Waste Disposal and Water Quality?
You can’t help but be impressed by the beauty and abundance of water on our planet. And we know we’ve got to keep it clean and protected if we are going to stay healthy. We previously talked about water conserving linked to Bokashi fermenting.
Most of you who are currently involved in Bokashi fermenting….disposing of food waste and scraps by fermenting with microbes to enrich your soil probably don’t realize you are not only improving the soil but improving the water quality in your area too.
Bokashi fermenting involves adding a sprinkle of culture mix of microbes embedded in wheat bran or rice bran in layers over your accumulating organic waste. The mix of food scraps and microbes in a fermenting system will rapidly break down to form “bokashi tea”, the liquid released by enzymes in the fermenting of waste, and the “pickled” waste.
The pickled waste is then mixed with soil to feed the soil microbes. The end result is the powerfully enriched soil, an empty garbage can, a great garden, and no foul smelling insect ridden mess to handle. And as many of you know from personal experience, it is easy and fast. We’ve posted videos for those of you who are not so familiar with this simple way of getting rid of your garbage.
A number of metabolites (small molecules) are formed in the fermenting process. It turns out that these small molecules are highly toxic to a number of pathogens that are commonly associated with food scraps like E. coli, Salmonella, and others that invariably show up if the wasted scraps are allowed to putrefy or decompose as happens in your garbage can.
Those small molecules (metabolites formed in the fermenting process) are rapidly eaten up by soil microbes once the fermented product or tea gets to the soil. The soil microbes feast on the fermented waste in the final process of waste disposal, leaving soil rich in nutrients and microbes that feed your plants.
Earthworms, springtails, and many other soil creatures all participate. Once you re-establish a healthy soil free of toxins and rich in nutrients and microbes, you can expect to see healthy plants blooming and growing without the dependence on pesticides and fertilizers.
We know from experience that the water in a landfill is heavily contaminated. Many pathogens travel in the water and end up in our lakes, rivers, and oceans. Garbage sitting in a can will harbor and support pathogens and all along the way from curbside to the landfill you can expect fluids end up on the street and in the storm drains and ultimately carry pathogens to the ground water table, rivers, lakes, and oceans.
There is nothing unexpected here, and even though it is difficult to quantify the impact Bokashi fermenting has on reducing ground water contamination in the food waste stream, it is certainly true that individuals who are fermenting their food scraps are joining pools of others who are diminishing the spread of pathogens.
I like the idea that it is so simple to get rid of food scraps and organic waste by Bokashi fermenting. I like the fact that I have reduced the amount of carbon dioxide and other noxious gases going into the atmosphere by fermenting. I like my healthy garden and soil. And I’m happy to know I’ve not contributed to a ground water problem.
If you are still sending your garbage to the landfill or trying to compost those food scraps, you are certainly adding to the pathogens that end up in the ground water.
Pet Waste is a major ground water contaminator!
Animal waste has been more carefully analyzed and we can certainly all recall outbreaks of E. coli where people were seriously injured. Although dairy farms, cattle ranchers, and pig farms are all dealing with the problem of disposing of animal waste, there is a source of waste a lot closer at home we should note.
Cat litter, dog poop, and pet waste in general are an important source of material that results in a lot of water fouling right at home. Where do you put it?
Pet owners are frustrated because they are told what they shouldn’t do but seldom given good advice on what to do! Part of the problem might be because until recently, no one could tell them how to do it better.
Obviously you don’t want to keep sending the waste to the landfill. In a landfill that waste will invariably result in ground water contamination, will result in a lot of methane gas generation, and usually is accompanied by plastic bags that we don’t want in the land fill either.
If you just bury the waste, it will allow the water passing through the soil to carry pathogens to the water table where it has to be cleared out before we can use that water safely in our drinking supply.
The only safe way to dispose of pet waste responsibly is to destroy the pathogens before they can get to the ground water.
We have shown that this can be done using the same bokashi culture mix microbes used for food waste disposal, in a fermenting system with an accelerant. The accelerant is needed to get the microbes working properly because the pet waste is chemically devoid of certain nutrients the microbes require to get a quick start at fermenting. The cat or dog absorbed those nutrients when they digested their food.
Why don’t we just flush the Pet Waste?
Some of you may wonder why we don’t recommend just flushing the waste down the toilet. If it works for human waste, isn’t it going to work for pet waste? No it won’t!
Most cities are struggling already trying to keep the sewer systems working properly to handle all of the waste properly. When we have large storms or sudden demands on the system we experience breakdowns. It’s an expensive process handling and decontaminating polluted water.
If you consider the number of pets in an urban center and calculate the mass of additional waste that would go into the sewer system should all the owners put the pet waste into the system, it would overwhelm most if not all current systems. In El Cajon, CA there are about 100,000 inhabitants and 10,000 dogs. This results in about 5,000 pounds of dog poop being generated each day, read this article.
The volume of cat contaminated litter and dog poop generated in a typical urban center on a daily basis is very large and a growing concern for city planners.
Ironically you will see in the advice depending on the county or state frequently the suggestion that it is okay to flush the waste. I’m here to tell you NO…not a good idea at all.
Sea Otters and Cat Feces an Unhealthy Combination for the Otters
Fanny Syufy, cited in her news report that researchers have discovered a correlation between Toxoplasma gondiiand the decrease in the sea otter population off the California Coast. Since cats are the only creatures that shed the T. gondii parasite, through their feces, there seems to be a direct link.
Sea otters that had been once placed on the likely to perish to extinction list earlier were making a healthy recovery off the California coast. That recovery has been checked and flattened possibly because of the number of people with cats who dispose of the waste in the toilet. Although other causes are also suspect, researchers from UC Davis, in a study of otters who habitated areas near freshwater runoff, found that 42% of live otters and 62% of dead otters tested positive for T gondii.
The USDA has also found in a survey of marine creatures that many are apparently infected with pathogens commonly found in pet and animal waste.
Keep it Clean!
It’s really very simple. Authorities are struggling to give you advice. They don’t really have a lot of good choices. Nobody wants you to put your waste in the landfill. We are running out of space. Most municipalities and authorities know of only two options. You either landfill or compost.
We know bokashi fermenting is a far superior way of getting organic waste back to the soil where it can do some good. It’s 10 times faster than composting, conserves water, gets rid of the smell and eliminates the greenhouse gas problem.
What are you going to do with pet waste, dog poop and cat litter. That’s a real challenge. The advice given is inconsistent from one local to the next and seems to depend on who wrote up the advice to the public. Bury it, flush it, or landfill dispose of it?
Most of the advice is against the landfill option but many authorities are currently turning a blind eye to “small” deposits in the garbage can. Some authorities suggest burial but we know that certainly leads to ground water contamination. Everyone is against leaving it on the surface because that is the most efficient way to get pathogens into the storm sewer and it will contaminate marine life or ground water tables.
You can’t compost pet waste efficiently.
The best solution…same as with food waste. You should Bokashi ferment it, get the nutrients back to the soil for your ornamental garden, and get rid of the pathogens before they get into the soil, see Bokashicycle Pet Cycle.