7/28/2013

burning man, by the numbers

blm environmental assessment
Participants planning to attend the annual week-long burning man festival are likely, if they hadn't been familiar already, becoming well acquainted with the large amount of stuff that one needs to acquire when attempting to survive (and thrive) out in the middle of the high desert. The event, which is one of the largest art festivals in North America, occurs on federal land and is permitted and patrolled by the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM is the entity responsible for the year-round stewardship of the Black Rock Desert, which is the location for this years event, along with working to ensure the safety of the participants at the various permitted events that occur throughout the year.

In doing this work the BLM ends up filing tons of paperwork. One of the parts of the process that allows the burning man event to continue in its current black rock desert location is an Environmental Assessment. In respect to this event the EA goes through various scenarios relating to the impacts on the event location itself, the surrounding desert, as well as the surrounding communities.

In typical government fashion this EA document is referred to by the sexy name: DOI-BLM-NV-W030-2012-0007-EA. Here are a few bits and pieces of info from the document which was released in June 2012, prior to that years event.

black rock city map
Dust Abatement:

In order to avoid erosion of the playa surface the BLM mandates that burning man must use water trucks to spray the events massive street grid.

6,000,000 Gallons: The amount of water spread over the event site through the duration of the permit.

60 Miles: The length of roads at the event, all of which the water trucks must maintain.

5,507 Pounds: The estimated weight of E. Coli bacteria spread by the water trucks which use water pumped out of a nearby (non-potable) water source.

Hundreds: (or more) The amount of attendees who mistake these water trucks as a free shower. (Don't do this, it might make you sick).

Getting to and from the event:

Building a large temporary city takes a lot of work, thankfully, there are cars, trucks, and planes to help out! Here is a breakdown of some of the info related to the various machines that help get it done:

black rock city vehicle estimates
978: Amount of landings by aircraft at the on-site FAA approved temporary airport in 2011.

89,600: The estimated amount of one-way vehicle trips for an event population of 70,000. (The 2013 permit allows 68,000 people).

5 MPH: The speed limit during the event. (The Land Speed Record was set at this location in 1997: 763mph, faster than the speed of sound).

8,420 Tons: Amount of carbon dioxide from vehicles and aircraft estimated to result from an event with 70,000 participants.

Other various things

1,462: The amount of 'approved' 9 inch diameter post holes in 2011.

14,153 Acres: Size of the closure area for the 2011 event.

1 Square foot: The maximum amount of post-event debris or trash allowed per acre to meet the strict BLM cleanup standard.

545,000 gallons: The total amount of "effluent" generated by participants at the 8 day 2011 event.

4,700: Total amount of patients that came in to contact with the onsite medical personnel in 2011.

11: The number of people who had to be helicoptered out of the event in 2011. (An expensive ride.. be careful out there).

82.5 Gallons: Estimate for the amount of oil dripped from vehicles at an event with a population of 66,000.

and lastly..

100% of the time: How often one should have water on their person and/or easily available during the event.