Boat sanitation storage and disposal requirements

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by Unsalted Dog, Feb 8, 2011.

  1. Unsalted Dog
    Joined: Feb 2011
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    Unsalted Dog New Member

    Long time lurker, first time poster.

    I am in the process of building a 30' trailerable houseboat that will be used on lakes in the Midwest. Because a number of lakes that I will be visiting don't have pump out facilities, I want to make sure I have more than one option to dump my black water tank. I would like to ability to either have the waste pumped out at marinas when available or dumped like an RV at dump stations. It appears that there may be some regulations against having the ability to dump like an RV out of concern that users might release waste into the lake water. Is this true? If it matters, I plan to use a macerator head.
     
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  2. wardd
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    wardd Senior Member

    composting toilets?
     
  3. Unsalted Dog
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    Unsalted Dog New Member

    Interesting...I have not seen these. I like the fact that I would not have to worry about tanks and hoses. I wonder what the wife approval factor would be for one of these (ease of use, smell etc). Also, would there be much of an aroma for those lounging on the sun deck?

    Let’s say my wife “poo-pooed” this idea, are there regulations that would prevent me from having the RV dump-style option?
     
  4. wardd
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    wardd Senior Member

  5. Unsalted Dog
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    Unsalted Dog New Member

    Thank you Wardd.

    I would still think there would be some odor if you were on the roof downwind of the vent.

    Regarding the holding tank option, I just found this on the BoatUS website-

    "Federal law states that if you have a holding tank for untreated waste with a "Y" valve, it must be secured in the closed position while operating in U.S. waters. To adequately secure the device you should remove the valve handle or use a non-releasable wire tie or padlock." So this does appear to be a legal option.
     
  6. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    Unsalted Dog: If you are not going compost (easiest and best option), you will be after a removable tank... that's all.

    If you are only operating in lakes and never in a place you can legally discharge, you need NO through hull at all. Just have a Y valve and on either side, have one going to the removable, hand cart-type tank and on the other side, go to a fixed holding tank that is connected to your deck pump out.

    Or... to simplify further, have one hand-cartable holding tank that is also connected to your deck pumpout for times when you want to empty it at a marina.

    The USCG and potty police are not able to even talk to you about this if you don't have a through hull. No through hull means no discharge possible from your boat... end of regulations. I will have no through hull on mine as well.
     
  7. Unsalted Dog
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    Unsalted Dog New Member

    Catbuilder, thanks for the input. If I could dig a bit deeper, why do you think composting is the best option? Is it because you don't have to deal with the volume and space that tank storage requires or is it something else? I would still think that for a houseboat, oder issues might arise where the vent exists above the roof. This is just speculation on my part.

    Secondly, I have not thought about using a portable tank. My thought was to use a fixed tank and then have a hose that comes off a valve at the back of the boat for on shore dumping and then have pump out access for marina use.
     
  8. CDK
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    CDK retired engineer

    There used to be an Italian toilet with a gas burner in a chamber under the bowl and a small drawer to remove the ashes. Not a great success because the toilet needed approx. 10 minutes to "digest" whatever it received and cool down a bit.
    I do not know what happened if the next customer couldn't wait 10 minutes...
     
  9. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    I would choose the composting because of the benefits you mention (volume, space) and also because it's easier to deal with. I'm guessing you have never had to pull apart a head that's been in use for a year when it breaks. It's one of the nastiest things you will ever do. You wind up upside down in a bilge, up to your elbows in other people's excrement. Not fun. The composting head has no parts and cannot break. All that can go wrong is if the fan fails that pushes air up the stack. You may get a smell backup if the fan breaks before you put the spare fan in. In the case of standard marine heads, you have a complex beast that will fail from time to time, hoses that fill up with a calcium and urine hard slurry and must be changed, as well as leak points. The compositing head solves all of these problems because there is no plumbing and no pump. You'd be surprised how often heads fail in full time use. This doesn't even begin to cover your hell if someone flushes a tampon or baby wipe down a standard marine head. The composting head would save a lot of trouble.

    Unfortunately, speak from experience on all of the above paragraph! :)

    Now... there is definitely a stink that will come out of the vent tube. Since you have a house boat, can you route that stink pipe way up high somewhere like they do on residential houses? That's all you really need to do to get it away from the deck. All houses have these vents and we don't worry about the stink because they are on the roof. Also, if you have ever gone near one on the roof, it's not stinky until you are right over the pipe. Just some thoughts.

    Looking at your idea of the fixed tank... the marina portion is clear and simple, but how do you plan to move the stuff from the boat to the disposal site when doing the land disposal? Would you have some kind of caddy tank you pump into, then wheel up to the bathroom or RV type dump?
     
  10. Carteret
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    Carteret Senior Member

  11. CDK
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    CDK retired engineer

    Can somebody explain to me how waste treatment is done in a boat?
    On land it takes air, bacteria and a lot of time. And it smells...

    My boat has a marine head with a through hull straight behind it; the treatment is done on the seabed, just like the majority of houses and hotels along the coast.

    In my RV there is a removable tank with some expensive dark blue fluid that is supposed to take care of the smell but doesn't. The only function is that the dark color somewhat hides what you pour down the discharge drain.
     
  12. Carteret
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    Carteret Senior Member

    The Lectra san waste treatment device uses electrical current and salt water. The metal plates are in a salt water solution when the waste is added and electrical voltage is induced killing all fecal coliform bacteria. The inert sludge is then pumped overboard with no harm to the enviroment. If you are using the device in fresh water you have to install a saltwater tank to your system. The device works well but does use some amp hours. It is really nice in that you use as you go, so there is really no storage of waste other than the small amount that is left in the device. The device has the nickname " crapper zapper "
     
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  13. Fanie
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Fanie Fanie

    The crapper zapper sounds like the best solution, I like.

    CDK, those chemicals have an expiry date, but I hear what you say. Some of these 'toilet freshners' smells worse than **** to say the least.

    The best solution I can suggest for eliminating any organic smell is ozone, you should be able to get small units. I even got one as a gift working off my PC's USB port, chinese import. Ozone kills all the smelling organic bacteria. Too much ozone has a corroding effect on metals, it gets broken down into pure oxygen in turbulent air very quickly.

    We also build a small ozone unit working from 12V.
     
  14. rasorinc
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    rasorinc Senior Member

    Sun Mar has a composting toilet approved by the Coast Guard for about $1,500.00 US
    Designed for no spillage and requires a 12 volt fan to increase evaporation. No thru hulls. Coast Guard is big on it. http://www.survivalunlimited.com/toilet.htm
     

  15. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    The Lectra San is great, except since it's a Type 1 MSD, it can't be used legally in a lot of places:

    http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/vwd/vsdnozone.cfm#nc
     
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