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Ribbon-Cutting Planned for $70,000 "Bio Toilet" at Mount Rainier National Park


From the outside it looks pretty much like any other composting toilet in the National Park System. But the new $70,000 'loo' at Mount Rainier National Park has been deemed worthy of a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Donated to the park by Groundwork Mishima, a nonprofit Japanese environmental organization, the "bio toilet" actually was installed in the Cougar Rock Campground last fall. However, it wasn't put into use due to the lateness of the season.

The toilet, promoted as having no odor and requiring little water thanks to the use of cedar chips and "natural composting techniques," will be honored with a ribbon-cutting at 1 p.m. Monday. (No word on whether it will be christened at that time.)

Groundwork Mishima's donation of the toilet stems from its work at Mount Fuji, which has a “Sister Mountain” relationship with Mount Rainier.

"We are pleased to continue our long-standing relationship with the people of Japan,” Mount Rainier Superintendent Dave Uberuaga said in announcing the upcoming ceremony. “This bio toilet will be a practical contribution toward our goals of environmental stewardship and sustainable design in Mount Rainier National Park.”

Cougar Rock Campground is scheduled to open to the public at noon on June 13, 2008. Heavy snowfall last winter and a late melt-out this spring have delayed its official opening. Snow remains on the ground in the campground.


This is very nice of them. Are there any plans to add more of these elsewhere if they work as intended?

I realize that the toilet was donated, still I'm surprised nobody's raised a "big stink" (pun intended) about spending $70k on a toilet.

This is the first biotoilet installed in the United States, so it will be a good test case to see if the system works as well in our climate and environment as it does in Japan. If it performs as expected, it is likely that this model or something similar would be strongly considered for other locations where a light presence on the land is desired. We're especially eager to work with the designers of the toilet to convert it to solar power so that it could be used in backcountry locations, including at the high camps on Mount Rainier.

At $70,000, it is a relatively expensive toilet. But it requires virtually no maintenance, produces no effluent at all, and even the term "composting" toilet is misleading because the human waste is "digested" completedly through aerobic processes. The biotoilets in use on Mount Fuji have operated for a decade without any maintenance beyond annual winterization and a few cedar chips added once in a while.

I can't believe I'm about to write this, but I am so excited by this potty! When you think of the amount of ground that is disturbed by plumbing systems in the parks, especially in campgrounds, by the amount of water used and the impact all this makes, one has to applaud this kind of smart solution to the waste issue. And how great is it that we can take advantage of a system already tried and found good in Japan?

And how sad it is that America isn't leading the way on smart environmental innovation and the protection of our precious parks and reserves?

Holy Crap! Now this is something to save up for... ;-]

I just hope that in reading headlines folks don't miss the "...donated to the park..." line.

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