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Septic tank compostable?  RSS feed

 
Braulio Sanchez Garza
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Hi everyone! Im a freshie just joined today with a very specif question, hopefully this topic interest you as much as it interest me.


I reach to all of you, with very valuable knowledge on composting toilets, to ask you to help me figuring out what you all know, but with  a little twist that it could mean a lot of more people using composting toilets. (maybe its already been done and I don't know, excuse me if I'm wrong)

Basically I'm wondering if the composting toilet principles can be applied in big scale so the septic tank water can be collected and then taken to a location where it would be mixed with saw dust and soil and finally turn into compo-stable materials. The Idea has been making some noise in me since a while. It offers the beneffits of composting your dark water instead of flushing it down the drain. and also to extend this activty beyond the limited amount of people that has a compost toilet, talking about mass population and more like restaurants, public spaces and so on.

I know that there are bio septic tank additives available but I really don't know if this its ok to tunr into compost? or if the regulations of developed countries might force the use of certain chemicals for -health and safety- reasons and thus the septic water is no longer compo-stable?

I know only a little bit on the subject, enough to make me want ask more so I hope we can create a nice fun and worthwhile topic that teach us all the principles of "composting septic tank" and help create a new concept that can be applied in large scale.

thanks in advance for your time

anaerobic-digester-13-5108db955f46bfdf09c53b057fe9044a545a3c40-s900-c85.jpg
[Thumbnail for anaerobic-digester-13-5108db955f46bfdf09c53b057fe9044a545a3c40-s900-c85.jpg]
 
Kym Mogridge
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Hello, I run a business called Adobe Loos & Worms and mainly supply waterless composting loos.

In reference to this Post I would direct to a page on my website that describes a Wet Composting Loo

There is enough info here to provide the principles of the system and with a bit of extrapolation & ingenuity, even build one.

Hope this is useful.

Regards
Kym
 
mary jayne richmond
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I think  Milwaukee Wisconsin does this with its Solid Waste they call it milorganit  not sure I have it spelled properly
 
Braulio Sanchez Garza
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Thanks a lot Kym I appreciate you sharing the info
 
Ardilla Esch
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Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
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There are also advanced treatment options you can do in septic tanks so you can discharge the effluent as irrigation water.  We have this system in ours: http://www.sludgehammer.net/
There are pluses and minuses to these sort of systems.  Basically what lead us in this direction is that doing an advanced treatment septic system was cost comparable to doing greywater distribution and (manufactured) composting toilets with less maintenance in the long run. 

More to your question...  You can compost septic effluent and sludge.  For my job, I have set up industrial composting operations for municipal wastewater treatment plants.  This could be done on a residential level (maybe not legally).  Though it could be unpleasant and a pain to do (directly handling anaerobic effluent and sludge).  With the industrial composting operations, the material mix is balanced after developing recipes based on available feed stocks (carbon-rich, fluffing material) and the compost is turned to maintain at least thirty days at high temperature (~150 F) for pathogen reduction.  Usually, the material is composted further without the careful temperature monitoring and frequent turning.

I think by making a septic tank aerobic instead of anaerobic, it would make composting easier and more pleasant.  Keeping the septic tank aerobic breaks down a lot more of the waste material and greatly reduces odors.   Also, the amount of sludge generated by an aerobic system is very small - so you would be mostly dealing with the careful use of the water.
 
Bethany Dutch
Posts: 200
Location: Colville, WA Zone 5b
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Ardilla Esch wrote:There are also advanced treatment options you can do in septic tanks so you can discharge the effluent as irrigation water.  We have this system in ours: http://www.sludgehammer.net/
There are pluses and minuses to these sort of systems.  Basically what lead us in this direction is that doing an advanced treatment septic system was cost comparable to doing greywater distribution and (manufactured) composting toilets with less maintenance in the long run. 

More to your question...  You can compost septic effluent and sludge.  For my job, I have set up industrial composting operations for municipal wastewater treatment plants.  This could be done on a residential level (maybe not legally).  Though it could be unpleasant and a pain to do (directly handling anaerobic effluent and sludge).  With the industrial composting operations, the material mix is balanced after developing recipes based on available feed stocks (carbon-rich, fluffing material) and the compost is turned to maintain at least thirty days at high temperature (~150 F) for pathogen reduction.  Usually, the material is composted further without the careful temperature monitoring and frequent turning.

I think by making a septic tank aerobic instead of anaerobic, it would make composting easier and more pleasant.  Keeping the septic tank aerobic breaks down a lot more of the waste material and greatly reduces odors.   Also, the amount of sludge generated by an aerobic system is very small - so you would be mostly dealing with the careful use of the water.


So - I've looked at that website and so really what you're able to do is directly use the water that comes OUT of your septic for irrigation? Their website says everything literally is fully digested - have you founf that to be the case?

I'm really interested in figuring this same dilemma out. I've been using a composting toilet for 4 years and I don't really care for dealing with the sawdust mess (because I have kids and their aim sucks) or emptying buckets. It just seems to me that there HAS to be some sort of ecologically sound, permie type way to deal with this that is able to integrate a water flushing system.
 
Ardilla Esch
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Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
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Bethany Dutch wrote:So - I've looked at that website and so really what you're able to do is directly use the water that comes OUT of your septic for irrigation? Their website says everything literally is fully digested - have you found that to be the case?


Yes, we use the water coming out of the tank for irrigation.  It goes into a pump tank that alternately pumps to three irrigation zones.  There is a fourth, gravity drain zone in case there is a prolonged power outage, pump failure, or temps are below 0 F.

So far, we have been using the system for five years and it has been working as advertised.  The effluent water is clear with a faint odor (not at all like normal septic effluent) and there is no measurable sludge in the tank (very end of dipstick showed a little).  The system greatly reduces biochemical oxygen demand but does not reduce nitrates by much at all because there is no anoxic zone/process.  Not reducing nitrates is no big deal because the plants use it readily.  Our well water is somewhat salty so we are careful not to use any powdered detergents, borax, etc. that would make the treated irrigation water even saltier.   If we wash anything with borax, etc. that water gets dumped on the gravel driveway.

I think someone could create a do-it-yourself version of a treatment system like this.  Since we had a building permit and some bank loans, we had to go with a permitable system. 
 
Bethany Dutch
Posts: 200
Location: Colville, WA Zone 5b
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Ardilla Esch wrote:
Bethany Dutch wrote:So - I've looked at that website and so really what you're able to do is directly use the water that comes OUT of your septic for irrigation? Their website says everything literally is fully digested - have you found that to be the case?


Yes, we use the water coming out of the tank for irrigation.  It goes into a pump tank that alternately pumps to three irrigation zones.  There is a fourth, gravity drain zone in case there is a prolonged power outage, pump failure, or temps are below 0 F.

So far, we have been using the system for five years and it has been working as advertised.  The effluent water is clear with a faint odor (not at all like normal septic effluent) and there is no measurable sludge in the tank (very end of dipstick showed a little).  The system greatly reduces biochemical oxygen demand but does not reduce nitrates by much at all because there is no anoxic zone/process.  Not reducing nitrates is no big deal because the plants use it readily.  Our well water is somewhat salty so we are careful not to use any powdered detergents, borax, etc. that would make the treated irrigation water even saltier.   If we wash anything with borax, etc. that water gets dumped on the gravel driveway.

I think someone could create a do-it-yourself version of a treatment system like this.  Since we had a building permit and some bank loans, we had to go with a permitable system. 


Oh that's good to know! I've been using a bucket for years but I want to switch to a septic type. Would actually be better if there was a way to actually use the flush toilet setup but have it go to a place where it is still composted but this may be a happy medium.
 
Joshua Parke
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Location: Northern New Mexico, Latitude:35 degrees N, Elevation:6000'
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Have a regular flushing toilet that composts..... https://permies.com/t/17877/Humanure-flushing-toilets-worm-farms

I've looked into this question for a few years, I too prefer a regular flushing toilet.  I've used a sawdust toilet, "bucket", for over a year....it stinks, unless I use LOTS of sawdust.  I prefer to dig a hole, over using the bucket..LOL

Back to the link....the original idea is from a woman, Anna Edey, in MA, that's been using the system for 20 years, without needing to pump out the septic tank every so often like a regular septic system requires.  There's a couple other sites out there showing how effective this type of system is, but I didn't wanna search for em.  LOL.  You can find links to her site in the link above, but I'll link em here too. 
http://www.solvivagreenlight.com/green-clean-wastewater-management-with-flush-toilets/ <---newer site.
http://www.solviva.com/wastewater_management.htm <---original site

She also has some books, that talk about the system...I think..??
 
Did Steve tell you that? Fuh - Steve. Just look at this tiny ad:
Video of all the permaculture design course and appropriate technology course (about 177 hours)
https://permies.com/wiki/65386/paul-wheaton/digital-market/Video-PDC-ATC-hours-HD
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