Sewage salvation

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
. 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

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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