We have an amazing oppourtunity with the purchase of our 100 acres in Beechworth and it is not one either of want to waste.  We have some very clear ideas on the type of house we want but we are very unclear on how we are going to acheive it in some areas.  Over the next little while, while gathering ideas, I am going to try and share my research here.  I want to share it for two reasons, the first, is to keep a record of where I/we have been and to evaluate how we have found the information and where we may proceed, and secondly, to maybe inspire others to just think about alternatives…. maybe so it’s less “scary” to come & visit too 🙂 !

So, first up, I want to talk about composting toilets also know as waterless toilets.

Why have a waterless toilet?

– Most modern toilets in Australia use 6L per full flush and 3L per 1/2 flush

– According to this Choice article the average family of 4 uses 60L per day for toilet flushing assuming that they use the 1/2 flush and only go 3 times a day each.

This site says that the average households uses 40,000L of water a year to flush their toilet. This accounts for 20 percent of water usage in Australia and 14 percent of our domestic drinking water is used to flush the toilet (these figures seem to vary from site to site and I assume they would as everyone has different systems with varying water requirements).

– No septic tank

– Low maintenance

– Uses no water so means we’ll have more drinking water – we’ll be harvesting all of our water from our roof top so we would like to maximise it’s use

Which type of waterless/composting toilet to choose?

– For me this is pretty hard – I want an aesthetically pleasing toilet which roughly equates to a traditional looking toilet.  That may seem a bit silly but I think it would be easier to convince Pete if it looks “normal” and we are brought up with certain norms – squats are a bit scary when you have grown up with a “Western” toilet and so are big looking composting toilets.

– There are heaps of websites, here, here & here.  From what I can tell the major brands available in Australia are Nature Loo – which is an Australian owned company (very appealing); Rota loo – another Australian company; Clivus multrum – ; Biolet – ? an American brand; Separett – ? a Swedish company.

Problems for us:

– Biggest problem is that we intend to have a concrete slab for thermal mass and Composting toilets don’t seem to look as good for slabs as they need the an internal chamber to decompose the waste products.  The pedestal ones have an external composting chamber that sits below the dwelling…

Where to go from here?  Well, I have emailed a few of the companies for advice so I’ll keep you posted…  I am also going to have to go through any information we receive and compare costs between them and between composting toilets, grey water systems & other types of waste management systems.

While I was writing this a highlight came on the news saying the SA Government is thinking of instigating a “pay as you flush” levy!