• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Mike Haasl
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Dave Burton
  • Joseph Lofthouse
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Ash Jackson
  • Kate Downham

self-contained system in lieu of septic?

 
Posts: 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am wondering if someone, ANYONE, anywhere, has had success with their local permitting board and managed to get approval for a self-contained composting toilet system for their PERMANENT RESIDENCE in lieu of a septic system?

I know this is almost impossible in most places that have building codes. How can we change these regulations? Join the local planning board or something? Do some jurisdictions allow people to submit an appeal for their composting system to be approved on a case-by-case basis?

I want to preserve the environment and provide a legal, sanitary, safe system but I don't want to pay $20k or more to flush my damn toilet...seems like septic is potentially more polluting and problematic than some self-contained composting toilets!!! What gives?

My husband and I have tons of cash saved and want to buy land for our family to live on, but aside from living in the middle of nowhere, can't seem to find places that would let us build like this.
 
Posts: 86
4
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well...
A $20,000 septic system (in my area they're actually about $5,000)  IS the safe,sanitary, legal system!

The problem with "alternative" building is; while you may be willing to jump through hoops to have an alternative lifestyle chances are the next owner of your house probably won't be.
Since few people have the courtesy to burn down their "alternative" constructions, and instead wish to turn a profit off them when they move on, the safe, sanitary, legal, system (the one in place!) has proven to the broad cross section of the people to be the sanest solution.

County officials aren't so concerned with some oddball living with the consequences of their alternative lifestyle as they are with a subsequent owner showing up in a public meeting screaming "Didn't you people enforce any standards!" after their kid fell into a barely covered sump of sewage that wasn't in the realtor's description.

Your best bet is to show how the long term disposal of your self contained system will be as easy, thorough, and trouble free as a conventional system.
Septic systems have a reasonable lifespan of 50 to 75 years, Most peoples fascination with emptying catch tanks, ash pans, etc, wanes after a few years and disgusting shortcuts become common.

A few counties still allow pit outhouses, it may be worth your effort to see if its legal there.
 
master steward
Posts: 3917
Location: USDA Zone 8a
1146
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It would greatly depend on the persons state and county.

Here are a link that might help answer your question:

https://greywateraction.org/composting-toilets-faq/

Composting toilet regulations vary greatly from state to state (and many states do ... though usually only NSF-certified manufactured types

 
gardener
Posts: 3124
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
155
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
There are commercially available, certified and approved by some authority, composting systems, and applying for a variance to use one of these may pass muster, depending on the particular jurisdiction. States, counties and towns vary so widely that there can be no blanket statement about what is allowed or possible to get through. Maybe you are looking in a very restrictive area? Where are you located? You appear to be currently far outside the US.
 
Posts: 499
Location: Rural Unincorporated Los Angeles County Zone 10b
34
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Cattastic Fantastic wrote:I am wondering if someone, ANYONE, anywhere, has had success with their local permitting board and managed to get approval for a self-contained composting toilet system for their PERMANENT RESIDENCE in lieu of a septic system?

I know this is almost impossible in most places that have building codes. How can we change these regulations? Join the local planning board or something? Do some jurisdictions allow people to submit an appeal for their composting system to be approved on a case-by-case basis?

I want to preserve the environment and provide a legal, sanitary, safe system but I don't want to pay $20k or more to flush my damn toilet...seems like septic is potentially more polluting and problematic than some self-contained composting toilets!!! What gives?

My husband and I have tons of cash saved and want to buy land for our family to live on, but aside from living in the middle of nowhere, can't seem to find places that would let us build like this.



The trick in building is to finish the house to get your Certificate of Occupancy first... then you can do whatever you want. We have been running our own sewage treatment plant for over three years. It recovers, processes, filters, and stores every drop of water from our sewage so we can reuse it to water our fruit trees, grape vines, and vegetable garden.
 
Cat Hargreaves
Posts: 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We are transitioning from working in the Middle East and will be in the US by June. We are in the first phases of research to narrow down our search for land so we can focus job-searching efforts to areas most favorable to our goals and priorities. We will probably rent in the area for about a year so we can spend some time in the market and take our time selecting land that best suits our needs.

We have family in the PNW, so we have been searching in Washington, Oregon, Northern California mostly. I've poked around Montana and Idaho resources to see what the regulations are like and what the market is like.

My husband is keen to visit Tennessee this summer, as land is very cheap and it would be a change of pace from where we've grown up. Seems like some areas in TN have more relaxed regulations but it's been hard to find solid information about any of the locations we are researching.
 
Greg Mamishian
Posts: 499
Location: Rural Unincorporated Los Angeles County Zone 10b
34
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Cat Hargreaves wrote:...but it's been hard to find solid information about any of the locations we are researching.



Good.

You don't want there to be solid information because it means you have leeway. We installed a standard septic system to get our C of O, and then once we got it we installed a black water recovery system. While it's illegal to recover and reuse your own sewage water, we are using the same aeration/filtration process the County uses when it recovers and recycles public sewer water for irrigating plants and trees on public road medians. You can tell because there are signs all over warning not to drink the water. The county acts upon complaint, and since there's no smell there's nothing for anyone to complain about.

 
Bill Haynes
Posts: 86
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As  follow up....
These people wax rhapsodic over their composter and give the full run down on almost every aspect of it you can think of!

https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/composting-toilet
 
Posts: 22
Location: Western Washington Zone 8a
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Greg Mamishian wrote:

Cat Hargreaves wrote:...but it's been hard to find solid information about any of the locations we are researching.



Good.

.... We installed a standard septic system to get our C of O, and then once we got it we installed a black water recovery system. While it's illegal to recover and reuse your own sewage water, we are using the same aeration/filtration process the County uses when it recovers and recycles public sewer water for irrigating plants and trees on public road medians....



Greg,
I'm curious about your systems...how much did it increase your cost to install the second 'unofficial' system? Does your official system process anything, like your greywater?  It seems a shame to have duplicative systems, but I definitely understand the need to keep the regulators content. Could you describe your second system in more detail?  What maintenance does it require?

It's always great to hear success stories!
gift
 
Garden Mastery Academy - Module 1: Dare to Dream
will be released to subscribers in: soon!
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic