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The City Café

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Per previous blog posts, Cameron and Lincoln spent time in Nepal volunteering at an eye clinic in Phaplu at the Moran Eye Center. The entire trip was led by World Wide Trekking, a Utah-based expedition company, and its Human Outreach Project.   The blog compares Utah cities to Nepalese cities.

Utah cities are proud of the public works and sanitation services that they provide.  Public works employees dig, excavate, build, pave, and develop the infrastructure on which our community and economy depend.   Utah cities contract with waste disposal companies to ensure that communities stay clean and waste is removed efficiently and disposed of in environmentally-friendly ways.  Nepal is… different.

Like Utah, Nepal boasts high mountain streams that result in fresh, clean water… or so they say. In Patan, residents come to a fountain near Durbar Square to draw water. Likewise, along the Everest trail we often saw water running through prayer wheels and labeled as “drinking water.” When your correspondent asked if he could get a drink, the Nepali tour guide laughed and said that water would make me sick! Thankfully, Utah cities have higher standards for treating drinking water to ensure its cleanliness. Utah city water consistently ranks among America’s finest water, with Beaver and Salt Lake City having won contests in recent years.  Your correspondent wishes that Utah had more water flowing through prayer wheels though!

Most homes within municipalities in Utah are hooked into the water system. Clean water flows in and gray water flows away. Utah city residents drink, shower, wash dishes, and flush the toilet without worrying about the water supply. In Nepal, however, the villages do not provide such a reliable water system. Many buildings store their own water on the rooftop and use it sparingly for washing. You must treat water before drinking it. Water may be a hassle, but the views are worth it!

Gray water? Well, funny you asked… this photo shows the outhouse in Tengboche. The facility is just a hole in the ground—no gray water involved. In other cases, a simple pipe carries the gray water away from the village. In Utah, the gray water travels to a sewage treatment facility where it is treated and released. In Nepal, however, the gray water travels down the simple pipe and arrives untreated in the river below. Like I said before—and never have to say in a Utah city—don’t drink the water!


Utah cities provide many ways to dispose of waste. The city encourages you to bring bagged leaves or dry Christmas trees to City Hall, provides garbage and recycling receptacles at your home and place of work, and collects the waste on a regular basis. In Nepal, the local residents traditionally just burn their waste, including yak dung. Unfortunately, sheer quantity of waste that trekkers bring to the Everest region has overwhelmed the residents’ ability to dispose of it. As such, the government has posted signs throughout the region urging trekkers and residents alike to “pack in, pack out” or to use the provided receptacles. Unfortunately, your correspondent only spotted a few such receptacles on the entire 30 mile trek and I am uncertain who collects the waste or what happens post-collection. This was the most scenic, with Mt. Everest looming above it (top left).

Because Nepal is richly blessed with water supplies but does not have the capacity to build large dams, rural communities are pioneering small hydro plants to supply their electricity.

In Utah, power and utility lines are often buried underground. Older Utah cities may still have the lines above ground, but it never looks like this!

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