Clivus Multrum at the Bronx Zoo

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We look forward to the upcoming launch of Dave Praeger's Poop Culture: How America is Shaped by its Grossest National Product. The author has a blog where we learned about a new installation of Clivus Multrum composting toilets at the Bronx Zoo, avoiding construction of a huge septic system or expensive sewer construction, and saving over a million gallons of water a year.

Clivus Multrums are big, and usually used in commercial installations. Where we have tried them we have found them to be odour free. However, people used to a normal flush toilet don't like the idea of sitting on an open pile of compost, even though in a Clivus it can be a long way down. They have developed a system where it looks and functions like a conventional toilet using a mixture of bio-compatible soap and water to carry toilet waste to the composting system below via a conventional 4" drain line. From Justin's earlier post, it looks like a valve toilet design.

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It is supposed to work with as little as three ounces of water, and they suggest that one can even put an offset into the drainpipe. I have previous experience with a design that used a porcelain valve toilet and an offset pipe going into a central composter; I spent a lot of time with a disgusting wire snake, trying to keep it clear, and my family used a lot more than three ounces of water to flush. If this works in a public milieu where you can't beat up the customers for using too much paper, it is an amazing advance.

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Dave Praeger questions the design of the flush button, in a hole on the top of the tank.

"Whenever I'm in a public toilet, my inclination is to flush with my foot. That's what my dad taught me, and the lesson stuck. No matter how clean-smelling these toilets may be, they're still public toilets, and public toilets are disgusting. No one wants to touch anything in a public toilet.

I didn't want to touch the toilet lid, which I had to move to access the flush button. And I certainly didn't want to touch the flush button — never mind touching it twice, as the sign implores. Enlightened pooper though I may be, I can only imagine all the disgusting fingers that have been jabbing into that hole."

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We have mentioned before how perhaps we should be considering using composting toilets in houses, rather than having city-wide collection of waste. People talk about going off-grid; we should now talk about going off-pipe. If this system can cope with the needs of the Bronx Zoo, it can certainly cope with the needs of a family at home. Clivus Multrum also has an interesting gray water processing system; put them together and stop exporting your waste to somebody else's backyard. And I agree with Dave about the flush button ::Poop Culture via ::Green MNP

Tags: Toilets

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