Bertschi School, a small Seattle elementary school which opened in February, has been making attempts to get of the city’s water system. They are working to reuse water, collect water, and even recycle waste water. Their classroom toilet composts the waste and water while treating it on site. When anyone washing their hands in the sink, the water goes down the drain and into a wall that is filled with plants. The water drips down to all the plants which soak up the water.
The science building collects rainwater and the roof is filled with plants to keep storm water runoff at bay. Dirty and gray water is treated and turned into drinkable water. It is not 100 percent created on site as the school still draws some water from the city’s supply. The city’s health regulations will not allow the school to have all of their drinking water cleaned and created themselves. Joel Sisolak, advocacy and outreach director for the Cascadia Green Building Council, says, “The state gets really nervous about treating drinking water on site. Public water supplies and treatment water systems have done a lot of good in promoting public health. The question is, is it still the best model?”
Most people think a composting toilet is gross and smelly. The toilets found in this classroom are like those on airplanes. They compost the waste and is like a vacuum. No smell due to all the waste being sucked away. A school representative said having a composting toilet may not work for all, but it is a great way to teach their students that there are a number of ways to do things. Stan Richardson, the school representative, said, “For us to do that in the city when you have a perfectly good sewer system, I can’t imagine everybody in the city connecting to the composting toilet. We are doing it as a demonstration. It can be done.”