Within the next few years, coastal municipalities will be compelled to redesign their wastewater systems in order to meet state-mandated limits on nitrogen loading to sensitive marine environments. The options vary, but many towns are considering laying miles of sewer pipe to replace septic tanks, and upgrading their wastewater treatment facilities, a costly, yet effective way to meet the targets.
While it is understood that the town’s efforts will improve water quality and biological habitat, these benefits may not be realized in our lifetimes, due to the estimated 25-50 years it could take for all the contaminated groundwater to flush through the estuaries. Many residents balk at the $250-600 million price tag, which will likely be financed through betterment fees for homeowners and tax levies for all residents.
A message from Karen Schwalbe of Hatchville sums up the problem and offers a potential solution:
There is an old adage: if you take a barrel of sewage and add a teaspoon of wine, you get a barrel of sewage; if you take a barrel of wine and add a teaspoon of sewage, you get a barrel of sewage… Adding clean (and drinkable) water to human waste, then having to clean up a larger volume seems the wrong way to go. Why aren’t composting toilets or dry toilets being considered as part of the solution to our wastewater problems?
What if there was an option that residents could undertake right now that would remove their household’s contribution to the waste stream? In this blog, we’ll explore some of the innovative ways that people are turning their waste into a resource. It’s not as tricky (or stinky) as one might think… (more…)