A Flood, A Canoe, and a Vault Toilet
Hello Everyone! My name is Barney Feezell and I’m a full-time employee for Polk County Conservation. My job title is Construction Technician. I have several duties consisting mainly of anything construction or maintenance related (carpentry, electrical, heating/cooling, etc).
I have been with the Conservation Department for five years and have seen and done a variety of exciting jobs. My most memorable job consisted of a CXT vault toilet, canoe, and several feet of water.
It all started with a delivery of a 25,000 pound CXT vault toilet to Jester Park’s non-electric Campground #6 in June of 2010. The hole was dug for the toilet and it was time to put it in the ground. Everything was going smoothly until the rain came. Not just a little rain either!
Saylorville Lake’s water level began to rise. I surrounded the construction area with caution tape and hoped for the best. Before too long the campground became flooded and the vault was completely submerged. This put the installation at a standstill.
After several weeks under water and lots of trees from upstream floating through the waterlogged campground, I began to ponder the question…”Is the vault toilet still there”? It was possible with the strength of the current, floating debris, and trapped air inside that it could move. I wanted to find out.
With the aid of a part-time employee, we loaded up a canoe, drag line, and fish finder. We pulled over to the bison pen and unloaded. The water was completely covering the 6 ft. fence, so we literally paddled over the area. It was a bit odd canoeing through the tree canopy above the road. Oh and just in case you were wondering, the bison had been relocated to higher ground prior to the flooding!
After arriving near the vault site we could see a little piece of caution tape whipping in the current. That was our spot. The drag line was used several times with no luck. Then it was time for the fish finder. After starring at the screen for a couple of minutes, a large black mass started to appear. It was like finding the Titanic! The vault was directly below us and it was time to head back to shore.
Weeks passed and the water eventually resided. The vault was placed over the hole and opened to the public.
If you are ever driving into Campground #6 at Jester Park, keep your eyes up and look at the large tree just before the curve as you enter the area. As we were leaving the vault toilet and paddling back to dry land following our successful mission, we stopped and pulled a piece of bark off to show how deep the water was. It still amazes me to this day.