Alberta students' portable pooper a much-needed amenity for ice fishing

A group of Alberta high school students has found a solution for human waste while ice fishing.

Students designed and built portable toilet using grant money from CAWST

Students from Grande Cache Community High School created this "portable pooper" for people who ice fish. (Johanna Dalton)

Some Alberta high school students have developed a solution for human waste while ice fishing. 

The group of 10 students from Grande Cache Community High School, located around 400 kilometres west of Edmonton, designed a portable toilet, which they call the "portable pooper."

It's one of a number of projects funded by the Calgary-based Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST), which awards grants to Alberta school projects that find innovative ways to deal with local water issues.

Johanna Dalton's students pose with their "portable pooper," which they developed with funding from CAWST. (Johanna Dalton)

Most of the students involved in the Grande Cache project are avid ice fishers and hunters, teacher Johanna Dalton told the Calgary Eyeopener. While there are many ice fishing shacks on Victor Lake — the town's water source — finding a place to use the washroom isn't as easy.

"They spend a lot of time on the ice," said Dalton, who teaches social studies and environmental stewardship. 

The students got a five-gallon pail, built a wooden frame around it, and topped it with a toilet seat, handles and a toilet paper holder. A bag goes inside the bucket, which can then be removed and disposed of.

Students from Grande Cache Community High School give a thumbs up after creating their "portable pooper." (Johanna Dalton)

Dalton acknowledged the "invention" isn't necessarily anything new.

"It is a bucket in a box," Dalton said, laughing. "We'd found a couple [other] things — there was a five-gallon pail with a toilet seat on it and we'd also seen something called a 'poop tube' that apparently climbers use. But we thought this would be a cool way to use their skills and interests to protect our water source."

Many people who ice fish on Victor Lake will stay in their shack all weekend, Dalton said, so they often will simply use the washroom on the ice rather than driving into town.

"Sometimes, poop happens," she said.

Dalton's students built three of the portable poopers and raffled them off.

World Water Day

Wednesday marks World Water Day. In celebration, CAWST is lighting up four Calgary landmarks in blue, including the Calgary Tower, Reconciliation Bridge, TELUS Spark and the Galleria of Trees on Stephen Avenue.

The organization's World Water Day will take place from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at TELUS Spark. 

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener