Poop + Plastic = Good news For H2O Parched California
What are dotted along California’s freeways and use between one and 5 million gallons of water a year
California Division of Transportation — Caltrans — has 87 rest stops statewide. They’re necessary amenities — accommodating travelers’ typically pressing bathroom needs. However they’re guzzling copious quantities of what’s fast becoming the state’s most sacred useful resource — WATER.
Dunnigan relaxation stop on State Freeway 5 north of Sacramento providers about two thousand individuals a day. These every day guests flush away four to five thousand gallons of water.
But quickly Dunnigan will function with a closed loop wastewater system In other phrases all of the black water — aka sewage — is rigorously filtered after which recycled to flush toilets and urinals… again, and time and again.
For a water-supply-challenged relaxation stop in a thirsty state, self-replenishing flush water is a spot of excellent news in an in any other case bleak drought forecast.
Caltrans Senior Sanitary Engineer, Jerry Marcott, says the Dunnigan prototype is just the start — with additional amenities underneath consideration for closed-loop modification within the subsequent 5-10 years.
However there’s another aspect of Dunnigan’s sustainable wastewater system that gets environmental geeks reminiscent of myself all tingly with optimism — the media used in the filtration tanks is none apart from environmental enemy #2 — PLASTIC.
Plastic is a petrochemical polymer — which means it’s made from oil. While it has given our lives a veneer of convenient disposability, we’re surrounded on all sides by oceans and waterways awash in plastic waste. Recycling all the plastic effectively is unattainable and with plastic manufacturing set to quadruple by 2050, let’s hope someone’s received a plan.
Bringing us again to sewage.
Seems, shredded plastic offers the right high floor area to quantity ratio that wastewater therapy facilities need. Sewage has an indigenous microbial system that devours its personal pathogens. That is, given sufficient surface space for its bacteria to colonize, and black water cleans itself.
Varied plastics have been used as filtration media in large municipal wastewater treatment techniques for 50 years. However giant systems also require different more rigorous filtration strategies. The design magnificence of Dunnigan is its simplicity. As a compact small-scale therapy plant — it’ll only need the plastic, ponds and a closing pumice (volcanic rock) filtration.
Dunnigan can be noteworthy, as a result of it was the oil tranfer pump testing site for a self-contained plastic media wastewater system that may very well be a serious development within the creating world. There’s one already successfully in place in Kibera — a slum in Kenya.
There are lots of single use plastic bottles littering Kenya as a result of individuals don’t belief native tap water. So Kibera undertaking designer, Norm Hantzsche, President of Questa Engineering, had a two-fold purpose: provide sanitation and flushing toilets to a neighborhood desperately in want of them, while reducing the blight of plastic trash.
Caltrans allowed U.C Davis scientists to run the Dunnigan wastewater system for eight months with plastic bottles, which had to be shredded by hand.
The plastic bottles have been later changed out for Polypropylene (PP) plastic, the oil tranfer pump media Dunnigan’s modified to utilize long Petroleum Refinery manufacture run. PP is industrially pre-shredded and treated, to date less labor intensive than bottles.
In line with Captain Charles Moore, who discovered the nice Pacific Rubbish Patch — the floating soup of plastic trash within the Northern Pacific Ocean — it’s high time for us to re-assume plastic.
Moore states we must “design recyclability into plastic products, leaving the age of extinction going as an alternative into the age of re-use.”
Dunnigan relaxation stop utilizing four hundred cubic toes of a hundred p.c recycled polypropylene plastic, and Africa’s largest urban slum having 15 flushing toilets because of an area useful resource of discarded plastic bottles, are great examples of reincarnated plastic.
Hantzsche says, “repurposing is now a higher use than recycling” and that even right here in the U.S peoples’ eyes gentle up when he talks about wastewater remedy using plastic bottles.
It is a promising check in a rustic the place two and a half million plastic bottles are thrown away hourly.
Hantzsche and his Californian oil tranfer pump engineering team have another recycled plastic/water conservation concept on the design desk — a single-family-house gray water recycling unit, that would use up to 500 plastic water bottles.
Proliferation of those small and large-scale wastewater and plastic repurposing initiatives is the one approach ahead. Actually repurposing water is already occurring in California and other water harassed places in methods a few of us don’t want to think about — bathroom to faucet.
However every drop of recycled water might be needed in a world predicted to expertise more frequent and severe drought.
So a symbiotic answer to 2 escalating environmental issues — plastic and drought — can solely be good news on Earth Week. Placing poop to good use is not half bad both.