Invisible problem - available sollutions

Most gardeners, as well as residents of rural settlements, often do not have the opportunity to connect to a centralized sewage system and are forced to solve the problem of wastewater treatment by themselves. A cesspool is the most common way to collect toilet wastes. On May 24, an educational press-tour was organized for environmentalists and media on the problem of wastewater treatment in rural areas and practical solutions: dry toilets and composters of various types, septic tanks and local wastewater treatment plants. Water samples were taken for nitrates.

Dry toilet as an alternative to cesspools in areas of individual housing is represented in the Fauna gardening community of the Lomonosov district. A demonstration complex consisting of a working dry toilet of a separating type, a composter and a flower bed has been here for 2 years. A dry toilet is sealed, is odorless and comfortable to use. This is a complete replacement of the toilet with a cesspool, waste in it is recycled into fertilizer.

At the private site in Fauna gardening community, visitors got acquainted with three main types of wastewater treatment facilities for individual houses: a local wastetreatment plant, a septic tank, a dry toilet. A dry toilet of mixed type is convenient to use on the street, the liquid fraction is filtered into a separate canister and used for watering plants, the solid fraction is taken to a composter and then used for fertilizing and loosening the soil. The septic tank cleans the house wastewater by 50-60% for nitrogen and phosphorus, after it the owners have a sand-gravel filter for purification. The local wastewater treatment plant works on electricity, the degree of nitrogen and phosphorus purification is up to 98%. The test for nitrates in the water drained from the station showed the absence of nitrates. Both septic and local wastewater plant require periodic cleaning of the sediment 1-2 times a year.

Fauna gardening community is situated in the Chernaya River basin, a tributary of the Kovash River, which flows directly into the Gulf of Finland of the Baltic Sea. Nutrient runoff in the river basin flow to groundwater and surface waters and reaches the river, causing a process of eutrophication — water “blooming”, accompanied by deterioration of natural habitat conditions. The test for nitrates in the Chernaya River showed a slight presence of nitrates (up to 10 mg / l), which is rarely found in running water. Perhaps upstream there are sources of nutrient pollution.

A dry toilet as part of a comfortable tourist infrastructure in rural areas is represented in the Art-estate “Kaikino-10” in the Volosovsky district. On the site there are 2 dry toilets of mixed and separation type, the liquid fraction is used for watering plants, the solid is collected in a thermocoster. Kaikino Creative Projects NGO is an interdisciplinary cultural center for the development of art, individual creativity, entrepreneurship and creative industries in small territories. The art-estate regularly receives tourist groups, and thanks to the presence of a toilet with an accessible environment (ramp and handrail), a visit to the art-estate is accessible for people with disabilities.

Dry toilet as part of the inclusive infrastructure for social projects is presented at the Golden Horseshoe ranch in the Gatchina district. On the ranch there are a goat farm and a contact zoo wirh saved animals, and a platform for the activities of the regional public organization “” - the ranch is regularly visited by children with disabilities in hippotherapy and animal therapy classes. The ranch owners believe that any projects should be environmentally friendly, therefore they will equip a sealed manure store for the farm and promote the use of dry toilets. The demonstration complex “Dry toilet with waste composting” served as a real replacement for the old toilet with a cesspool. The toilet is equipped with ramp and handrails for people with disabilities, and serves for visitors to the ranch.

On the ranch, drinking sources are shallow wells - the test for nitrates showed a slight presence of nitrates within the normal range for drinking water - 20 mg / l. Nitrates are a cumulative indicator; probably, the former use of these lands for agricultural fields with fertilization now affects the quality of drinking water. We checked the nitrate content in the public well in the Lesnoe gardening community, which borders Rancho. A year ago, an excess of nitrate limits for drinking water was detected, the situation repeated again - the test strip shows an excess of 50 mg / l (at a normal drinking water level of 45 mg / l), which may be a reason for contacting a specialized laboratory. Nitrates enter drinking water with agricultural and sewage drains, the absence of nitrates in drinking water is better, since water consumption with nitrates has a cumulative effect, negatively affects the immune system, especially in the risk group - children and the elderly. According to Natalya Kamolinkova, an ecologist at Rosgeology, the increased concentrations of nitrates in water can be associated with anthropogenic stress in the area and unfair execution of work on drilling wells and water intake equipment, as a result, some components are exceeded in groundwater. 

The results of water testing for nitrates are presented on a map of public observation of natural waters.

The trip is organized by the Friends of the Baltic AEO and the Ecocentrum company.