Wendy Howard wrote:Only just saw this post! The OP is linking to an article I wrote for Permaculture Magazine back in 2014. Since then, the system has performed so well I introduced it to my local municipality here in Portugal. It's now approved for use under the provisions for 'septic tank with drainage', and is being installed by the council where septic tanks have failed or are non-existent. Many people in the area are also adopting it as a solution for their off-grid sanitation. I've open-sourced the system and there's now a website devoted to it. I'm gathering case studies of installations and encourage people to join the forum. The more experience gained, the more potential weaknesses are discovered and ironed out, the better the system becomes.
Rebecca Norman wrote:Will the worms starve to death if we go away?
I don't have experience of this, but I think they'll survive for several months and then leave eggs if they do die, so I believe this system could recover after a few months of disuse.
Zenais Buck wrote:We built a system in rural south west Oregon, based on Wendy's post. 2.5 years in and it is working perfectly. When it freezes, the worms just move to the interior of the bin and activity is slow. In early spring I toss in more worms, just to help handle any stuff that has collected over winter. Granted, we don't get 'deep' freezes. So far we have only one hiccup; in the initial build I did not pay enough attention to screening the exit, and the thing got clogged, resulting in too much liquid retention that killed the worms. I had to dig into it (it was not too awful) and create a guard around the exit that keeps the mulch out. Then we have a secondary screen right at the exit pipe (similar to Wendy's build). Anyway, once that was cleared it has been working like a charm ever since. It was installed for my parents house on my off-grid property (my house still uses composting outhouse) and is used by 2 people. However, we had 13 people use it for a week and the system handled the fluxuation just fine. I ordered and installed low-flow Toto toilets for this system - they rock.
Wendy- thank you so much for sharing this work! It has been a blessing for my older parents to have an indoor toilet as they age.
Rob Lineberger wrote:Wow. Thank you, Wendy. I can completely picture what you're saying. Thankfully i can't smell it! You've convinced me. Im also much happier about this once i heard about using grey water or rain water to flush toilets. That makes good ecological sense to me. Is there any issue with using grey water in vermicomposting toilets?
Rebecca Norman wrote:By the way, don't use wood shavings! We asked our students to collect wood chips from around our construction site, but they filled the tank with wood shavings instead, so for the first week or two it smelled great and the water coming out was quite clear, but then the shavings clogged up so the water was backing up a bit in there, and it went anaerobic and started smelling bad in the whole area including the kitchen and dining hall. So I dug out all the wet stinky shavings and we filled it up with wood chunks from construction (no, nobody uses any pressure treated or chemical treated wood here, and minimal plywood was used in this project so the chips seem pretty clean). It's only been going another 2 weeks so I don't have anything meaningful to report yet.
Rebecca Norman wrote:Good idea, thanks. I'll go back and throw some other compostable stuff in there along with the wood chunks.
Sandy Wise wrote:Should we be concerned or is there anything else we can do to prevent standing water? How deep have people successfully dug for the greenfilter? Any thoughts or suggestions in this area would be greatly appreciated. If these concerns can be addressed a new project will be started in Peru within the next couple months.