Category Archives: Health Department- Water and Waste

Health department issues- greywater and human waste laws and alternative techniques

Composting Toilets… are they legal?

*Composting toilets*
Graham has discovered that there are a few kinds of composting toilets
that have already been approved by the county, for example, the Sunray.
Per a conversation I had with relevant authorities four or five years ago – any commercially manufactured composting toilet that is NSF approved can be used in a permitted dwelling in place of a flush toilet.
That includes SunMar and Phoenix and various other NSF approved (or maybe ‘certified’ is the word) brands. Kea’au Hawaiian School for example has a high-end Phoenix brand unit.
Mojo says
that most of them are pricey and small capacity,
Yes – cheapest is SunMar NE at $1500 (not including shipping to Hawai’i).
And you still have to have a cesspool/septic for the rest of your household drain water.
for only one or two people.
There are some that can handle more, and, they cost more. The Kea’au Hawaiian School unit is a higher capacity (don’t recall what exactly).
Most use electric heating elements to deal with urine, so if you’re off grid you’re still SOL (so to speak…:-).
In general without electric heaters and/or fans small commercial units don’t work as well as much cheaper simpler DIY designs (double vault or removable barrel). Urine is the main problem. They are trying to make it “just like normal” so that people can pee in them and not have to do anything different, and that is really hard to deal with, especially in small units, without electric heaters vaporizing the excess liquid (urine) and thus the nutrients as well. Quite insane – use hundreds of watts of electricity inefficiently to vaporize valuable nutrients, and call it an “ecological” toilet.
> Anything that is larger will need a special test to get a model
approved, which takes $20,000.
I was told anything NSF certified is good to go – nothing was said about size – someone could verify that.
cheers,
John S.

*Composting toilets*Graham has discovered that there are a few kinds of composting toiletsthat have already been approved by the county, for example, the Sunray.Can we get a volunteer to research this and generate a list?

Per a conversation I had with relevant authorities four or five years ago – any commercially manufactured composting toilet that is NSF approved can be used in a permitted dwelling in place of a flush toilet.That includes SunMar and Phoenix and various other NSF approved (or maybe ‘certified’ is the word) brands. Kea’au Hawaiian School for example has a high-end Phoenix brand unit.
Mojo saysthat most of them are pricey and small capacity,

Yes – cheapest is SunMar NE at $1500 (not including shipping to Hawai’i).And you still have to have a cesspool/septic for the rest of your household drain water.
for only one or two people.

There are some that can handle more, and, they cost more. The Kea’au Hawaiian School unit is a higher capacity (don’t recall what exactly).Most use electric heating elements to deal with urine, so if you’re off grid you’re still SOL (so to speak…:-).
In general without electric heaters and/or fans small commercial units don’t work as well as much cheaper simpler DIY designs (double vault or removable barrel). Urine is the main problem. They are trying to make it “just like normal” so that people can pee in them and not have to do anything different, and that is really hard to deal with, especially in small units, without electric heaters vaporizing the excess liquid (urine) and thus the nutrients as well. Quite insane – use hundreds of watts of electricity inefficiently to vaporize valuable nutrients, and call it an “ecological” toilet.
> Anything that is larger will need a special test to get a model
approved, which takes $20,000.

I was told anything NSF certified is good to go – nothing was said about size – someone could verify that.
cheers,John S.

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Department of Health-What laws to propose?

Minutes 11/12/2010 Department of Health.

Though the goals of this department are laudable, their requirements and regulations are very difficult for small eco-friendly communities to pass. What type of law should we propose to either gain exemptions for eco-friendly communities or an actual law change for experimental sustainable communities?
Shall we go through all the laws and change them bits at a time?
Or shall we propose a variance law that exempts us from these laws in general.
John:
* As most of you realize there are fundamental problems with prescriptive, enforcement based approaches to regulation. End result is usually “everything not specifically allowed is not allowed.” If it’s not in the code, it’s illegal by default, and the code only describes very (too!) specifically what is allowed, and is unreasonably difficult to change.
One alternative would be describing *processes* to be used to determine if something is OK. Not “material X or method Y is OK,” but “here are processes we will use to determine if material X or method Y is OK.”
Another related/complementary alternative would be describing parameters or guidelines to be used to determine if something is OK, such as “the number of people who can live in a given dwelling depends on X, Y and Z” (where X, Y and Z are parameters/guidelines, not specific numbers or absolute conditions).
Both of these would need to be localized in both creation and application (rather than imported from afar as the building code is, or a legacy of colonial occupation as most of the zoning code is).
Scott: He thinks we will not get laws changed for exemptions, but instead we can get laws passed to make legal specifically what we want to do.  Look at what the state is doing on composting toilets in the parks, and use that as an example of what we want to do.
Make sure we have a clearly defined image of what we want to get approved.
Question to ponder: How shall we define exactly what we are doing, and yet leave room for new ideas?
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Health Dept Ideas

Minutes 11/5/2010 Health Dept Ideas

Jeff at County said that the HRS statute covers many of the issues we are working for. However, sewage and health are state issues which means we will have to lobby the state government directly.
Graham wants to talk to State Senator Russell Kokobun after meeting with Alex and Scott, regarding:
o    Notify him about our alliance
o   Update him on our communications with Abercrombie
o   Specific advice regarding Health Department (we NEED composting toilets/gray water?)
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