POO – the next gold?

POO - the next gold?


Flushing poo (poop if you are from the US) down the toilet with potable water, only to spend vast amounts of resources to turn it back into drinking water seems ridiculous. It is even more ridiculous when one considers the embodied energy lost in the process. There are a whole lot of other issues that come with how we deal with our waste. I made this drawing to lay it out a bit clearer.

I actually made the drawing for Dwight Rosslee from Selectra Watertech who recently showed me a domestic sewerage treatment plant at his offices in Johannesburg. Dwight is working on several bigger projects where on-site sewerage treatment needs to be implemented for various reasons. I have become interested in sewerage since working in Diepsloot, 40kms north of the Johannesburg CBD, where I encountered 7.2km of raw sewerage flowing through and informal neighbourhood (see map below).

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The WASSUP (Water Amenities Sanitation Services Upgrading Program) team of community plumbers is working in this area to repair and maintain 642 communal toilets, taps and drains and in the process they save the city 14 million liters of water per year per toilet. This initiative shows one way to maintain infrastructure, save money and generate employment. There are many more solutions around the world that deal with human waste in innovative ways. I cover some in a recent webinar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PeSoR1AO88&ab_channel=ZoranMileticZoranMiletic

As an architect practicing in Johannesburg, I come across complex problems all the time and have realized that solutions lie inside the actual problems themselves. Discovering solutions is a process in which we need to suspend judgment, lean into a problem and participate.


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