Waste Management in Morton


The provisions of the Treaty of Durranmouth impose a responsibility on the towns along the Durran, and its tributaries, not to pollute the water of the river and deliver this with a requirement for the rulers of the towns to drink regularly from the river a mile downstream of their town. As the largest town on the river (with the possible exception of Durranmouth this requirement has been a constant challenge to the Duke and his Berman and over the centuries a number of tricks, ruses and subterfuges have been tried - often succeeding for several years, but never succeeding over the longer term.   Three centuries ago the Duke instructed an end to these ruses and the addition of effective treatment to the existing sewage system (which as one of the more successful ruses had been built to discharge most of Morton's waste downstream of the Treaty's drinking point. These processes are managed by the Gongsters, one of the town's less well known and less regarded guilds, who maintain the three sewer systems of the town and enforce the townlaws against pollution.  

The Sewers

The liquid wastes of any settlement pose a threat to the water courses they drain into. Morton's infrastructure includes three discrete sets of sewer to manage the flows of water. Though not technically a sewer, a fourth similar system (also under the control of the Gongsters) supplies fresh (or nearly so) water to the town's residents.

The Storm Sewer

This system deals with surface water from rain or snow melt and typically transfers it to the river by the most direct route possible, though a portion is directed into the other systems to help flush them clean. The storm sewers are the oldest part of the network and were originally the single means of disposing of the town's effluvia - their limitation being the amount of untreated water that the river could take without causing the Duke or his Berman to take ill after drinking from it.   Nowadays, all the links to private properties have been blocked up and rumours circulate of strange and unpleasant things happening to people who try to use the storm sewers for other purposes. The Gongsters deny any knowledge of these but it is widely agreed that the Gongsters must know and are maintaining a population of something in the storm sewers.   As the town has expanded to has this system and it is the only part of the liquid waste management system to have been implemented in Outer Morton

The Foul Sewer

The foul sewers serve the walled area of the town, but unlike the storm sewers, have not been extended into the developing area of Outer Morton. This system dates back several centuries and includes purification facilities run by the Gongsters, most of which are seldom even considered by the majority of the town, and only known in any detail by the Gongsters themselves. As with the Storm Sewers there are rumours and tales of strange creatures involved in this. What is known and widely used by the market gardeners surrounding Morton is the Nightsoil that the Gongsters sell as the final result of their treatments.   The system discharges to the river a little over a mile downstream of the town walls, through an artificial marshland area which has an ornate "Treaty Pavillion" where it discharges into the river and from where the waters are drunk (or taken for drinking) in accordance with the Treaty's provisions.

The Trade Sewer

The trade sewer serves the industrial areas of the town, most notably the metal working and tanning areas. The Gongsters insist on the rigorous separation of these trade wastes from the foul sewer for they say that these wastes are poisonous to their systems for treating the more human wastes of the foul sewers.   The Gongsters dealing with the trade sewer are known to deal widely with the town's alchemists and also to supply some materials to the tanners and metalworkers so most assume that they are using secret guild knowledge to extract and recycle from the trade sewer before discharging the comparatively clean waste into the foul sewer.   Whatever the detail behind this generally recognised outline, there is clearly great value in some of these wastes for the Gongsters operate a set of barges to take trade waste from Outer Morton to their jetty at the western end of the tanneries.    

Access and Availability

The foul sewer is accessed by communal points - only the grandest of residences have their own direct access to it, but within the close confines of the city's residential areas, these points are common and few dwellings are more than 30 strides (if you could cover it in a straight line) from one of these points. In the more recently developed (or redeveloped) areas access points are even more common and each "yard" of 4 to 10 houses has one in even the poorest of these areas.   The consequence of this is that most daily needs are taken care of by bucket and one of the final household chores of each day is to take the bucket(s) to the sewer and rinse them out. Many households in the older parts of town, where the access points are further apart will contract this duty out to one of the "bucketmen" who ply their trade (often as a second job) in the evening hours.  

Other Waste

Other waste materials fall into three broad groups
  • Ashes - from fires and the burning of burnable waste material. Depending on their nature these may be of interest to the alchemists or householders may need to pay for them to be taken away; typically by one of the carters of the Morton Porters Guild for disposal outside the town (mostly the ash ends up as a bulking agent added to bricks).
  • Food and other rottables - if the food waste is still edible then some of the charitable bodies such as the Soup Sisters; otherwise the most usual route for these is via the Gongsters, for whom such materials seem to be useful in their treatment of sewage.
  • Other - if it can't be burned, eaten, or composted what then? Well you will need to arrange for it to be taken out of the town to one of the tips - take it yourself or employ a porter. There anything of value will be recovered by the Scourers.
  • Bodies - For the sake of completeness and to avoid the potential for these being thought to be treated as "other rottables", the bodies of the dead are transported over the Durran for burial or cremation. More on this subject can be found in Funerary Rites in the Moran Duchy


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