Urine infiltration /subsurface fertilisation in school UDDT

  • deegener
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Re: Urine infiltration /subsurface fertilisation in school UDDT

Hi Florian and all,
I guess the school-UDDTs you mention are the ones that are listed with no. 194 and 195 in the project-list Elisabeth posted. The first ones were constructed by Thierry Umber from SDC in co-operation with wecf. Local partner-NGOs (Wisdom, Ecotox, others followed) made the awareness-raising, training of pupils, teachers and caretakers. When skat was founded they took over the work from SDC and continued to construct further school-toilets with more or less the same design and principle of implementation. As far as I know all of the School-UDDTs in Moldova use 2 chamber GRP-tanks or PE-tanks that allow storage of the urine for min. 6 months (bigger tanks for longer storage are preferable!).
I still think that in Europe collecting the urine in tanks as big as possible is the best solution. If there are problems with the reuse (acceptance, legislative as in Moldova), the urine can still be pumped out and brought to the next treatment-plant if absolutely no other users can be found. We always recommend setting up demo-gardens in the school-yard where at least parts of the urine can be reused. Usually there are also enough trees, ornamental plants, hedges etc. near the schools where (at least part of) the urine can be reused without the risk of polluting the groundwater. I can hardly imagine a gravity-fed infiltration-trench that can distribute several tons of urine per year without infiltration into the GW or killing the plants. Since the plants do not take up nutrients during winter, there should be storage of the urine anyhow.

Against clogging I recommend citric acid or vinegar and proper education of the users.

Greets from Hamburg
stefan
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  • Florian
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Re: Urine infiltration /subsurface fertilisation in school UDDT

Hi Stefan,
thanks for your comments and corrections.

For projects, seems I got the wrong list in my comments above. Indeed project 194 is ours (started with SDC / Thierry Umbehr) and now continued by Skat (in 1998, SDC tendered the next phase of the project and Skat won the contract). The project 195 was done by the NGOs mentionned by you (which are also involved in our project). For the current status of our project 194, see the numbers in my post above.

First experiences with urine use on fields are encouraging, so we certainly will put more efforts into this. But we also want to think about an option B, in case urine reuse does not work well.

What you propose (dumping urine to the next wastewater plant) is exactly what we get recommended by our local engineers, as this is the easiest way to get accepted legally. However techncially and environmentally, it does not make much sense to dump a truck load of urine into a non-working treatment plant (as it is in fact). So infiltrating the urine locally would be still better than dumping the urine in surface waters (via the wttp).
But I am certainly not yet convinced that this idea of infiltrating (and partly fertilizing plants) is a good one, so I am really happy about any comments on this.

As for the quantities of urine, we don't have more than 1 m3 per year in each school, not that much actually.

Cheers,
Florian

PS: you were involved with Thierry in designing the toilets, were you?


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  • charlesthibodeau2030
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Re: Urine infiltration /subsurface fertilisation in school UDDT

Hello everyone,

Just want to add one point: how is the legislation about animal slurry/manure in Moldovia? If a farmer wants free human urine as fertilizer, who will be against that? And how is it working with WWTP sludge?

In Quebec (Eastern Canada), I know that we can ask a one-year permit (extendible each year) to spread "fertilizing residual matter" on agriculture lands that has not been certified by a normalisation organisation yet.

Ciao ciao from Montreal,

Charles
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  • Florian
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Re: Urine infiltration /subsurface fertilisation in school UDDT

charlesthibodeau2030 wrote: Just want to add one point: how is the legislation about animal slurry/manure in Moldovia? If a farmer wants free human urine as fertilizer, who will be against that? And how is it working with WWTP sludge?


We are not yet totally clear about legal situation but basically it seems there are no legal objections against farmers using human urine, or that work-arounds should be feasible. Our main worry is rather that no one is really interested in using the urine and that the schools will have a problem with full urine tanks. As uddt school toilets are otherwise very succesfull, at the moment the unsolved urine reuse/disposal is the main obstacle to make them a fully sustainable solution.

As for the legal situation in Moldova in general, that's quite a headake. Most technical legislation dates from the Soviet time and is little adapted to todays reality. Authorities insist in compliance with absurd standards which nobody enforces. One example is the issue disccused above: It would be legally ok to propose dumping the urine (or fecal sludge) in the wwtp of the next district capital, even if this plant is not operational any more since 20 years.


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  • emmanuel
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Re: Urine infiltration /subsurface fertilisation in school UDDT

Hi Florian,

In France in dry public toilets, urine is infiltrate in nearly all the cases. We use for it the technical specification defined for infiltration of used water in houses. I send you a picture with the drain cut (in french but easy to anderstand; terre = earth, gravier = gravel; lavé = watch). The pipe in diameter 100 mm is perforated with holes; rectangulare dimension 10mmx100mm. The pipe inclination is 5° and the length is 8 to 12 m.
It is working very well for more than 10 years.

Emanuel Morin
Ecodomeo - France
www.ecodomeo.com

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  • canaday
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Re: Urine infiltration /subsurface fertilisation in school UDDT

Dear Emmanuel and Florian,

Excuse me if I give a more detailed translation of the French drawing.
Terre Vegetal-- Organic Soil
Geotextile-- Geotextile (= heavy-duty cloth)
Épandrain-- 10-cm Perforated drain pipe (e.g., www.bricodepot.fr/petite-foret/node/467775 )
Gravier lavé-- WASHED gravel

(By the way, the circle around the drawing is just a border and is not part of the technical drawing).

I am glad to know that these are working, but would like to know if all of the small flow of urine is possibly leaving the pipe via the first couple of perforations (thus the rest of the 8-12 m of pipe may be doing nothing). With the thinner (half-inch, 12 mm) hoses that I use here in the Amazon, I think there is a better chance of achieving a wider distribution of urine in the soil. (5-degree slope also seems a bit steep.)

It may be interesting to replicate in Europe the arrangement I apply here to see if it plugs, after how much time, how far down the hose, and after how much time does the natural decomposition unclog the hose (during which time one could use alternate hoses).

Florian, have you already started applying this at your work site?

Best wishes,
Chris

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  • mwink
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Re: Urine infiltration /subsurface fertilisation in school UDDT

Dear all,

I just wanted to add one comments regarding depths of holes and fertilisation of plants.

If you want to fertilise plants with the urine, you have to be aware that you only have a fertilising effect in the growth period. Any fertiliser (that accounts for ALL fertilisers) is useless applied in a period of no growth (from end of october till end of february in Western Europe). Hence, especially the N applied then directly trickles down into the groundwater (if the groundwater table is not really deep).

If you want to fertilise crops like tomatoes, cereals, corn a pipe which lays 1 m below the surface is way to far down. The roots will never reach the fertiliser. Also, O&M of the system is nearly impossible.
Usually, liquid fertiliser application via hoses happens at surface level or max. 10cm below surface that the system is easily reachable and reparable.

Yours, Martina.

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Institute for Social-Ecological Research (ISOE)
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Re: Urine infiltration /subsurface fertilisation in school UDDT

Thanks for this. A little question back to Martina: I have unfortunately no agricultural or hydrogeological background but I remember being told that urine can also be stored in the ground/soil itself and that it does NOT necessarily trickle down to the groundwater. Rather I thought that you can basically "store" it in the ground during the non-growing season and that it can be taken up again during the growing season. Is this maybe possible in very arid regions where no rainwater is there to flush the urine down to the groundwater?
(if I remember right, it was Hakan Jönsson who mentioned this thing about storing urine in the ground, but I could be wrong; didn't we also put it in our urine diversion technology review? www.susana.org/lang-en/library?view=ccbktypeitem&type=2&id=875 --> actually I just checked and we didn't mention it there).
Note that I am not talking about a lined storage tank or alike, but just in the ground itself.
Maybe it can only work with very specific hydrogeological conditions?

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  • Florian
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Re: Urine infiltration /subsurface fertilisation in school UDDT

Hello all!

Emmanuel,
thanks a lot for this information. I was looking exactly as this type of experience from similar attempts in Europe...
I would be very interested to learn a bit more on the projects you refer to. Is there any more information easiyl available, e.g. website or documents?
In this project, did you mainly aim at infiltration of urine, or did you also attempt to have some fertilization effect happening?

Canady,
no new experiences in Moldova yet. We are currently revising our designs for uddt-school toilets, but we're not yet sure whether to test this infiltration/irrigation or not.

Best regards,
Florian


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  • mwink
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Re: Urine infiltration /subsurface fertilisation in school UDDT

Elisabeth, regarding your question the following answer:
Each soil type has a certain storage volume for nutrients (depending also on the chemical form the nutrients have). If it's full, it's full and only if it's emptied by e.g. plant roots, new nutrients can be taken up. Hence, it depends very much on the soil and crop type what's possible.

Then, as urine is a liquid and the liquid part will trickle down for sure (along certain pathes as you can't expect that the urine distributes and trickles down completely evenly such as worm holes, cracks in the soil...), it will also lead the nutrients further down. If they leach into the groundwater and when depends on many aspects such as depths of water level, soil type, plant uptake, amount of liquid applied, season and soil activity.

There is also a big difference between tropical and cold climates (to talk about the extrems). In a cold climate plants only take up nutrients for a certain period in the year (during the growth period). Nutrients in urine are readily plant available. If they are not taken up immediately, the majority leaches through and ends up directly in (Germany in the Northern and Baltic) the sea.

You have e.g. a certain storage capacity and slow release of nutrients applied in organic fertiliser. Maybe you remember this?

General conclusion: Yes, soil might work as storage itself but this has to be clarified case by case. I would not recommend to consider this as a general fact.

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  • christian.rieck
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Re: Urine infiltration /subsurface fertilisation in school UDDT

Dear Emmanuel,
You were talking about dry toilets in France that are successfully operational over the last 10 years and use infiltration of urine. Could you share this example with some pictures or short explaination?

Regards,
Christian

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Enhanced Water Security and Sanitation (ENWASS)
Sanitation for Millions
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  • emmanuel
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Re: Urine infiltration /subsurface fertilisation in school UDDT

Dear all,

For the draw of the drain, I did it myself but in the original document (DTU 64.1), I found the right pitures (see attach file). If someone wants the whole frensh document, tell me but it is in frensh.
In France, we can not use urine for agriculture fertilisation and in the case of publics toilets, the aim is to put toilets in places where toilets are needed.

For the public UDDT, you can find details on web site of Ecosphère Technologies. Ecodomeo is also manufacturing the same type of system but more adapted to houses or buldings. In Some cases they are also used ouside in wood small buldings with urine infiltration.
www.saniverte.com
www.ecodomeo.com/english

is it what you were expected ?

Emanuel Morin
Ecodomeo - France
www.ecodomeo.com

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