Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Green Plumbing Design and Urine
Well, maybe I was the last to know. Our wonderful urine is a fantastic resource we have been wasting!
Its a bit late to incorporate this into our house project, but with a little reconfiguration, we can make some big improvements.
Basically, the thing we need to do is collect our urine - not throw it away. It is full of excellent nutrients plants love - like nitrogen and phosphorous - and it carries these nutrients in forms easily accessible to plants. Addiing urine to plants can double their yield, says Patrick Makhosi from Uganda. Our urine is sterile for some 24 hours after pissing - after which time, the urea begins turning into ammonia, and that pee smell starts to waft out. We can apply it to plants diluted. Heck lots of details on the internet, like here:
So back to plumbing. The big deal is that while urine is great for plants, it is bad for rivers and lakes - giving rise to algal blooms, which can spell death for the other animals and plants in the waterways. Urine's nutrients are difficult to remove from the sewage once it is in there - so the best thing to do is to plumb our houses and buildings to separate it at the source - And now, looking at our plumbing fixtures, we can only conclude that as a society, we are embarrasingly primitive - All the time I was made fun of in school for talking about our bodily fluids, but who knew! There is no urine separation!, and there is no proper urinal for women! Meanwhile we are polluting our waters like idiots. We should all be pissed that our scientific and other leaders led us so far astray.
A long time ago, before I ever designed my first house, I wanted to have a washroom with two toilets. It was not for separation of urine from poop - it was because so much productive talk was happening while I was on the John - so I figured I might as well invite the person to join me, except it wouldn't be fair if they didn't have a toilet, too. But now I see a much more acceptable reason for having this feature in a house. The one toilet dedicated for urine would be such that our ratio of water to pee was between 15 and 30, to 1. Then we don't really have to add the water later. The whole thing would go to a P-trap, then to plastic tank in the basement or somesuch, which could then feed the garden - hopefully with gravity feed. - I'm sure there will be people who tell me this is not a hygienic system - I'm all ears.
All the while we haven't even started talking crap. Next time?