This is a concise introduction to recent research in ecological sanitation and to resources we have found valuable.
Ecosan, states Wikipedia, “offers a new philosophy of dealing with what is presently regarded as waste and wastewater. Ecosan is based on the systematic implementation of reuse and recycling of nutrients and water as a hygienically safe, closed-loop and holistic alternative to conventional sanitation solutions. Ecosan systems enable the recovery of nutrients from human feces and urine for the benefit of agriculture, thus helping to preserve soil fertility, assure food security for future generations, minimize water pollution and recover bioenergy. They ensure that water is used economically and is recycled in a safe way to the greatest possible extent for purposes such as irrigation or groundwater recharge.”
Ecosan involves the interplay of various concepts: the nutrient cycle, the water cycle, integrated water resources management, sustainable sanitation, and the linking of all of them for food security. The speed of global urbanization makes urgent the shift to new technologies. In “The Essential Three: Water, Sewer, Power”, Jeff Holiman demonstrates technologies for rainwater catchment, the installation of composting toilets and decentralized power generation that are appropriate for the environment of urban Portland.
Sustainable Sanitation Alliance Incorporating the work of more than 160 partners, the extensive SuSanA website has case studies, videos and photos, announcements, a discussion forum, and working groups where practitioners are invited to get involved. The SuSanA Newsletter carries news and reviews of the latest works, most of which are free downloads.
SSWM Toolbox The Sustainable Sanitation and Water Management Toolbox combines clarity on the fundamental concepts with a myriad of practical tools for both planning and process and for implementation. The interpay between concept and practice is embodied in the brilliant user interface.
Compendium of Sanitation Systems and Technologies This concise document by Elizabeth Tilley et al. of EAWAG presents tried and tested technologies in a way that helps communities make informed decisions. Part 1 describes different system configurations for a variety of contexts. Part 2 consists of 52 illustrated Technology Information Sheets that cover advantages, disadvantages, applications and the appropriateness of the technologies required to build a comprehensive sanitation system.
Sustainable Sanitation for the 21st Century Each of the 25 modules of this free 5 or 6 week course is clearly laid out like this and combines illustrated explanatory source materials and links to further reading with a slide presentation.
EcoSanRes This project of the Stockholm Environment Institute offers online ecosan publications, factsheets, ecosan resources focussed on the developing world, EcoSanRes hosts a discussion group for ecosan professionals. To join please send an e-mail describing your interest, name and affiliation.