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Humanure flushing toilets and worm farms  RSS feed

 
Posts: 59
Location: Cherokee, Victoria, Australia
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Hey all you permies!

I'm Down Under and I wrote an article for the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia about how I treat humanure (grey and black water) here at Fernglade Farm with a worm farm. The system uses flushing toilets, so visitors don't even know that there is anything special or unusual about the place. All of the grey and black water + food scraps that don't go to the dogs or chooks get processed in this system by the bacteria, fungi and worms / slugs. The worm tea and vermicast (worm poo) ends up back in the soil. The system has EPA approval here. As a bonus, unlike composting toilets, the system has virtually no smell other than a very mild earthy smell right over the top of the worm farm which is a distance from the house - but you have to breath in deeply to detect it!

http://permaculturenews.org/2012/08/11/food-forests-part-4-humanure-black-water/


Looking at your humanure forum, a lot of people seem to ask the question why you can't use flushing toilets and other normal household plumbing. Well, this is a system that incorporates these, yet gets all of those valuable nutrients back into the soil. It is really awesome.

I'm not trying to sell product as I'm just another permie and am only interested in getting the idea/possibility out there into the world! If you have any questions leave a message here and I'll do my best.

Chris
 
Posts: 143
Location: Oakland, CA
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It sounds great! Is this system packaged by someone, making approval easier? Or a case study we could use? More diagrams would be great...

Thank you for sharing!
 
Chris McLeod
Posts: 59
Location: Cherokee, Victoria, Australia
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Hi Suki,

It's an Aussie made system with our EPA approval.

The website for the mob that make it is at:

http://www.wormfarm.com.au/

I have no link to the company other than being a permie using their product and have been for about 3 years now.

Regards

Chris
 
Kitty Leith
Posts: 143
Location: Oakland, CA
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That's awesome. I've been looking for something that didn't require inconvenience or sacrifice for awhile now! Hopefully, by the time I can afford to build, we can get this approved in the states as well. Your link is a great help! Thanks!
 
Posts: 360
Location: Portlandia, Oregon
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I can imagine a sneaky person could "retrofit" this on to a normal septic system without the dept of making you sad finding out.
 
pollinator
Posts: 9744
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Anna Edey has or had a very simple flush toilet worm composting system at her house. She had her upstairs toilet replumbed to flush into a large double-sided insulated box which was the worm farm. The box drained into a series of special planter beds to absorb and clean the liquid effluent. Apparently the worms were so efficient at composting the humanure that she didn't have to switch over to the other side of the box as often as she thought she would.

More information about the system here: http://www.solviva.com/wastewater_management.htm

I think this could easily be retrofitted onto many houses with no worries about the dept of making you sad.
 
Shawn Harper
Posts: 360
Location: Portlandia, Oregon
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Thanks for the info Tyler. The worm composting toilet seems the best solution to waste in my opinion.
 
Kitty Leith
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Location: Oakland, CA
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Tyler, that is solid gold info. I love you.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Awww, thank you!

 
Kitty Leith
Posts: 143
Location: Oakland, CA
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Hi Tyler,

I returned to the Solviva website and it's gone! I was wondering if she addresses this at all in her book, which is still available on the market through Amazon. Thanks in advance if you know!


Suki
 
Posts: 312
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I do like the look of this system over a normal septic but would probably be a problem to use in the winter in central Ontario Canada where I am. Last year was what most were calling an old time winter, top ten coldest of the last 100 yrs, and temps went to minus 40 on a few days.
 
author
Posts: 163
Location: Ireland
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Looks like a great system Chris. Another possibility is the Swedish Aquatron unit that separates out faecal solids from flush water. Add in a urine diversion toilet for recouping urine if you like. Not sure how this would work in central Canada Wyatt… But then again - it works in Sweden. There they house it in the basement, in a sealed unit, so it's kept warm enough. It's just the water that leaves the house. Actually, should be perfect for your climate.
 
Posts: 66
Location: Central Portugal, Zone 9
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I installed a small vermicomposting flush toilet system based on Anna Edey's setup over a year ago. I didn't have her book. Just went on what she published on her old website (now no longer there: new book with new website here
). It cost under €150 in materials. It works brilliantly. The worm bin is immediately below an outside dining area and there's no hint of a smell. The only time it makes its presence slightly known to the nose right up close to it is if there's a sudden increase in the number of people using the toilet. It takes about a week for the worms to catch their population numbers up to deal with it. There's an article in Permaculture Magazine
(UK).
 
Feidhlim Harty
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Posts: 163
Location: Ireland
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Hi Wendy, excellent! That looks really effective. We used and Aquatron system in west cork because I was concerned with the system clogging, so I'm really encouraged by your research.

How many people use the system? One of the things that I found even with the Aquatron unit, using a makeshift compost chamber, was that the solids turned sludgy and tended to clog up the 50x50cm surface area that I was using. The main problem was rodent access to the separator chamber. Once those were dealt with, clogging wasn't as much of a problem.

This is a whole area that needs a lot more attention. As you've acknowledged, there are many who simply like their flusher - easier to change some infrastructure than a mindset sometimes.

 
Wendy Howard
Posts: 66
Location: Central Portugal, Zone 9
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Hi Feidhlim. I've had no problems with sludging up or rodent access. An essential component of the system is this massive filter/sponge in the shape of wood shavings, leaves and bracken. The tank is half filled with this carbon reserve before starting the system off and the liquids drain through it to exit the tank and be taken up by similar carbon reserves and plants in the filter beds. The system is used by between 1-4 people normally. Winter times it tends to be just one (me). More in summer. I haven't investigated the Aquatron system. I have something of an allergy to manufactured systems, particularly if they're expensive and particularly if I can build a low tech solution from cheap materials and garbage Our beautiful old ceramic flush toilet came from the local dump!

I'm interested in taking this system further, knowing what Anna Edey did at the Black Dog Tavern with 4,000 gallons of throughput daily. We have a massive problem locally in the shape of a 3-chambered septic tank built for one of the local villages. The village has a year-round population of only about 25 people but in August can be 10x that amount. The tank isn't working - too much throughput of grey water I suspect, not to mention lots of chemicals - and is discharging through a pipe straight onto land flowing into the local river. Huge stink and huge health hazard for nearby residents. The local council have been charged with misuse of public funds and fined and we're having a meeting with the environment agency shortly to see what can be done. Since the local residents affected by the outfall are looking for an ecological solution, we're hoping to come up with proposals and suggest to the environment agency that we try a proof of concept here which they can replicate in other isolated mountain villages. Difficulty is very steep land and thin soils. not much room for reed beds, etc. If they will accept Anna Edey's 'biocarbon filters' - basically aforementioned mix of shavings, leaves, etc, plus worms and soil bacteria, then we might have a solution.

She wrote ... "In the case of the septic tank effluent, lab tests showed a 90 percent reduction of the total Kjeldahl nitrogen, from 86 ppm to 8.1 ppm, and a 96 percent reduction of the ammonia-nitrogen, from 77 ppm down to 2.5 ppm. In the case of the Biocarbon septage treatment filter, total nitrogen was reduced 88.2 percent, from 152.34 ppm down to 17.81, while BOD was reduced from 607 ppm to 59 ppm, and COD from 640 ppm to 85 ppm. In both cases the flow-through took less than 10 minutes, and the foul odor was totally removed."
 
Feidhlim Harty
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Posts: 163
Location: Ireland
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Hi Wendy, that's a really encouraging read, thank you. I have a site in mind here that I'd love to experiment with if the owner would be willing…

Best of luck with your municipal experiences. It would be great if you could find a working solution. Here wetlands and reed beds are ideal given our soils and gentle site gradients. Where you are, it sounds as if your approach would be absolutely perfect for the thin soils and high gradients that you have. Particularly so if you can use the water as an irrigation source afterwards - something that we typically have no need for at all!

I'd love to hear how the municipal project goes.

Féidhlim
 
Posts: 111
Location: PNW
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Wendy ~ Thanks for sharing the information; I am hoping to trial this system on our land within the next few months. Hearing your 'year later' report is encouraging!
Since the liquid moves through the initial bin so quickly, do you think it would be too much to run the hand washing sink next to the toilet through the same system? This is for a remote, detached room, so having one system would be ideal.
 
Wendy Howard
Posts: 66
Location: Central Portugal, Zone 9
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Yes no problem running hand basin through the same system. I do the same.
 
Posts: 1560
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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I have been considering such a system.
A chest freezer lined with a net bag sewn of weed barrier.
The bag would sit atop slotted PVC pipes.
3 or 4" rubber couplings would connect the chamber to the house plumbing.
A second unit could stand by for when the first neared capacity.

I first thought of something likely this for off grid living. In that situation liquids would drain to an evaporation chamber.
Seeing how a urinal is just a specialized sink, hand washing sinks that drain to urinals right below them are what I want. I believe it would be safe to treat the pee water as if it were grey water and deliver it strait to grow beds.
 
Feidhlim Harty
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Posts: 163
Location: Ireland
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William, sounds like a good plan. Have a read of Carol Steinfeld's Liquid Gold if you want to use the urine directly. I'm not 100% sure about that one myself. It should be bacteriologically clean unless a user of the system has a kidney infection, as far as I know - but worth just checking out. I look forward to hearing your 1-year on story.
 
gardener
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hi Wendy,

here's another site that may be of interest

http://www.biologicdesign.co.uk/page.php?pageid=home
 
pollinator
Posts: 1566
Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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William Bronson Wrote:
I believe it would be safe to treat the pee water as if it were grey water and deliver it strait to grow beds.


In Solviva, it was stated that a 10 to 1 ratio of water to urine was best for plants. I've had success with this directly around plants that I was ready to consume within days. In Solviva the author mentioned that they used the urine by accident, having watered it down so that it did not smell bad, and then tossed it out and grew great onions!

Hand washing sink water would work well, so long as the soap was easily biodegradable.

I like the idea of using a chest freezer for this purpose. Lots of those in the waste stream. We need more uses for them.
 
Posts: 165
Location: Slovakia
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Hi Wendy,

You ought to start a separate thread on your set-up.

The article and your blog are very inspiring to me. Our family is outgrowing our sawdust-bucket toilet system and we are renovating our house, so today I figured I'd better look into specifics of the future toilet, and was happy to find your post!

I have some questions though:
How will the growing bed work in the winter to use up output from the worm tank when plants aren't growing? Our temperatures in lower east Slovakia can drop to -20°C at the worst during the winter, though most of the winter not that severe, but certainly no plants are growing then!

My one story house is located in an unideal site, actually most of the houses in this village are, which is that we are at the bottom of a valley, with the front of the house 4 meters from the stream that runs through it. Gravity isn't really working for me, so I'm going to have water from the toilet and sink gravity drain to a small tank in the yard with a sump pump, and pump it uphill from the house onto the slope that was formerly a vineyard and now in which I'm aiming to turn into a perennial garden. Up there is where I'd situate the IBC container (suitably insulated) and growing bed. And I had some question in this regard, but now I can't remember!

-Andrew Ray
 
Wendy Howard
Posts: 66
Location: Central Portugal, Zone 9
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That's a challenging situation, Andrew. 7°C is the average winter low here and even though we can have some good frosts, it rarely gets below about -5°C. -12°C is the worst I've seen and it didn't last more than a few hours. I have no difficulty in growing things in the greenfilter bed year-round so it wasn't something I really even thought about beyond insulating the worm bin. And summer temperatures were more of a worry on that score. The principal plant in my greenfilter system is a lemon tree which grows and fruits year-round and is loving it there.

Anna Edey grew winter rye in the beds for the Black Dog Tavern system in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, but that's a coastal location and a quick glance at the winter weather averages shows -5°C, so not the more extreme continental climate you have.

How about a winter polytunnel for the growing bed and a cover crop of something you can use for mulch elsewhere the following season? Keeping the worms at their optimum temperature will be a challenge too. They don't like it much below 13°C. If you included the worm tank into a polytunnel as well, then maybe a rocket mass heater would be the thing to keep the whole system protected from the worst of the winter cold?

Good luck. I'm glad you found the site useful. It's what it's there for.

Edit: I forgot to mention - Anna Edey's old website
is back online again. It was down for a couple of months or more, so very good to see it back again because there's a wealth of information there.
 
Feidhlim Harty
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Location: Ireland
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Hi Wendy and Andrew, for what it may be worth, we had a "big" freeze in Ireland a few years back and reached below -15C, which is very cold for us. Our small worm bins were a mess of frozen worms afterwards. They'd huddled together in a pool in the middle of the worm bins, but that didn't save them unfortunately. That was for food waste, and the volumes were quite small. For a toilet system with warm humic material added daily from the toilet in a 1m3 IBC container it may well be different.

With regards to plants, I know that there is a constructed wetland system in Minot, North Dakota, performance of which "…declines with lower water temperatures, but has performed very well for normal wastewater discharge parameters" Hammer DA and DL Burckhard (2002) Low temperature effects on pollutant removals at Minot's wetland. In:Mander,U and P.Jenssen (2002) Natural Wetlands for Wastewater Treatment in Cold Climates. WIT Press, Billerica, MA, USA.

Hope that helps your project to some extent.
 
Wendy Howard
Posts: 66
Location: Central Portugal, Zone 9
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Update on the municipal adventure ... We (me and a Portuguese friend who's an architect) met with the câmara municipal (town council) today and they've approved, in principal and subject to further approvals and investigation, the installation of a vermicomposting system to solve the problem of the village septic tank outflow I mentioned above. Not only that, but with the enthusiastic participation and suggestion of the presidente of our local junta de freguesia, they're looking at converting the entire system over to a vermicomposting one - ie. to replace septic tank processing by converting the tank itself into worm housing. And following verification and testing, to convert all the septic tanks of the villages in the area in the same way. The ICNF (Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas) need to agree since it's a protected landscape - ironically they might be the biggest hurdle - and we need to get a few more scientists and environmental engineers on board, but what a wonderful breakthrough for sustainable infrastructure! Kudos to the local councillors for being able to think outside the box and recognise a good solution when they see one!
 
Zenais Buck
Posts: 111
Location: PNW
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Wendy Howard wrote:Update on the municipal adventure ... We (me and a Portuguese friend who's an architect) met with the câmara municipal (town council) today and they've approved, in principal and subject to further approvals and investigation, the installation of a vermicomposting system to solve the problem of the village septic tank outflow I mentioned above. Not only that, but with the enthusiastic participation and suggestion of the presidente of our local junta de freguesia, they're looking at converting the entire system over to a vermicomposting one - ie. to replace septic tank processing by converting the tank itself into worm housing. And following verification and testing, to convert all the septic tanks of the villages in the area in the same way. The ICNF (Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas) need to agree since it's a protected landscape - ironically they might be the biggest hurdle - and we need to get a few more scientists and environmental engineers on board, but what a wonderful breakthrough for sustainable infrastructure! Kudos to the local councillors for being able to think outside the box and recognise a good solution when they see one!


This is great news! I think you should start a new thread about this, so lots of folks can see it.
We are putting in our new system in a few weeks. Thank you SO much for sharing your experience with me!
 
Feidhlim Harty
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Hi Wendy, that's excellent! Keep up the wonderful work. If you find yourselves stuck for an environmental scientist with a background in reporting on dry toilets (rather than vermicomposting per se) please give me a shout.

 
Wendy Howard
Posts: 66
Location: Central Portugal, Zone 9
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Thanks for the offer Feidhlim, though I think you'd need to have fluent Portuguese to participate! No shortage of environmental engineers here thankfully. We already have one at the University of Coimbra on board. Portugal's environmental strategy is quite enlightened as I'm speedily finding out. Seems most people in positions of authority know what needs to be done. They just need a bit of a push to get going sometimes and to know they have the support of people in the locality. There's some misguided adherence to the notions of 'invasion biology' in some departments which doesn't help, but little by little ... If you come across any research papers specifically on the use of vermicomposting to process village sewerage, I'd be very grateful for a reference. I believe a lot of the research has been done in India? It's certainly Indian authors I'm seeing for a lot of the papers Google turns up. The local municipality will run with this now but where we can still be of help I think is in bringing in research in other languages which they won't necessarily access.
 
Feidhlim Harty
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Hi Wendy, my Portuguese is nil I'm afraid. The few references that I have are mainly for individual houses and for vermicomposting of sludges. It's not an area that has attracted a lot of scientific research funding to date Best of luck with it all.
 
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Hi, Andrew, just a few considerations/ideas on cold temperatures that might help you...

I have an underground rainwater harvesting tank for 8 years now, it never freezes, even a few years back when we hit -18°C a couple of times, the barrel, nor the pump line froze.
It did freeze in the first winter I lived here, but the pump line was left uncovered at that time, the second winter it was covered with no more than 20cm of soil and it didn't freeze.

Keeping the worm-compost tank under ground and having warm liquids coming in regularly will keep the tank from freezing, covering the lid with 20-50cm of soil will help. You might want to wrap the plastic barrel sticking out with straw as an insulation material, to keep it from cooling down too much from the coldest winter frosts.
The pump line as well should be ideally 50cm underground.
If you use a reed field/basin to work as a green filter, you could design it so you can cover it in winter with arches and create a poly tunnel, to keep the reeds from freezing over. A little bit of sun regularly would do to heat up the tunnel structure. I'm not sure how much water you'd be processing a day, but in worst case you could also add a 1000l/2000l buffer in the coldest of winter so you can wait out the hardest frosts for a week or so.

One thing to consider is since you're close to a stream ground water will probably be relatively high. If your compost/worm tank has too much air, the ground water will undoubtedly push your tank out of the ground, so you will need to keep it well filled.

Good luck,
Steven
 
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This whole worm treatment business is mind blowingly fantastic.

I've been dreaming up a system for domestic use in the UK. The site we will be building on has a restrictive covenant which does not permit effluent to be discharged on it.

I'm considering housing the entire system in a greenhouse attached to the south of the house. This, and the point Steven makes about warm liquids entering the tank regularly should keep the worms at a happy 13C.

From the worm tank the sewage would run through a horizontal series of bunded reed beds. I will have to consult on how much reed bed surface area would be appropriate for a mixed black/grey water system.

The overflow from the reed beds would keep a lined pond topped up.

If this is all done correctly, and the water is nice and clean, could this pond be used in an aquaponic system? Or would that a be a big no no?

Sean
 
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I visited Anna Edey, author of Solviva, last week, and she showed me her flushing humanure system. I'm not sure I understand it completely -- what I saw and understood was so simple! How do the worms not drown? Hm. I should have taken pictures, oops.

The primary bin, where the worms are, is right up next to the back of the house. It is much smaller than I expected. It appears to be about 3 feet long, 2 feet wide, with another box several inches smaller than it submerged in the compost inside. The toilet pipe outlets under the lid, onto the top of the middle box, with a patch of pale brown gunk there. The entire rest of the container, both in and out of the inner box, was dark black compost. She poked the stuff in the outer box with a stick and it was black compost, teeming with worms, though there looked to be small bits of black splinters still. I couldn't detect any smell except an earthy composty smell, not even a greywater smell. I didn't notice any beetles or other beasties in there, though I wasn't looking for them.

Then it runs out of the bottom of that box (How does that bottom outlet not get clogged? I don't know.) and down a pipe to about 30 feet away from the house to the secondary treatment, a sort of homemade leachfield. The effluent comes in at the midpoint of a straight pipe that is perforated, and then spreads itself along the 30 foot length both ways and drips into the ground. It appears to be a bed about 2 feet wide, though I forget what she said is under there -- oops, is it gravel or wood chips? and then covered over with pine needles from the trees around it. There are no plants right on top of it; I don't know if she weeds them, or what. There are several pine and other trees around the area that she says take up all the water and nutrients. She said that according to tests she had done, where the effluent comes into the secondary treatment it has already lost 90% of its nitrogen, and has a good BOD level, etc. I asked her where the nitrogen goes, and she didn't answer that clearly.

She says it's been running for over a decade and she ended up never emptying the compost out. When it shrinks down she just puts more wood chips in. She said the worms change it to castings, and the castings dissolve in the water.

The plywood lid of the primary box is not buried, but I think it is insulated. I think the worms and other organisms need fresh air coming in, so you shouldn't bury it. Yes it does get cold in Martha's Vineyard; I'm sure it touches 0F / -18C a few nights every year, though not most nights. She said the pipes don't freeze because they have a good slope and the effluent goes through them in quick flushes, not a trickle that would slowly freeze and build up, even though the pipes are shallowly buried.

She has a dry composter too, but she had just finished a several week visit from 12 family members, so I guess the flusher was being used heavily recently.

She's 77 years old so she's stopped producing vegetables for sale. It was wonderful to visit her, although some of the systems seen in the books are no longer there, such as the big greenhouse and major food production.
 
Wendy Howard
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Rebecca Norman wrote:I visited Anna Edey, author of Solviva, last week, and she showed me her flushing humanure system. I'm not sure I understand it completely -- can it be as simple as all that? How do the worms not drown? Hm. I should have taken pictures, oops.


Wow! Lucky you! Yes it IS as simple as all that. The worms don't drown because the liquid in the flushings drains straight through the compost and out of the box(es) pretty quickly and on into the "green filter" (which, according to Anna's website, where there are pictures, contains wood chips). It doesn't clog because all the solids remain on the surface. It's the structural, chemical, and biological characteristics of vermicompost which are responsible for its exceptional adsorptive capacities - the aeration of the compost by the worms means there is a massive surface area within the compost for aerobic decomposition processes to take place. The nitrogen is rapidly taken up by bacteria in the compost as part of the process of breaking down the carbon in the woodchips, dead leaves, etc. The more mature the system, the faster this happens.

She's had that toilet going for more than 2 decades now, not one, and it's fascinating she's never yet emptied the compost!
 
Sean Kettle
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Wow, I would love to see the mother worm tank in action incredible bit of ingenuity. Amazing that that wee box hasn't been emptied in two decades...

How is are your worms in Portugal going Wendy?
 
Wendy Howard
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Sean Kettle wrote:Wow, I would love to see the mother worm tank in action incredible bit of ingenuity. Amazing that that wee box hasn't been emptied in two decades...

How is are your worms in Portugal going Wendy?


They're just grand! Last time I put fresh organic material in there about 3 months ago, they were about twice the size of the ones I started the system with and they’ve multiplied to fill the entire top layer of the tank. I would estimate there are now around 20kg of worms. The system was started with 1kg. It’s incredible how they can reduce over half a cubic metre of coarse wood shavings, dried leaves and bracken, let alone all the faecal material, toilet paper, etc, that's gone in there to just a few centimetres of rich compost inside 6 months. I can quite believe Anna Edey hasn't emptied her tank in 20 years. I don't think mine will be full in that time either.

As for the progress on the village project, well it was never going to be that simple … We heard a couple of weeks ago that the câmara municipal have backtracked and decided against installing the vermicomposting system proposed by myself and a local architect and are putting in a compact ETAR. The reason for this is the supremest of ironies. The ICNF (Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas) – ie. the agency charged with environmental conservation and who are responsible for the protected landscape in which the village septic tank is situated – are being “difícil”.

However all is not lost. The câmara are still keen on the idea, as is our local presidente. So the plan has simply shifted location to somewhere outside the ICNF’s jurisdiction. Four households in another village (one without a centralised septic system) have had problems for some time with their sewage disposal so in September we will make a new proposal for a worm system there. There are also other similar situations within the freguesia which can be considered.

With data from these smaller systems, and the possible participation of a local university in the study, we will have a far firmer basis to go back to the ICNF … who currently can’t open the newly-built toilet facilities at one of their local visitor attractions because there’s no adequate disposal system! You really couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried …
 
Rebecca Norman
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Thank you, Wendy, that sounds informative.

About the tank not filling up, my father didn't have our septic pumped for 20 years. I guess if you don't let sand and other inorganics get in there, the organic materials (wood chips and excrement) keep turning into worm castings and getting washed away.

About the removal of the system from the Black Dog, this is from Anna Edey's website:

To be sure, there were various problems that developed with the system. The most serious was the fact that a lot of grease, primarily olive oil, was getting into the filters, thereby gumming them up and killing many of the earthworms. This problem was unexpected because the grease was supposed to stay in the grease trap, but because the restaurant used very hot water instead of bleach for disinfecting the dishes, the grease did not have a chance to congeal and therefore migrated into the filters.
We quickly made numerous small but important adjustments to the system to rectify the grease damage, such as increasing the drainholes in the Brownfilter containers, adding fans and replacing the medium in the Brownfilter. However, according to DEP, no adjustments could be made without getting a permit, which of course would take months, and to wait was impossible because the adjustments had to be done when they had to be done, because 5000 gallons of wastewater effluent kept coming each day. So these adjustments were added to the list of violations.

Anna Edey proposed that they enlarge the primary system and make some adjustments to the system but the govt department insisted they rip the whole thing out and go back to a regular septic. It seems that a restaurant system is a bit different from a domestic system because of the huge amounts of oils. Salt (sodium chloride) and other elements might eventually be a problem in contrast to a system that is just toilets, but maybe removing the compost periodically would deal with that.
 
Sean Kettle
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Wendy - I hope things work out better for you than they did for Anna's system at the Black Duck. I read about that on her website, such a massive shame. Fingers crossed the ICNF will be more amenable, the battle sounds far from over

Does anyone know if there's been a successful installation in the UK?
 
Wendy Howard
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Rebecca Norman wrote:Sadly the system that Anna Edey installed at the Black Duck was removed at the behest of the Department of Being Difícil. I forget the exact details she said, but they installed it and it worked great. She said the standard of the effluent was good. For some reason installing it meant they had removed the grease trap that had previously been before the septic tank. So the grease was building up and causing a problem. Oh, wait, no, they used to pour boiling water down for various reasons like pasta water, and that would keep the bacon grease or butter from building up, but with the living system they had to stop pouring boiling water down, so they replaced the bacon grease and butter with olive and vegetable oil, and that was building up a layer on top. Oops, I forget the detail.

Anna Edey proposed that they just enlarge the primary system but the govt department insisted they rip the whole thing out and go back to a regular septic.


It was the Black Dog Tavern at Vineyard Haven, MA. The full story is on Anna's website. As far as I can gather I think the main problem was that there was a change in administration and they were too nervous about having an unconventional system on their watch while it was going through its teething problems phase. This is a perpetual problem worldwide ... "it's more than my job's worth" etc ... doesn't matter how good the data and science is, if it's unconventional, public servants are too afraid to accept responsibility for change.
 
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