composting toilet report - Page 32 - SailNet Community
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post #311 of 443 Old 01-09-2012
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Hmmm, the manuals for these toilets specifically warn not to dump in food gardens due to potential bacterial contamination.

The research that you quoted outlines very specific conditions required to make the poo safe. It's not likely that many will meet these requirements.

It's amazing that you can just filter out the material that doesn't work for you.

It's sad that you have no regard for the larger community around you and feel the world is your toilet. It's the few bad apples like this that cast a bad light on all boaters. All it's going to take is for this to impact one person and a whole new public crusade against boaters, cruising and anchoring will ignite.

As a modern society we have achieved processed sewage systems so that waste does not have to be dumped in the public domain.
Actually Knothead, I think he's a Troll, in which case I shouldn't feed him, but on the other hand, he could be sub-IQ. He is a Mcgregor "sailor" after all. so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and respond.

HeartsContent, I want you to raise your left hand and repeat after me:
"Don't eat the poo."

Got it?

Good.

I'm glad you brought up the point about a city's sanitation system being essential to keeping people from getting sick. Part of a city's sanitation system is their garbage collection. If one uses the Nature's head as recommended in the manual (as I do) you will put the poo in a garbage bag and put it in the trash. At this point it enters the sanitation system and stays separate from food and thus. The poo is not eaten. Nobody gets sick. Diapers, cat litter and rotting food (which will all make you sick if you eat them) go in the trash, and the refuse from my toilet is not different. It's actually a whole lot like cat litter, just without the toxoplasmosis (I hope).

There is nothing selective going on here about the filtering of information. Nobody is going to get sick from my boat toilet poo, because nobody is going to eat my poo. Cholera and epidemics of the third world etc happen when poo gets in the drinking water. Nobody is going to drink my poo either. It is going to safely rot/compost away in a land fill next to the diapers, cat poo, and salmonella-covered Thanksgiving turkey. Improper hand washing after touching a poo-covered butt with only thin paper as prophylaxis is a health threat not poo/dirt in a garbage bin or land fill.

MedSailor

PS I secretly like McGregors. I think they're a very innovative sailboat design and I have a lot of respect for McGregor making them unsinkable.
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Last edited by MedSailor; 01-09-2012 at 11:34 PM.
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post #312 of 443 Old 01-09-2012
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Actually Knothead, I think he's a Troll, in which case I shouldn't feed him, but on the other hand, he could be sub-IQ. He is a Mcgregor "sailor" after all. so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and respond.
So I have to ask what do you mean by "I think he's a troll"????

Is it because he doesn't agree with you? Because I don't really either. See I own a land based composting toilet and have had it for over 10 yrs. But still don't think I'd want one on a boat especially if we were to live aboard or use it more than a few times a week. That's just my opinion, oh and the rest of the family here agrees. When I told them about this thread they all said "no way"... So maybe we are all trolls too????

It was our suggestion that before dismantlement your holding tank system you actually spend some time aboard a boat with a composting toilet. Than decide. They are not for everyone.
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post #313 of 443 Old 01-09-2012
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Thought it might ad to this by saying that most landfills except septic from pump rigs. it is pretty standard for septic pumpers to unload at the land fill. the idea that a bag of poo at the land fill is going to kill society is quite absurd really.

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post #314 of 443 Old 01-10-2012
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So I have to ask what do you mean by "I think he's a troll"????

Is it because he doesn't agree with you? Because I don't really either.
No not at all. I try and respect others opinions in a debate. These issues of public health are not really issues of "opinion" though, they're settled by science. There are too many epidemiologists and Masters of Public Health that have worked these issues to death. It's hard to take someone at face value who sticks to a belief that is so contradictory to well researched and established knowledge. Some people really like stirring up the pot on forums, hence the term "troll".

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post #315 of 443 Old 01-10-2012
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I can see some of the concern about disposing of the waste. If someone lived in a very small housing addition and they just dumped the stuff in their little flower bed that's only feet away from the neighbors tomato plants that might be a problem.

But with proper care and precautions there would not be a issue. Certainly not for a land fill. There are far worse things in land fills to worry about.
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post #316 of 443 Old 01-10-2012
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Question: Do the composting head detractors ever eat Chinese take out?

Just wondering..
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post #317 of 443 Old 01-10-2012
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The Bears two cents:...
I would hate to count the many cities and towns that are empting incompletly processed sewage into creeks and rivers in this country. Terseary threatment of raw sewage is the law in every state that outputs it's processed sewage in public waters but the systems have not been upgraded because of costs and limited action by inspection officals. Don't tell me how wonderful modern sewage systems are when we have to stop the consumtion of fish is certain waters because of industrial polution, place warning signs of polution on ocean beaches, we have much bigger problems than my placeing a garbage bag of partially processed humature into a special compost pile in my back yard maybe one or twice a year.
My dogs and cat poo go into a compost pile in the back yard and belive me they are great contriputors. This is my second such pile, the first is now over five years old. It is a bin 4' x 4' x 4' high. It is lined with plastic around the sides and fork turned about once a month. I add grass clippings to it two to three times a month as the yard produces. The product of the first bin is now being added to my flower beds, not my garden, and the results have been extreamly beautiful. My neighbors did not even know that the piles existed until I showed them when they wanted to know how I kept my flowers looking so great.
When you bring up the bacterial contamination in third world nations and in cities, you are not talking about properly composted product but raw sewage! Yes in the streets, in ditches along the side of roads. Yes, because these people do not have even the vagest degree of sanitation systems. Many of their cities, villages, have nothing that you or I would consider an even primitave system. And yes I avoid these areas when every I can, and my WHO card is over an inch thick.
Think about this, I can remember when out in the woods you could fill your canteen from a swift running creek and never think about it. The woods were thick with animals and birds and I'm sure they didn't pay any attention as to where or how much they pooped. Nature took care of it and everything worked. Now I filter my water from the tap that comes from my water company. We sell bottles of water so you can not have to drink from a fountain. Did I miss something?
Composting is a natural thing, mother earth has been doing it for longer than humans have been screwing up this world. Is it for every condition? NO! Does it need to be done correctly? Yes! Does it work when done correctly? Definately! Is a admittaly partial composting toilet a vivable solution? In certain cases, IF the rules are followed.
I shall now dismount my soap box and duck.
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post #318 of 443 Old 01-11-2012
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I am struck by the repeated statements in this thread that dumping your waste down the drain is a zero environmental impact scenario. First, transport, disposal, and treatment takes water, a lot of it. To my miond using treated drinking water to dispose of waste is non-sustainable and not green. Second in situations, and they occur often, where wasterwater treatment effluent requires final chemical treatment to address high coliforme loads, this involves chlorine treatment usually with the attendant production of chlorinated hydrocarbon by products. Not necessarily benign environmental stuff. Third, effiiency of nutrient removal in any treatment plant is a product of volume and holding time, too much of the former can adversely affect the later. Remove your small portion of the stream and you might be striking a small blow for staving off millions in facility improvements (I say this with tongue incheek, but hey as long as we are arguing here). Further, in many municipalities there still exist CSO systems. When it rains, raw sewage still enters waterways so your $4it may not end up where you think it is going. Finally, just where do you think your solids waste ends up? Well, after aerobic treatment, composting, and drying it is likely put back on the land, on crop land actually, oh and in the home Depot soil ammendment you put in your garden. Conversely I imagine there are still facilities that incinerate it...green as well?

I'm going to experiment with the compost approach at home first. If it passes the "gross test" with the significant other (and I mean that can be one tough test) I will construct a unit for my weekend boat. If my experience there proves viable for my lifestyle I will explore a commercial unit for longer term use aboard.

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post #319 of 443 Old 01-11-2012
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One problem with forums as an information sorce is that many folks oversimplify...

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I am struck by the repeated statements in this thread that dumping your waste down the drain is a zero environmental impact scenario. First, transport, disposal, and treatment takes water, a lot of it. To my miond using treated drinking water to dispose of waste is non-sustainable and not green. Second in situations, and they occur often, where wasterwater treatment effluent requires final chemical treatment to address high coliforme loads, this involves chlorine treatment usually with the attendant production of chlorinated hydrocarbon by products. Not necessarily benign environmental stuff. Third, effiiency of nutrient removal in any treatment plant is a product of volume and holding time, too much of the former can adversely affect the later. Remove your small portion of the stream and you might be striking a small blow for staving off millions in facility improvements (I say this with tongue incheek, but hey as long as we are arguing here). Further, in many municipalities there still exist CSO systems. When it rains, raw sewage still enters waterways so your $4it may not end up where you think it is going. Finally, just where do you think your solids waste ends up? Well, after aerobic treatment, composting, and drying it is likely put back on the land, on crop land actually, oh and in the home Depot soil ammendment you put in your garden. Conversely I imagine there are still facilities that incinerate it...green as well?

I'm going to experiment with the compost approach at home first. If it passes the "gross test" with the significant other (and I mean that can be one tough test) I will construct a unit for my weekend boat. If my experience there proves viable for my lifestyle I will explore a commercial unit for longer term use aboard.
... their answers. Heck, we're not paid for this. Libraries and more technical on-line sites can be better.

Assuming we are talking about a modern advanced wastewater treatment plant (some aren't and some discharge without treatment, but that's a very different discussion), there are few statements above deserving either discussion or correction.

* "Transport, disposal, and treatment takes water, a lot of it." Basically none. It is also basically illegal to add significant amounts of freshwater to wastewater for dilution or during treatment; check your local city code. I've designed and operated wastewater plants and we never used measurable amounts of city water. Only for drinking.

* "To my mind using treated drinking water to dispose of waste is non-sustainable and not green." Pure fallacy. Perhaps you are thinking of the flush water. But we flush with the water we are floating in and return it days later, so there is no water usage. The water cycle has been sustained for billions of years.

* "... where wasterwater treatment effluent requires final chemical treatment to address high coliforme loads, this involves chlorine treatment usually with the attendant production of chlorinated hydrocarbon by products." Part truth. With good treatment very little chlorine is used, only a few parts per million. Yes, there are halocarbons formed-low parts per billion--and the difference in what is acceptable discharged into the ocean and into drinking water is huge. These products will degrade in time; they are not durable molecules, like PCBs or such.

* Nutrient removal is not so much related to time as food:mass ratio and other design parameters. Asking "how long does it take waste to degrade" is like asking "how long does a bag of dog food last"; it depends a lot on the dogs. Plants are designed to reduce the time by recycling the best bacteria. Unless you understand the specific design very well, you cannot correlate time to effectiveness. A POTW can do in hours what takes nature many months.

I have no problem with composting. Love it and there is no problem where people have the space and take sufficient care. But let's not exaggerate the negatives of POTW disposal. I could find fault in composting, but I won't try. That only leads to exaggerated finger pointing on both sides.

To determine if a "dry" toilet is better, the real questions are these:

* Is it easier to pump out or to compost? The answer will be different for each boat and sailor and will vary regionally. No single answer.
* Is it cheaper? Generally a dry system is cheaper, it seems, though not so different if we compare equal quality. Very minor, compared to the boat.
* Is there less maintenance? IMHO, no. I have seen both and they are simply different. Both are easy once you understand them.
* Is it more odor free? Both can be acceptable and both can be bad. IMHO, MSD systems can reach zero odor, like home. dry systems are not quite there. That won't be acceptable to all.
* Yuck factor. It's not just you, it's the wife and family and friends. I'm skipping the details, but I've been told "hell no" by most people.
* Resale value. I doubt it will help, unless you find just the right buyer. Generally it will hurt. That is what the yacht broker told me. The bigger the boat, the greater the harm.

I would seriously consider a dry head for a trailer boat or small boat near home. Other wise....

(when asked how he reached the starting holds on a difficult rock climbing problem that clearly favored taller climbers - he was perhaps 5'5")

"Well, I just climb up to them."

by Joe Brown, English rock climber




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post #320 of 443 Old 01-11-2012
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Water to transport and operate the system is included in flush water, yes that is what I am referring . The point being that is not a zero in its volume, indeed many millions of gallons for even a modest size town. Water use for human purposes poses environmental impacts. If you live in the eastern US, water use issues are not a big debate. In contrast, for sourthern California and heck the Carib. Islands, it is a sustainability issue. I suppose we might debate waste stream use versus ag, industry, etc but again the point is it is not devoid of environmental impact. Regarding balance between intake and discharge to what we float in, I find your logic unconvincing. It is an issue not so much of total mass of water in and out but diversion and distribution. In California, diversion of western apline freshwater head stream water through pipes to the toilets of tens of millions of citizens and on out to the coastal estuaries, bypassing the natural catchments, has not been without substantial impacts to many river systems and a variety of species. We could debate the magnitude of such impacts as compared to agriculture in say the Central Valley but the point again is it is not a zero environmental impact.

Glad you agree that halomethanes and the like are a consequence of chlorination albeit under certain conditions the extent can vary. They are toxic, mutagenic and while the dose makes the poison, being privy to the decisions involved in setting allowable limits in discharge permits it is evident that such levels still produce biological response in receiving waters. It is a question of cost benefit, setting limits sustained by best available technology etc. The ecological and human health risk are not zero, but rather acceptable given the scenario under evaluation.. So once more it is not a zero effect and therefore obviates the assumption of zero environmental impact. And we have not even touched on the discharges of pharmaceuticals in the human municipal wastewater stream, the inability for existing tratment to achieve removalof such compounds and theior entry to receiving waters. Again not without environmental consequence and so not zero environmental impact.

While conceding design parameters for waterwater plants vary, one must recognize that throughput in excess of designed capacity either means reduced tratent efficiency or results in the need for expanded infrastructure. Poor nutirent removal, or he construction of more treatment capacity would not be devoid of environmental impact. Again the point is it is not zero. And we still have the issue of CSO's in municipalities that result in a lack of waste water treatment under high precipitation events.

Finally running sewage system requires energy, energy to lift stations, energy to run the batch systems, energy to monitor functions, energy to maintain the system. Good or bad, better or worse these are not zero impacts as well.

I am not trying to make an argument that boat-related human waste composting is "greener" than municipal waterwater treatment post pumpout. I was only observing that the "flush and forget" excuse that there is zero impact associated with ones contribution to wastewater treatment is spurious.

Regarding your questions posed I agree they are pertinent to ascertaining which method is right for one's situation. Ugly, beautiful, smelly or sweet, hard or easy are largely subjective though. Hence my own experiment into how well composting works for me. I got good ideas from this string and quite a few chuckles regarding folks misconceptions of different technologies and their own tastes. But it allhelps me frame my problem formulation and the tests I need to conduct.

I don't have ready access to pump out so it is not as easy for me to go that route vs composting. Your mileage may vary.

Resale of a used boat is so pitifully deflated at this point that flush head, porta potty, or composting would not likely avail one of a significant recoup of investment at this point, and really anyone expecting such return on a boat is probably way too hopeful. Maybe woquestion isbest framed which would have a bigger market pool. Incidentally I have a Thetford recirculating head in my boat at this time. Ha, anyone remember these little beauties? Recirculating chemical laden fecal/urine waste as flush water is a concept I tell ya that the significant other finds tantamount to supergluing live rats to the seat so it is all gravy from tis point forward :-)

Peace.

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