After visiting Missoula’s wastewater treatment plant, Paul and Heath Carrey from Montana organization of Soil scientist talk about human bodily waste management and poop beasts.
They talk about the poplar project of the Missoula wastewater treatment plant to process poop Kool-Aid by putting it on a plot of poplar trees as a way to reduce the amount of affluent going into the Clark Fork river.
Heath talks about the evolution of the wastewater treatment plant from the opening in 1962. He mentions that the plant includes very expensive technology that takes lots of energy and money to maintain and upgrade.
They talk about the negative effects of wastewater on waterways due to their pharmaceutical, heavy metals, chemicals, and nutrients content. He explains that the idea with the trees to use the nutrients instead of sending them in the river where they would be in excess. In the water, the nutrients are almost only processed by bacteria and can cause algal blooms. On the other hand, the trees use the nutrients for growth, will bind chemicals and pharmaceuticals and will build soil over time which in turn will take more water and nutrients. They list a few poop beast that could be used: poplar, cotton wood, willow.
Heath talks about the issue with water volume in sewage treatment plants. He and Paul explain that the volume issue can be mitigated by putting an aerator on the kitchen sink faucet, using low flow shower heads, installing greywater systems, going poo-less. Paul suggests a scale where 1 would be reducing the water going in the sewer and 10 would be composting toilet with urine diversion and greywater system (eliminating the need for sewers).
Paul and Heath emphasize that it is not a good idea to use the compost from the trees growing on sewage sludge on food crops. They also mention their concerns on using the wood from the poop beasts because of the pharmaceutical, heavy metals and chemicals that can end up in it. They mention that it would be fine to use wood and compost from the poop beasts if you know what was in the poop which is not the case with city affluent.
This podcast continues in part 2.