Compost loos the best in a pinch

Last updated 13:09 28/06/2013
Compost toilet
DIEGO OPATOWSKI/Fairfax NZ
Eric Mawer has been trialling composting toilets, and highly recommends them above portaloos.

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Wellington should be flush with toilet options in the event of a disaster, after a successful trial of composting loos.

Eleven households and workplaces volunteered to use the emergency compost toilets for a month-long trial in November last year.

Civil Defence had now released the results of the trial.

Overall, about 30 people found the compost toilets easy to use and hygienic.

Most preferred them as their emergency toilet option, when compared to chemical toilets or portaloos.

The Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office (WREMO) is now working with the councils around the Wellington region to incorporate emergency compost toilets as an option in planning for sewerage disruptions.

Athfield Architects was one Wellington business to sign up for the trial.

Architect Nick Mouat was in charge of cleaning duties.

The toilets were surprisingly easy to maintain, he said.

One issue was space, however.

''You might be lucky to fit one into an existing bathroom or toilet.''

Not all his workmates were keen to try the toilets, he said.

But overall composting toilets were a good option in an emergency.

Areas including apartment complexes, high density housing and schools, may not be viable for an emergency compost toilet, the study found.

Compost toilet designer Matthew King came up with the idea for the trial after spending time in Christchurch teaching residents about compost toilets.

Canterbury suffered problems treating waste from chemical toilets after its earthquakes, as many treatment facilities were damaged.

These problems could be compounded in Wellington if the capital was cut off from other areas after a quake.

A compost toilet system features two separate chambers and buckets - one for liquid waste and the other for faecal matter.

Because the urine was sterile, it is diluted and poured on to the garden, while the solid waste is composted in a wheelie bin with sawdust, sticks and soil.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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