Monday, March 19, 2007

Be your own Waste Treatment Plant

Many or all of the problems related to human waste treatment could be eliminated at home. A very large proportion of our water usage (some estimate 40%) is nice clean water that we flush straight down the toilet.

This does us a disservice. All those nice nutrients that we've taken from the earth we are now going to flush down the crapper and it will end up most likely somewhere where it will do us no good. Most of our waste will end up as carbon dioxide, and the rest will be flushed down the river or sprayed out somewhere, or dried and landfilled.

So if we use composting toilets, we suddenly retain most of our nutrients for reuse and save 40% of our water usage. So what do we do with that extra 60% of water that gets used in the house? Well the first and best idea is to conserve it which can be done with standard low flow sink faucets and shower heads. But, since the water is not from toilets, it is much more free of harmful bacteria such as most fecal coliforms, it can be easily treated with plant and tree roots. This does not mean we just dump gray water out on the ground, this would cause mosquito and other pest problems as well as possible utrification. Do a couple of searches around, and you will easily find systems that treat gray water.

There are a couple of good ideas such as a reed bed system, or underground deposition similarly to a leech field, but much closer to the surface so that plants and trees can benefit from the water and nutrients. Most of these systems incorporate some type of holding tank that holds the water until there is a batch to be sent out, but not longer than a day to avoid the mix going south. The water then goes to a reed bed system, or to underground pipes that distribute it directly to root zones.

This type of system not only allows you to eliminate your water waste, but allows you to recycle it into your garden or lawn and water them too.

Water is one of the most important resources in the world, and just because it is easy come, it should not be easy go, because it may not always be that way.


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