SMALL UNSEWERED TOWNS - Going down the drain or go sustainable and Up, Up and Away ?

Discussion in 'Environmental and Health Professionals Interested' started by Callum EHO, Nov 11, 2011.

  1. Callum EHO

    Callum EHO Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2011
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The challenge of our to collect the heat out of a wet or dry composting system is interesting. There is certainly warming of the wastewater when it passes through the wormfarm system so maybe that could somehow be exchanged through pipework in your thermophile chambers.
     
  2. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2006
    Messages:
    3,046
    Likes Received:
    199
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    E Washington, USA
    Climate:
    Semi-Arid Shrub Steppe (BsK)
    Maybe relevant ... shows some forward-thinking in Australia. Byron Shire's festival looks to be easily the size of a small town!

    https://permaculturenews.org/2014/10/15/australia-leads-world-wheelie-bin-compost-toilets/
     
  3. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2014
    Messages:
    607
    Likes Received:
    82
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Arkansas Senior Appraiser
    Location:
    Vilonia, Arkansas, deep in the woods
    Climate:
    USDA zone 7b,8a.
    Thank you both for the ideas, I will use them in this experiment.

    Just an update, the first trial was an incomplete failure. It showed that there needs to be more heat in the first tank than what was happening.
    I like both ideas and will set up small tanks for testing.
     
  4. Marcus Busby

    Marcus Busby Junior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2014
    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    17
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Designer Builder
    Home Page:
    Climate:
    Temperate
    Hi

    have you encountered WET systems? Wetland Ecological Treatment systems.

    see https://www.biologicdesign.co.uk/

    The designer of these in the UK said it petty much came straight out the Permaculture Designers Manual by Bill Mollison, there is a plant species list on the website suitable for UK type climates. Love the concept of the wheeley bin compost loos, compost loos in general good small scar solution. WET systems can cater for larger communities - see the examples on the web page, also for farm waste and commercial wastewater such as a brewery, creamery and cheese factory... these are large scale versions of the biologic cells found inside michael reynolds' Earthships

    see https://earthship.com/Systems/sewage-treatment
     
  5. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2014
    Messages:
    607
    Likes Received:
    82
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Arkansas Senior Appraiser
    Location:
    Vilonia, Arkansas, deep in the woods
    Climate:
    USDA zone 7b,8a.
    That's a super system, however it doesn't fill the parameters of the project I'm working on, which is to create food growing plots over the leach fields thereby providing all the nutrient needs of the crops with full safety for consumption. While they do use some of the herbs as part of the plantings, most are not for human consumption. Still it is a very worth while endeavor and I will look into their setup as well. My main goal is to leave no stone unturned during the experimental trials period. I foresee offering multiple systems (choices are always great to be able to present) to the municipalities so they can make their decision of which will work best for their community needs.

    I just set up a solar heating experiment, which I am hoping will provide all the heat necessary in the triple tank set up currently in experimentation.
     
  6. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2013
    Messages:
    1,776
    Likes Received:
    142
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    gardening, reading, etc
    Location:
    near St. Charles, MI, USoA
    Home Page:
    Climate:
    -15C-35C, 10cm rain/mo, clay, full sun, K-G Dfa=x=Dfb
    a leach field doesn't get nutrients and water upwards into the soil you hope to use for gardening. also you generally do not want deeper rooted plants on top of a leachfield for the reasons that you don't want the roots to disrupt or plug up the system. the leach field is meant to leach downwards, if it goes upwards then you run the risk of too much build up of salts as the water evaporates...
     
  7. Marcus Busby

    Marcus Busby Junior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2014
    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    17
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Designer Builder
    Home Page:
    Climate:
    Temperate
    Dear Bryant,

    Please note: I'm not an Environmental Health professional;

    but I just wanted to share the WET system and Biologic Cell models with you (previous post), as they have been shown to work well, are scalable and repeatable in installations of varying size and locations.


    If your aim is:

    "to create food growing plots over the leach fields thereby providing all the nutrient needs of the crops with full safety for consumption"

    you should consider carefully what Songbird says:

    "a leach field doesn't get nutrients and water upwards into the soil you hope to use for gardening. also you generally do not want deeper rooted plants on top of a leachfield for the reasons that you don't want the roots to disrupt or plug up the system. the leach field is meant to leach downwards, if it goes upwards then you run the risk of too much build up of salts as the water evaporates..."

    And also look to see if there are any other examples of your proposed system. I don't think people do this due to concerns over sanitation and interfering with their leaching pipes.

    This is why a WET system can be a good system, because it converts water which has been through your septic tanks to Biomass in the form of coppice - such as willow, alder, hazel which you can harvest regularly (1-2yrs, 3-5yrs cycles depending on species) - so you are still getting an energy return in your system, but not at the risk of sanitation issues.

    If you are concerned that you need to use this 'waste' material as a delivered source of nutrients, (I guess as can be seen in greywater recycling systems with direct feeds - usually to trees, sometimes they pass through reed/gravel filters and/or solar purifiers first), then please do consider delivering this indirectly as a secondary product such as a mulch/compost/liquid via an intermediary system/process.

    If you use the wastewater to create biomass instead of food, you can then mulch/chip/compost this biomass and apply that to your growing area - instead of trying to get water
    to rise in a leach field through the soil, and you know for sure you do not face any sanitation issues.

    I agree with what Songbird says quoted above. Regarding roots interfering with your leach field - this is well known and considered common sense, so it's worth considering planting a species of plant with shallow and non-woody root system, such as comfrey in UK style climates (Symphytum
    officinale).


    best regards
     
  8. Marcus Busby

    Marcus Busby Junior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2014
    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    17
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Designer Builder
    Home Page:
    Climate:
    Temperate
    Check out the WET systems by Jay Abrahams if you have not seen them before, they are constructed Wetland Ecological Treatment systems that grow biomass for fuel www.biologicdesign.co.uk
     
  9. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2014
    Messages:
    607
    Likes Received:
    82
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Arkansas Senior Appraiser
    Location:
    Vilonia, Arkansas, deep in the woods
    Climate:
    USDA zone 7b,8a.
    The areas that I am performing these experiments for have Bedrock 2' below the soil surface with a red clay layer of 8-12 inches deep that lays on top of the bedrock. It is not that I think the leachate rises, I am aware of the physics of fluid dynamics, I have a BS in Chemistry and MS's in Biology and Horticulture.

    The towns are concerned, with the observed fact of soil saturation from rains, that the leachate will float to the surface, they have noted that their grass is greener, grows faster exactly where their own (home) leach lines are.

    I am trying to convince lay politicos that raised beds for food production are not going to be effected or contaminated if placed over the leach fields of individual homes, which it won't, but try telling that to people that are convinced that the recent contaminations of lettuce and prior to that of spinach were caused by improper use of raw pig manures on growing fields (the pig manures was not composted, simply laid down in liquid form directly from the pig feed lots).

    Sorry I did not post the reasons I am conducting these trial experiments at the beginning. Arkansas has an interesting soil geology, with huge differences in soil types and structure there are at least 10 major areas and each of these can have as many as 20 different soil bases with in a township. A lot of the towns have problems, caused by a total lack of standardization except in the last 20 years (the good ole boy syndrome was (and is still findable) rampant in this state from before it became a state).
     
  10. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2013
    Messages:
    1,776
    Likes Received:
    142
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    gardening, reading, etc
    Location:
    near St. Charles, MI, USoA
    Home Page:
    Climate:
    -15C-35C, 10cm rain/mo, clay, full sun, K-G Dfa=x=Dfb
    two feet of fill on top of bedrock with a clay layer on top of that bedrock is not enough IMO. if someone is putting a leach field into such an area they should also be bringing in extra fill.

    how is the site for hills?

    sideways blowouts can happen if there is any kind of hill and the layer makes the water run along it instead of allowing it to sink. you might think all is ok, but a ways downhill you have a high nutrient laden flow coming out of the ground.

    yes, i'm well aware of the old sayings about grass and septic fields, but to me that is probably the sign that the field is older design and did not have enough fill brought in to put over it.
     
  11. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2014
    Messages:
    607
    Likes Received:
    82
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Arkansas Senior Appraiser
    Location:
    Vilonia, Arkansas, deep in the woods
    Climate:
    USDA zone 7b,8a.
    I totally agree that they didn't have the systems put in properly, apparently some are from the 1940's and 50's. One was actually a steel tank buried into the bedrock.

    The town proper, sits at the base of the triple ridges of the east end of the Ouachita Mountain Range. The Bedrock is sandstone, some of it is rotten but most is very concreted, the town (one of three I have been asked to do this research for) actually sits in a small depression basin, with some high areas. The topography is such that if there is ground saturation, then there will be blowouts in some areas.

    This is why I am trying to devise something the home owners can just flush into their system which will digest any possible pathogens before they could become a problem. Problems have already been documented at this time. I've visited some of the homes, I would say the problems are with the older (35+ years), non regulated systems, new (last 20 years) systems which seem to be functioning as they should.

    The State has proposed the town require raised-field systems but we just went through our second devastation by tornado in three years. Most of the people do not have the funds, nor can get those funds, to install such an expensive system. Even if they did, the costs in electricity to run the pumps could put them into foreclosure ( Arkansas counties are averaging 30-60 foreclosures a month still).

    I'm just trying to be of help to my community, save folks some money, and it won't hurt if through the process I can get them to take a harder look at permaculture and other earth reconstructive methods for agriculture.

    When I was with the USDA I got a lot of flack because I was trying to convince farmers that there were better methods of soil management than multi-till with chemical fertilizer applications for productivity. I am not well liked by Monsanto people in Arkansas. In fact I have not worked for the USDA since 1997.
     
  12. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2013
    Messages:
    1,776
    Likes Received:
    142
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    gardening, reading, etc
    Location:
    near St. Charles, MI, USoA
    Home Page:
    Climate:
    -15C-35C, 10cm rain/mo, clay, full sun, K-G Dfa=x=Dfb
    are you familiar with _the Humanure Handbook_? worth a read.

    old legacy systems can be a huge cost to replace or upgrade, but sometimes it is what has to be done. however, in light of the fact that most of what gets dumped and pumped is valuable nutrients that can be reused if handled properly is just moronic, but that is how we've been raised the past 100+ years.

    i think your approach of wanting to do something about it is good, but i somewhat wonder if you would ever get approval for any mix of bacteria and fungi being dumped down systems if they were ever shown to be effective, because for one bacteria to be able to kill another (and yes they do this) involves some pretty interesting things, and also for fungi, authorities may feel rather threatened by potential lawsuits if any one of those bacteria or fungi were found in a human later on. the USoA is full of lawyers just waiting for some sort of thing like this to happen...

    instead i think a less intensive and less expensive solution is for people to learn how to compost their wastes properly. an old outhouse pit toilet may not be what people ever want to return to using, but a compromise that includes some sort of composting should be possible as long as people understand the critical issues (siting the compost piles, materials, preventing animal disturbance, keeping things covered, time).

    of course, if the community could get enough people involved to do a central type of collection and a larger composting pile then that makes it much easier for older folks and others who can't do their own composting easily.
     
  13. Callum EHO

    Callum EHO Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2011
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hi All, Great to see these discussions. The other way of approaching this is by demonstrating with wicking beds that the vegetables can be grown and then modifying these in ways that they can be fed with wastewater from underneath via rock, geofabric and soils - not easy and there are a number of technical problems and challenges but a bit of experimentation should resolve these and find the full potential. I would just tackle the problem/s from the other end !!
     
  14. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2011
    Messages:
    1,456
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    I think I would still try to run the wastewater through some of bioremediation system before edibles, a living filter of plants more likely to take up chemicals or metals (through study and research) and then excess water into wicking beds.

    Plenty of aquaponic systems using soil wicking beds now and they are demonstrating how to move nutrient-rich water through areas. No reason you can't use the work of those pioneers and adjust accordingly.
     
  15. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2014
    Messages:
    607
    Likes Received:
    82
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Arkansas Senior Appraiser
    Location:
    Vilonia, Arkansas, deep in the woods
    Climate:
    USDA zone 7b,8a.
    My newest proposal is a combination of: effluent collection, which will move into a separation tank with worm composting of the solids, the effluent moves to a series of growing tanks that will bio filter the effluent before it goes through a mycofiltration then to growing fields. The tiny experimental set up like this tested clear at the end of the mycofiltration. I have designed it as a small footprint of S curves so that the whole system for the town of 3 thousand can be serviced by less than two acres of sewage treatment plant.

    This winter we are setting up a small scale ( one neighborhood) demo system, with the results being presented by may of 2015.

    Thanks for all the ideas and discussion, now we will see if the status quo can be swayed. If the local government sees this work well, then the state will become further involved. This could lead to more small towns jumping on the band wagon since there is lots less equipment, energy and manpower involved in this type of treatment facility.
     
  16. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2006
    Messages:
    3,046
    Likes Received:
    199
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    E Washington, USA
    Climate:
    Semi-Arid Shrub Steppe (BsK)
    Bryant, does your effluent collection - separation tank use gravity to drain the liquids out to make a non-saturated environment for the worms?
    It sounds like a great design!
     
  17. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2014
    Messages:
    607
    Likes Received:
    82
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Arkansas Senior Appraiser
    Location:
    Vilonia, Arkansas, deep in the woods
    Climate:
    USDA zone 7b,8a.
    Thanks Bill, I'm trying to keep all energy use to the bare minimum for all the obvious reasons.

    On my Homestead farm, I have enough slope so that I could use gravity for all flows.

    If we end up getting to do the town, there will need to be a couple of pumps since the area the town has for their setup is mostly flat.
    I have brought up the idea of building the town system with a tiered set up so that gravity would flow the effluent with no need for electric pumps.
    I haven't ever mentioned it but I am doing this project for free to the town. We bought our land in 2013 and this spring we had the second tornado in three years wipe out the town's downtown area.
    It's a wonderful country community and we want to help out every way we can.
     

Share This Page

-->