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How to Build the Watson Wick Alternative Septic System

| 6/3/2020 9:47:00 AM

Simple bucket toilet.

Humanure composting is an adventure.  There’s the buckets of waste and sawdust to take out every few days, no excuses. There’s the three or more compost bins to build and finding sources of sawdust. There’s ventilation in the bathroom and maybe adding ash to mitigate smells. And urine: to collect separately or to let it all mix together? How long to compost? Two years? More? What about guests? How will they feel about having just a bucket under their tuckus?

The upshot is that, in order to make humanure composting a success, it takes equal parts work, gumption, and creativity. But it also yields amazingly good compost for perennials, keeps nutrients close — real close — and transforms what would otherwise be a gross, intensively-treated waste product into a valuable resource for your soils and garden.

At my friend Gus’ place, he’s done this successfully for seven years. But as they started welcoming kids to their space through camps and programs, they realized they needed a standard flush toilet to ensure everyone was comfortable and there weren’t any issues with kids and parents and a bucket in a box. Their solution was the alternative and technologically appropriate Watson Wick Septic System.

I learned of this system from a friend in New Mexico who learned about it from Tom Watson himself, maybe 20 years ago. She wound up installing a Watson Wick System in her urban home about 15 years ago, and it’s been functioning perfectly ever since. The design is simple, the setup is easy and low-cost, the function is hassle- and worry-free, and the results are marvelous.

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