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Perhaps one of the most ancient wastewater treatment methods known to humans are waste stabilization ponds, also known as oxidation ponds or lagoons (see Figure 5.13). They're often found in small rural areas where land is available and cheap. Such ponds tend to be only a meter to a meter and a half deep, but vary in size and depth, and may be three or more meters deep.14 They utilize natural processes to "treat" waste materials, relying on algae, bacteria, and zooplankton to reduce the organic content of the wastewater. A "healthy" lagoon will appear green in color because of the dense algae population. These lagoons require about one acre for every 200 people served. Mechanically aerated lagoons only need 1/3 to 1/10 the land that unaerated stabilization ponds require. It's a good idea to have several smaller lagoons in series rather than one big one; normally, a minimum of three "cells" are used. Sludge collects in the bottom of the lagoons, and may have to be removed every five or ten years and disposed of in an approved manner.15

Typical three cell lagoon system

Source: The Humanure Handbook. Jenkins Publishing, PO Box 607, Grove City, PA 16127. To order, phone: 1-800-639-4099.

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weblife.org | library | Humanure Handbook | Chapter 5: Waste Stabilization Ponds