CONWAY PROHIBITS PORTABLE TOILETS IN FLOODPLAIN

by Christian Mower on August 8, 2012

RESIDENTS OF LOW LYING AREAS IN CONWAY WILL NO LONGER BE ABLE TO USE PORTABLE TOILETS IN THOSE AREAS.

CONWAY TOWN MANAGER EARL SIRES SAYS SELECTMEN APPROVED A REGULATION TUESDAY AFTERNOON AT THEIR REGULAR SCHEDULED MEETING THAT PROHIBITS THE USE OR PLACEMENT OF PORTABLE RESTROOMS – SOMETIMES CALLED “PORTA JOHNS” – IN THE TOWN’S FLOOD PLAIN CONSERVATION DISTRICT.

SIRES SAYS IT CAME TO THE TOWN’S ATTENTION THROUGH REQUESTS FROM CAMP SITE OWNERS IN TRANSVALE ACRES WANTING TO KNOW IF THEY COULD HAVE PORTA JOHNS AT THEIR CAMP SITES. THAT IS NOT PERMITTED UNDER CONWAY’S ZONING LAWS BECAUSE PORTA JOHN’S ARE NOT CONSIDERED CAMPING ACCESSORIES.

SELECTMEN THOUGHT IT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA TO STRENGTHEN THAT PROHIBITION THROUGH A LOCAL HEALTH REGULATION.

SIRES SAYS THE THE REASON IS FAIRLY OBVIOUS – THAT HAVING UNSECURED PORTABLE TOILETS – BASICALLY CONTAINERS WITH HUMAN WASTE IN AN AREA SUBJECT TO FLOODING – IS NOT IN THE PUBLIC’S BEST INTEREST AND COULD BE A PUBLIC HEALTH PROBLEM.

THE NEW REGULATION – ADOPTED BY SELECTMEN PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF RSA 147:1 – COMES NEARLY A YEAR AFTER TROPICAL STORM IRENE CAUSED DEVASTATING FLOODING DAMAGE TO THE TRANSVALE ACRES NEIGHBORHOOD OFF CONWAY’S WEST SIDE ROAD.

THE TOWN CAN STILL ISSUE PERMITS FOR PORTABLE TOILETS THROUGH ITS SPECIAL EVENTS APPLICATION PROCESS, BUT EVEN IF GRANTED AN EXCEPTION FOR A SPECIAL EVENT THE TOILETS CANNOT BE PLACED WITHIN 75 FEET OF SURFACE WATER OR A WELL.

A PORTABLE TOILET IS DEFINED AS A INDEPENDENT, PORTABLE, SELF-CONTAINED OUTHOUSE USUALLY MADE OF MOLDED PLASTIC THAT’S OFTEN USED AS A TEMPORARY TOILET FOR CONSTRUCTION SITES AND LARGE GATHERINGS AND EVENTS.