Transforming Sewage - Implementation CentreEver wondered why human sewage seems to be a problem in many places around the world, while animal "emissions" in the countryside hold the key to new life?**
It's because of the way we humans deal with sewage: with energy intensive processes we treat it just enough to dispose of. That's a huge mindset issue - we see it as waste and so we treat it as waste. Any industrial solutions we find to the "waste" problem will be inadequate, because we see sewage as something to get rid of.
Nature on the other hand recycles it, because nature doesn't waste valuable resources. And neither should we.
Biomimicry is a nice word for "Replicating Nature's Ways". Nature's way of recycling sewage is extremely effective, and can be replicated: less energy use, less effort, and much better results (and a similar spatial footprint). The difficult bit is understanding enough about how nature really does it, to be able to replicate the overall process and get consistently good results.
These natural methods rarely make it to large scale application because:
- Few people know how to make these installations,
- Good data about their performance is hard to find, and
- Not many people, decision makers or otherwise, are aware it can be done.
We Will Change That!
We will restore and rebuild a "circular" farm complete with natural sewage/nutrient treatment installation, make it work again, and operate it as a laboratory and visitor & outreach centre.
- Publish the knowledge about how it works, and how to make it
- Gather the necessary data to prove the point, and
- Pursue and support large scale implementation, worldwide.
The unit we’ll restore is not only for sewage treatment, but
is a (nearly-closed) full cycle farm with pigs, ducks, fish and lots of
greenery to feed them all. This makes it nice to see, easy to understand, and
also allows great analysis of the sewage-decomposition processes, by showing
where which nutrients come and go.
Why Is Your Help Needed?
We have a limited time window of opportunity in which we can lay hands on the restorable, accessible and attractive unit, and also get full support from one of the few people who know how they work – he conceived this one over 15 years ago. We also have a small strong technical team available now.
We will "rent" the land and the abandoned unit from the local government, and are crowdfunding in order to be financially independent from politics - it was politics that caused the place to be shut down after a few successful years. We hope to start restoration late February 2019.
We will then restore the unit. It seems structurally sound, but we need to replace pumps, linings and pipe-work, and add solar panels, sample points, equipment, and instrumentation, a small visitor centre, etc. As back-up we're also preparing for a new-build installation elsewhere –which would be a similar cost but cause a 6-12 month delay - by which time we may no longer have access to the team.
We've also got a research consortium from 9 European countries raring to go looking for budgets and then study a whole range of aspects of the processes.Once fully functioning, the unit will fund itself through visitors, training, research projects, online support and other offerings.
Want To Know More?
There's more detail in the short (16 minute) film we made for the "Circular Economy Innovation Festival" of the Ellen Mac Arthur Foundation (thinkdif.co). [Click here for FILM link]
A Spanish version is still being finalised. Our website is now online, and expanding. By signing up there you can follow our progress. [www.circular-canary.com]
Isn't this just a standard off-grid sewage treatment tank?
No; even though both use naturally occurring bacteria to process the sewage, they're very different. The range of bacteria which do the work, and therefore the quality (and speed) of the results depend on how comfortable you can make it for all these different communities of little creatures. This installation, and others made by the same designer/builder, have a tremendously wide range of great bacteria habitats!
How Much Will It Cost?
Where do we begin? We're initially looking for €125,000 to
do the restoration. Any additional funds will first go towards writing the
manual, then to additional data gathering and sourcing/developing simple
instrumentation, then to outreach to solve the national sewage problems, then to
outreach towards developing countries. Once we've made it that far we've got
another wish-list as long as our stratified digester, but hopefully also other earning
What Else Can You Do?
If you are not in a position to help fund this work please
consider sharing this, and if you have time and skills which you believe may be
helpful, please contact us via the website
**If you're the wondering kind, you may have also wondered: Why do we dispose of sewage and then need artificial fertilisers to help plants grow? Why is nearly 30% of agricultural land "degraded" according to the UNEP, and what we can do about that? Why don't we plant more trees quicker to slow down climate change, improve water courses, biodiversity, water retention and a bunch of other things? Why do around 5 million people die every year from waterborne diseases? We’ve wondered too, and this project is a start to help resolve these issues.