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Alternative Toilets and Water Conservation Practices

Alternative Toilet Options: Low-flow, Composting, Incinerating, Chemical/Portable

Low-flow toilets use 1.6 gallons or less of water per flush. New construction requires the installation of low-flow toilets. Cost savings are recognized through lower water bills.

Composting toilets are waterless and designed to compost wastes deposited into the receptacle. The principle operation is the digestion of human wastes by microorganisms. A bulking agent, such as sawdust, must be added to absorb liquids and help control odors. Compost generated during the treatment process must periodically be removed. Low maintenance and water conservation are two main advantages to the use of a composting toilet. Disadvantages include the need for a larger space allocation to place the unit and a higher initial investment.

Incinerating toilets - waste is deposited directly into the toilet receptacle with a combustion chamber for incineration. Incineration of the waste takes place on a grid within the combustion chamber fueled by electricity, gas, or oil. Heat-insulating materials surround the grid. An exhaust flue vents vapors. A small amount of ash is generated from the incineration sanitary wastes and must be periodically removed. Liquids evaporate during the incineration process. Costs depend on the energy sources used to operate the incinerating toilet.

In Chemical toilets, wastes drop directly into a receptacle containing a deodorizing chemical. Wastes are discharged into a holding tank contained within the unit and must be pumped out on a regular basis. Recharging of the receptacle is also required.

Alternative Toilets – Options for Conservation and Specific Site Conditions - Low-flow, composting, and incinerating toilets are three common options of toilets that use very little if any water.

Alternative Toilets - Technical overview of low -flow, composting, and incinerating toilets is provided highlighting design considerations and operation and maintenance requirements.

Composting Toilet Systems - Detailed description of a composting toilet system along with a comprehensive list of technology advantages and disadvantages.

Graywater: Safe Reuse and Recycling - Segregating wastewater streams is an option if effluent reuse is a goal.

Water Efficiency: A General Overview - A general comparison of conventional and low-flow water fixtures is provided.

Water Efficiency: A Technical Overview - Water conservation measures for homeowners are detailed.