Faculty Advisor: Kory Russel
Students: Adam DeHeer, Nick Sund, Summer Young, Emma Hershey
We work with x-runner, a local Container-Based Sanitation (CBS) provider, to develop a landscape system that addresses the needs of basic sanitation and adequate public green space for the communities of Lima, Peru.
A majority of the global population is increasingly concentrating in urban areas, specifically in informal settlements or slums. These slums have a combination of challenges including the lack of access to basic sanitation and clean water, a lack of adequate public green space, an unsafe environment cobbled together with low-quality, non-durable materials, and a general lack of legal recognition by governments. In places without basic sanitation infrastructure, people are forced to dispose of fecal waste in pit latrines or directly into their own environment.
Using co-design processes with the community members of Pamplona Alta, Lima, Peru, the students were able to begin responding to the needs of x-runner as well as the community they serve. Knowing that urine and greywater contain the water and nutrients to support public greenspace, these byproducts could be turned into useful resources for the community, rather than simply treating them and throwing them away. We worked with the community to develop a low-cost and sustainable sanitation system that collects, treats, and reuses household urine and greywater in a closed-loop system. The system destroys deadly pathogens, and the clean water can be reused in the home for bathing, laundry, and dishwashing. If combined with urine, the wastewater becomes a safe and nutrient-rich fertilizer for outdoor containerized gardens—helping the community create public greenspace. By combining this wastewater recycling system with CBS, all three forms of household waste are transformed into community resources.
Beyond treating and recycling waste, the sanitary greenspace system has numerous impacts in the landscape. First, it protects natural waterways and ecosystems from feces, urine and greywater pollution by providing an alternative to open defecation and pit latrines. At the same time, the system uses those nutrients from urine and composted human waste as fertilizer, thereby removing the need for expensive and environmentally harmful synthetic fertilizers.
As a containerized garden, it can be used to create safe and accessible public greenspace where plantings provide shade that reduces the urban heat island effect, making slums cooler and more comfortable during summer heat. Additionally, access to green space has many documented health benefits. The enjoyable aesthetic surroundings provided by the sanitation system can improve mental wellbeing by increasing resilience to stress and providing places for social activities. Work is ongoing to make this solution widely available.
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