Ecological Sanitation


Ecological Sanitation

Ecological sanitation, commonly shortened to eco-san or ecosan, seeks to address the issues of modern sanitation systems, which are environmentally destructive. Current thinking sees excrement as waste and a problem. Modern flush toilets simply transfer human excrement using large quantities of water, where it needs to be treated or causes pollution if untreated.

Problems and issues

Often, the water used is of drinking quality. Only 1% of global water is drinkable, therefore, it is a precious resource. Water fit to be drunk is being used for other purposes that can use lesser quality water, such as toilets.

Mixing feces and urine makes treatment difficult. All waste water treatment plants use some natural/biological processes, but nature does not normally have this waste water, so there are no microbes that can deal with this mix. In order to treat waste, treatment plants have to do this in stages. Each stage treats a different component of the mix by creating the right environment for microbes to do their work (aerobic, anaerobic, anoxic and the right pH). This is costly and requires energy.

A mix of domestic and industrial effluent in water cannot be treated properly, for heavy metals and other polutants make this water unsuitable for reuse. This is normally discharged into the ground or water bodies.

Due to the complexity of the treatment process, treatment plants tend to be large. This requires costly infrastructure to build and maintain it, often out of the reach of poorer communities.

Studies have shown that a person's urine contains most of the nutrients to grow enough food for a person for another day. [ [http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC42/Jeavons.htm John Jeavons - Cultivating Our Garden ] ] Urea is the major component of urine, yet we produce vast quantities of urea by using fossil fuels. By properly managing urine, treatment costs as well as fertilizer costs can be reduced. Feces also contains recognized nutrients, and could be used for modern agriculture, owing to the micronutrient deficiency as a significant problem.

Ecosan techniques

* Composting toilet
* Urine diversion
* Waste water garden

References

External links

* [http://www.ecosan.nl/ Ecosan program, a part of the Dutch WASTE group]
* [http://www.ecosanres.org/ EcoSanRes Programme website]


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