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Residents Seek to Make Usable Compost from Human Excrement

Arizona Public Media


It's been common to turn garden plants or kitchen scraps into compost, but some people in Tucson are working on a program to try to convert human waste into a safe and effective alternative for compost.

Members of Watershed Management Group are working with scientists and other experts at the University of Arizona and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to come up with such method.

Lisa Shipek, the executive director of Watershed, said the compost plan is part of a soil-stewards program, which as been underway for two years and uses site-built compost toilets.

"We have 20 in town and what we’re doing is diverting, instead of flushing our waste down the toilet we are using this compost toilet which turns it into compost that you can use in your yard for fruit trees," Shipek said.

"And these systems are being tested by the UA to make sure they’re safe, and we also have a partnership with the state, ADEQ, who we are working with to get these systems permanent.”

Nature's existing decomposing micro organisms and other systems are incredible at breaking down and processing these and other materials, she said.

Her group would eventually like to make the composting toilets widely available to interested members of the public.

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