Closed loop recycling of flush water through ABR and Constructed Wetland?

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Re: [SuSanA forum] Closed loop recycling of flush water through ABR and Constructed Wetland? (Greywater, blackwater or wastewater reuse, irrigation, aquaculture)

Dear Detlef,

Thank you for your email but my experience and technologies extend beyond the confines of the 'Lower 48'.

I spent 13 years in Alaska's Bush Eskimo villages, (1983 - 1996) installing my composting tanks above and below the Arctic Circle and I have a great deal of experience in a Third World application under freezing temperatures with water being provided by chopping a hole in the ice in a muddy river of silt and hauling that untreated water at -20 F, just to use to make coffee or to wash your pits.

In the Eskimo Bush villages, the toilet consists of a 5-gallon bucket lined with a garbage bag, which when used, is anaerobic and eventually when filled and tied up ends up in the landfill and/or the river with absolutely no decomposition because of the anaerobic/sealed method of storage and frigid temperatures.

I really do not find a difference between a person defecating in New York City or the Sahara if that excrement is contained and treated onsite in some sort of protective vessel/bag. As long as it is mixed with a carbon source and oxygen, it is able to produce an aerobic environment.

The issue in most Developing Countries applications is that the engineering community continues to push for the continuance of pipes, trenches, or pits for sewer or septic, and consider it as an advancement and the ONLY final conclusion possible.

When we were working in the Bush, we would use the same five-gallon bucket with a plastic bag inserted into the bucket, but we would simply add pine bedding (a handful of chopped up wood shavings) with each use. It's that easy.

The odorless open bucket would remain within the building where we were working. It would have access to oxygen, which naturally circulated within the bucket, and the contents then became aerobic and began decomposing and converting to carbon dioxide and water vapor.

At the end of our job, we would tie the bag up and take it with us to the larger composter, (4' w x 4' h x 8' l) where it was composted with vermiculture into a soil amendment.

I ventured into composting toilets back in the 1970's by becoming a Clivus Multrum distributor in Colorado and have since spent 45 years improving that technology into a more efficient and manageable composter.

Under those same extreme environmental conditions, I developed my extended aeration greywater treatment system but, after returning to Minnesota in 1995, I found that I was being restricted by regulations that were predicated upon septic disposal practices. To circumvent these government requirements, I then invented my greywater total recycling technology and bypassed any rules for discharge.

The academic and regulatory communities must begin to think out of the box of their educational experience and finally realize that human excrement could actually be a resource and not a waste if treated with natural methodologies and technologies. There must be those out there with the vision to see that a far superior, natural way exists that is capable of relieving humanity's distress regarding water and wastewater treatment.

I am brought down with all of the conversation on this forum about meetings and papers presented by persons who actually have no idea of alternatives and limit their presentations to what they have read in another report.

It is so wasteful that they are then being PAID to travel worldwide to present their analysis even though something as simple as a roll of plastic, a local carbon source and oxygen could easily manage any Third World application utilizing concepts by entrepreneurs/private enterprise who are more concerned with solving a problem than continuing and supporting antiquated and unnatural wastewater disposal practices.

Clint
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Re: Closed loop recycling of flush water through ABR and Constructed Wetland?

A nice system, Clint. If I understand correctly, a combination of a composting toilet (using compost worms) and recirculation of grey water with reverse osmosis and ozone treatment? Where can I find more information about this toilet?

Another development that I like in the US is the apparently increasing use of grey water to irrigate trees and other plants with no treatment at all - similar to what I used to do in my backyard in Uganda, see
www.flickr.com/photos/gtzecosan/sets/72157654565638740

These are developments that have the potential of 'killing' the sewage systems as we know them.

H-A

Hanns-Andre Pitot
M.Eng. Environmental Pollution Control
presently in Seesen, Germany
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Re: [SuSanA forum] Closed loop recycling of flush water through ABR and Constructed Wetland? (Greywater, blackwater or wastewater reuse, irrigation, aquaculture)

Dear H-A,

Thank you for your message and photos.

Small supposed "composting toilets" are worthless! On my first trip to Selawik, AK, near Kotzebue, I was shown over 50 of them stacked up in the school full of frozen feces and TP because someone thought it would be a fix for the Eskimos and they could make a bunch of money supplying those toilets and get out of town quick.

I utilize Dometic/SeaLand marine and recreational vehicle toilets because they use a very small amount of water per flush. .02 of a gallon per flush for urine and if you want to keep the bowl clean you can add additional water per flush.

Real composting tanks need to be large enough to provide enough space to create a real composting and vermiculture environment and that is why my tank is the size it is. My tank also splits in half to be easily transported in an airplane such as a Cessna 208/Carravan or Otter and can be moved with two people.

Yes, greywater can be used directly on trees but you really should have some form of pre-treatment to help remove the grease, fats and hair. The aeration in my three greywater tanks helps break up the organics and also provides an environment for the organisms to consume some of those organics before use. If you do not pre-treat the end of the pipe will eventually become clogged at the effluent end.

The real truth is that if every home/establishment had its own low flush toilet and composting tank you will never need sewers and septics again. Separation and composting is the first logical premise in the equation to reduce water consumption and to treat the real issues at the source.

To learn a little more about my endeavors and technological research Google AlasCan, Equaris Corporation and Clint Elston.

I am also a Vietnam Era Veteran and I have formed a non-profit to help in Sustainable education, job creation and housing. www.gofundme.com8b9aj78.

Clint

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Re: Closed loop recycling of flush water through ABR and Constructed Wetland?

Also, in regards to reuse I have yet to read any onsite reuse, which is directed back to the earth locally from which it came to complete the cycle of life.

When you consider that feces is 89% water and urine is 98% water, why does it make any sense to expend valuable energy to transport that HIGHLY concentrated wastewater/fecal sludge any distance, containing who knows what, when Mother Nature aerobically can convert that percentage safely and naturally with minimal energy without any potential contamination from transportation of co-mingled unknown sources.

Decentralization is not only more efficient and economical than centralization, it is also more logical to financially support the local community with jobs maintaining onsite technologies, which are not dependent upon one single facility in case of that facility's malfunction.

My premises are based upon the logic of R. Buckminister Fuller in that we need to design and implement "productive dwelling units instead of consumptive dwelling units".

To me, that means that designs for humanity, whether they be close together or spread far apart, all housing and buildings should have the capability of procuring their own sources of water and treating that water and the resources that come into those structures within that structure with a minimal amount of technology.

Fuller's analogy of all of us being on Spaceship Earth with finite resources supports the theory that we need to acknowledge that we recognize proven technology's to convert those resources as soon as possible with minimal amounts of water and energy.

Please consider watching a 2000 era Star Trek episode in which the ENGINEER explained to the children on earth that the human organic resources produced on the Enterprise by the humans traveling together with no external support and/or supply systems were technologically converted on board the Enterprise utilizing their "Bio-Matter Resequencing Converter" into such things as shoes and/or any other consumable product that they may need on their journeys into space.

We cannot continue to use massive amounts of water and energy to move resources, which are so desperately needed to raise crops and vegetation from which and where they came.

I stand by Fuller's logic and I have endeavored to design and produce technologies that support those goals.

I look forward to someday having a cup of coffee together from recycled reverse osmosis greywater and the coffee grounds being naturally converted back into soil onsite to make another cup of coffee for future generations.
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Re: Closed loop recycling of flush water through ABR and Constructed Wetland?

Dear Clint,

I like your clear language and agree fully to your open critics about this forum. I visiting this forum nowadays very seldom as it became less useful via too much "paper workers". Contributions from practical thinking persons like you becoming more and more seldom. I regret, practical contributions from "no-western" practitioners nearly not existing.

Therefor, do not expect to much good know-how exchange, we all love to share good news … although we might unwittingly stir up jealous resentment!

Good luck
Detlef

www.aqua-verde.de
Sanitation-Solutions without external energy
Low-Tech Solutions with High-Tech Effects
"Inspired by Circular Economy"
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Re: [SuSanA forum] Closed loop recycling of flush water through ABR and Constructed Wetland? (Greywater, blackwater or wastewater reuse, irrigation, aquaculture)

Dear Detlef,

There has never been a compliment regarding my logic and endeavors in sanitation and water given to me as kind and gracious as your email.

Thank you sincerely.

Clint
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Re: [SuSanA forum] Closed loop recycling of flush water through ABR and Constructed Wetland? (Greywater, blackwater or wastewater reuse, irrigation, aquaculture)

Clint,

have a look at the following few pics:
www.flickr.com/photos/gtzecosan/sets/72157648589254468

It is happening rather rarely, but there are people who understand the concept of reuse without a lot of explanations (and that in Africa, where people are supposed to be so fecophobic!).

And thanks for your detailed posts!

Cheers, H-A

Hanns-Andre Pitot
M.Eng. Environmental Pollution Control
presently in Seesen, Germany
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Re: [SuSanA forum] Closed loop recycling of flush water through ABR and Constructed Wetland? (Greywater, blackwater or wastewater reuse, irrigation, aquaculture)

Dear all,
I would like to share our situation in Jakarta, Indonesia, which lead the domestic wastewater recycling practices in office building, shopping center, hotel, and apartment. The local government has prohibited to utilizing public water supply and groundwater for watering the landscape. Plus the situation where the city centralized wastewater treatment plant only cover less than 5% (??) of area, then each big building, which produces wastewater min. 50 m3/day, build their own sewage treatment plant (STP).

Most system are aerobic, either activated sludge or attached biomass (submerged fixed film or rotating biological contactor/RBC). The STP should comply with the effluent standard (BOD< 30 ppm, COD< 50 ppm, TSS<50 ppm, NH3<10 ppm, oil and grease<10 ppm)
Actually, once the system meets the effluent standard, it’s only one step remaining to recycling them to meet clean water standard.

So, here are the most common practices, where the building usually give this recycling system to the vendors:
1) For landscape watering, just adding sand and carbon filter+disinfection,
2) For toilet flushing and cooling water, by employing coagulation+flocculation together with sand+carbon filtration or using ultra filtration instead.
3) Some also employ UF+Reverse osmosis and ozon disinfection for clean water purposes.

In my experiences, the 1st motivation of this option is economic factor as cost of recycling is lower than public water supply. To compare, the building pays: $1/m3 water to public water supply, $2/m3 water as tax if using groundwater, $0.5-0.8/m3 water to recycling vendor.
The additional factor is the building can credit to green certificate together with other measures like energy conservation.

How many is recycled? As rough example, a small shopping center in east part recycles 200 m3/day from total 600 m3 daily consumption; another in west part recycle 1000 of 2500 m3/day, a five-star hotel in central Jakarta recycle 200 from 1500 m3/day. An apartment in west recyclce 150 of750 m3/day. I list 40s big buildings has recycled their wastewater and continue to rise.

I do hope this information is meaningful for the discussion.

Regards,

Yovianus Toni
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Re: [SuSanA forum] Closed loop recycling of flush water through ABR and Constructed Wetland? (Greywater, blackwater or wastewater reuse, irrigation, aquaculture)

Dear Yovianus and everyone,

Welcome to the forum and thanks for this great information.

How long has this recycling been going on in Indonesia? What have been the biggest technical problems and how is it working now? Do the users know that there is recycled water in their toilets? If so, what do they think about it?

So, we have still not found even one case of Closed-loop Blackwater Recycling, but I am still confident that this is entirely feasible (despite the doubts of a couple of members of this forum) and that the biggest obstacle is psychological.

Are there any Forum members in Los Angeles, California? It would be great to demonstrate this there, given the current drought and constant environmental damage involved in getting water to the millions who live in this (climatological) desert. Are there Forum members who are friends with California governor Jerry Brown? Other great candidate sites could be Portland, Oregon, and Brattleboro, Vermont, with the spectacular, iconoclastic organizations PHLUSH and the Rich Earth Institute (who have already recycled 4000 gallons of urine as fertilizer!).

Best wishes,
Chris Canaday

Conservation Biologist and EcoSan Promoter
Omaere Ethnobotanical Park
Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador, South America
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Re: Closed loop recycling of flush water through ABR and Constructed Wetland?

Dear Mr. Canaday,

I assume that I am one of your doubters and I will give you a couple of reason why.

1. It takes considerably more energy to pump chlorinated, full of whatever water to you, then defecate and/or urinate in copious amounts of that now expensive water to have more energy consumed pumping it to a centralized location to; a. separate the once reusable organics from the comingled poisons that were introduced along the return highway to the centralized plant.
b. attempt to reuse the sludge from that plant/facility in some form of burning or burying technique at additional costs because the toxicity of the sludge is beyond questionable.
c. provide separate purple plumbing pipes to use the water for more toilet transportation or irrigation of non-edible uses.
2. It costs more to provide the infrastructure, mechanically and yes physiologically because, people are never going to accept drinking toilet water when they are educated to realize that separation is more cost effective, is environmentally more responsible and is technically transferable to developing countries in need of basic sanitation and access to any water let alone wonder what they think about peeing in recycled blackwater.

The fact of the matter is that even when I met and introduced separation technology with documentation of a 95% reduction in the NEED for water utilizing separation to Dr. George Treboneglaous (sp), the supposed guru of "Toilet to Tap" in CA, I received the typical response of "If it was not invented at a University, it is not worth discussion!"

The logic of centralization was predicated upon antiquated technologies utilizing resources with mentalities of "We've got plenty"! Guess what, according to the the Malthusian Theory, "There is not enough to go around", but as Bucky argued, if we utilize technology to "Do more with Less" then there is more than enough to go around and we can stop fighting over water as many countries are doing right now because of the refusal by the academics, regulators and professionals to accept the conclusion that sewage treatment plants and the toilet system infrastructure that feeds it is "unsustainable"
logically, financially, environmentally, mathematically and yes, physiologically.

Clint
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Re: Closed loop recycling of flush water through ABR and Constructed Wetland?

Hi Mr. Canaday and Mr Cleant,
Thank you for your kind and meaningful discussion.

Mr. canaday,
I assume recycling practices for watering the landscape has been practiced since 1990s, maybe 1980s, where I see the recycled facility in old building which having large landscape.
After 2000, it become more widely since the rapid growth of membrane technology which is more affordable.

The psychological is still the biggest barrier, so it is the reason that the purpose of recycling is for secondary usage, as I mentioned before, for cooling water, landscape/garden, and toilet flushing. Not for drinking, cooking, bathing and washing and even anal cleansing. The building has dual plumbing in toilet to separate the water for flushing and for anal cleansing. For flushing use recycled water and for anal cleansing as well as urinoir use public water supply. It seems that all building have dual plumbing system in the toilet since its construction, mainly building constructed after year 2000; so far, I found only 1 building has no dual plumbing (built 1990s) for instance.

Aerobic system, which is designed, constructed and operated properly, is the most reliable system in building setting, where the space is limited but the highest quality of effluent is a mandatory. Altough the system is energy-intensive (the most disadvantage), but it is stable for longer time without any major disruption.

For closing loop system as you are confident with, I am doubtful. Learning from practices in Jakarta –I am quite sure the maximum recycling between 60-70% where it is still affordably feasible. Since there is no study on this, I predict the cost rising in a logarithmic scale, where beyond its optimal level the cost rising much more higher in the same volume of recovered water than under the level. Even in my experince, I still not knowing where the optimum point lies. The experiences teach me that the lower recycling percentage, we just like separate the solid out from the water, but in higher level it is like extracting water out from the solid.

A case to think about. In 2005, when new regulation from Jakarta EPA was released, where NH3 (ammoniac) was put to the mandatory effluent standard of from STP, so many facilities failed to comply and led to totally overhauled, or at least major modification. The lesson is to reduce NH3 from 60-80 ppm to 20 ppm is much easier, it's bussines as ussual, but when the standard down to 10 ppm, old facility to be overhauled.

But science is growing, everything is possible for future. As practitioner in the field, we do what is possible for our actual situation by leveraging all kinds of best available technology, experiences, policy, social perception, trends…. May be by taking into account all kinds of recovery: nutrients, energy, water in one process then the system is feasible.


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Re: Closed loop recycling of flush water through ABR and Constructed Wetland?

Dear Yovianus Toni,

Thank you for including me in your message and information.

From what you are explaining I ASSUME that your toilets are plumbed with all of the remaining greywater plumbing.

If that is the case and you are then aerobically trying to get the toilet resources out of the greywater, my question is why do you not consider separating the toilets and setting multiple composters to do the real aerobic work and get 90% of your pollution issues out of the water immediately and reduce your need for water flushing by at least 50- 90%?

I think it is admirable that you are trying to recycle the blackwater for non-potable purposes but if you utilize separation of the blackwater and greywater a whole new world of opportunity exists.

From my experience, (45 years of hands on inventing and testing) you will never achieve sustainability by comingling the blackwater and greywater. Mother Nature works 24 hours a day with no energy required. Mother Nature did not teach the animals to back up to a stream and defecate but uses the animal excrement to support life for future generations instead of considering it a WASTE.

Even though the BMGF termed their challenge as "Reinventing the Toilet", I believe that the toilet is not the problem, it is our lack of knowledge about the simplicity of composting. An example is one of the Alliance pictures showing a person depositing lime and/or ashes on top of a feces pit. If everyone just placed a handful of a carbon source (pine bedding, leaves etc.) onto the pile after each use the pit and/or outhouse would compost naturally with absolutely no odor because is is now porous and allows oxygen to flow naturally, making it aerobic.

Now the greywater is relatively easy aerobically, but we only utilize an 80 watt linear air compressor 24/7 making the extended aeration system very energy efficient with very good results.

The initial assumption was that recycling greywater into drinking water would be difficult and it was because of the bacteria in the greywater.

We initially utilized filtration, UV, ultra-filters and RO and had fairly good results but when we changed to ozone everything else changed dramatically. We no longer needed the ultra-filters and the RO has lasted much longer. Handling the ozone was the challenge but was overcome with containment and an ozone destruct.

The real discovery was that once you get the minerals and all of the nasty stuff out of the aerobically and RO treated and recycled greywater all you have in the new recycled greywater coming into the greywater system from the sinks and showers, kitchen and laundry is soap and organics. NO MINERALS or any other hard to filter stuff from unknown incoming new water.

Therefore, first and foremost, do not reinvent the toilet, reinvent the plumbing system and educate humanity on resource development instead of resource destruction.

Clint
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