Employees of PAWS, Inc., have created a lovely office-side retreat: fish-filled ponds with bulrushes and tropical flowers. And they keep it alive every time they flush. Jim Davis, the boss and creator of Garfield, the cartoon cat, ordained this sewage disposal system after finding conventional systems ecologically unacceptable for his rural Indiana Garfield HQ, reports Harrowsmith Country Life. Inspired by the pioneering work of John Todd and others at the New Alchemy Institute, the solar-aquatic filtration system uses snails, water hyacinths, and bacteria to digest wastes and transform 8,500 gallons of wastewater into wetlands fuel every week.
Davis isn't alone. Individual homeowners, neighborhoods, and large municipalities are adopting the technique. In Arcata, California, sewage is treated through a wetlands system that doubles as a public park and salmon hatchery. This chemical-free approach is also considerably cheaper to build and maintain than traditional systems.
Perhaps these enticing economics will divert sewage from another controversial conventional treatment. Many municipalities sell sewage sludge??or 'biosolids'??as fertilizer without warning buyers that they probably contain hazardous chemicals, heavy metals, and human pathogens, notes In These Times. Abby Rockefeller and others advocate nipping sludge in the bud with options like composting toilets.
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