Beyond the Portaloo: Plumbing & Drainage Considerations for Festivals

From the massive Ed Sheeran concerts in Ipswich to Latitude Festival in Southwold, thousands of people flocked to Suffolk for big music events throughout the summer – providing a boost to the local economy in the process.

As one would expect, there is a huge amount of logistics and organisation involved in putting on open-air events of this scale. On top of booking the acts, constructing stages, organising caterers, and employing temporary staff and volunteers, festival organisers also need to consider the plumbing and drainage infrastructure required for such events.

Because festivals and outdoor concerts are usually held in large open spaces – typically parks or farmland – organisers don’t tend to have access to local sewer systems. This means they’re usually left needing to source temporary and portable solutions to provide attendees with the necessary facilities such as toilets, showers and drinking water.

Here, we take a look at the key plumbing and drainage considerations for anyone planning to host a festival, either in Suffolk or slightly further afield.

Portable Toilets Are Your Friend

Long rows of portable toilets are a very common sight at festivals. However, despite the unfavourable experience, they may offer attendees, they ultimately present the most efficient and environmentally friendly solution for festival organisers.

Portable toilets flush and carry waste away like any other toilet. The key difference is that, rather than being transported to a sewer, the waste enters a holding tank that sits just below the toilet seat. This tank contains chemicals that can break down the solid waste, kill germs, eradicate smells, and reduce toilet paper. The toilet will flush using either the chemicals from the holding tank or with water from a hidden water tank inside the toilet.

To prevent the build-up of waste, which can be hazardous to public health and the environment, it is important that portable toilets are regularly emptied during a festival. Professional sanitation companies can extract waste from portable toilets using large hoses, with vacuum technology moving the waste into large storage tanks on the back of their trucks. The waste is then taken to a special facility that will treat the waste before releasing it safely into the local sewer system.

Most sanitation companies will also give portable toilets a thorough clean, replace toilet paper and hand sanitizer, and re-add chemicals to the holding tank to prevent the spread of germs. Regular cleaning and emptying of portable toilets will also keep any foul smells to a minimum, ensuring festival-goers have the most pleasant experience possible.

Call in the (Water) Tanks

Another challenge faced by festival organisers is providing attendees with a regular supply of water. As mentioned above, the temporary nature of festivals means organisers don’t have the option to dig into the ground to access the mains water supply. Once an event has finished, the site will return to being a park or working farmland.

Fortunately, there are a number of companies that specialise in providing alternative water storage and supply solutions for festivals and outdoor events. Water tankers are capable of carrying up to 30,000 litres of water, so depending on the size of your festival, you may need a single tanker or a whole fleet. Alternatively, if your event is relatively small, you may wish to find a company that supplies water bowsers, which carry up to 2,000 litres of water.

You will also need to consider the appropriate storage solution for the water once it arrives on-site, and how people will access the water for drinking, washing or showering. Small and large capacity water storage tanks are available from various suppliers, many of whom will be able to set up temporary water filling stations. Larger festivals may also require water transfer pumps, which can deliver water to wherever it is needed across the event site.

Keep Your Festival Flowing

At Anglia Drain Doctor, we work closely with a number of suppliers who provide a first-class service to festival organisers and organisations putting on local events. Regardless of the size of the event, we can advise on the most efficient, cost-effective and environmentally solutions, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch today.