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Growing Clean Water

     The use of human waste as a fertilizer for growing plants has been practiced in China and other Asian countries for centuries.   Unfortunately, these practices were unsanitary, produced foul odors and, in some cases, led to the spread of diseases.  For these reasons, precautions are necessary whenever human waste is used as a fertilizer.

     Beginning in the early 1970s, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) conducted controlled studies using hydroponic techniques to grow food plants using human waste (urine and feces).  These new growth methods overcame the deficiencies of the Asian practices by eliminating foul odors and direct human contact with untreated waste.

     For long-term space habitation, it is necessary to internally recycle human waste to produce food crops and potable water and to purify and revitalize the air.  NASA's research findings quickly found applications on earth through the use of plants to treat wastewater in many small towns and communities.  Today, this method is known by a variety of terms, including constructed wetlands, artificial marshes, rock/reed filters and phytoremediation.

     Many case studies on the use of plants for treating wastewater is provided in Wolverton Environmental Services, Inc. latest book entitled, "Growing Clean Water -- Nature's Solution to Water Pollution."

     An example of one of NASA's first operational systems to treat domestic wastewater is shown below. (See Fig. 1) This environmentally-friendly system has been in operation since 1975.  Through the years, further developments have been made in the technology.  One of the latest system's is located in Walnut Cove, North Carolina. (See Figs. 2 and 3)

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Figure 1

Stennis Space Center, MS

Lagoon #2

 

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Figure 2

Walnut Cove, North Carolina

     Many other systems, ranging in size from single homes to small cities, are cited in "Growing Clean Water."

Figure 3

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*Note: Data compiled from Walnut Cove wastewater treatment monitoring data.

 


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