Ecological Sanitation

January 8, 2011
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Ecological Sanitation, or ecosan, offers a new philosophy of dealing with what is currently seen 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.

Ecosan involves the interplay of various concepts:  the nutrient cycle, the water cycleintegrated 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.

Learn More:   

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.

Akvopedia Sanitation Portal is an open resource that anyone can edit. The goal is to improve projects through knowledge exchange. Companion site is the Water Portal.

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.

A Collection of Contemporary Toilet Designs Research  supported by Sandec and Eawag covers a wide range of contemporary designs and links to additional information. This volume from The Water Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC) at Loughborough University is an overview of current research and development is useful for fieldworkers and practitioners as well as engineers and researchers. It does not include conventional toilet designs.

EcoSanRes This project of the Stockholm Environment Institute offers online ecosan publications, factsheets, and ecosan resources focussed on the developing world.

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.

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    Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human, or PHLUSH, is an all-volunteer advocacy group based in Portland's Old Town Chinatown. We collaborate with grassroots organizations, environmental activists, planners, architects, code officials and city managers. We receive support from the Old Town Chinatown Community Association and Neighbors West-Northwest. PHLUSH is a member of the World Toilet Organization and a partner in the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance.

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