It was in the news today that a lot of rain this winter has put waste lagoons on as many as eighty hog farms dangerously close to overflowing, and a leading environmentalist says such spills can kill everything in their paths if they reach nearby streams. Sadly, that is not news. And, though I know it’s probably too late, can we stop calling them “lagoons?”
A lagoon is an area of shallow water separated from the sea by low sandy dunes. We think of a lagoon in terms of swaying palm trees and tropical islands. A lagoon is where Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins got nude (at least, Atkins did), and swam around to everyone’s voyeuristic delight.
But, I’m afraid the dictionary has already sold out to euphemism on that one. The third definition listed is: an artificial pool for storage and treatment of polluted or excessively hot sewage, industrial waste, etc. That little “etc.” includes hog doo. But, if we were to call a spade a spade here, we’d call them “cesspools,” pure and simple. If you have a septic tank to treat your household waste, that’s what it’s called—not a lagoon.