellingham replaced the Whatcom Creek treatment plant with the Post Point Resource Recovery Plant at 200 McKenzie Avenue. The Post Point Resource Recovery Plant began providing primary treatment for up to a peak flow of 55 million gallons per day (mgd) for the areas served by sewer. 
In 1993, Post Point was upgraded to include secondary treatment at a cost of $55 million. This upgrade to secondary treatment increased contamination removal to 95% before releasing it into Bellingham Bay.
Following treatment, the water is discharged into Bellingham Bay from an outfall located a quarter mile offshore at a depth of 60 feet. The Post Point Wastewater Treatment Plant achieves 95% removal of organics and solids in the treated effluent.  Effluent discharged to Bellingham Bay has a biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) concentration of 9 parts per million (ppm) and a total suspended solids (TSS) concentration of seven ppm.
Secondary solids are placed on a gravity belt, where polymer is added to thicken the sludge.  Excess water is then removed from the primary and secondary sludge by high-speed centrifuges. 
The sludge is incinerated in two multiple-hearth gas-fired ​incinerators at a temperature of 1500 degrees Fahrenheit, which reduces the volume by approximately 80% and destroys all pathogens.
Exhaust gases pass through two scrubbers and an electrostatic precipitator to protect air quality.
I lived in Bellingham in the 70's. So for some of that time, my poo went to a settling tank, then to the creek; and for some of that time my poo went from settling tank to seafloor. Not until 1993 would poo go thru any form of secondary processing, with outputs of 55 million gallons of wastewater that will drop 55 million gallons of seawater 9 points on the oxygen scale. Per day. And then they burnt the solids. Using natural gas. And they still do, today.

They still use their original, old sewer pipe system, too. How Green of them.

But never fear! Change it is a comin'. In this case, the incinerator needed to be overhauled, creating the opportunity in 2017 for the Mayor of this Progressive College Town to step up and nip that nonsense in the bud. After extensive study, replacing the incinerator with a biodigester is the right thing to do.

Green energy from a waste plant, what's not to love? (Hint: Pricetag)

Here's the mayor, backing out of any commitment to a path to biodigestors:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3qSMJie4sc

It turns out, not burning poo is expensive! $200M in up front costs, plus higher operations costs. Total outlay could be $1 Billion. Burning poo is just the responsible thing to do at that price point.

Well, that sucks, but maybe a bigger, more successful city does better? Let's look at King county, which processes the sewage for Seattle, and much of the surrounding metro area.

King county operates 5 WWTPs. Details are hard to find. But they do have biodigesters with off site composting and a compost distribution program.

By the checklist of my culture, they tick all the boxes for poo handling and disposal.

So, let's look at the model, and see how Langley, Bellingham, and King County stack up.

Langley scores 3 kg/day nitrogen load, which corresponds to 99% BOD removal, biosolids going to onsite composting with the city's collected yard waste. Oh, and enough bacteria food to the seafloor to deplete 250,000 liters of water of oxygen by 5 mg/l.

Bellingham (Post Point WWTP) scores 1043 kg/day, which corresponds to 95% BOD removal, biosolids burnt onsite, and enough bacteria food to the seafloor to deplete 55 Million GPD by 9mg/l.

King county scores 21,375 kg/day corresponding to the gold standard: Biodigesters, biogas generation, and a biosolids compost program. And about 200 million gallons of effluent “under 25mg/l CBOD”.

A few hundred million gallons today, a few hundred million gallons tomorrow, pretty soon you could be talking about the kind of oxygen depleted dead zones that could show up on a global map, couldn't you?

But I'm afraid I may have glossed over some details, describing total quantities, rather than quality. Maybe when I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, and treated wastewater is as Safe and Effective as advertised. Let's go over how wastewater treatment works at the West Point plant:
https://kingcounty.gov/~/media/depts/dn ... ashx?la=en
Metal screens filter out trash items, such as cleaning wipes, feminine products and paper towels. · The wastewater then enters a tank that has which air is added to help separate the grit (dirt, sand and gravel) out of the water. · The trash and grit collected during preliminary treatment are trucked to a landfill.
Next the wastewater enters large tanks where it sits for about six hours. During this time, cooking oils, grease, soaps and hair naturally float to the surface. Heavier organics, such as human waste and food waste, settle to the bottom. · Scrapers remove the organic solids from the top and bottom of the tank. Those materials are piped to the solids treatment area where they will be recycled (see Solids Treatment). · This process removes about 50 percent of the organic solid waste.
43%, but who's counting? West point is set up to run up to 300 million gallons of wastewater per day. So days with high throughput (Rainy days) anything over 300 million gallons per day is “treated” at this point, and goes to disinfection for a spritz of bleach before getting pumped to the bottom of the Puget Sound.

But most days, everything goes thru secondary processing. This is a biological process, similar to brewing beer or wine. Start with a nutrient rich liquid, add micro-organisms, allow time and nature to “work the magic”, pump the finished product in one direction, and recycle the stuff at the bottom of the tank to kick start the next batch of brew.

So I have a few questions for the brewers out there.

4 hours after you add yeast, do you have beer? What if you let it sit for 6 more hours?

What if you added oxygen in the form of warm air? Now is it beer?

What if you added so much yeast from the previous batch that you did finish fermenting in 10 hours, how much unprocessed nutrients are still in your beer? (Note to nonbrewers: brewers will often measure pre-fermentation density and compare with post fermentation density to calculate finished alcohol and sugar content. Low finished sugars make a brew “dry”.)

I ask rhetorically. Because the answer in this example is spelled out for us. This is the BOD number I've been writing about. That is how much more processing is still needed. But we don't have time for that, so it's off to the bleach spritz and effluent pumps to “finish processing” on the seafloor.

But I promised Gold Standard Treatment, so there's more! 700Kg/d gets separated at this point, run thru a sand filter, and becomes “Reclaimed water” useful for irrigation.

I don't know if the path from reclaimed water to drinking water involves more than another chlorine spritz, but I know that path is mapped out in my culture. By the same people and forces that have deemed this kind of processing the gold standard of waste treatment. Just ponder that for a moment.
…..

I want to pause here. I just walked you thru a detailed look at one aspect of our culture. I'm trying to demonstrate the difference between the observable outputs I described, and the outputs my culture describes as “compliant”. I want you to understand what we call “treated”, what that means, and that this definition came at the end of Public Meetings/Environmental Protest/federal and state regulation/court cases/acedemic research/market solutions. You can't vote for better. You can't buy premium processing. You can protest all you like, that's how we got here.

I want you to understand this “wicked problem”, and that all your cultural solutions that you want to bandaid over this wound in our society, ARE THE CAUSE OF THE WOUND.

I want you to sit with that for a minute. How does that make you feel? Some people feel ungrounded at this point. How does that “ungrounded feeling” feel? If you find it unpleasant, this may be a good time to ask yourself how deep into my ravings you want to dig. This thread is about finding the conditions that raise these ungrounded feelings. How will you feel when I describe the systems you love and depend on in your life at the level I am applying to sewerage?

If my thoughts have value, they will be reinterpreted by better communicators. People who can communicate these same ideas in ways that don't trigger you.

I'm the first to point out that odds are very good that I simply misunderstood something critical. That where I am going is just a new dead end, and I just haven't yet seen the end. How much discomfort do you want to experience to see that? At the very least, consider waiting until you see other threads that interest you, and reference this thread. Then, maybe it will be worth wading thru my ranting.

This is your final trigger warning. Sacred Cow Abbitoir Ahead.

But for you, who experience this ungrounded feeling as an untethered feeling, as a sense of freedom, this thread is my gift. There is no grounding here, so it's hard to tell if I am flying, floating or falling. So far, it feels like flying.

But enough of this talk about feelings. We are here to talk about POO!


….

So far, we have only looked at the Puget Sound, here in Washington. Everyone knows Seattle is just LA's emo little brother, maybe we should look at how culturally iconic cities handle poo.

LA's Hyperion WWTP history, here:
https://www.lacitysan.org/san/faces/hom ... ptgfdqvu_5
Visitors to local beaches objected to raw sewage in their recreational waters and in response, the City of Los Angeles built and started operating the first treatment facility at the Hyperion site in 1925: a simple screening plant. This plant remained in operation until 1950.
The screening plant was not effective in preventing beach closures; highly polluted wastewater was still being discharged into near-shore waters.

Just after the end of World War II, the City began to develop plans for a full secondary treatment plant at the Hyperion site. When the new Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant opened in 1950, it included a full secondary treatment system and biosolids processing to produce a heat-dried fertilizer. It was among the first facilities in the world to capture energy from biogas by operating anaerobic digesters, which have yielded a fuel gas by-product for over 50 years. At the time, Hyperion was the first large secondary treatment plant on the West Coast and one of the most modern facilities in the world.
This looks good, LA had the basics of today's gold standard in waste treatment, in the 50's! For reference, Seattle was still pumping raw sewage to the seafloor until 1967.
In the 1950s, the population of Los Angeles grew dramatically. To keep up with this growth and the associated high wastewater flows, Hyperion's treatment levels were cut back. By 1957, the new plant was discharging a blend of primary and secondary effluent through a five-mile ocean outfal. Hyperion also stopped its biosolids-to-fertilizer program and began discharging digested sludge into Santa Monica Bay through a separate, seven-mile ocean outfall.

Wait. WTF!?

LA had the top of the line sewage treatment facility. And lots of growth. So much growth that the facility couldn't keep up with demand. Then, rather than build another plant, they bypassed all their fancy poo toys, and cranked the speed dial to 11.

Well, that's gross, but it's ancient history.

Except they kept pumping sludge mixed with varying degrees of “treated” effluent into the bay into the 90's. For movie buffs, think Titanic. Where were you when Titanic came out? Because you know what LA was doing with waste then.

That was then, this is now. Surely nothing horrific is happening today.
https://www.lacitysan.org/san/faces/hom ... 22255752#!

It seems the grate got clogged up. But thanks to good design, when unprocessed influent overflowed the tanks, and submerged the plant equipment, it then flowed to the pumping station, where it could be safely pumped directly to the seafloor, without closing the beaches. Because in LA, pumping unprocessed sewage to the seafloor is OK, but closing beaches, isn't.

In the linked page is an inset with BOD measurements. It looks like it took about 2 weeks to stop pumping raw sewage. The numbers are around 300mg/l. Normally they are below their goal of 30mg/l so I estimate their BOD removal under normal conditions to be over 90%. Twice the BOD concentration of Bellingham, 10x that of Langley.

Sparkling.

…..


OK, so far I have focused on west coast cities. Cities built around cars. Maybe Granola Shotgun is right. Maybe what we really, really need is higher density, higher property values, and higher taxes. So let's look at NYC.

With the nation's highest construction costs, an enormous city budget ($10k per capita), the cultural heartstone of urban planning and union labor, the finest engineers my culture has to offer, and over 200 years of history, NYC claims to be the Crown Jewel of my culture. They have all the resources, let's look at how they solved this problem:
https://www.nrdc.org/stories/when-it-ra ... -waterways
In New York City, a cleansing rain becomes anything but purifying almost as soon as it hits the ground.
Stormwater runoff—and whatever it happens to encounter on its way to the gutter—flows directly into local waterways in about a third of the city. Think about the kinds of things lingering on New York’s streets, parking lots, and sidewalks (rat poison, cigarette butts, fertilizer, pet waste, litter, gasoline . . .), and you’ll start to get the idea of the pollutants at play.
Pretty gross, right? Just wait until we get to the other two-thirds of the city.
The Straight Poop
Across about 60 percent of the Big Apple, storm runoff and sewage (i.e., what approximately 8.5 million New Yorkers flush down their toilets) stream through the same network of pipes on their way to the city’s 14 wastewater treatment plants. This combined sewer system works well enough on dry days, but when it rains a tenth of an inch per hour or more, the added volume quickly overwhelms the 150-year-old network. When this happens, “relief structures” allow a gruesome mixture of polluted urban runoff and raw sewage to bypass the water treatment plants and discharge directly into local waterways at up to 460 locations throughout the five boroughs. In the words of one New Yorker: blerg.
When a combined sewer overflow (CSO), as these events are called, happens along the Bronx River, “there is a soggy, wet film of brown floating on the water surface,” says Michelle Luebke, ecology director for the Bronx River Alliance. The scatological appearance isn’t the only clue that the city’s handling of wastewater has failed. “The river has a distinct sewage smell for approximately 48 hours,” she adds.
The overflows aren’t trickles, either. Approximately 27 billion gallons of sewage and runoff make it into the Bronx River, East River, Hudson River, Harlem River, Flushing Bay, Flushing Creek, Alley Creek, Westchester Creek, Coney Island Creek, Newtown Creek, Hutchinson River, Gowanus Canal, and Jamaica Bay every year. In 2016, there were 100 days with such overflows; the 2017 count stood at 95 at the end of October.”

“Since March 2017, New York State has approved the city’s proposals for addressing CSOs in seven affected water bodies: the Bronx River, Flushing Bay, Flushing Creek, Alley Creek, Hutchinson River, Gowanus Canal, and Westchester Creek. Four of the plans don’t provide any new reductions in CSO volume at all. Of those, three rely on chlorination (basically putting bleach in the sewers) to disinfect polluted water. While swimming pools and sewage treatment plants commonly use chlorine, those are carefully controlled applications; the chemical’s safety and effectiveness when used in pipes that discharge directly into waterways, under current system conditions, is unproven. Chlorine can be toxic to aquatic life, and Dixon says he worries about the effect residual levels of the chemical could have on wildlife. The fourth plan, for the Bronx River, simply redirects some of the foul discharge to the East River. In other places where the city is planning large CSO reductions, the implementation timelines are, at a minimum, nearly two decades long.
YUCK. I'm not even going to dig into what passes for “treated” in a city that poos directly into the surrounding waterways today, and plans to continue into the indefinate future. A city that believes adding a clorine spritz is a realistic plan of action.

OK, so what can we sum up here?
1. Langley, wa is doing way better than any city we looked at. They all pump BOD to the seafloor, but Langley composts and distributes their biosolids on site. Bellingham wasn't going to get close to this level of processing for $1B. And nobody else is even trying. Scale does not improve this situation. All the systems are built around pumping to seafloor, the variation is in how solids are handled after separation.
2. All the activism, lawsuits, elections, regulation, social shaming and market based solutions my culture has to offer, advanced us to this disgusting situation. It seems improbable they could possibly get significantly better results with more time.
3. All of this is known in my culture, and has been forever. Here's a Geoge Carlin bit from my youth about NYC sewage:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X29lF43mUlo
4. My culture seems very good at separating property values from the secondary effects of those values. Higher property values seem to negatively correlate to quality of waste treatment. The longer this relationship has been established, the lower the acceptable quality of treatment, and the more expensive this lower quality is to create and maintain.
….

OK, so history is disgusting, and systems today are in need of improvement, what does the future hold? There is lots of money in this field, its own branch of civil engineering, what's the promising new research?
Well, when I installed my septic system in 2009, raised bed drainfeild systems were new, expensive, and had a reputation for being potentially prone to failure. Now you can see how to build one on youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6YkZnOuzuc
And this guy with bad soils, installed a drainfield inside precast concrete tanks (with county approval):https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lni4OODogKA
Also, my county is trying to work out rules for alternative septic systems. So things are looking up.
But things on the urban/suburban scale are less exciting:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decentral ... ter_system
One example of decentralized treatment is the "DEWATS technology" which has been promoted under this name by the German NGO BORDA.[3][7] It has been applied in many countries in South East Asia and in South Africa.[18][19] It applies anaerobic treatment processes, including anaerobic baffled reactors (ABRs) and anaerobic filters, followed by aerobic treatment in ponds or in constructed wetlands. This technology was researched and tested in South Africa where it was shown that the treatment efficiency was lower than expected.[20]
Another example is ECOSTP which is a Zero Power, Zero Chemicals Sewage Treatment Technology based on Cow's digestive system.Rediscovering Nature’s Genius in treating Sewage - the cow’s stomach. The unique patented technology treats sewage in a decentralised, self- sustainable way in underground chambers without power, chemicals or human intervention. Using Biomimicry, regenerative innovation inspired by nature, the ECOSTP utilises functional principles and strategies of microorganisms and ecosystem found in a cow’s stomach.
A case study of a decentralized wastewater system at on-site level with treated effluent reuse was performed at the Botswana Technology Centre in Gaborone, Botswana.[21] It is an example of a decentralized wastewater system, which serves one institutional building, located in an area served by municipal sewerage. Wastewater from the building is treated in a plant consisting of: septic tank, followed by planted rock filter, bio-filter and a surface flow wetland. The treated effluent is reused for irrigation of the surrounding green areas, but the study registered outflow from the wetland only during periods of heavy rains. This example shows the need for careful estimation of the expected quantity, quality and fluctuations of the generated wastewater when designing decentralized wastewater systems.
Centralized systems are a problem. And decentralized systems don't seem to work as advertised. The advancements point to smaller systems. Probably because all the “use a bigger pump” solutions have been tried.
…..............
So, that's what my culture does with fecal waste.

In one sense, we are using fossil fuels to create fertilizer. Then to harvest the crops, then again to transport the crops to cities, to be turned into poo. Then again to pump that poo into estuarian waters, to literally choke out the cradle of life with our poo.

All while dancing in concern over whose interests need to be sacrificed over air pollution, and blaming dams, culverts, and Chinese fishing fleets for the declining numbers of fish...

And we do this because this is what my culture deems efficient. Now does trying to map cultural distortion make sense?

Riggerjack
Posts: 3140
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:09 am

Re: 4th, 5th, 6th Person Perspective

Post by Riggerjack »

RJTP III:

So how hard is this waste problem, really?

First, it's important to understand the concept of “resting”. It is common for a drainfield to greatly reduce it's effluent dispersal rate, eventually. With enough use, every space gets filled with biomat, and plants find traces of effluent, then follow them with root growth, until those roots cut off the flows of effluent.

The solution for this, is to use an alternate drainfield, and rest the first.

What then happens in the first drainfield, is all the lifeforms that have happily been sucking up the regular dosing of effluent go into starvation mode. The roots dry up and die, then feed bacteria, becoming a new path thru the ground for effluent to pass thru again, when the alternate drainfield needs to rest.

There is an overall buildup of organics deeper in my soil than usual, but switching between drainfields will extend the life of my septic system, by a lot.

When the drainfield is being dosed with effluent, it creates an environment that favors whatever lifeforms can most effectively exploit this water/nutrient rich environment. Resting a drainfield allows the aerobic section of my system to go to completion. The environment now favors whatever lifeforms can most effectively exploit the nutrients that built up, and the remains of the formerly favored lifeforms.
...

Looking at my septic system again, how could we improve it?

Solids.

If we installed a backup set of tanks, we could switch between the sets every 5 years or so. So I could “rest” a tank for a few years, then move some valves to pump pressurized water into the bottom of the tank to break up solids, and send them thru a pipe to a compost heap. I can pump out my system without even opening it up. All it cost was some pipe, valves, and tanks.

This is exactly what Langley does with its biosolids, I will just process mine better, first.

That keeps the solids onsite, broken down, and soon back in the soil. My land is now richer.


Liquids.
My system releases effluent to groundwater at the drainfield. If I contain my drainfield in precast concrete tanks, like this guy:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lni4OODogKA
then rather than piping overflow back to the septic tanks, just collected it in underground tanks to be drip irrigated to other contained drainfield tanks.

By having more of these tanks than I am using, I can alternate which is being fed, which is resting, and if I choose, I could create further environments by adding a drip of clean water, or by cutting off the light (creating an environment that favors fungal growth). This gives me 4 states that each tank can be cycled thru to improve the level of processing, and clearing out forms of buildup.

Again, precast concrete tanks, and standard plumbing is all this takes.

@Axle Heyst
IIRC, you recently did some work on a drip irrigation system. And you live off grid in the desert. Could you post a visual representation of how 75 gallons per day of drip irrigation could change your local site? Would that be enough to create a small oasis in the desert? I'm not thinking food generation, just landscaping.
I'm hoping a visual will communicate that which I cannot...


Gases.

A biodigester for Bellingham was a $200M-$1B deal breaker.

Bellingham wanted a system that would move tons of wet biosolids around, allowing them to rot and dry, as quickly as possible. They need a materials processing plant that works in a toxic enviroment, with failsafes to handle overflow and maintenance. Of course it is spendy.

But a biodigester is a shockingly simple technology. Here is a sample of how simple:
https://www.homebiogas.com/

Does that look like a big rubberized canvas bag to you? Yeah, me too.

But I already have a biodigester. That's just another name for a septic tank.

I have seen how little solids accumulate in my system. About an inch of solids buildup per year in a tank about 6 feet deep. Additionally, I give my system all the time to process it can use. So I must be processing it further than the industrial thruput models. All the activity of the anaerobic bacteria and aerobic bacteria are giving off biogasses, mainly methane.

King county is running two 2.3MW generators off of biogas at their West Point plant, so there's some power available here.

But my super efficient methane producing biodigester, vents to atmosphere. And so do all the others.

Look around you. On the back roofs of every building you see is a 4” pipe protruding thru the roof. This is the plumbing vent, the point where air enters the system, so liquids can't hydrolock in the pipes. It's also the place where the biogases leave the confines of a sewer or septic system to be safely and effectively dispersed into atmosphere.

Right now, in Germany, as they go thru their energy crisis from lack of Russian natural gas, every building connected to a sewer or septic system is venting methane to atmosphere. As is everyone else, everywhere else.

And the really weird part of that, is my culture is aware of methane being a more important greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. But this awareness only extends as far as frozen methane in the Arctic that could stop being frozen, with predictions of dire consequences; and cow farts.

Odd that with all the concern over climate change, and all the people going off grid, there is so little interest in harvesting this methane.

My system vents to atmosphere, so the biogas energy I generate will be used to retain atmospheric heat for a while. As will yours.

(I've watched countless people dancing in concern about climate change. None of them were concerned by the millions and millions of pipes venting methane to atmosphere, all around them...)

I don't know of a reason why separating a lighter than air gas from a vent would be an unachievable engineering feat. Fire hazard clearly needs to be addressed. But we already know how to do these things.

If we could harvest worthwhile amounts of methane from a septic system, what's to stop us there? Replicating the system and feeding vegetative biomass should work just as well as feeding fecal waste. It's all just bacteria food. This would create loops of liquid fertilizer, methane, and solid fertilizer, from yardwaste.

Those of you who compost, how much do you worry about nitrogen and carbon loads? Wouldn't it be easier to just drop your veggie waste down the chute, and hit “flush”. Then pump the liquid fertilizer to the landscaping of your choice? No turning your heap. No pests. No rats. With the side benefit of capturing all the methane your compost heap is currently venting to atmosphere.

Commercial biodigesters are getting 30 cubic meters of biogas per metric ton from yardwaste, and 100 M3/T from food waste. That's in energy intensive systems designed for throughput. A passive system should be more efficient in processing, at the cost of time and space.

But whatever the actual output range is, this isn't the kind of energy output that's going to make a suburban home sustainable. This isn't some secret power source suppressed by oil companies. This is just a diffuse energy source that's been ignored by my culture because concentrated energy sources are so “plentiful” and “cheap”. Besides, we already solved this problem, right?

But if one were concerned with living a good life without using fossil fuels, wouldn't a simple, nearly labor free system of concentrating energy be of value?

I know EROEI math is popular around here. What is the EROEI of capturing methane we are producing by accident, with a pipe and a tank? Not that I think EROEI is the right model; but it does highlight the differences that are possible.
…...

So what have I been talking about?

Our waste systems suck, and all our cultural currents flow directly to the worst systems. This is not a coincidence.

The technical aspects are not the problem. We know how to accomplish all the tasks for a nearly closed loop system. We have been doing every stage for decades, but I haven't found anyone competently looking to complete the loops.

Yet still, the solution I point to is still not compatible with the problem, for reasons of time and space. Nothing I have talked about is going to do anything to stop anyone from choking out estuarian waters. There is no space, time, or interest in an urban environment to do better processing.

I was never trying to describe the “one simple trick” we need to do to make everything else we do sustainable.

I'm trying to describe a way to precieve the world that changes one's understanding of what is possible.

I chose waste as the medium of this story to illustrate the Venn diagram of the actual solution space, vs the cultural solution space. Wicked problems are always described as the second, smaller circle.

Better waste systems could be a competitive advantage if one were building something like:
https://www.shareable.net/the-unplugged/

or a “lifeboat floatilla”,

or even something as mundane as:
https://www.thisismysouth.com/visiting- ... n-georgia/

Then having an integrated waste system could be a competitive advantage over existing options. But clearly it's not an overwhelming advantage. 8-)

Yet it is an advantage that the competition cannot replicate, or undercut. The best kind of competititive advantage.

At a more meta level, consider that “very adaptive tech is obligate”. From:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nkv5mpB ... 1&index=35 35:20-47:00 though the full series is worth the time.


Or if one is thinking in terms of the 21st century's Chicken and Egg question:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTFqnPE ... 1&index=24 55:00


What I am describing could be thought of as a crack/seem/weakness in the shell. Certainly not enough to create a phase shift, but hints at possibilities...

It could be only that, an insignificant flaw. In the end, not of much use in breaking free. Just one more, in a long, long list of dead ends. :oops:





But that's OK, too.

Because there's lots of them. ;)

chenda
Posts: 2576
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Location: Nether Wallop

Re: 4th, 5th, 6th Person Perspective

Post by chenda »

Riggerjack wrote:
Mon Jan 23, 2023 2:49 pm
And the really weird part of that, is my culture is aware of methane being a more important greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
My understanding is that methane only stays in the atmosphere for a few years before breaking down, whereas CO2 will stay up there for centuries, so methane is of secondary importance. And about a third of anthropogenic methane emissions are a by-product of fossil fuel extraction.

Slevin
Posts: 390
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2015 7:44 pm

Re: 4th, 5th, 6th Person Perspective

Post by Slevin »

chenda wrote:
Mon Jan 23, 2023 5:28 pm
My understanding is that methane only stays in the atmosphere for a few years before breaking down, whereas CO2 will stay up there for centuries, so methane is of secondary importance. And about a third of anthropogenic methane emissions are a by-product of fossil fuel extraction.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_methane

Atmostpheric methane is 84x as potent as CO2 over a 20 year span, 27 times more potent over a 100 year span. Then, when methane breaks down, it generally oxidizes into water droplets + carbon dioxide (not good at chemistry, but I assume CH4 + 3O2 = 4H2O + CO2). So methane is drastically worse than CO2, because it is literally a much worse gas than CO2 that then breaks down into CO2.

Western Red Cedar
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Re: 4th, 5th, 6th Person Perspective

Post by Western Red Cedar »

@Riggerjack - there is a lot to unpack in this series of posts, but I'll offer this:

Water quality and nutrient loads in the Puget Sound is a pretty good example of a wicked problem. There are different variables contributing to and influencing water quality standards, and some of those variables also represent solutions to addressing the problem. Much of the discussion above focuses on engineering, but the treatment plant designs you describe above are heavily influenced by local political decisions, which are influenced by legal/court decisions. All of these variables interact with each other which makes what should be something simple - treating waste - relatively challenging on a large scale. The policy and legal decisions operate at different scales - municipal, county, state, federal, and international.

So, while you may have an engineering solution to fix a very localized issue for a municipal treatment plant, the bigger problem could be coming from the cumulative impacts of failing septic systems throughout the Puget Sound. Or the fact that our friendly neighbors to the north were dumping raw sewage into the sound for more than 120 years. Or the fact that subsidies for public infrastructure like wastewater treatment plants discourage fiscally responsible engineering or planning. Or the fact that state and federal courts ignored tribal treaty rights for the better part of a century.

My point being that it's often difficult to break down solutions to wicked problems like this because there are so many different factors influencing the problem. As we introduce more people/development/growth/waste into the system the solutions become more complicated.
Riggerjack wrote:
Mon Nov 07, 2022 3:13 pm

But framing the metacrisis as a cultural crisis does offer other framings.

One framing i have had much progress with is something like:

A. What would a self aware culture be like?

B. How would such a culture choose to transmit itself?

C. What infrastructure would it choose for itself to accomplish this transmission?

D. If we built that infrastructure, could we bootstrap that culture?

E. Could bootstrapping in one aspect allow further bootstrapping in other cultural aspects? :ugeek:

How would you define "culture" @Riggerjack? What scales or geographies are you thinking about when you ask these questions?

Riggerjack
Posts: 3140
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:09 am

Re: 4th, 5th, 6th Person Perspective

Post by Riggerjack »

How would you define "culture"
Much the way Daniel Quinn does.

I identify my culture as people who believe this:
Water quality and nutrient loads in the Puget Sound is a pretty good example of a wicked problem. There are different variables contributing to and influencing water quality standards, and some of those variables also represent solutions to addressing the problem. Much of the discussion above focuses on engineering, but the treatment plant designs you describe above are heavily influenced by local political decisions, which are influenced by legal/court decisions. All of these variables interact with each other which makes what should be something simple - treating waste - relatively challenging on a large scale. The policy and legal decisions operate at different scales - municipal, county, state, federal, and international.

So, while you may have an engineering solution to fix a very localized issue for a municipal treatment plant, the bigger problem could be coming from the cumulative impacts of failing septic systems throughout the Puget Sound. Or the fact that our friendly neighbors to the north were dumping raw sewage into the sound for more than 120 years. Or the fact that subsidies for public infrastructure like wastewater treatment plants discourage fiscally responsible engineering or planning. Or the fact that state and federal courts ignored tribal treaty rights for the better part of a century.

My point being that it's often difficult to break down solutions to wicked problems like this because there are so many different factors influencing the problem. As we introduce more people/development/growth/waste into the system the solutions become more complicated.
Complicated. Control. Blame.

I am utterly uninterested in tuning our systems for better results. All the levers are contested.

Rather, I am trying to describe observable reality, so you can see how it differs from cultural reality.

All of what you describe above as complicated, started as a bunch of simple systems, that evolved into our collection of complicated, sometimes complex, wicked problems.

Understanding the simple allows insights into other ways things can complicate.

All the tools we used to create these wicked problems still work. They are available to us all.

RJTP IV will address that, but I haven't written it yet. Original writing takes time, I'll post it when ready.

In the meantime, any questions about one through three?

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