The Sewer – Is it beoming obsolete?

September 9, 2008 at 9:55 pm Leave a comment

What with the push to conserve scarce resources like water here in the Southwest part of the USA the amount used for sewers seems like a place for improvement.

Today on Metaeffecient ( we can read about a fairly large building, 30,000 square feet that isn’t connceted to the local sewer.


“The sewer systems we use today are entirely ineffectual and unnecessary. The primary flaw in our design is that we use fresh water to dispose of feces. This is perhaps the most ineffectual thing to do with human manure — it pollutes fresh water, and it requires municipalities to maintain extremely costly sewage treatment infrastructures. Even after treatment, sewage can still wreck havoc on rivers and groundwater.

The most effective and straightforward thing to do with sewage is to compost it (or use it to produce fuel). It’s a valuable resource.

The C. K. Choi Building is a 30,000-square-foot building that is part of the University of British Columbia. The building has no connection to the sewage system. Instead it has composting toilets and waterless urinals installed.

Along that same thought path comes a news story from the Netherlands where they have opened a power plant large enough to power 90,000 homes that runs off of chicken manure! The full story is located here on Inhabitat (


Situated in Moerdijk, the 150 million euro plant was constructed by the Dutch multi-utility company Delta. It will convert roughly 440,000 tons of chicken manure into energy annually, generating more than 270 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. The plant also addresses a key environmental problem in the Netherlands: “managing the vast excess stream of chicken manure, which, until today, had to be processed at a high cost”.

Delta’s biomass plant has even been described as being carbon neutral, since it will prevent the manure from sitting in fields and seething greenhouse gases into the air. Once methane from the poultry waste has been extracted and ignited, the left over ash will be used to make fertilizers and other agricultural products.

Pretty amazing stuff, now if we could just manage to develop this technology to use all kinds of animal and human waste a large part of our impact on the planet would be mitigated.

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Entry filed under: Recycling, Technology. Tags: , .

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