A previous project for the Smart Water Fund in 2003 assessed the feasibility of urineseparating composting toilets for use in a highdensity residential setting and recommended a demonstration project. This earlier project identified several knowledge ‘gaps’ in relation to urineseparating dry composting toilets in a residential setting, namely:
- Energy use compared to conventional sanitation;
- Quantity and value of residues;
- Acceptability to users;
- Regulatory uncertainty;
- And the risk of flies.
Unfortunately the residential development project using this technology did not proceed so other possible sites for a demonstration were investigated. Interest was shown by the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, which commissioned GHD Pty Ltd (GHD) to undertake a feasibility study for application of dry toilets in schools.
Following this study the Department agreed to establish a trial at the new Maryborough Education Centre and the Smart Water Fund agreed to partly fund this demonstration under its Round 3 project funding.
The secondary section of the Maryborough Education Centre caters for up to 1 000 students and contains five student toilet blocks plus staff toilets. Currently there are around 800 students and 113 staff in the secondary section of the school. One of the 5 main student toilet blocks was designed using urineseparation and dry composting toilets. Approvals from all stakeholders, the Victorian Environment Protection Authority, the Goldfields Shire Municipal Council, the Victorian Department of Health and the Chief Veterinary Officer were sought and obtained. There were some difficulties in obtaining approvals for the installation and the use of residues in the agricultural trial. This confirmed a conclusion of the feasibility study that expeditious approval and proper regulation of any largescale application will require development of specific guidelines and regulations.
The school (together with the demonstration toilets) was opened at the start of second term, 2007, in April 2007. GHD staff have provided input to the design, operating advice and have monitored performance of the toilets during the trial and have also provided training and instruction to students, staff and maintenance personnel. From opening of the toilets up to the last visit by the study team in May 2009, this toilet block had been open for a total of 313 days out of a total of 417 days the school was open.