CSIRO tells us that Sydney has Australia’s biggest outfall. It provides primary treatment at Malabar, New South Wales, and serves about 1.7 million people. The outfall releases about 499 megalitres (ML) per day of treated sewage, called “effluent”.
That’s about eight Olympic-sized swimming pools of effluent an hour. It is discharged to the Pacific Ocean 3.6 kilometres from the shoreline at a depth of 82 metres.
The cleanest outfall (after sustained advocacy over decades from the Clean Ocean Foundation) is Boags Rock, in southern Melbourne. It releases tertiary-treated sewage with Class A+ water. This means the quality is very suitable for reuse and has no faecal bacteria detected (Enterococci or E.coli).”
If we all dealt with our own poo on our own property we wouldn’t have to build enormously expensive treatment systems and we wouldn’t be polluting our oceans. And even if we recycled our waste we would be wasting a lot of money:
Clean Ocean Foundation has released a report showing it would pay to treat sewage more thoroughly and reuse it. This report finds upgrading coastal sewage outfalls to a higher level of treatment will provide tens of billions of dollars in benefits.
Industry analysis suggests that, for a cost outlay of between A$7.3 billion and A$10 billion, sewage treatment upgrades can deliver between A$12 billion and A$28 billion in net benefits – that is, the financial benefits above and beyond what it cost to put new infrastructure in place.
I propose that the government would save a lot more money and we would save the environment from a lot of pollution if the government subsidised systems that dealt with waste on our own properties (for example composting toilets or incinerating toilets).
Initially I was investigating the use of a composting toilet. This would save me a lot of water and I’d be saving the environment from all the nasty chemicals and burdensome infrastructure that comes with dealing with our effluent.
Unfortunately a composting toilet requires a lot of space because it needs an absorption trench. And I don’t have that space. I still like the idea of a composting toilet but I have to go with what works on my property. So I started investigating the use of an incinerating toilet called “Cinderella” instead. I really love the name too. Here is a YouTube video that explains more about it.
It uses 0.8 – 1.5 kWh per incineration as you can see in the specs below. You can read more about the incinerating toilet here.
But the good part is that they don’t pollute and don’t require zoning and other approvals before installation. In terms of how the toilet works, it produces a cup of ash a week. The ash is not suitable to use as fertiliser or compost. It should be disposed of in the bin.