A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to present at the Hudson River Watershed Alliance’s Annual Conference with my school’s sustainability director. It was a day long conference at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in the historical Hyde Park, NY. When I was approached to go with my teacher, I was super excited thinking I was going to be able to hear all about my areas watershed, its ecology and the habitat that it provides, but I was mistaken.
The first time I realized that this day was not going to be as it seemed was when I sat down with my teacher to begin planning our presentation. It went a little like this:
“So, what are we even going to be talking about?” I ask.
“Well, the tittle of our talk is ‘Community Centered Waste-Water Infrastructure,'” he answers.
“… and that is…” I prompt.
“Yes, Megan. We are talking about our community and how its sustainability efforts do revolve around poop.”
“That’s what I thought, Thanks, yup, thanks.”
The reality of going to a school with a notable Living or Eco machine is that everything revolves around it. The poop that is. My school is the first secondary school in the country that has an alternative wastewater system called a Living Machine or also commonly called an Eco Machine. This is a natural ecological system that mimics the natural filtration of wetlands and other plant based filters. My school’s was installed in 1997 as a “sexy” alternative to the failing septic system that had previously been in place. It has been successfully sending clean, filtered water back into the Middle Hudson River Watershed for more than 15 years now having recycled all of the campus’s water including the black and grey water.
At the conference, I quickly realized that the day was basically all along the same lines. Many different presenters, including me, presented about different Eco Machines that are in place all over the world. Believe me, you have never seen such beautiful systems before in your life. Some of the presenters included Skip Backus from The Omega Institute for Sustainable Living and Lauren Valle from John Todd Ecological Design. Both presented about Living Machines that they and their companies had put into different areas. The greatest part about Living Machines is that they are all designed for exactly where they are being put into place. This gives the opportunity for alternate waste water treatment facilities all over the world.
Great examples of Living Machines can be found as follows: