Eco-sanitation Training

WMG's Eco-sanitation Technical Training provides you with in-class and hands-on instruction in the function, design, and construction of composting toilet systems for urban or rural environments.
Course description

The basic principle of ecological sanitation is to close the loop between sanitation and agriculture without compromising human health. In a closed-loop system, human feces and urine are treated as resources to benefit the surrounding environment, rather than waste products discharged to a conventional sewage treatment system. Successful eco-sanitation systems are hygienically safe, socially acceptable, economically feasible, environmentally sound, and technically appropriate. This course will give you an introduction to the concept of eco-sanitation, an overview of various types of composting toilets, human and environmental health considerations, and social acceptability of composting toilets. You will participate in the design and hands-on construction of a residential composting toilet.

This training is open to professionals, educators, and activists from a wide variety of backgrounds who have the capacity to implement the principles of eco-sanitation, either professionally or personally. The course combines classroom lectures with hands-on construction of a composting toilet system and tour of local eco-sanitation sites. WMG’s Water Harvesting Certification course is recommended as a prerequisite, but not required.

Course curriculum

Introduction to Eco-Sanitation

  • Eco-sanitation vs. conventional sanitation
  • Composting toilets: principles, practices and types
  • Human and environmental health considerations
  • Social factors impacting use of composting toilets
  • Tour of sites utilizing alternative eco-sanitation systems

Site Assessment, Planning and Design for Composting Toilets

  • Hands-on site assessment activities
  • Design principles of bucket, barrel, and chamber composting toilet systems
  • Construction planning and logistics

Implementation & Follow-Up

  • Workshop: Hands-on construction of a composting toilet
  • Testing humanure for temperature, microbes, moisture, and nitrates
  • Troubleshooting: Common problems & solutions
  • Permits, policies, and advocacy

Fee information varies by training and will be included in event listings.

  • The cost includes gourmet snacks and lunch made with locally sourced produce and a Certificate of Completion for full course attendance (upon request).
  • Alumni of the WMG's Water Harvesting Certification or other Technical Trainings receive a discount on the registration costs.
Expert instructors

David Omick has been experimenting with and implementing simple living technologies including composting toilets, solar ovens, rainwater harvesting, and gardening for over twenty years. He has consulted on affordable housing and simple technologies with numerous individuals and organizations, including United Farmworkers Union, Habitat for Humanity, and Appalachia-Science in the Public Interest. For more on David and his work with eco-sanitation systems, visit

Brad Lancaster, WMG's Senior Watershed Specialist, is a dynamic teacher, consultant, and designer of regenerative systems. He is the author of the award-winning, best-selling books Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond and the information-packed website He has been building, using, advocating for, and researching DIY composting toilets in the Southwest and beyond since 1996.


For more information about this course or other Technical Trainings, please email us or call 520-396-3266.

This training is a part of WMG's Watershed Technical Trainings program, which provides advanced trainings in green infrastructure, water harvesting, eco-sanitation, and watershed restoration. WMG's goal is to transfer this advanced technical knowledge to residents, professionals, educators, and community activists who will integrate these practices into their work and teach others.