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Jonathan Todd @ PV1 - "Restoring the Waters"  RSS feed

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Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
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Me again!

So, are you sad that you didn't get to go to the Permaculture Voices conference? Did you go but you can't remember what was said? Well, I am an obsessive note taker (most of the time) and I took notes at most of the talks I attended.

I will share them here with you!

Please note that this is in no way a transcription. These are my notes, taken in real time, on the fly, whilst trying to look at the slides and follow along. I find that note taking helps me synthesize information. None of this should be construed as an accurate quotation, even when I put it in quotes. (For example, I'm pretty sure not a single speaker used the utterance "Yo.") Much of the time, I am trying to summarize and it's entirely possible that I've gotten some things wrong.

My next notes document is Jonathan Todd. The topic this time was "Restoring the Waters"


Jonathan Todd: Restoring the Waters

(I came in late, so I missed a bunch. Sorry.)


We are using plants to filter water at the Omega Center for Sustainable Learning

We had a water treatment facility there, and it became such a lovely space, they started doing yoga classes there. Really, it doesn’t stink.

They teach all sorts of classes there now. But better was a recent study of that Eco-Machine’s effectiveness at removing pharmaceutical and personal care products from wastewater. We were able to remove almost all of the personal care product crap (ed: my word, not his!) that they were looking for.

Pic: the I89 Vietnam Memorial Rest Stop in Sharon, Vermont. The place is on shale, so there’s no way to percolate waste water. All the water has to be recirculated. Pics with green water in a toilet. Yes, also cool tropical plants in the lobby. We recirculate the water. We recently did a project like this in Eugene

We wanted to work with paul stamets and for the first time instead of just doing the random ecology we deliberately used specific fungi. It was removing 97% of the oil from the water. A kind of heavy oil called Bunker-C oil. It looks like tar. We proposed a Grafton EcoMachine in situ Canal Restorer. There was about 800 gallons being pulled into the off shore eco machine greenhouse and then also a (? floating) mass of fungi and plants in the canal. This was much cheaper for the EPA than dredging. Our project was 1/4 the cost of dredging.

Pic of the floating island in the canal. We were dumping the older wood chips from the greenhouse on the island and the river bank, and now there are huge plants on that island and when the storms came there was no erosion there. Pic: fruiting mushrooms on the water’s edge.

The EPA, the parks service, the town of Grafton, everybody really liked this project. We are hoping to expand this project.

Pic: look at these mycelium. They can maybe break down PCB’s. I’d like to test for that.

Fuzhou, China, a big city with open sewer canals. We built a floating system of plants. (ed: wow, there’s a boardwalk with plants on either side of it—so lovely)

Prior to the China project, we did a project at a Tyson chicken plant, with floating systems in their pond. We took the wastewater treatment lagoon and put in our floating system. We used native Maryland aquatic plants and they did great. When we work outside we use native plants. Inside we will use tropical plants because they don’t go dormant.

Our system cleaned better and used less electricity. A lot on both accounts.

Hawaii - a saltwater restoration. A lake near a golf course. The other bid had two motors, each around 50HP. We used 2.5HP for our pond system. The owner took it further and now is growing fish and shrimp in the pond as well.

Instead of using petroleum based fertilizers, let’s get the phosphorus back out of sewage water! Intercept it, harvest it and put it back on the land.

Algae can be a powerful tool in managing things like calcium bicarbonate. You can then turn the algae into fish food, fodder, fuel.

Here’s a project combing spent brewer’s grain and used (organic) chicken straw and inoculated it with oyster mushrooms. After selling the mushrooms, the rest went into vermiculture. Then we had worm castings to sell! (Oh yeah, and they grew lettuce, too.)

Pic: green wall. Pull the HVAC air through the plant roots on the green wall—this improves the air. Why not also run the grey water through the roots of the plants on that wall?

Q: what happens in cold country in the winter?
A: the mycelium go dormant in the winter, but they don’t die.

Q: how long did the mycelium work on pulling the badness from the water
A: it was prime for about 6 weeks. We found so many things to do with the “spent” wood chips, we didn’t feel bad about restocking

nedlaw systems are the people combing HVAC with plants

Q: characteristic of good plants
A: root to shoot ratio, compatibility with IPM, aesthetics

Q: what’s going to happen to that abandoned chicken farm?
A: it’s been vacant for like 12 years, but I recently found it on Google Earth and it’s still growing!

Q: how does this go
A: here’s a settling tank, here’s where it comes through gravel, here’s the successive plant beds and here’s the constructed wetland

We use tanks when we have to. We use the existing infrastructure (like lagoons, canals) when we can.

It’s got to be affordable to be widespread.

Q: When are things going to change?
A: I think it’s going to change soon. Right now people are trying to get into compliance with the EPAs new standards for wastewater effluent, and they’re going to find that ecological systems are the only way to get this done efficiently. It’s money that will drive this.

Q: those wood chips inoculated with mycelium. How did you run the water through that?
a: we lightly sprayed the water, to keep the wood chips moist. We didn’t flood the chips.

Q: can you clean fracking water?
A: not sure, nobody knows what’s in there. I think so.
Anderson gave himself the promotion. So I gave myself this tiny ad:
The $50 and Up Underground House Book by Mike Oehler - digital download
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