Disasters, Finances, Nutrients, and Climate Change: A Case for Waterless Sanitation Systems

The practice of sewering (transporting with underground pipes) human excreta began in the mid-1800s and propelled the United States into the current wastewater paradigm. Water is the key element of wastewater conveyance, treatment, and disposal/reuse systems. Although this process has arguably improved quality of life, extending it to manage human excreta with water is becoming problematic due to water’s increasing scarcity, mounting costs, contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, and deleterious environmental effects. In this video, Ryan Smith discusses his Master’s thesis, “Disasters, Finances, Nutrients, and Climate Change: A Case for Waterless Sanitation Systems,” which asks: To what extent would an alternative means of managing human excreta benefit homeland security? 

About the Presenter

Ryan Smith is the Wastewater Division Manager for the City of Watsonville, California. He has overall responsibility for the city’s wastewater conveyance, treatment, and reuse systems; and the city’s stormwater drainage systems. He previously served with the City of Richmond for five years. Smith is a graduate of the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. Smith began his professional career as a wastewater treatment plant operator in training with the City of Santa Rosa in 2005 and rapidly promoted to a senior level operator. He then accepted a similar position with the City of Petaluma for the construction and startup of the city’s new treatment facility. He later accepted a position as an operations supervisor with the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District, and then as an operations superintendent and plant manager for the City of San Mateo. Ryan wants to do a little good for the world, and hopes to change it from the bottom up.

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