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Bucket Toilet Survey

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I'm looking for "all known instances" of home-built 5-gallon bucket compost systems with separate composting chambers because we're trying to get Portland, Oregon to start permitting home-built composting toilets and they want some background info. Point me to links online, cite a book, tell me about yours, send me an email (toilet AT darinwick.com). The more details the merrier. I will be sharing this information with my local government and probably posting it online for others to reference.

If it's your own system, please describe:
- your setup: urine diversion? leachate collection? open vs. closed pile? pile size? areation technique? carbon matter type? any other details?
- number of users
- maintenance schedule: How often do you empty the bucket? switch piles? turn the pile, if ever?
- lab test results (if any)
- temperature (how high & for how long)
- how much it composted (if no test data)
- when did you start using it? (and when, if at all, did you stop?)
- location
- building type

We also made a survey for ease of checking off that you've answered all the questions, or for sharing with non-permies bucket toilet users.

I've read through most of the existing bucket toilet threads, I know about the Humanure Handbook.  
Posts: 445
Location: Victor, Montana; Zone 5b
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5 gallon bucket system with an open pile. Two 4x4x8 foot compost piles rotated each year as per the humanure handbook. I put all of my house compostables in this toilet, food scraps, old tea, etc.

Two users and the occasional visitor.

no lab results

temps before i broke my thermometer were high during the spring and summer- 9-110 F. Steams during the winter.

it composted really well, 1 year collection with 1 year composted. I used it straight into my home garden. I've been using it for 4 years, only using the compost for 2.

Location is in Ravalli County Montana.

Building type is a cob house.

I've provided a link to my blog where I posted an article about the toilet, photos, and experience with the Department of environmental quality when they tried to make me stop pooping in a bucket and gardening with it.


I also have an email from the DEQ saying we can continue to use the bucket toilet. If you would like it, send me a message with your email and i'll forward it. Good luck. Great cause.

Posts: 600
Location: Michigan
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From home power magazine one of my most valuable sources for practical information.

David Abazs family story is an inspiring heroic victory and, if i remember he may have access to materials that will help.

Here is an excerpt or two from a home power article.

Home Power #89 • June /July 2002 

At the time we were making these decisions, my job as the county water plan coordinator provided me with the opportunity to explore regional wastewater problems. During those years, I worked with an alternative wastewater technical committee, installing and evaluating alternative wastewater treatment systems throughout northern Minnesota. I couldn't have asked for a better chance to see the options available, and to help shape the trends in wastewater attitudes.

• 40 percent less water • 50-90 percent less nitrogen • 40-60 percent less phosphorus • less bacteria and fewer solids Greywater treatment seems to be even harder for regulatory agencies to accept than composting toilets, although I am not sure why. What comes out of a typical household as greywater actually contains fewer "problem" nutrients than the treated effluent that comes out of a typical mound septic system. A homeowner has little problem getting a mound system approved, while someone wanting to try a greywater system will probably be pushed into the "experimental" category with all its hoops to jump through. The biggest obstacle is that the regulatory community has figured out how to do a few systems (mounds and trenches, in our area), and does not want to spend the time and effort to investigate other options. They feel that their systems work, which in itself is arguable, considering the many studies revealing failing "approved" septic systems. Nonetheless, they have the tendency to reject any other suggestions. In Minnesota, there are septic regulations (Minnesota Individual Sewage Treatment Systems Standards Chapter 7080), and all systems have to fit within these specs. Each state has different regulations. Here are three recommended steps for successfully getting your greywater system approved. 1. Find out how an alternative system fits into the existing regulatory guidelines, and address these regulations in any design you propose. In our case, we knew that the wastewater had to remain subsurface, and a 500 gallon (1,900 I) septic tank was required, so we used these parameters in finalizing our design. 2. Show that your system will treat the waste as well or better than approved systems. Make sure you know more than the officials do about greywater. 3. Go to meetings, talk directly with all the individuals involved in granting your permit request, and find influential people, like county commissioners, to support your efforts. I followed all of these steps, plus I had the added advantage of having worked at the county level in the research of alternative waste water systems and was considered an expert in the field. For some time, we have been working on an ecological way to not only treat, but also use this nutrient-rich water source safely and efficiently. Through the evolution of our system, we've learned plenty about how to approach designing, permitting, building, and using a greywater system. Home Power #89 • June /July 2002

Access David Abazs, Round River Alternatives, 5879 Nikolai Rd., Finland, MN 55603 • 218-353-7736 abazs@lakenet.com • www.round-river.com Symbiosystem: Installation, Operation and Maintenance Manual, by David Abazs, 24 pgs., US$59.50 (includes shipping and one hour of consultation)



The problems of the world fade way as you eat a piece of pie. This tiny ad has never known problems:
"Permaculture Now! - Desert or Paradise?" movie by Sepp Holzer
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