Requesting Ideas for Cutting Edge and Lasting Legislation to Promote & Incentivize Composting Toilets & Onsite Greywater Systems in Vermont, U.S.A.?

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Re: Requesting Ideas for Cutting Edge and Lasting Legislation to Promote & Incentivize Composting Toilets & Onsite Greywater Systems in Vermont, U.S.A.?

[The following is an update on the legislative activity in Vermont regarding H.375, a bill that seeks to expand and incentivize the use of ecological toilets and greywater systems.]

After weeks of delay we were finally granted a hearing which took place on Thursday, May 7th, and at which the following people testified [when known, the subject of their testimony and a link to a printed version of same appears underneath each listing]:
  • Me, Principle Founder of Vermonters Against Toxic Sludge (live via telephone) - In two parts : Part 1 - "Who has jurisdiction over the byproducts of an ecological toilet?"; Part 2 "A Major Shortcoming of the Existing Rules"

  • James Ehlers, Executive Director, Lake Champlain International

  • Ernest Christianson, Regional Office Program Manager, Department of Environmental Conservation

  • Seth Jensen, Senior Planner, Lamoille Planning Commission - Written version of Mr. Jensen's testimony .

  • Phil Rice, Cobb-Hill Cohousing, Hartland

  • George Heufelder, Department Director, Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment (live via telephone)

  • Kim Nace, Rich Earth Institute

  • Catherine Bryars, Founding Board Member, Rich Earth Institute
Here's a link to the related committee agenda (scroll down to find the agenda for May 7th - our segment began at 9:00am).

In the weeks leading up to the hearing I was also able to either create myself or collect from others prerecorded testimony, a list of which appears below:
  • Me, principle founder of Vermonters Against Toxic Sludge - “The Challenge in Front of Us: Legacy Wastewater Systems” and “The Opportunity in Front of Us: Ecological Toilets” and “Inspirations: International Sustainable Sanitation Efforts”

  • Arno Rosemarin, PhD. of the Stockholm Environment Institute - “Explaining the Difference Between Composting Toilets and Dry Toilets”

  • Molly Danielsson, Director of Recode - “Legalize Sustainable Sanitation”
Here's the link to the playlist where all of the prerecorded and some of the aforementioned telephone testimony can be viewed/listened to.

And here is the link to another playlist where the videos that are featured in Part 3 of my prerecorded testimony are located.

This hearing focused on the ecological toilet side of things. Next legislative session we hope to organize another hearing to focus on the second aspect of the bill - the issue of greywater reuse.

Work to flesh out the bill as it currently stands will continue through the summer. Anyone interested in assisting in this process should feel free to contact me directly.

Thanks to all who have participated to date! :)
Kai Mikkel Førlie

Founding Member of Water-Wise Vermont (formerly Vermonters Against Toxic Sludge)

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Re: Requesting Ideas for Cutting Edge and Lasting Legislation to Promote & Incentivize Composting Toilets & Onsite Greywater Systems in Vermont, U.S.A.?

Hi, Elisabeth:
I am quite happy that Kai haved used the documentary..for the bill about UDDTs.
best wishes
Scott
The general manager of SHEN ZHEN BLUE WATERS AND GREEN MOUNTAINS LTD , the sole importer of Separett AB waterless toilets in China.
Chen Xiang Yang, an apple dealer,is growing apples and cherries with the human waste collected from 31 school UDDTs donated by SOHO China Foundation, based in Tianshui City, Gansu Province , China. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., tel:0086 151 9380 3972
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Re: Requesting Ideas for Cutting Edge and Lasting Legislation to Promote & Incentivize Composting Toilets & Onsite Greywater Systems in Vermont, U.S.A.?

Thanks Elisabeth for correcting my error and pointing out my oversight. I addressed the latter in an edit to the post that you refer to but I'll respond here as well: H.375 cryptically refers to House Bill 375, the moniker given to the proposed legislation that's slowly working its way through the Vermont (USA) legislature. I copied and pasted the bulk of the post from another source and neglected to clarify that one reference for this forum's international membership.

As for other US states and the quality of their existing legislation versus Vermont's...well, first, let me say that Vermont's existing policy is lacking, hence our work to update it. Second, I will say (as I thought I'd already detailed above but didn't) that we're looking to fashion Vermont's rule similar to those in effect in Arizona; although perhaps simplified a bit and blended with the 2006 WHO guidelines, etc. In addition, we're looking to Oregon as well as other US states and other countries too (like Sweden, Finland and Germany). This is one of the exciting aspects of pulling together experts from different parts of the world (via uploaded prerecorded testimony) - we can benefit from learning about what's already in place elsewhere and then pick and chose from amongst the best examples.

And to answer your final question, we hope that Vermont emerges from this process with a cutting edge policy that will not only stand the test of time but also allow for innovation in the future. At least that's our goal. I should point out too that my time toward this goal is all volunteered and that I've already been commended for my approach (offering myself up as a legislative assistant and researcher). To be honest, however, my 'approach' was the product of pure happenstance. I simply saw an opportunity and took advantage of it. I wish I'd thought it up but, alas, that is not the case.

But that said, its amazing what you can get away with and what you can accomplish when you're not beholden to anyone (funders, bosses, peers, rules, regulations, etc.). Only wishing I had some help (or maybe not). ;)
Kai Mikkel Førlie

Founding Member of Water-Wise Vermont (formerly Vermonters Against Toxic Sludge)

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Re: Requesting Ideas for Cutting Edge and Lasting Legislation to Promote & Incentivize Composting Toilets & Onsite Greywater Systems in Vermont, U.S.A.?

Dear Kai,
Thanks for keeping us informed, sounds really interesting!
(by the way, I fixed the last URL in your last post, it wasn't working properly; just saying in case someone tried to click on it already).

Just one thing, could you briefly explain to us lay people what a "H.375" is? You had written:

H.375, the precursor of great things to come


Would Vermont become a leader in the US if this went as planned or are there other states in the US further advanced than Vermont which you can try to copy? I had the feeling that Oregon was perhaps also quite advanced with such legislation regarding sustainability?

Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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Re: Requesting Ideas for Cutting Edge and Lasting Legislation to Promote & Incentivize Composting Toilets & Onsite Greywater Systems in Vermont, U.S.A.?

Hi All - I wanted to update folks on the work underway in Vermont, USA, to legislate sustainability into sanitation policy. H.375, the current iteration of a House bill and the precursor of great things to come, seeks to expand and incentivize the use of eco-toilets and greywater systems in Vermont and following some productive networking ably assisted by Carol McCreary ( PHLUSH ), Jeff Holiman ( PHLUSH )and David Omick ( Simple Appropriate Technologies ) (as well as the wife and husband team behind the Cape Cod Eco Toilet Center ), I am pleased to report that we've facilitated a stellar cast of speakers including James Ehlers of Lake Champlain International, Inc. , Arno Rosemarin of Stockholm Environment Institute , Kim Nace and Abe Noe-Hays of Rich Earth Institute , Wolfgang Berger of Berger Biotechnik GmbH , Molly Danielsson of Recode , Phil Rice of Cobb Hill Co-housing and Farm , Pete Antos-Ketcham of Green Mountain Club , George Heufelder of the Barnstable Massachusetts Department of Health and Environment , Laura Allen of Greywater Action , Catlow Shipek of Watershed Management Group and myself of Vermonters Against Toxic Sludge .

The first of several hearings takes place this coming Wednesday (the 25th) and we're excited and honored that we've made it this far!

Please note that I am working to make as many of the presentations available online as possible. We offered folks the option of providing pre-recorded testimony via Google Hangouts and YouTube and many opted for this given their locations far from Vermont. My hope is that these presentations can serve others as well moving forward.

So, thanks to everyone that has agreed to participate and stay tuned for links and updates moving forward!

Anyone wishing to follow along with the legislative process can check in regularly at the site that details the bill's progress (accessible via the link below)

legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2016/H.375
Kai Mikkel Førlie

Founding Member of Water-Wise Vermont (formerly Vermonters Against Toxic Sludge)

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Re: Requesting Ideas for Cutting Edge and Lasting Legislation to Promote & Incentivize Composting Toilets & Onsite Greywater Systems in Vermont, U.S.A.?

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Re: Requesting Ideas for Cutting Edge and Lasting Legislation to Promote & Incentivize Composting Toilets & Onsite Greywater Systems in Vermont, U.S.A.?

If it helps, here is the text from last year's proposed bill that we are hoping to greatly expand upon for this year's proposed bill:

Statement of purpose of bill as introduced: This bill proposes to require the Secretary of Natural Resources to adopt rules addressing the use of composting toilets and the reuse of gray water.

An act relating to the design and operation of composting toilets

It is the purpose of this chapter to:

(1) establish a comprehensive program to regulate the construction, replacement, modification, and operation of potable water supplies and wastewater systems in the state State in order to protect human health and the environment, including potable water supplies, surface water, and groundwater;

(2) eliminate duplicative or unnecessary permitting requirements through the consolidation of existing authorities and, where appropriate, the use of permits by rule;

(3) allow encourage the use of alternative, innovative, and experimental technologies for the treatment and disposal of wastewater in the appropriate circumstances, including:

(a) systems for the collection, treatment, and beneficial reuse of human waste in a manner consistent with the protection of the public health and safety and the quality of the waters of the State; and

(b) the appropriate reuse of gray water for beneficial uses;

(4) protect the investment of homeowners through a flexible remediation process for failed potable water supplies and wastewater systems;

(5) increase reliance on and the accountability of the private sector for the design and installation of potable water supplies and wastewater systems, through licensing and enforcement; and

(6) allow delegation of the permitting program created by this chapter to municipalities demonstrating the capacity to administer the chapter.

Sec. 2. 10 V.S.A. § 1978 is amended to read:

(a) The secretary Secretary shall adopt rules, in accordance with 3 V.S.A. chapter 25, necessary for the administration of this chapter. These rules shall include, but are not limited to, the following:

(9) provisions allowing the use of a variety of alternative or innovative technologies, including intermittent sand filters, recirculating sand filters, composting toilets, waterless toilets and greywater, gray water disposal systems, reuse of gray water, and constructed wetlands, that provide an adequate degree of protection of human health and the environment. When alternative or innovative technologies are approved for general use, the rules shall not require either a bond or the immediate construction of a duplicate wastewater system for those alternative or innovative technologies.

Kai Mikkel Førlie

Founding Member of Water-Wise Vermont (formerly Vermonters Against Toxic Sludge)

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Requesting Ideas for Cutting Edge and Lasting Legislation to Promote & Incentivize Composting Toilets & Onsite Greywater Systems in Vermont, U.S.A.?

[The following post seeks advice from everyone associated with this forum.]

I am in the process of assisting a Representative to the of State of Vermont's (USA) legislature with formulating new legislation designed to promote and incentivize the use of ecological toilets (composting toilets and UDDT's) and onsite greywater systems. After more than half a century of hand-wringing over the issue of water quality (or lack thereof) various stakeholders in our state have finally gotten together to address the issue of nutrient pollution. Given the current climate in which many ideas are being circulated all aimed at reducing the impact of agriculture and development, we are hoping to submit our own legislation that will build upon the scant four paragraphs that currently govern the use of composting toilets and onsite greywater systems:

drinkingwater.vt.gov/wastewater/pdf/fina...7.09.29.pdf#zoom=100 [Refer to Page 123, §1-922]

Our main intentions are to promote and incentivize the widespread use of these decentralized technologies through deregulation and new regulation and we also want to make sure that we "future-proof" the regulations to account for emerging technologies.

According to ideas put forth by the aforementioned legislator:

"One idea is to eliminate the requirement for blackwater systems [connection to a septic tank or sewer] when opting for a composting toilet(s). The cost savings produced by eliminating the need for these expensive connections alone would encourage more people to use them. We also need to address the regulations for residential humanure composting and use - making it easier and cheaper for people to sidestep flush toilets."

"Additionally, we would like to steer state policy towards a more holistic humanure composting paradigm. The most radical/progressive idea would be to develop centralized humanure digestors to harness energy to potentially feed into the grid - reducing wastewater treatment costs and encouraging human excreta recycling. Perhaps more practical would be centralized composting facilities for recycling into soil amendments or whatever."

For some background, I am already looking to Eugene, OR, the State of Oregon, the State of Washington and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for boilerplate language and regulatory structure and I am also talking to folks who took part in writing those rules to discover what improvements and changes they have identified (that they would like to make) since the rules were adopted.

But I am also well aware of the fact that other countries are far ahead of Vermont, in particular, and the United States in general, when it come to the normalization of these technologies. Therefore, I am posting to this international forum in order to seek advice and guidance from people familiar with rules and regulations in other countries. My overall goal is to present the aforementioned legislator with the ‘best of the best’ to enable him to put together a cutting edge piece of legislation that will also stand the test of time.

So, with this in mind, whatever folks can provide will be of great help to me moving forward. Please keep in mind that we are under a bit of a time crunch so it would be great if people can respond in a timely fashion.

Thanks, in advance, for your assistance! :)

[Disclaimer - Given that I am not working on behalf of any not-for-profit organization I am not prohibited from engaging in direct lobbying activities.]
Kai Mikkel Førlie

Founding Member of Water-Wise Vermont (formerly Vermonters Against Toxic Sludge)
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