When you hear the term "dry toilet" or "dry sanitation": does that include a pit latrine in your mind or not?

  • muench
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When you hear the term "dry toilet" or "dry sanitation": does that include a pit latrine in your mind or not?

I would like to ask you all this simple question: "When you hear the term "dry toilet" or "dry sanitation": does that include a pit latrine in your mind or not?"

In my mind, a pit latrine might not really belong into the category of dry sanitation which is in most publications meant to refer to either UDDTs or composting toilets. But perhaps this is just my opinion/feeling. Do we have any publications that talk about this?

Looking at the Eawag-Sandec compendium, it is clear that according to their definition, a simple pit latrine does belong to the dry toilet category whereas a pour flush latrine does not. This is the definition (also the first sentense of the Wikipedia article on dry toilets): "A dry toilet is a toilet that operates without flush water, unlike a flush toilet."

And is dry sanitation equal to dry toilet? At the moment in Wikipedia, the term dry sanitation redirects to dry toilet (I added this redirect yesterday). Should there ultimately rather be a separate Wikipedia article on dry sanitation?

Why am I asking? It's because I want to get the Wikipedia article about dry toilets just right:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_toilet

I recently did some work on it (prompted by some edits by Chris Canaday) to explain this issue of pit latrine belonging in the dry toilet category or not but I would need further references. I have used a paper by Christoph Platzer from 2008 to support my statement that many people in the sector use the term "dry sanitation" to mean NOT pit latrine but UDDT. But of course only citing this one paper is not sufficient.

So I am asking for your help to get this wording right (go to here to see it with the hyperlinks: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_toilet#Terminology ):

Terminology [edit | edit source]
In the WASH sector, the term "dry toilet" is used differently by different people. It is common that the term "dry toilet" or "dry sanitation" is used to refer specifically to a urine-diverting dry toilet or a composting toilet.[citation needed][3] Pit latrines without a water seal also fall under the category "dry toilet". However the pits can become much wetter than the collection container of other types of dry toilet because urine mixes with feces in the pit and drainage might be limited.[citation needed] Also, groundwater or surface water can also get into the pit in the event of heavy rains or flooding. Sometimes households discard greywater (from showering) into the same pit.[citation needed]


Do you agree with these statements? If yes, which other references could be cited? If not, how should it be worded differently?

Regards,
Elisabeth

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  • DavidAlan
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Re: When you hear the term "dry toilet" or "dry sanitation": does that include a pit latrine in your mind or not?

I cannot imagine anybody calling any form of pit latrine a 'dry toilet'.

For me, and I know I am a zealot, the only dry toilet is one where the the faecal matter is kept dry, i.e. not mixed at source with urine or wash water, at any stage of its composting process.

So, to answer your question, when I hear the term "dry toilet" or dry sanitation", a pit toilet never crosses my mind.

Hope this helps.
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  • hajo
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Re: When you hear the term "dry toilet" or "dry sanitation": does that include a pit latrine in your mind or not?

hello Elisabeth,

I guess this definition may always stay open for discussion. A dry toilet could be understood as one which does not use water for flushing, neither full flush, nor low flush, nor pour flush. Thus a pit latrine under this definition would be considered a 'dry' toilet although .... what about a pit latrine equipped with a SATO pan which is cleaned with minimal water (0.5L they say): dry or wet toilet? And anyway the pit is never dry, at least urine goes into it, probably also grey water, surface water, ground water...

But one can also understand a 'dry' toilet as a toilet where the faeces stay completely dry, the classical case of UDDT. Where I disagree that a compost toilet can/must be a 'dry' toilet. Composting requires moisture, thus if the composting takes place on-site, the containment cannot be dry, otherwise it is not composting. I think we had the discussion before and I thought we had agreed that UDDTs are not composting toilets but de-hydrating toilets... as their name says. And vermi-composting toilets can actually be built with full, low or pour flush.

Therefore, if someone uses the term 'dry toilet' or 'dry sanitation' it should always come at first use with a short explanation whether it is a system without any flush or a system with a dry faeces containment avoiding any misunderstanding.

ciao
Hajo

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  • Ajira
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Re: Reply: When you hear the term

Dry toilets means a toilet that operates without water and has a divider so that the user, with little effort can divert the urine away from the faeces.
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  • goeco
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Re: Reply: When you hear the term

What about dry toilets that do not divert the urine but dehydrate the contents?

Dean Satchell, M For. Sc.
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www.go-eco.co.nz
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  • muench
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Re: Reply: When you hear the term "dry toilet" or "dry sanitation": does that include a pit latrine in your mind or not?

Thanks for your responses so far! Please keep them coming as I find it very interesting. It shows that - as I suspected - many of us mean different things when we say "dry toilet".

It seems that the definition that the people behind the Eawag-Sandec Compendium chose might not (yet?) be universally accepted amongst people in the sector.

They had a very simple definition. See here: ecompendium.sswm.info/sanitation-technol...-toilet?group_code=u

A dry toilet is a toilet that operates without flushwater. The dry toilet may be a raised pedestal on which the user can sit, or a squat pan over which the user squats. In both cases, excreta (both urine and faeces) fall through a drop hole.

Here, a dry toilet refers specifically to the device over which the user sits or squats. In other literature, a dry toilet may refer to a variety of technologies, or combinations of technologies (especially pits).


I wonder if anyone who worked on the compendium could tell us in this thread about the thought processes that went into this definition? Would there be any room for modifying it? Or do people have to get used to the idea that a simple pit latrine classifies as a dry toilet even if it goes against our gut feeling (as the pit is not dry at all)?

Meanwhile, Hajo's point was very valid, I think:

Therefore, if someone uses the term 'dry toilet' or 'dry sanitation' it should always come at first use with a short explanation whether it is a system without any flush or a system with a dry faeces containment avoiding any misunderstanding.

Greetings,
Elisabeth

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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(see: www.susana.org/en/resources/projects/details/127 )
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  • bowenarrow
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Re: When you hear the term "dry toilet" or "dry sanitation": does that include a pit latrine in your mind or not?

To me as a manufacturer of "Waterless or Composting Toilets" I could not describe a pit toilet as a dry toilet. Any sanitation that allows urine and solids to mix along with any other material deposited can hardly be "dry". These titles are not specific and nor should they be when considering that the application of non - flushing toilets is varied according to the situations in which they are applied.
Toilets are either flushing or non-flushing, and beneath that broad heading there are many sub categories. I supply pedestals and systems to all manner of sanitation applications, including over "pit" toilets, and I would not like the tag of pit toilet applied to my products.
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