Inexpensive Alternative Non-Discharge Sanitation

by Larry Losoncy, PhD

Waterborne sanitation is often perceived  as the normal method for the disposal of human waste. Due to its “flush and forget” nature, it is seen as the ideal solution. But the strain on water resources is enormous. To flush away 100 gallons of human waste, which is the average amount per year per person, it can take more than 8,000 gallons of water. (8 flushes per day times an average of 3 gallons of water per flush.)   

For the most part the water used to flush is treated water or high quality well water. Multiply that many gallons of water by the 300 million persons living in the United States: more than 2 trillion  gallons of high quality water being used to flush!   Added to this is the cost of operating and maintaining treatment plants and septic systems to accomplish the absurd: treating the once-treated water  again to make it safe for discharge into the ground or body of water absorbing the waste water!

It does not require rocket science to figure out that in a time of severe drought, rising demands on dwindling supplies of usable water and rising treatment costs there must be a better way to dispose of human sanitary waste. As any environmentalist will quickly point out, non discharge toilets or sanitation treatment systems would make far more sense and be much cheaper to operate than the traditional waterborne sanitation that has us flushing toilets and urinals around the clock.

The face of the future is to be found in the use of alternative toilets and sanitation systems in the nation’s parks, recreation areas and campgrounds and by individuals where  waterborne sanitation is not always feasible due to water shortages, pollution, costs, climatic conditions and impractical applications.  The result has been the pursuit of alternative forms of sanitation such as pit latrines, composting toilets, chemical toilets, incendiary toilets and waterless evaporation toilets (dry sanitation). Each of these systems has its merits and, like all sanitation systems, none is perfect.

By way of terminology: on-site sanitation means those systems that take care of sanitation on location, as opposed to using sewer lines that take the waste to a central treatment site. Non discharge systems are those that do not put anything into the ground. The two most prevalent ways for disposing of sanitation are sewer line hookup and septic systems. Septic systems are on-site systems that discharge treated waste into the ground. Alternative systems are all other systems besides flush toilets on sewer hookup and septic systems.

The following chart demonstrates some of the  differences among the main alternative types that are non discharge.

Sanitation Type
Compost Chemical Latrine Incendiary Septic Dry
Discharges
No
No
No
No
Yes
No
Uses water
No
No
No
No
Yes
No
Uses chemicals
No
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
Must pump
No
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
No
Must dump
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
No
Must perc
No
No
No
No
Yes
No
Needs power
No
No
No
Yes
No
No
Odors present
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No

 

Composting toilets: the advantage of these toilets is that they yield a usuable by-product. Coming in a variety of sizes, they are an economical way to have sanitation treatment, especially with very low usage. They do require attention and are effective only within a narrow temperature and humidity range. 

Chemical toilets: these are intended to be pumped. Porta- potties are the best known and most widely used. Other smaller versions of chemical toilets for low usage such as on boats and at sites used only intermittently provide a low-cost way of handling human waste. These systems require pumping and what is pumped must be disposed of according to local code.

Pit latrines: handy for outdoor use, especially in the camp and wilderness settings. While they may be dug by hand and buried  in in some settings, most jurisdictions that still allow pit latrines require that they be pumped.

Incendiary toilets: these evaporate waste with the use of high temperature heat.

Dry evaporative toilets: evaporate liquids and dry the solids. The Sanitizer™ in an evaporative toilet.Sanitizer waterless toilet economical ecological alternative to biolet or mulching toilet

What each of these types have in common is that they put nothing into the ground and do not use water. They differ in design, size, capacity, price and method of disposal. The user, therefore, will need to consider space and placement requirements, along with anticipated volume of usage, maintenance and any pumping requirements.

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Larry Losoncy is the president of Clean Up America, Inc. The company manufactures and markets  The Sanitizer™ non-discharge, evaporative toilet.  To learn more about The Sanitizer™ please go to http://www.cuaproducts.com.