Couple of questions

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Handbook - A Guide to Composting Human Manure: Couple of questions
Author: Joe (Joe)
Sunday, September 05, 2010 - 2:50 pm
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1) I have never used peat moss, but people who do say it works well.
2) Sorry - can't help with that one.
3) Just make a compost pile at the cabin with 4 pallets or something. I have a little lake house at my lake and have a four pallet bin there. It's been filling for four or five years and is maybe half full. It's only used seasonally.
4) In PA, you don't need septic unless you have a well and water in pipes needing drains. You also don't need electricity (remember the Amish) and you can carry water. There are lots of hunting camps here that fall into that category. There is also a category of construction related to camp buildings, again not needing the common amenities of normal households.

Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Friday, September 03, 2010 - 10:30 am
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RickB, concerning your question No. 2, Greywater filtration.
Yes, I have one in use, and it has been working well for more than a year now. It is sized to cope with the sullage output of a single person full time, or even a couple who are careful and intelligent about how much water they use on a daily basis. It would be easy to up-size, using larger tanks.
It involves a top layer of forest mulch. Immediately below this is coarse, washed river sand. The upper layer of the sand is semi-aerobic, and the lower layer is fully anaerobic.
The three zones, with their different mix of organisms, together with the slow passage of water through the system, do a great job of filtering the greywater. So much so, that there is never any smell from the point where water enters the filter, right through to the final effluent.
The likelihood of transmission of pathogens through to the effluent is minimal, though possible. Therefore it should be regarded as unsafe and disposed of subsurface into the top soil to avoid human contact.
The conventional "grease trap," which mostly does not do the job it's intended, and which smells something awful when you have to clean it out every 3 months or so, is excluded from my system.
All the grease, food particles, hair and skin particles, small amount of dish-washing detergent and soap get "digested" by the worms and other micro-organisms in the top mulch layer.
Please see my Website, www.ecointerest.8k.com. On the "Home Page" is a photo of the setup. In the "What's New Page" I have included a diagram of the system, which you can click on and enlarge it for easier reading.
All tanks are open to the air at the top, but I cover each one with wire netting to keep small animals from falling in and drowning, plus fly wire to exclude mosquitoes.
The only maintenance required is to remove a couple of shovelfuls of the mulch when it has broken down into good soil-like compost, and top up with fresh mulch. You should not disturb the sand layer at all - it does not need cleaning. Over time (within 3 months) the correct biological ecosystem has established. I have found that the compost-type worms (introduced on purpose) migrate down into the top layer of sand.
I am happy to keep this open for discussion.

Author: Rickb (Rickb)
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 - 4:50 pm
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New person questions here...

I am building a small cabin in SW Michigan. This will be a hunting cabin and a family retreat. We'll visit the cabit maybe one time a month. Maybe a week of vacation here and there. Our plan is a collection bucket toilet, rainwater havesting, and a greywater system... Some questions, if you don't mind...

1) peat moss vs sawdust... I get the impression that sawdust is preferred, but peat moss is easier for me to obtain (as I live in Chicago). Does peat moss do as effective of a job of reducing smell as sawdust? I visited a composting toilet that had cedar sawdust and it smelled so dang good!

2) Anyone here have any experience with a BioSand filter(aka slow sand filter)? I was thinking of routing greywater as well as rainwater into one of these filters.

3) Since I will not be using the cabin all that much, what would y'all recommend? Would you have a compost pile at the cabin, or would you recommend I dump the buckets in my compost pile at my home address. I do not currently maintain my home pile with the same level of care I read about in THHandbook. I just dump table scraps, pigeon poop, and yard waste in. It eventually turns to compost.

4) I have heard that, in order to get a building permit, one will need a) electrical b) septic c) well water. I know this is a little off topic, but has anyone found this to be a problem?

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