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        NO Flush Zone. Toilet options? Sign In/Join 
        Picture of Conrad
        posted
        Due to local flooding and severe road/utility damages our retirement home is currently in a NO FLUSH zone in CO. Gray water from showers, and washing is acceptable, however. This may possibly go on for months, depending on weather conditions and all the needed repairs on several miles of washed out roads.

        Looked into composting toilets, and not sure that is really a great option for us. The easiest is just the drywall buckets with snap on toilet seats. (Then we get to haul the buckets to the lift station for disposal)
        Anyone else been through this? Ideas to make this work better?

        We are not complaining btw, as our home is accessible high and dry with good water, electricity, and wifi. So many others have it so much worse.
         
        Posts: 6884 | Location: Plains and Mountains | Registered: Sep 26, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of GardenSprite
        posted Hide Post
        Conrad, I'm sorry to learn that you're having to deal with this, but glad that you and your family are at least not in the flood water areas.

        I've only read about composting toilets but don't know of anyone who's actually used them. I thought that they had to be installed and are not portable.

        The only other thing I can suggest is to check out a homesteading site such as Mother Earth News. I found a number of hits through a search, but the hits appear as a pop-up so you'll have to search directly from the homepage:

        Mother Earth News

        I did find some information on a solar composting toilet, but it would require some construction for privacy.

        Solar Composting Toilets

        Another suggestion was to use a medical commode and then dispose of the contents as suggested in the article:

        Quickie toilet composting

        I thought I read somewhere that you have another home elsewhere. Could you possibly go there until the flood issues are addressed?

        What an ordeal - I have no idea the floods had affected daily living in such a personal manner and hope you can find a good solution. I've also summarized your questions and posted on an organic gardening forum, where there may be more folks who have insight into these issues than I.
         
        Posts: 1896 | Registered: Oct 06, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Conrad
        posted Hide Post
        Thanks GardenSprite!
        I actually have looked at all the sites you mentioned and have more of an understanding of what is needed, and what may work best in our situation.

        We are not there (and having to deal with this) at this time, but plan to go middle of next month for at least a week. I was packed and planning to leave the day it began raining, and decided to wait a day...and then the roads in were damaged/closed. Thus at least I was not adding to the immediate problem there.

        Curious too if any campers/hunters had experience with the bucket system? They say to layer sawdust, we used to use lye in an outhouse...but that may burn through the plastic bucket. They may not want sawdust at the lift station/treatment plant either.

        Also just waiting to read what the spammers can find to add to this thread? Wink
         
        Posts: 6884 | Location: Plains and Mountains | Registered: Sep 26, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of GardenSprite
        posted Hide Post
        Sorry, Conrad, I should have known that with your thoroughness you would already have done a lot of research! Frown

        I was wondering as well how anyone would get enough sawdust to use in the composting system. Guess you'd have to cut down a lot of trees in order to use the toilet. Somehow, that doesn't make sense, although I'm sure there will be a lot of lumber for cutting as the flood waters recede.

        Lye is pretty toxic; I too think it would destroy the bucket.

        This is going to be a sensitive situation -how to comply and remediate without using other materials that might complicate matters.

        Perhaps the expert marketing spammer Anne Layman will add composting toilet solutions to her creds of blinds and landscaping. Or better yet, she'll suggest blinds for an outhouse and offer suggestions on what flowers to use around it.

        Or Aquapeutics will make suggestions on remodeling your outhouse or outdoor lavatory to provide adequate space - that seems to be one of his/her issues.

        You can rely on Christine Welby to suggest subway tiles and Bondera for your outdoor lav. Must make it pretty!

        At least the Hyundai Genearator guy is gone so you don't have to worry about him trying to sell you generator operated toilets.

        And KewinVilson is also gone, so you won't be pestered with pitches for closed circuit TV systems while you're conducting private business.


        I'd be interested in learning what your ultimate decisions are, and best of luck.

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
         
        Posts: 1896 | Registered: Oct 06, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        sorry you got caught in the drenching. so many people face worse issues on the front range. the utilities have faced immense challenges in this washout, and it will be a long time to clear.

        I'd use a camping chemical toilet if I could get one, failing that, the glory bucket idea is probably your best solution for now. I'd even set up a tarped potty area in the yard.

        depending on what city you're in and the amount of damage to the sanitary system, a semipermanent chemical composter in what to the world looks like an outhouse would take you into early winter safely. usefulness would wear off fast into, say, January. or the second blizzard.

        right now, I'm just grateful if I can get a dispatch to a downed dslam. life safety and emergency services always come first in these things (old news dude who worked through floods in North Dakota, and a dslam herder for CTL these days.) we've a long history of losing t1 lines for fire crew control off our equipment because that's the easiest way to get communications to the fire line. no problem.

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: swschrad,


        sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
         
        Posts: 5710 | Location: North Burbs, MN | Registered: Mar 14, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Conrad
        posted Hide Post
        LOLOLOL!
        Thanks again for the morning chuckles on Spam, GardenSprite. I needed them!

        After looking through the websites that you sent links to, as well as some I found...I am thinking the urine is not an issue at this point. Only solid waste and toilet paper that would end up in the waterways at this time.
        They don't say that, as they just want people to avoid getting lax in flushing.

        There is a lumberyard in town, and I think sawdust would be available if needed if we were actually going to compost it. But since we would probably be dumping it in the local (intersection porta-sans that Fema will be bringing in), best not to go there.

        I know this is not a pleasant topic, but the way the extreme weather and world conditions are, thinking ahead and preparing for these issues is not a bad idea for anyone?

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: Conrad,
         
        Posts: 6884 | Location: Plains and Mountains | Registered: Sep 26, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Conrad
        posted Hide Post
        swschrad, We absolutely do feel SO fortunate. Only a few lives were lost, but many homes destroyed or severely damaged along with roads to carry supplies in and out.
        Many are looking at going into winter weather (coming very soon) with no utilities, saturated drywall, carpet and such, and have no usable access roads to their homes. Majority have no flood insurance, as it affected people where water was never that close or as big of an issue before.

        In our area, there are at least 2000 residences affected by the "no flush" zone. Amazing. This is now considered a 1000 year weather event.
         
        Posts: 6884 | Location: Plains and Mountains | Registered: Sep 26, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of GardenSprite
        posted Hide Post
        Conrad, you're welcome for the comments on the spammers. I would need lots of chuckles if I were in your position. It's difficult enough to make adjustments just for electrical outages and sanitary sewer line backups, let alone addressing something so basic for so long a time.

        Sounds like you've got your options pretty well identified, and I do hope the ordeal is as easy and safe as it can be.

        (Oh, don't forget the catalogues in case toilet paper becomes scarce!)

        As to thinking about these 1000 year events, I think they are going to happen more and more often, and more plans than FEMA and individuals currently have need to be developed. We just aren't prepared for these catastrophic events. And are there really any places that can't be hit by some disaster or another?

        Sometimes I think the Native Americans and current cultures which were or are closer to subsistence living are better prepared than we ever will be to deal with catastrophies. We're so entirely dependent on networked infrastructure and amenities that it's not only a major sacrifice for us but a threat to health and safety as well.

        (I hope FEMA has arranged for charging stations for all the young kids who'll have to make sure their SmartPhones and iPads will operate? - gotta address those absolute necessities, don't they?)

        Think I'll call my insurance agent and see if I can get flood insurance, even here in Michigan.


        Swschrad, what's a "dslam"? I never thought of the heavy T1 lines going down and interrupting emergency communications -that would really compound the disaster.

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
         
        Posts: 1896 | Registered: Oct 06, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Conrad
        posted Hide Post
        DH used to work for the local phone company, I know the two terms Dslam and T1 both have to do with data lines, (highspeed internet, phone and fiberoptics?).

        We have security cameras we can access to view the other home inside and out (to some degree). Only work if the power is on and the internet can send images. But I love to check indoor temperatures, weather conditions and such whenever we are not present.

        You are right about charging stations for the phones and Ipads, but luckily if you can at least start your car, the poor, bored kids can still watch movies and text. (I meant that spoken with an eye roll/joke)

        My DB just gave me an old portable CB radio for car emergencies. You can bet I will be taking that with me for out there. Many times if cell phones and local phones are jammed with calls or towers/lines non functioning, the old CB radios can still work. Other than that, maybe smoke signals? Assuming it is not during a forest fire.

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: Conrad,
         
        Posts: 6884 | Location: Plains and Mountains | Registered: Sep 26, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        Conrad,
        The good news is you're not flooded. We have a canoe trip we do with the scouts where we are camping on a platform in the middle of a hardwood swamp. Going behind a tree and digging a cat hole isn't a solution. We use a bucket and kitty litter. Line the bucket with a plastic bag. Clumping litter would probably be better than regular clay.

        Short term, I'd probably go with that or rent a port-a-john. Long term I'd probably go composting toilet if it were my primary residence and it was going to take months to get service back.

        A dslam (digital subscriber line access multiplexer) is the equipment that takes the copper pair from your house and multiplexes it up to the trunk line to the Central Office (CO). It could be fiber to the CO. They generally have battery back-up but batteries don't last forever so in an extended power outage a neighborhood could lose service as most dslams don't have generator back-up. It is the challenge as we move from traditional copper lines to the CO to digital lines (copper, fiber or coax/CATV) for phone services. POTS (plain old telephone service) got the power from the central office which had battery and generator backup incase of a primary power failure. The dslam equipment generally only has battery back-up because they are located throughout neighborhoods.

        http://www.ask.com/wiki/Digita...wn&an=apn&ap=ask.com

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: Sparky617,


        General Disclaimer

        Any advice given here is general in nature and is not necessarily valid for your given area. If in doubt check with your local codes enforcement department for what is required when doing electrical, plumbing or structural work on your house. Permits may or may not be required in your area and home owners may not be able to DIY some tasks. I have no way of knowing if you have the skills needed to complete the tasks you are asking about, when in doubt seek professional assistance.

        My advice may be worth exactly what you pay me for it. :-) For the record I did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
         
        Posts: 710 | Location: Cary, NC | Registered: Aug 17, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Conrad
        posted Hide Post
        I have heard the port-a-johns are in short supply out there. SO many septics and sewers affected, plus all the construction/repair projects need them.
        I believe I heard that Fema flew some in from Arizona? Anyway the public flush toilets are near town, 3 miles away and the neighborhood porta-sans are maybe a quarter mile to half mile between neighborhood access corners, or more. Long walk in the middle of the night, (bears, badgers, mt lions, rutting elk, other neighbors, on the same mission?)
        We are fortunate in so many ways, including that we can stay mostly here in NE for the time being. (Where I say a silent "thank you" with every flush).

        Some friends in TX can send us some granular enzyme stuff (Subdu) they sell to the CO ski resorts to put in their upper outdoor toilets during the winter. We may take them up on that! Clumping Kitty Litter sounds like a good plan too.

        Thanks for the sympathy and ideas. I will no doubt be ordering the snap on toilet seats for drywall buckets. One bucket and seat for me, one for DH. (And we have a large heated garage to put them in.) One of those things where taking care of your own personal needs is the kind thing to do.Wink
         
        Posts: 6884 | Location: Plains and Mountains | Registered: Sep 26, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of GardenSprite
        posted Hide Post
        Sparky, thanks for the dslam explanation. If I understand it correctly, it transfers data for both phone and Internet connections. In terms of phone use, I'm actually kind of surprised that upgrading would be done since so many people are becoming cell only users. (IF I understand all this correctly).

        Your suggestion of kitty litter makes a lot of sense; after all, it's been used for cats for years. Maybe this is something good to have on hand...just in case for who knows what might happen. Especially given that we're approaching winter.

        I live in such a densely populated metropolitan area that there are always places to go in a pinch. Medical facilities are especially good, and clean. When I used to go to air shows, I mapped out either medical facilities or motels along the way, just in case.

        This discussion reminds me of the dream home thread Nona started. Maybe adding an attached outdoor bathroom as well as a wood stove would be appropriate for long term possibilities. Better than braving wild 4 legged critters in the middle of the night. But then, the Alaskans do it.

        Conrad, your comment on taking care of personal needs is certainly a current one given the situation. I'm wondering also whether or not your retirement home has electricity? Do you have a back-up wood stove for cooking and/or heating?
         
        Posts: 1896 | Registered: Oct 06, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        sparky, most dslams are NOT on backup power. "Product" has decided that since DSL internet service is not an FCC regulated service, and since the customers power is likely out as well in the neighborhood, that backup power is not required and saves money. there are few exceptions, one of which is if the phone service is remoted (pairgain) and in that case the cabinet does have several hours of battery power.

        it's a significant cost and maintenance savings.

        in a disaster area, there are hard choices all around for everything. most of them are deferred until there is enough information on which to make decisions. I've sat on disasters in which we lose the ability to make the decisions, it basically gets triaged at the emergency center based on maximizing support for disaster recovery and saving lives and property. and so it is for lumberyards, power companies, gas companies, the railroad, Colorado Department of Highways, and a whole lot more life-safety issues than whether you can stream Netflix.

        fortunately, that is above my pay grade.

        there is not enough topsoil across the front range to dig latrines, and this is just one little example of a life-safety issue that nobody thinks about. even if the public safety folks didn't turn ten shades of purple and orange at the thought, sanitation after a disaster is deadlier than the disaster in most countries, and important in this one. it basically took indoor plumbing to stomp cholera, for instance.

        hang in, Conrad... weeks to months before half of normal comes back. we wish you and the region good luck. at least with our outfit, we're burning up all the spares we can get to do our part, and the Red Cross fundraising is going well against the company match.


        sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
         
        Posts: 5710 | Location: North Burbs, MN | Registered: Mar 14, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Conrad
        posted Hide Post
        GardenSprite, We have all services (even though we are in the county, we have town electricity, nat. gas, great water and until this event, sewer.) No wood burning FP, just a gas one, we seldom use. However our home was built in 2006 and is REALLY well built/insulated, with a lot of solar gain also. Thus our utilities are extremely low in use cost.

        We shut the water off, every time we leave it for more than a couple days. And we have GREAT neighbors who check on our house, and keep us informed of any local issues. Truly we are very fortunate.

        When reading about emergency toilet options, there were many sites that suggested the drywall bucket (and toilet seat) along with some kitty litter, TP, sturdy plastic bags, wet wipes and such, (all stored in the bucket, and put in the car trunk) Especially when traveling with children whom may not be comfortable doing (the behind the bush squat)
        The kitty litter could also help if one were stuck on winter slick roads, of course.

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: Conrad,
         
        Posts: 6884 | Location: Plains and Mountains | Registered: Sep 26, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Conrad
        posted Hide Post
        swschrad, we are certainly going to "hang in there".Smile

        Mountain people tend to be pretty darn innovative about finding solutions, luckily. They are talking about creating a dredging operation in Lake Estes, in order to get gravel, loose rock and fill from this local source closer to the river trenched out road. That will start a fill source for the road base repair, where the septic and all the other utilities run under. Step by step.
        AND I still LOVE the mountains! Wink
         
        Posts: 6884 | Location: Plains and Mountains | Registered: Sep 26, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        rural engineering, or "farmer fixes," pretty much get you through. the "dredge and fill" plan sounds like a Corps of Engineers or a Seabees program. as long as it rolls out and packs, hey, fill is fill.


        sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
         
        Posts: 5710 | Location: North Burbs, MN | Registered: Mar 14, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        Garden Sprite,

        DSLAMS are used to provide you with high speed DSL internet connections. The phone line runs over the same copper pair, but if the DSLAM goes down the phone goes down. Funny thing, everyone wants the phone company to continue maintaining the old copper outside plant, without actually buying anything that uses it. Outside plant is telco talk for the cable infrastructure outside of the central office but they don't want to maintain a home phone line. So the telco is to keep all of this infrastructure available for an emergency like Sandy in the northeast or the flooding in CO. Telcos are all "for profit" companies. They can't carry the old outside plant forever if customers aren't going to use it. DSL is the telcos way of getting revenue out of the copper and compete with the cable company. Or a way to provide high speed internet where the CATV companies haven't wired. Verizon has wired a number of communities with a fiber service called FiOS which has fiber to the home. AT&T has U-verse which provides fiber to the DSLAM and copper to the house. Cable TV companies have upgrade their equipment to provide more channels and higher bandwidth internet but for the most part haven't replaced the COAX cable to the house from their upstream equipment.

        Reliance on cellphones isn't a bad thing but they do have limitation in emergency situations. The towers can get knocked down in a tornado, they can lose power, you can't charge the device if you don't have power or a car charger and you won't have a landline backup.

        BTW I work for one of the legacy phone companies though not in the local exchange part of the business.


        General Disclaimer

        Any advice given here is general in nature and is not necessarily valid for your given area. If in doubt check with your local codes enforcement department for what is required when doing electrical, plumbing or structural work on your house. Permits may or may not be required in your area and home owners may not be able to DIY some tasks. I have no way of knowing if you have the skills needed to complete the tasks you are asking about, when in doubt seek professional assistance.

        My advice may be worth exactly what you pay me for it. :-) For the record I did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
         
        Posts: 710 | Location: Cary, NC | Registered: Aug 17, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of GardenSprite
        posted Hide Post
        quote:
        Originally posted by Sparky617:
        Garden Sprite,

        DSLAMS are used to provide you with high speed DSL internet connections. The phone line runs over the same copper pair, but if the DSLAM goes down the phone goes down.

        Reliance on cellphones isn't a bad thing but they do have limitation in emergency situations. The towers can get knocked down in a tornado, they can lose power, you can't charge the device if you don't have power or a car charger and you won't have a landline backup.



        Thanks for the explanation; I'm still processing it. (My CPU regresses to a very slow processing speed on matters such as this and it takes a while for me to grasp it all. I do much better with gardening issues!)

        One question now though re power outages and effects on the phone and dslam line. If there's a power outage and the dslam goes down, wouldn't a phone line be affected only if it's linked to the DSL service, as Internet providers have been encouraging customers to do in bundling packages?

        When they've tried to pitch the bundling packages, I've always asked what happens during power outages. The answer is that there's backup power for a limited number of hours (5 - 6? I don't recall for sure).

        Swschrad wrote, on the issue of backup power:

        "it's a significant cost and maintenance savings."

        From a corporate viewpoint, I can understand that. From the viewpoint of someone caring for an almost 95 year old parent living 25 miles away, a phone subject to power outages is intolerable. If these companies were interested in luring the older client base, they'd have to figure out a way to offer backup for homes with older folks.

        I've had some several day outages in the last few years but still had phone service because I've refused to bundle land line service with Internet service. So I think I would only have to worry about my land line going down if I bundled through an Internet package and had dslam connections?


        Another limitation of cell phones is that everything I've read about security leads me to believe that there is none. Period. Which is why I don't use it for anything but emergencies; business issues are done by land line. I think this lack of security is a really understated and major concern. But then, I'm just an old woman and you know that we old folks don't embrace technology unless it really has some benefit for us! Big Grin

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
         
        Posts: 1896 | Registered: Oct 06, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of GardenSprite
        posted Hide Post
        quote:
        Originally posted by Conrad:

        When reading about emergency toilet options, there were many sites that suggested the drywall bucket (and toilet seat) along with some kitty litter, TP, sturdy plastic bags, wet wipes and such, (all stored in the bucket, and put in the car trunk)

        The kitty litter could also help if one were stuck on winter slick roads, of course.


        How much do you want to bet that the price of kitty litter will skyrocket in the Colorado area? Unfortunately, companies exploit these situations.
         
        Posts: 1896 | Registered: Oct 06, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Conrad
        posted Hide Post
        Even if they don't, they will probably be sold out!
        Amazon sells the potty seats for drywall buckets at 20 each, and you bet I will buy some cat litter here to take with....before we go.
        Smile
         
        Posts: 6884 | Location: Plains and Mountains | Registered: Sep 26, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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