Originally Posted by Read_N_Run
We scrape, use an orgo bucket (gamma) and then do a 4 tub wash system. Most of the remaining organic matter is in the first tub. That tub gets strained and that water goes into the river. Even with a 100 micron filter there is organic matter in the water and it seems that if everyone dumped this water on shore there would eventually build up a volume of organic waste (and potentially soap - albeit biodegradable) all around our camps. Same reason we use groovers and pee in the water. Remember - even the strained water has a good share of organic matter in it from food that is not exactly "native" to the camps.
My friend, who happens to be a river ecologist clearly stated that putting that strained water into the river was the best way to keep the camp clean and distribute any remaining organic matter that got past the filter - which it will.
This is the way we've always done it - the rangers I've spoken to seem to agree with this as well. It seems that the goal is to leave as little in camp as possible and even broadcasting (on land) your residual dishwater seems like a bad idea.
Even the guidelines for the Grand recommend straining into the river and then packing out the strained solids. Can you reference a river guide that states what you are recommending?
Not on the Middle Fork.
Particularly see points 5 and 9. They can and will cite you for doing this. And I agree with them. I had this argument with someone who ignored my suggestion to broadcast above high water. NO SOAP in the river EVER, PLEASE. Grand Canyon in climate and volume of water is much different than the high alpine environment of the Middle Fork. It is essentially a low volume river after June and soap and food particles increase nitrogen levels in the water not to mention the biophosphates t
Salmon-Challis National Forest - Water Activities
Not that a few bucket of dish water approach this level of harm but why go there in the first place. Relatively large flows of water in Grand Canyon dilute this problem but not up here.
What occurs if detergents show up in freshwaters?
Detergents can have poisonous effects in all types of aquatic life if they are present in sufficient quantities, and this includes the biodegradable detergents. All detergents destroy the external mucus layers that protect the fish from bacteria and parasites; plus they can cause severe damage to the gills. Most fish will die when detergent concentrations approach 15 parts per million. Detergent concentrations as low as 5 ppm will kill fish eggs. Surfactant detergents are implicated in decreasing the breeding ability of aquatic organisms.
Detergents also add another problem for aquatic life by lowering the surface tension of the water. Organic chemicals such as pesticides and phenols are then much more easily absorbed by the fish. A detergent concentration of only 2 ppm can cause fish to absorb double the amount of chemicals they would normally absorb, although that concentration itself is not high enough to affect fish directly.
Phosphates in detergents can lead to freshwater algal blooms that releases toxins and deplete oxygen in waterways. When the algae decompose, they use up the oxygen available for aquatic life.
The main contributors to the toxicity of detergents were the sodium silicate solution and the surfactants-with the remainder of the components contributing very little to detergent toxicity. The potential for acute aquatic toxic effects due to the release of secondary or tertiary sewage effluents containing the breakdown products of laundry detergents may frequently be low. However, untreated or primary treated effluents containing detergents may pose a problem. Chronic and/or other sublethal effects that were not examined in this study may also pose a problem.
Read more: Effects of detergents on aquatic freshwater life