xxxformerly Center for Ecological Polution Prevention

The EcoSan Center promotes ecological sanitation (EcoSan) systems, practices
and programs--we link people, programs, information, and resources.


The Problem, the Solution

CEPP EcoSan Center Services

EcoSan Gallery
Photos of a variety of simple onsite ecological systems all over the world.
This page will be continually updated.
(several images--may be slow to load)

EcoSanPacific Presentation

An overview for the Fiji Ecotourism Association conference; December 2000

Links to Resources
Programs worldwide; reports, papers and articles on ecological approaches to wastewater management

Upcoming CEPP EcoSan Projects not yet posted
Workshops, video documentaries, new books, testing protocol program, other events

No Ocean Outfall: Beautiful Islands, Healthy Waters, Recycling Resources


Throughout the world, there is growing interest in ecological sanitation systems--systems that safely recycle wastewater for a variety of populations and settings. These low-cost systems have been perfected (based on lessons learned from the past in both industrialized and developing countries) and are increasingly in use to:

  • break the disease cycle
  • prevent pollution of water
  • recycle nutrients and moisture to grow plants
  • provide sanitation where there is none

CEPP EcoSan Center offers system design, workshops, demonstration projects, information materials, resource referrals, systems evaluation and technology transfer and campaigns

  • Affordable ecological sanitation systems
  • Non-polluting wastewater systems
  • Systems for ecotourism initiatives
  • Wastewater-reuse strategies

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The Problem, the Solution (From Greenpeace document, "Sewage Pollution")
Sewage—human and animal waste—is the most significant source of marine and groundwater pollution in many developing countries.

Nearly every island nation has identified critical environmental and public health problems resulting from the disposal of human excrement—from contaminated drinking water wells and outbreaks of gastrointestinal disease, Leptospirosis and cholera, to dying reefs, algae blooms and eutrophication in lagoons.

The causes of this pollution include overflowing latrines and privies, water-sealed toilets, septic systems, piggeries and sewage treatment plants, as well as a complete lack of sanitation facilities in some places.

Conventional western centralized waste treatment technologies have failed in developing countries, because they rely on continuous money for parts and technical support. They also require changes in lifestyle and parts that can only be imported. Many systems have been constructed by donor countries and development agencies only to fail and require dismantling at great expense to avoid future hazards.

What is needed are sustainable, ecological, easy-to-use, simple-to- maintain systems—based on local materials and local ways of life.

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The Center for Ecological Pollution Prevention (CEPP) has advised on and designed wastewater systems for a wide variety of applications. We’ve also conducted workshops and demonstration projects on building sustainable, ecological sanitation systems all over the Pacific and in other locations. These are hands-on workshops; participants not only learn about the system, they actually construct one, too. These systems are easily used, understood and duplicated by local populations.

What’s more, these systems not only protect environmental and public health, they can save money as well.

CEPP has designed and demonstrated systems that transform “wastes” that have a high treatment and disposal cost into “resources” such as food, soil conditioners, fertilizers, building materials, fuel and animal feed.

These systems employ natural processes to treat wastes. That means the capital and operating costs are far lower than conventional, purely mechanical western technologies. Also, they are intuitively understood by the users, so there are fewer maintenance problems.

By explaining and demonstrating how to build systems that produce positive results, such as plants and soil conditioner, rather than potential pollutants that need to be treated, they are sustainable, too. They do not cause future problems.


  • Design ecological wastewater systems, taking into account site specifics, climate and local maintenance and acceptance issues
  • Conduct workshops, presentations and seminars for health and government officials, local residents and developers
  • Conduct demonstration projects in which sustainable systems are built in as little time as a week
  • Produce public information materials and campaigns to inform local populations
  • Plan resource-conserving systems and solutions for existing or new development
  • Advise on ways to conserve water and energy, reduce waste and avoid pollution and manage solid waste
  • Educate and train utility company staff members

Links to Resources (in no particular order):

Many programs do not have websites. See The Composting Toilet System Book for profiles of these and other organizations and the systems they use.


Managing Decentralized Solutions:

Case Studies on Decentralization of Water Supply and Sanitation in Latin America
Examples of how wastewater management is being decentralized in Latin America (although these initiatives did not include composting toilets or other ecological systems), by Environmental Health Project (EHP) of USAID, the foreign assistance agency of the United States. Also use search term, "decentralized," in this USAID database:

Also: EHP has established DECNET, an information network on the decentralization of water and wastewater organizations in Central America and the Caribbean. It focuses on lessons learned, current or proposed projects and research, and provide a periodic bulletin on news from network members. To join, send to the following message: DEC-SUBSCRIBE


On-site Separated Systems:

The Composting Toilet System Book, published by CEPP, describes 50+ source-separated systems (blackwater and graywater), as well as several programs introducing these systems worldwide. Two more books about aspects of ecological wastewater management will be released by CEPP in late 2001.

The following resources are mostly geared to developing countries.

Winblad Konsult: Uno Winblad is an architect and author of Sanitation Without Water and Ecological Sanitation (perhaps the origin of the term, "ecosan.") See this website for information on drying toilet projects worldwide, as well as details of an ecosan conference in China in 2001, notice of a SIDA ecosan workshop in Sweden and links to free downloads of the excellent book, Ecological Sanitation. The Swedish international aid agency, SIDA, has taken a lead in promoting ecological sanitation systems in developing countries, focusing mainly on drying toilets (pathogen kill through high-alkaline additive).

CITA & ESAC in Mexico: Centro de Innovación en Tecnología Alternativa, A.C. (CITA) organizes local cooperatives to manufacture urine-diverting toilets. Espacio de Salud (ESAC) conducts programs for introducing these and other systems and practices for better environmental and public health.

RILES in Mexico: Resource Institute for Low-Entropy Systems (RILES) helps build site-built Clivus Multrums and graywater systems worldwide, with most installations in Central America.

GTASC/SIRDO in Mexico: Grupo de Tecnologia Alternativa S.C. manufactures composting toilets and promotes and designs other wastewater systems.


Cluster/Village/Small Flows:

EcoParque to come

International Aerobic Aquaculture Systems to come


Some Articles

Integrated Bio-Systems : A Global Perspective, a report by Jacky Foo, an affiliate of UNESCO and director of the Integrated Bio-Systems Network internet forum

Fighting the urine blindness to provide more sanitation options by Jan-OIof Drangert, Linköping University, Sweden
A social scientist maintains that diverting urine allows a form of wastewater recycling that is more hygienic and more culturally acceptable, while producing a better end-product.

Community-Based Technologies for Domestic Wastewater Treatment and Reuse: options for urban agriculture by Gregory Rose
An overview paper about a variety of wastewater recycling options, with a focus on possibilities for developing countries. (Note that CEPP does not endorse manually harvesting duckweed in sewage ponds.)

Regenerative Solutions for Managing Community-generated Organic Waste: A short article summarizing the above and offering links to other programs.

UNDP overview article about ecological sanitation, with links

Sanitation Myths by Mayling Simpson-Hebert
How improving sanitation can improve health more effectively than improving water supply--yet sanitation gets less emphasis by international development agencies (link or download to come)

Source Weekly and Source Bulletin, published by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) and IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, brings you a weekly update of short news and updates on water-san sector news for the international development scene:


Some Books:

Sanitation Promotion features case studies of sanitation promotion initiatives, Mayling Simpson-Hebert and Sara Wood, eds. WHO, 1998 (avail. in the U.S. through Stylus Publishing)

Finding Out Fast: Investigative Skills for Policy Development, Alan Thomas (Editor), Joanna Chataway (Editor), Marc Wuyts (Editor) 1998

Alternatives to the Peace Corps: A Directory of Third World & U.S. Volunteer Opportunities, Filomena Geise (Editor) 1999

The Road to Hell: The Ravaging Effects of Foreign Aid International Charity, Michael Maren; 1997


Links to more links:

Lots of raw information on both sites


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