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Making the switch to do the right thing on the water

One man’s conversion from marine to composting toilets.

Sailing the cool clear waters of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel is a weekend passion for Lloyd Klumpp aboard his 29 foot compass sailboat, ‘Sea Lion’. The General Manager of Biosecurity and Product Integrity in Tasmania enjoys cruising around Tasmania’s south east coast but is equally concerned about the environment he is operating in and has taken steps to ensure his boat leaves no trace as it goes with the flow.

Lloyd procured his keel boat five years ago in Victoria; a logical but much sought after step-up from years spent honing his craft aboard trailer sailors. He says at the time of purchase his craft was in need of some renovation.

"This included the marine toilet, which was functional but aging. A marine toilet uses a pump to flush and the pumping mechanism had started to absorb the odour from the toilet. Basically, it stank," he said.

"This particular smell was one that would not go away, no matter how many times it was scrubbed and cleaned."

Lloyd’s options included changing the pump but he didn’t want to do this. At the time he was living in Victoria and mooring his sail boat at Queenscliff in Port Phillip Bay. Lloyd said he was very conscious of the fact he did not have a holding tank.

"A holding tank would have taken up a lot of room and I would have had to ask someone else to help me do this," Lloyd said. "So I started to have a think and realised that a composting toilet might be a better option, and something I could fit myself." He did a bit of research and spoke to other boat owners via internet forums, seeking their opinion on toilet types and models.

"The composting toilet was the perfect fit for my purpose," Lloyd says, who works full time as General Manager of Biosecurity and Product Integrity in the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment. "I am a weekend sailor and I don’t live aboard my boat so I only use the craft when I have some time off work. Therefore my overall volume is only quite small."

"The cost for the new toilet was no more expensive than replacing like for like with a marine toilet," Lloyd said. "The bonus for me is that maintenance with the new toilet is a lot simpler."

"Marine toilets also require two holes in the hull – to let water in and out. So there was always a slim risk of someone using the toilet and water coming in, which does have the potential to sink a boat. Once I had the compost toilet fitted, I had both through holes fibre-glassed over."

Lloyd now has a small container of peat moss stored aboard his boat and simply places half a cup into the composting toilet after each use. Solid and liquid wastes are separated into individual containers that need to be emptied periodically. "It is not at all smelly, which is wonderful," Lloyd said.

"For me it was the right choice. It does make me feel good to be doing the right thing. I am a sailor and a swimmer so I am constantly on or in the water, looking at the wildlife or cleaning underneath my boat and checking on parts. I love sailing in the Channel because it is such a clean and beautiful stretch of water. So yes, I think it is great to be able to play my own small part in keeping it that way."

The EPA Director has made a Sewage Management Directive on the Discharge of Sewage from Certain Vessels into State Waters. The Directive is a risk-based approach to sewage discharge which specifies where sewage may and may not be discharged from certain vessels into Tasmanian waters.

Information about the Directive, including what vessels it applies to and the process leading up to the making of the Directive can be found on the on the What's New page of the EPA website