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Kate_MM

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  • Gender
    Female
  • Boat Name
    Morning Mist
  • Boat Location
    South Oxford

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  1. I think I know the one you mean - a much simpler version designed for camping/festivals/occasional use. The one I saw was an over engineered affair I saw on a Youtube video in an American tiny home. I don't know why I get sucked into watching these things, fascinated by all that tidiness and minimalism that I will never achieve perhaps... 🙂
  2. I love the 'human used food expulsion system'! HUFES... I have seen a waterless loo that uses a disposal bag with some kind of absorbent gel in. You load up a roll of them, and after each use the loo seals the bag and you end up with a sort of long sausage of your used food. It struck me as rather expensive and wasteful as well as very dependent on the proprietary liner bags. Not sure what you do if you run out...
  3. I do hope your old family home still has the three seater loo! You mention a Facebook survey and 70% responding that they binned their waste - it would be helpful to know which survey and when as these things often get separated from their origins, shared and become an urban myth. I have run several online surveys but none returned 70%. I ran one just after the policy change in which 148 of 319 respondents (46.4%) said that they were binning prior to the announcement. I must also be clear that that was a self selected sample so care must be taken in making any wider assumptions but it was useful in helping to start conversations with CRT and exploring ways to work with boaters to effect change and increase proper thorough composting. I've done another more recently and will cover that on Thursday. CRT's estimate of the number of boaters with a separating toilet is about 5% but I think that masks a lot of, to my mind, essential detail such as the number of users, the number of 'toilet days' and any clues about regional variations.
  4. Thank you everyone for your comments. There are a number of points I will aim to cover on Thursday. I would just like to reiterate that Thursday's workshop will not be promoting the use of separating toilets or composting systems. The aim is to simply to clarify what they are, how it works, deal with the 'composting toilet' myth and share a little of the hard work a small team of boaters are doing to try and undo the mess created by CRT recommending one thing and then changing the rules. Our focus is working with CRT and others to created composting facilities, addressing what is happening in the real world, encouraging change, teaching, helping and advising when it gets difficult. Because if there is one thing I learned in the course of a career in public health nursing and research it is that shouting at people, telling them they are wrong, that whatever they are doing should be banned is a singularly ineffective way to change behaviour! You are all very welcome to come and see what you make of my efforts. In the meantime I'll be mostly wrestling with Powerpoint! To take part you need to reserve in order to receive the Zoom link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/compost-toilets-separating-fact-from-fiction-tickets-354112779857
  5. If it's the survey I did just after the CRT change in policy, the answer was 46.4% (148 respondents from 319) who had been binning prior to the change. It was a small, online, non random, self selected survey therefore it can only provide an indication. It helped those of us concerned with supporting, advising and educating boaters who were anxious and distressed about the situation they found themselves in to provide help. I spent yesterday evening analysing the responses to a repeat of the survey - I'll include some of the findings in the presentation.
  6. Right, apologies, I see - trying to do too many things at once! Whilst urine isn't sterile I can't find any suggestion that the bacteria it does contain are harmful to plant or other life because the levels are very low. It is generally considered a very good fertiliser. A quick search of 'is urine safe for plants' generates a ton of stuff. This is a somewhat over excited article on the subject but the gist is there: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/human-urine-is-an-effective-fertilizer/ This article in the Guardian is a rather easier read than the paper it is discussing, but you can follow the link back to Goetsch et al (2020) if you want to delve into the DNA of source separated urine. The interesting bit in this one is that it appears that bacterial DNA is not passed on and that it doesn't spread anti-biotic resistance (pharma in urine has been something I've felt may be more significant than the modest amount of bacteria). It does refer to safety and I think if I were running a system involved output of any sort from a wider population than me, I would put in place pasteurisation for urine and longer composting times for the humanure but I'm not, I'm managing a very small scale domestic system where I know exactly what has gone into it, when and anything that might affect the output. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/jan/22/study-gives-green-light-to-use-of-urine-as-crop-fertiliser My concern about the 'normal' sewage system is that far too much of it is bypassing the treatment plant. And it isn't just relatively safe clean urine, it's sewage plus domestic grey water, detergents, oils, street and industrial run off. That is killing far more wildlife and plants than my 2L of wee diluted and applied to a tree in a different spot every day. Water firms in England released raw sewage into rivers and coastal waters for 2.7 million hours in 2021. Yorkshire Water discharged raw sewage into English waterways for more than 400,000 hours, while Thames Water - the UK's largest water company - discharged raw sewage for 163,000 hours. In 2021, Thames Water was fined 2.3 million British pounds for a pollution incident in 2016. In total, water firms in England discharged raw sewage into rivers 372,533 times in 2021. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1180077/water-company-sewage-discharges-england-rivers/ Which, considering that there are only 8760 hours in a year, is utterly mind boggling! It seems that we separating loo users are fair game to have a go at (in general, not suggesting that you are doing so), accused of not caring: as one boater put it in a Facebook group 'they just chuck and fuck it'. 'Yes!' came a chorus of approval 'they're the bad, dirty ones, we are the saintly, we use the proper system, the normal system'. I wanted to ask how many of them had ever paused whilst emptying a cassette and thought 'been a lot of rain this week, I wonder if this is going to end up in the Thames... or the Trent, untreated'. Because I'll put my hand up and admit, that, when I had a cassette it never crossed my mind to think about where it went. I just chucked it into the elsan for someone else to deal with. Finally, before I turn into a pumpkin, I would also add that separating toilet owners are not the only ones donating their nitrogen rich wee to the hedgerows. I will assume that you have never popped off your boat for a pee elsewhere, but in a survey I did in 2019, 19% of 690 cassette owners and 12% of 543 pump out owners admitted to pee'ing in the hedge to help their tanks last longer... (and 20% and 11% to peeing in the canal - which almost certainly overlaps with the above, I'd have to delve into the raw data to work out the exact total of such alternative urine management systems). In a nutshell, it isn't as simple as SWT = good; alternative systems = bad, we have got to find ways to stop being scared of our excreta (it really isn't that dangerous if managed properly) and wasting our waste.
  7. If completely untreated sewage is being 'distributed' on the towpath then I share your concerns. I do know that some boaters do/have emptied cassettes into hedgerows. There are probably also some separating loo users who have done that, although the contents will at least be much drier and the bacteria die off will have begun (the rate of die off between systems is the bit that I would like to understand better as my research so far suggests that they survive longer in sewage). And of course, dog poo, is a major issue in any discussion about dangerous bacteria on the towpath.
  8. I don't think it's a risk - it seems to be a low level that we have only become aware of with more sophisticated testing. Also worth noting that the 2014 study was very small, although the 2019 one is more of a systematic review. And the belief that it is sterile is very widely held, as you say, I think testing was for specific bacteria with a view to treatment. I seem to remember that 'C&S' for culture and sensitivity was the thing I was writing on samples before dispacthing them to the lab in my days of ward nursing! However, I am always interested to know more about microbiology in relation to all things toilet, not just composting. There does seem to be an assumption that waterless composting systems must be full of pathogens and therefore dangerous but no one questions the probably presence of pathogens in sewage systems or asks how long they survive.
  9. That is what I thought until recently when I did some literature searching on the subject: Ackerman, A.L., Chai, T.C. The Bladder is Not Sterile: an Update on the Urinary Microbiome. Curr Bladder Dysfunct Rep 14, 331–341 (2019). (abstract only) https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11884-019-00543-6 Hilt EE, McKinley K, Pearce MM, et al. Urine is not sterile: use of enhanced urine culture techniques to detect resident bacterial flora in the adult female bladder. J Clin Microbiol. 2014;52(3):871-876. doi:10.1128/JCM.02876-13 (full paper) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3957746/
  10. The EA seem primarily concerned about gray and black water both of which are more concerning than pure urine. I can't find anything specific from the EA about urine - which, whilst not completely sterile (as thought until recently, and still quoted as such by some, including the Centre for Alternative Technology) is clean. However, a number of other sources give guidelines for creating a soakaway. But I shall continue to search...
  11. As far as I can yes - the current EA regulations (which are seriously dated as they really only address disposal of material from festivals and larger scale events, rather than the very small scale domestic composting we are doing), and the current options for collection or donation.
  12. Indeed! One of the fictions I will be dealing with is the term 'composting toilet'! Unfortunately it's become a sort of short hand for what is really a composting system. Just like 'pump out', 'cassette', 'macerating' are all short hand for other types of system. The toilet bit is just a funnel! But thank you for your comment - you've summed up one of the myths very neatly!!
  13. Thursday June 16th 8-9pm a free online workshop. Open to anyone but particularly aimed at sceptics - not to persuade anyone to adopt composting, just to dispel some myths, present some evidence based facts. To attend you do need to register in order to access the Zoom link https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/compost-toilets-separating-fact-from-fiction-tickets-354112779857
  14. I find Nicholsons dry out remarkably well - most of mine have been well soaked at some point or another!
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