Dry Toilet Systems
The flush toilet is a relatively recent innovation, and one with some significant drawbacks in terms of water pollution potential and soil nutrient removal, as well as being relatively resource and energy intensive in its infrastructure. Dry toilets are becoming increasingly popular where the highest sustainable options are desired.
If you want to use a dry toilet system or compost toilet in your house, school, scout camp, campsite, training centre or university campus (it's been done!) contact us to find out what's involved and how to facilitate the planning process with your local county or city council.
There are two distinct elements to wastewater generated in domestic dwellings, namely grey water and black water. The black water, from the toilets, is high in organic matter, nutrients and pathogenic micro-organisms. The grey water, from sinks, wash hand basins, showers, baths and washing machines can have elevated nutrient levels due to detergents, but is essentially free of the pathogenic bacteria usually associated with sewage effluent.
Why Use a Dry Toilet System?
Over the past thirty to forty years many environmental education/research organisations have examined and experimented with alternatives to the flush toilet. The principle reasons for avoiding the use of flush toilets are typically summarised as follows:
1. They are very wasteful of clean water resources;
2. They are polluting of fresh water in the receiving environment;
3. They are wasteful of nutrient rich organic matter which would otherwise be reintroduced into the soil.
As a result of this work there is a large research base and extensive wealth of experience throughout the world in the area of dry toilet systems. A quick internet search will demonstrate the variety of suppliers on the market and the variety of different types of the technology.
To respond to the limits of flush toilets, dry toilet systems are gaining increasing popularity around the world. Dry toilet use can eliminate the environmental problems associated with flush toilets, in addition to the infrastructural limitations posed on many sites.
Hybrid Systems for use with Flush Toilets
Another approach to composting humanure is to separate solids from liquids after the flush toilet. The Swedish Aqutron Aquatron unit is one such separator that works by gravity alone. Another approach is a composting flush toilet pioneered by Anna Edey of Solviva in the US. For other ideas on source separation technologies see the new Herr.ie website.
Recent publicity of the events in Syria and the resulting movement of people seeking refuge and asylum in the EU has brought with it a surge of compassion and goodwill for those who have lost their lives, homes and families in the war. Just one of the many challenges facing the temporary camps in the EU, Turkey and North Africa is how to get safe, clean and sanitary access to toilets. Well designed dry toilets can be an excellent temporary or long-term solution. If you are involved in any way with refugee work in the EU or further afield, there is a wealth of information available on-line and look here for downloadable designs.
Useful Information - random assortment of sites that may be of use and/or of interest
Here's some excellent information on the Separett system in a US blog site, with lots of Q&A entries Tiny House Blog.
Download "The Perfect Privy" Built-it-yourself guide in pdf format. http://acagle.net/images/Privy-Plan.pdf
Humanure Handbook site; a mine of useful information for dry toilet systems. http://www.humanurehandbook.com/
Contact us for more detail on dry toilets as well as urine diversion toilets and Scandinavian separation systems for composting humanure in conjunction with standard flush toilets. Keep nutrients out of the groundwater and surface water, and back on the land where it's needed.
FH Wetland Systems website content on this page by Féidhlim Harty is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.