Clean Water and Sanitation and Sustainability

Clean Water and Sanitation and Sustainability is a MUST have aspect everywhere – and especially in an enclosed, interconnected series of ecosystems. This is why UN SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation is a no brainer.

When I started building Mezzacello, I assumed all water – rain, drain, grey, and stray was equal. I was wrong.

It might seem odd that I would choose number six of the UN sustainable development goals as my favorite of the civil sections of the development goals. After all I live in a city and a very well developed country with access to clean water and sanitation without a thought. But that is beside the point and not the purpose of the UN sustainable development goals.

Jim Bruner

Water is a Resource and Clean Water is a Privilege

it’s precisely the point that water is a privilege and a real problem for so many. Lack of access to water and clean water is an emerging global threat. Climate reality is not helping matters.

That’s why I focus on water purification and sanitation in all of my outreach work. You do not know what a precious resource water is until you don’t have it — and by then it’s too late. If I’m going to spend time and energy educating young minds on the realities of a natural world and an urban farm, water is critical.

More Than One Path

Water flows where it meets the least resistance. It is also magnetic and molecular. This is the first lessons at Mezzacello.

All water is liquid, but not all water is potable. That lesson was a tough one to learn for me personally. When I started building Mezzacello, I assumed all water – rain, drain, grey, and stray was equal.

I was wrong. Water is a unique resource because it is both magnetic and molecular — that means It attracts pollutants and it is easy to clean. This is a blessing and a curse.

Seven Strategies for Purifying Water

So let me start by discussing the SEVEN ways I actively purify water at Mezzacello:

  1. Rain water cachement with engineered baffles in a 1000L IBC that allows fresh water to be pulled from the top and wastes collect at the bottom.
  2. Water Tower filtration through the bioreactor water tank which used ultrasonic purification of water to vibrate particulates out of pumped water to further purify it.
  3. Chemical purification that uses bromine or a life straw to purify water chemically or through nano-chelation.
  4. Natural filtration through a matrix of paper, stones, gravel, sand, and activated charcoal to further purify water on demand in 3 gallon batches.
  5. Solar Evaporation Stills that use sunlight to evaporate and recapture evaporated water into a clean collection vessel.
  6. A natural bakki shower that purifies pond water using evaporation, chelation and nitrite/nitrate fixing to collect pollutants and algae and return nearly pure water.
  7. I also use biological processes, specifically plants like water lettuce and water Hyacinths to naturally purify water and manage algaes and wastes. The plants digest both and release O2 into the water through their roots.

Of all of these systems, only chemical purification requires outside resources to work. All the others are naturally occurring or derive their power entirely from solar and wind turbine power and are thus energy neutral actions.

Bucket Purification

Basic Diagram of Water Bucket Purification

Evaporative Box Purification

Basic Sealed Box Evaporation Purifier System

BioFilter Purification

Typical Biofilter Configuration

Bakki Shower Purification

Typical Bakki Shower

Sanitation On an Urban Farm

Sanitary conditions are a hallmark of modern society. But living on an urban farm, with mud, water, chemicals and especially animals makes sanitation a NECESSITY. In the united states, avian flu is running rampant and killing millions of birds in the process.

At my farm I keep chickens and ducks in a livestock shed that includes a chicken coop, a run that is shared by both species, and a pond that is shared by multiple species and ecosystems. That manure is a real liability and can be deadly if it is not kept sanitary.

The in ground sewer that allows me to manage deadly wastes.

The best methods I have found to manage sanitary conditions is access to water at all times, and an integrated sanitary drain where poultry and fowl wastes can be collected, isolated, and reused. The way I go about this is through rubber mattes on an incline that drain into a sewer modeled after the sewers of Paris, France at the end of the 19th Century.

The rubber surfaces are easily washable and can be both power washed and sterilized with diluted bleach. The other benefit is that is discourages pests like rats and mice from digging and creating nests in the coop. Lastly the sewer centralizes and streamlines waste removal.

With a sterile surface I can feed birds directly on the ground with no disease issues. The surface also reduces the risk of spreading Avian Flu. Lastly, the mattes keep the odor of animal wastes at a minimum which is a huge benefit living in downtown Columbus, OH.

Personal Sanitation

In addition to animal sanitation, there is also the need for personal sanitation. This takes place in one of two ways: Sinks and soap, and Bleaches and boots.

I have portable sinks deployed all around Mezzacello. The sinks use recycled potable water in their bases, and the grey water from washing is recollected, cleaned and reused. This is very resource savvy.

Hand washing station, boots, and rubber mattes.

In addition to the hand washing sinks, everyone interacting on the farm is required to wear rubber boots. The boots keep disease to a minimum and have thew adding benefit of being easily sterilized after use. I can also store them outside upside down on a pole so they stay dry and the sun can further sterilize them.

Call To Action

What can you do in your home or community to make impactful changes in water and sanitation? Share in the comments!

Leave the first comment

Related Posts