board of health officer says

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Composting Around the World: board of health officer says
Author: Joe Jenkins (Joe)
Friday, June 15, 2007 - 2:17 pm
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I think there was an ex-wife involved who issued the anonymous complaint. That's likely the root of the problem in this case.

Author: John Smith (John)
Friday, June 15, 2007 - 9:23 am
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A person in an unfortunate situation writes:

"So I guess my overall question on this issue would be, how do we wake these bureaucrats up to the fact that composting is not dangerous, but in fact ecologically sound?"

Well, that statement's not entirely fair. By the sounds of it, you're blaming this situation on the ignorance of government officials. While I understand your frustration on this subject, the reality of the local and state government accepting backyard composting of manure as a viable option of treatment is more complicated than you may think.

Public perception is enormously important on this subject and your ex-wife knowingly worked this angle. Would she have turned you in if you were illegally nurturing an injured wild animal? If so, it would've been a fraction of the impact.

Also, wasn't it the government official who praised your work? Doesn't sound too ignorant to me.

The thing is, because of the complexity in making human manure composting an option for joe-public, many government officials will take the "don't ask, won't tell" approach. Meaning: If you properly take care of your business, don't impact the environment, infringe upon neighbors, and make a big deal about it; where's the harm?

If I were you, I'd start looking at the state and local laws/rules/ordinances. It's quite possible you won't have to necessarily fight, just find your particular space within the rules.

Good luck,
John

Author: Joe Jenkins (Joe)
Friday, June 15, 2007 - 12:05 am
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I was asked to have this post be anonymous:

Well, this thread is the best one, the closest I can find for the problem I've had today.

Background: My wife and I have been humanure composting since 0ct 05. I live in a suburban city near Baltimore, and the county health department was called in on a complaint by my ex wife that we were doing this composting. That was 3 months ago. Long story short, we received a cease and desist order, as well as ordered to return to using the approved system that is installed in the house. All of our flush toilets are still in working order, they just haven't done much for the last almost 2 years. We did not get approval for this system before we began it, and our county does not recognize this as a viable means of recycling human excrement.

So... since we have this order, with financial threats made against us with increasing penalties if we do not comply, I feel a bit frustrated. I want to fight the bureaucracy, but feel that would be a losing battle, with the area we live in, and the Chesapeake Bay so close (within 2 miles.) We had been doing this system and loved the fact that we had a toilet right near the bed in the bedroom, and didn't have to walk all the way down the hall to the cold porcelain during the winter.

My wife and I have decided to comply, since we have no idea how difficult it would be to fight “city hall” We are planning to move to a more rural location in a few years. We can let the compost we have now, age, and then use it on the gardens, and by that time we will be getting ready to move.

What is frustrating us the most, is the waste of water that we will be complicit in when going back to the flushers. Grrrrr. Oh, and that we have to walk 4 times further in the middle of the night!

What struck us as funny, was the government agent who inspected our set up said that we were doing a fantastic job, and if everyone did this, the bay would be much better off! And we saved huge amounts of water in that time too!

So I guess my overall question on this issue would be, how do we wake these bureaucrats up to the fact that composting is not dangerous, but in fact ecologically sound? That there is no “SEWAGE” in this process, since sewage is what you get after you have mixed human excrement with water and allowed all of the oxygen to be processed out of it. What we have left, after a few weeks in the compost pile is not dangerous, nor polluting. No streams, rivers, bays nor oceans would get nitrogen sources flushed into it using this system. In fact, the nitrogen gets used by plants, which are in turn composted.

Author: robert eberhard
Friday, December 07, 2001 - 1:39 am
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has anybody had any problems with they're board of health officer. in the united states???
I just received a letter from the county board
about an complaint.from the person that lives on the 5ac. track next to my 5ac. track. I'm in the center of mine, and the compost has yet to smell fowl or displeasing.
the compliant was never defined by the health officer, just that we had to have a ground polluting septic system installed. the wife told him that we compost ,before she could finish he told her we could NOT do this and that we couldn't recycle our gray water ether.!! a little info: we have no well so no need for a flushable toilet that makes sewage. we haul our drinking and bathing water one or two times weekly 60 to 80 gallons. we asked for the code that states that we had to have a septic .
we live in IN. he pointed out rule
410 iac 6-8.1-31
basically it states that no one can dispose of any
organic or inorganic matter from a dwelling or from a sewage disposal system into any surface or ground waters that cause or contribute to a health
hazard or water pollution. the closest suface water is over 100 yds away, the ground water? the wells in the area are around 200ft. ????
I'm preparing a letter to the officer and to complainer that states that disposing and recycling are two different actions.
any info about or how to handle this problem
would greatly help me

Author: joe
Sunday, December 09, 2001 - 1:28 pm
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Disposal of organic matter has nothing to do with composting organic matter, which is not disposal, but recycling. When organic matter is recycled via a composting system it is not applied to any ground surface or water, therefore the laws regarding disposal do not apply. The laws that would apply are the laws regarding backyard composting, if any (I doubt that any exist). Other laws that would apply would be nuisance laws (noise, odors, vermin, etc.). It sounds like your health officer is ignorant of the facts and of the law as well. I would be happy to send him a Humanure Handbook, free. Just email me his address.

Author: fiona
Saturday, December 15, 2001 - 9:31 am
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This is helpful to me, though I live in Australia I am not sure if the same rules apply? my shire will not allow us to have a composting toilet on the grounds that we are near a water body and our waste water disposal system has to be one approved for phosphate retention. We have found a greywater system that is approved for phosphate retention, but The clivus multrum composting toilet is not. They say the compost waste contains too high levels of phosphate and if we were to bury the end product in the ground it would be phosphate releasing. Any info you have on the different subject rules of disposal and recycling on compost would be appreciated if you could send it my way..

Author: Pamela Pollock
Saturday, September 28, 2002 - 2:30 am
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I am in the process of reading Humanure right now and am so excited to read it! We go to Burningman every year for the last 3 years and have been composting our own poop and bringing it home in a 5 gal. bucket. I have been adding worms and more compostables from the kitchen and more peat moss upon return home. I leave it all in the bucket for 6 months to a year and then put it around the shrubbery.
We manage an apartment complex in Mill Valley. I would love to rip out our toilet and put in a sawdust toilet or peat toilet. Any suggestions on how to compost all of our poop when we are apartment dwellers. How about big garbage cans on the patio? Help! I feel so guilty now every time I use our flush toilet!

Author: Ricke Weinkauf
Wednesday, April 06, 2005 - 1:14 pm
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We were very excited when we first discovered the concept of compositing waste. We have been using a (as in ONE) bucket at the property we bought last year. It is far from full - we are only there on the weekends. It never has an odor or a bug problem. We plan on using this TECHNOLOGY as we further develop. Our architect daughter first turned her nose up at us (literally) but has seen the light. She sent us the Jan 05 issue of "eco-structure" a magazine dedicated to improving environmental performances of buildings and their surroundings - which had a great article titled "Now is the time for Greywater Systems and Compositing Toilets." Our property is in a farming community outside of Houston and when you think about all of the fertilizers and pesticides that are dumped into our water supply, it is hard to believe that anyone would oppose a composting system.

Author: arjuna
Wednesday, June 15, 2005 - 4:22 pm
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We have our regular old flush toilet for show and I keep the humanure composting a family secret. it's terrible we are forced underground like with so many other things. I have no near neighbors to complain but I never underestimate the willingness of gov't officials to butt into other people's business.

Author: TCLynx
Tuesday, January 03, 2006 - 1:10 pm
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The government regulations are written for the lowest common denominator. Compost is great if done properly. Problem is no everyone would do the necessary management so they can't make the system a legal alternative to something like an approved septic system.
Very sad I know. We will have to install a septic system (even if we don't use it). Of course building and health codes tend to want to see some sort of accomadation for dealing with human output and they don't trust something that isn't automatic.

Couple that lowest common denominator thinking along with rampant fecophobia and it isn't suprising that people have trouble believing that composting works. We just keep working on proving how well it works.

Author: Rangdrol
Thursday, March 09, 2006 - 4:39 pm
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Roberts post is 5 years old. Is there an update on the case?

Author: John
Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 2:43 pm
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Most regulations state that for a permanent residence you must: have suitable drinking water to the structure and:
a septic tank/leachfield if not served by a public wastewater facility.

One of the rationals being: If you sell the place, the new owners will only have to push the lever to swoosh everything away. Composting isn't for everybody, you know.

If you decide that you'd like to go the composting route, you probably won't encounter many enforcement problems (don't ask, won't tell) as long as the composting is done correctly and carefully. The septic/leachfield, I believe, is not debateable with regulators in most states. You have to suck it up and install one regardless if you plan on using it.

If anything, it will make the property an easier sell (if the time comes) as well as keeping regulators off your back.

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