Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wedgewood Humanure

In North Seattle
The Wedgwood neighborhood is getting a Seattle first – a permitted public composting toilet.
Back in 2001, 
Picardo Farm P-Patch gardeners were asked to provide suggestions on how the P-Patch could be improved. Among their top priorities were a new tool shed with rainwater collection, community herb garden, community orchard, sitting areas, and an apiary. But their main desire was a permanent restroom.
So, why a composting toilet? 
The Picardo Farm P-Patch has 220 garden plots and multiple gardeners per plot. Many of them tend the garden year-round, but water is only on for half the year, and there are no sewage or electrical hookups for a conventional public toilet.
For years, Picardo gardeners chipped in and leased a port-a-john. Although chained down, this unit occasionally was tipped over. Also, the Honey Bucket was only leased between April and October, leaving year-round gardeners limited options during the remainder of the year. While nearby Dahl Playfield has permanent public restrooms, they are locked up in November and not re-opened until the following spring.

After much deliberation and research, P-Patch gardeners realized a composting toilet was the right solution. A planning committee selected the Clivus Multrum M54W.

The toilet is comprised of a composter with an integrated single- or double-stall structure. They are handicapped-accessible, do not combine drinking water and "humanure," have a solar-powered ventilation fan and restroom security light, and are stocked with toilet paper (wahoo!) and waterless hand sanitizer.
As you can see by the drawing, the toilet sits on top of an underground vault where there is a composting chamber filled with lightly packed wood shavings. Microbial inoculants are sprayed over the wood shavings to accelerate the composting process.
The public unveiling of the new composting toilet will take place on April 3 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Picardo Farm
8040 25th Ave. NE
Seattle, WA (map)

Where did the money come from?
The City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods administers a Neighborhood Matching Fund (NMF) program, which awards matching funds to communities for neighborhood-based projects. The NMF awarded a $15,000 grant to the Picardo P-Patch in 2007 to purchase and ship the M54W composting toilet building. The P-Patch Trust managed this grant money and other funding for the Picardo composting toilet project.
There are some other dollar costs, however, such as ramp materials and fees associated with the permits.
You can help by making a donation to the P-Patch Trust.
By check: P-Patch Trust, PO Box 19748, Seattle, WA 98109-6748.
For either method, specify "Picardo Composting Toilet Project" in the memo line.