Baños Ecologicos de Baja en Californie

Baja, une île située au large du Mexique, est renommée pour ses oiseaux et sa vie aquatique. 

Malheureusement, les effets écologiquement néfastes causés dans la région par les visiteurs augmentent de plus en plus. 

Colin Garland et Carol Steinfeld du "Center for Ecological Pollution Prevention" (CEPP), ont inventé un cabinet (de toilette) à compost qui aide à répondre sur place au besoin de gestion écologique des égouts.

Ces cabinets vont aider à prévenir la perturbation de l’écosystème de Baja.

 

Baños Ecologicos in
Baja California


Carol Steinfeld
Sustainable Strategies
July 1999

 

i.gif (173 bytes)t's a classic Baja scene.
Sun-blasted cactus-studded desert meets white powder beaches and shimmering aquamarine sea. The small island, located off Mexico's central Baja coast on the Sea of Cortez, draws rapidly growing numbers of tourists from Loreto, as well as overnighting kayakers and area fishermen. However, the impact of this is becoming ever more apparent: Walk off the paths, and you'll find trash and toilet paper strewn through the rocks and dunes.

0799toilet.jpeg (14042 bytes)
(photo: Carol Steinfeld)

Besides being unsightly and perhaps unsanitary, this increasing use of the shoreline as a toilet disrupts the ecosystem and can result in nutrients and potentially pathogenic bacteria entering the soil and water.

To provide a solution, naturalist/educator and kayak guide Colin Garland teamed up with Carol Steinfeld of the Center for Ecological Pollution Prevention (CEPP) to build a composting toilet on Isla Coronado. Colin, who leads groups of adults and high school students on kayak trips and hikes in Baja, decided that building composting toilets to manage this problem ecologically would be a good way for park users to reduce their impact and help preserve these natural areas. He plans to build at least one every year as a service project with both U.S. and local students. In addition to his guiding operation, Raven Adventures, Colin directs The Global Classroom, which introduces school students to wild areas worldwide and conducts service projects. Past projects include building a mudbrick school in Africa, installing a water well in Costa Rica and raising money to purchase and preserve several acres of land adjacent to Costa Rica's Monteverde Cloudforest.

Colin and Carol used plans for the CEPP Twin-Bin Net Composting Toilet, which were adapted by ecological engineering firm, Sustainable Strategies, for the island's usage, climate and available materials. While camped on the island, they completed the toilet in eight days. Two biologists from the newly formed Parque Maratimo Nacionale Bahia de Loreto (Loreto Bay National Marine Park) helped transport materials to the island with the park's truck and pangas (local boats). They, with other occasional volunteers, lent a hand with hauling cement bags, concrete blocks and gallons of fresh water (saltwater produces weak concrete), as well as mixing cement by hand. The hard work took place amid a backdrop of arcing dolphins in the sparkling Cortez, ravens soaring overhead, swooping frigate birds and the sound of whales spouting. (Ah, Baja!)

seacortez.jpg (5412 bytes)
(photo: Cruise Cortez)

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"Baja coast on the Sea of Cortez"
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The system, designed to manage up to 50 uses per day, features two vaults, each fitted with specially designed and sized aerators and an exhaust chimney to vent odors and expose the contents to oxygen, which the fast-acting aerobic microbes need to compost it quickly. One side is used at a time; when one composting chamber fills, the toilet seat is removed and exchanged with the other toilet stool's concrete cap. Baja's dry hot climate will ensure that composting occurs quickly; high winds at the site will help with aeration. When both sides are full, the bin that was first used is opened and finished compost is removed and trenched around plants. That side is then ready again for use. Built of super-reinforced concrete, it is hurricane- proof and perhaps even earthquake-proof!

The simple privacy structure features a local-style palm roof and woven fiber walls, and fits right in with the island's scenery. Managing human waste tops the list of concerns of officials of the park, which is comprised of several islands as well as miles of sea coast. The park's director was happy to learn that this composting toilet would be an improvement over pit latrines, which tend to smell bad, leach nutrients and bacteria into the soil and water, and require redigging periodically. The Baja peninsula of Mexico is reknowned for its birds and aquatic life -- there are more species of whales and dolphins in the Cortez than in any other body of water in the world -- drawing visitors from around the world to watch migrating whales and enjoy the nearly rain-free weather. The need for ecological wastewater management to prevent disruption of the ecosystem is critical here, making composting toilets a good solution for use in homes and buildings on the mainland, too.

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The need for ecological wastewater management to prevent disruption of the ecosystem is critical
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This coming winter and in the spring of 2000, CEPP and The Global Classroom will be building composting toilets again in Baja, both the twin-bin system and an improved 55-gallon system for smaller-scale applications. Participants have the option of joining a one-week kayaking trip before or after the project through Raven Adventures. For more information about this and future projects in Baja, Costa Rica, Bali, Kosovo and other locations worldwide, or to contribute or participate, call CEPP at 978/369-3951, email to EcoP2@hotmail.com  or write to The Center for Ecological Pollution Prevention, P.O. Box 1330, Concord,MA 01742 USA.
CEPP also sells plans for composting toilets.

Carol Steinfeld is a freelance writer, tech transfer specialist, composter and the co-author of The Composting Toilet System Book. She has assisted with composting toilet installation projects in Massachusetts and the western Pacific islands, as well as Baja. Buying it directly helps fund composting toilet projects