Auckland Regional Council (ARC) has required the inventor of a worm-driven composting toilet to get professional confirmation that his workforce was not "traumatised or stressed" by its crap job, the Sunday Star Times reports.
Colin Bell was looking for official approval for his "wormorator", which relies on a colony of tiger worms to tackle solid waste while the resulting liquid residue can be filtered and "disposed of in underground trenches". A council operative duly paid a visit, but became "concerned" at the worms' working conditions.
Bell recounted: "She felt that the worms were being unfairly treated, being expected to deal with human faeces, and that it could affect them in a psychological way. I said, `Well, what do I do about that?' and she said `you have to have someone with the necessary qualifications to say the worms are happy'."
Senior consents officer Robyn Floyd described the woman's concerns as "fair" because Bell's application was to deploy the wormorator at a campground "where sewage flowed mainly for two weeks a year, with little flow during the rest of the year".
He explained: "The phrase was used by a new member of staff, but it did relate to a valid concern with stress on a proposed worm population from huge fluctuations in flows and thus feed for the worms, and the corresponding performance of the system."
Mercifully, vermiculture consultant Patricia Naidu was able to assure ARC that the worms were "in excellent health and breeding happily". ®