What are the best options for me?

These questions will help you identify the wastewater treatment options that may be well suited to your development scenario.  Click the links to learn more about the recommended practices, and simply use your ‘back’ button to return to the questionnaire.  Once you’ve narrowed down to a couple of choices, you’ll be well informed to discuss design specifics with an engineer or experienced installer.

1.  Do you have a source of running, potable water?  For example, a well pump or public pipe system as opposed to hand drawn or carried water.


Yes, I have a source of running, potable water.
Let’s narrow the list down further…
Do you have space constraints or plenty of room to work with?
Yes, space constraints
No, plenty of room


No, I do not have a source of running, potable water.
Even without a source of running water, there are many options available to treat sanitary waste on site.

Yes, I have a tight site with space constraints.
Tight sites can be a challenge for on-site treatment; often there is not room for secondary treatment.  If you can keep your blackwater separate, then composting toilets or compost filter bags may work well.  If not, living machines can be designed to function in a series of courtyard planters or even a lobby.  Connection to a public system may also be an option if service is available.

No, I have plenty of room to work with.
All wastewater treatment practices provide environmental health and safety benefits; however, some systems can be configured to capitalize on the byproducts of the treatment process (i.e. biogas, nutrients, or feedstock)
Let’s narrow the list down even further…
Are you willing to actively manage your system to get a beneficial byproduct?  Or is ‘flush it and forget it’ more your speed?

Yes, actively manage
No, passive please

Yes, I am willing to actively manage my wastewater treatment.
Methane gas is formed during anaerobic (no oxygen) wastewater treatment that can be collected in a biogas digester:  the nutrient rich slurry ‘digestate’ is often used as fertilizer for fruit trees or as feedstock in aquaculture.  Living machine discharge water is typically clean enough for non-potable reuse or can be treated further for use as potable water.  They are also coupled with either septic tanks or biogas digesters.  Composting of waste as either primary or secondary treatment creates a nutrient rich soil amendment: composting toilets, compost filter bags, or windrowing sludge.  Aquaculture can be used as a primary treatment if the plants and/or fish are only for animal feedstock, or as a secondary treatment to increase food security and protein sources.

No, I need passive management options.
Although all wastewater treatment needs some level of operation and maintenance, some options require significantly less than others.  As long as your soils can absorb the water, a septic tank coupled with a drain field or soak pit needs very little interaction for proper function.  Otherwise, mounded sand filters, treatment wetlands, or peat filters are secondary treatment options to consider for soils with high clay content, bedrock, or high water tables.  The living machine does not require much interaction once it is calibrated; however, someone either at the facility or near by will need training on inspection and preventative maintenance.  Connection to a public system, if it is available, is the most passive option.