How Sustainable Can Cities Be When They Can't Even Deal With Their Own Shit?

Just this past week the City of Toronto was informed by the Ministry of the Environment that it must now notify the public whenever water treatment plants are bypassed and raw sewage is sent into Lake Ontario. These occurrences are said to be due to heavy rains taking their toll on Toronto's "old sewer system," something that is said to occur about three times a month, year round.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

After reading the “Humanure Handbook” I began a simple humanure composting experiment here at home. The idea of not depositing our human wastes into drinking water was met with incredibly strong negative reactions from almost everyone I spoke to about this including my family. Having now bought a piece of land with no services we regularly use a 5 gallon bucket with wood shavings and it works perfectly.

How about that psychological barrier to non-drinking water deposits, eh? And nice work with the buckets. I’d say half the compost toilets I’ve come across were bucket systems, which are totally adequate for the job.

You must be taking the *****. What a load of crap. Talking out of your ass. *****.
This was all in jest since I always enjoy talking (and reading) about poo. Here’s a haiku (haipoo?):
***** in summer stinks
in winter
then freezes

Thanks for the laugh. And sorry about all the ******s as that was done by the default settings on this comment script [FF2F’s previous comment script] I’m using (and I unfortunately can’t even see what your original comment was, nor restore it). Good thing it didn’t end up censoring the title and/or content of my post. :wink:

I find it strange you make no mention of biodigestion for the treatment of sewerage sludge and all other organic waste. The Chinese have been biodigesting pooh and waste for thousands of years.

Another point. Pooh and pee can be separated with, for example, the Swedish made urine separating Bubblett system. What could be better for a localised organic N and P fertiliser source?

Also, in case you have problems with the biodigestion process, there is a product available that helps in the breakdown process of pooh. It is particularly useful as it contains bacterial strains that digest difficult and non biodegradable compounds such as detergents, paper, oil, grease, hydrocarbons, phenols, etc. It is made in America by Chemtech International, Inc. And is sold under the name of HISTOSOL OP-Bio10. Are you familiar with it?

Funny you should mention biodigestion as I was just chatting about it with my friend the other day, and about the Chinese’s use of it in particular. I can’t say I know much about it (I did leave links to some books on the topic at the bottom of this post), although I am very interested in it, and if the situation permits, I would like to implement it on a farm in the future myself.

About separating the N and P, I don’t know about that. I did read recently in the Humanure Handbook that you shouldn’t separate them, but I’m going to have to read up more about that before I can offer an informed opinion.

And I can’t say I’ve heard of that product you mention. Sounds interesting (from what I just read), but for better or worse, I tend to avoid proprietary-ish products. I remember a lady once showing me how to inoculate legumes for increased nitrogen production, and I couldn’t help but wonder where she got the bag of inoculant from. Then I read in Carol Deppe’s book The Resilient Gardener that she was under the impression that all the inoculant in the US comes from the same place. How locally adaptive is that? So what she did was save the soil from around the best performing legumes, then inoculate the seeds the next year with said soil, building up a good strain of inoculant for her area. Or something like that. So in regards to that product you mention, I don’t know. It seems to be mined (if I’m not mistaken), and I don’t know how good it would be to those down in, say, New Zealand or Australia.

Good comments but my experience as an elected official has been that the engineering companies, bond financiers, lawyers, etc., have conspired to exploit every community, especially the smaller, less sophisticated ones so they can engineer the most complex, oversized and expensive plants. It’s a racket! Our community tried to fight them and lost.

I’m sorry to hear of your community’s loss, but glad to hear of the effort. And yes, it most certainly can be a racket, particularly when the oversized, complex plants you mention are also glorified as money generators (contributing to growing our economic Ponzi scheme), while more ecologically-oriented methods are not, or at most are so on a much smaller scale.

Peak oil again as an excuse Allan? “on the cusp” no less? Peak oil was being used as an excuse back in the 70’s, probably before you were even born, and you want to recycle it in the hopes that what, the silliness factor has worn off in the past 1/3 of a century? Veering a bit close to Harold Camping Rapture fantasies in my opinion, but the real question is why haven’t you learned something about this topic so as to not be so easily fooled? Did you actually finished your secondary education in Canada, or did they just give up on teaching critical thinking skills to Canucks in general?

Joe (no longer Johnny?): Bingo! If peak oil was used as an “excuse” for United States oil supplies that peaked in 1970, well, why not call that peak oil? Might as well call a spade a spade, eh?

I’m sorry to hear about your gullibility to the mainstream media’s regurgitating of the latest corporate spin (the inability to understand or accept the concept of limits on a finite planet), but perhaps my piece coming up two posts from now will help alleviate that. The recent article that I’ll be citing even mentions your straw-man of Harold Camping!

Last of all, I think you might be rather close to the truth with your statement that “they just gave up on teaching critical thinking skills to Canucks in general,” although I wouldn’t single out just Canada. Nonetheless, that’s why I ultimately left university. Thanks for the astute observation and for bringing that up!

User name is blocked Allan. Funny how that happens isn’t it, among fine folk who want to claim to be all critical thinking capable and all. Certainly I don’t fall for MSM pitching BAU any more than you can shake loose from intellectual ideas equivalent to Harold Camping fantasies and using that rationalization to drive your new world scenarios. You do realize that reality doesn’t care about your phantasmagorical musings, right? And just because you don’t like the facts of the world doesn’t change them.

And yes, leaving university because they didn’t teach you to think, and then falling for the first and most obviously transparent excuse for a rationalization proves that whatever they might have taught you, you sure didn’t run off and then learn it on your own.

Well, you were not blocked by me, nor can I see that you were automatically blocked by the system. So, I tested it myself to see if I could post with the username “Johnny,” both lowercase and uppercase, and lo and behold, it worked! So as far as I understand it, if you block yourself from leaving a message, then yes Johnny, you will be blocked – by your own doings.

Unfortunately, I don’t know how much more there is to say here. Sure, there are “facts of the world.” To me, one of those is that we live on a finite planet that has limits. That implies limits to many things, including oil. I see what we call “peak oil” as happening, overall, very soon. Do you, Johnny, understand that there are limits, that peak oil will one day happen? If so, please name the year, or decade, or century, or millennium, that you presume it will occur. If you can’t do that, then I don’t know what else to presume but that you think oil is abiotic or comes from the ether or something.

The exact error message is “you’ve posted alot recently, try again later”. Message still occurs a week later, so whatever the posting frequency permitted, it must think one post a week is enough. Except when it does it to the first post of course, stopping any commentary.

The block is unlikely to be on the name Allan, but the IP. Maybe the software decided to just block my IP for the fun of it? As soon as I switched IPs, it began to allow commentary through.

Alright, supposing that that was the problem, I’ve reset the whole thing so that all IPs are now unbanned, and I’ll have to start over again with that. Secondly, I’ve set it up so that all first-time commenters will have their first message not appear until it has been validated. After it’s been validated, and so long as you use the same email address as the first time, all of your further comments should automatically go through.

Hi Allan

In response to your response to my comment

You might find this reference useful in your investigations into biodigestion.

Methane Digesters For Fuel Gas and Fertilizer
With Complete Instructions For Two Working Models
by L. John Fry

For more information on urine seperating toilets I think you will find a lot of info from the manufacturer.

THE DUBBLETT- SYSTEM is manufactured in Sweden by BB Innovation & Co. AB.

DUBBLETTEN`S unique patented design is based on two, well separated bowls, the one behind, for faeces, has a bulge which prevents an overflow of the flushing water infected with bacteria and viruses to the front, well separated, urine bowl.

And since the start of serial manufactures, it has been installed in schools, museums, offices, and blocks of flats, small houses and in the leisure areas. As well as Sweden, Dubbletten has been installed in Australia, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Finland and Denmark.

Bobby Bogdan Mrozowski
MD at BB Innovation & Co. AB.

“Risks with recycling of human waste”.

“The occurrence of micro-organisms is primarily concentrated in the faeces while urine as a rule does not contain illness-promoting organisms. The urine sorting system aims to sort the faeces from urine, but when the design of the urine sorting toilet is not optimal, there is risk that faecal microorganisms will mix with the urine”. Anna Olsson and Thor Axel Stenström, Institute of Infectious Diseases. Sweden

Thus in so far as the use of Histosol is concerned, the reason I suggest it’s use is that the difficult and non biodegradable compounds such as detergents, paper, oil, grease, hydrocarbons, phenols, etc. are potentially soil contaminants and as far as I understand are the main problems holding back the wider implementation of biodigestion as a source of energy and especially “fertiliser” supply.