Village Sanitation Pilot Study 

Uniting land use planning, community development, and eco-sanitation

in the Windham Region

The Village Sanitation Pilot Study (VSPS) is a partnership project between the Rich Earth Institute and the Windham Regional Commission (WRC) that will provide Westminster West and West Dummerston with technical assistance and customized information regarding ecological sanitation systems, such as urine diversion or composting toilets.

This pilot project aims to inform a neighborhood about how eco-sanitation systems might be more broadly applicable to help sustain our historic village centers. 

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Why care about village sanitation?

Land Use Planning &

Community Development

The very first Vermont State Planning Goal is to: "plan development so as to maintain the historic settlement pattern of compact village and urban centers separated by rural countryside." But, how can we do this is if space limitations associated with septic systems prevent compact development?

The VSPS will explore how ecological sanitation (such as composting and urine diverting toilets) can reduce the loads on these on-site systems, with the intent of increasing total system capacity. 

In other words, how can ecological waste management allow added bedrooms, in-law apartments, and extra tables at our local country stores, the help keep our villages alive?

Water Quality &


While we all would like to trust that our septic tanks are working, these systems are invisible to us. Without that tell-tale odor wafting from the backyard, we often don't know if something is wrong. Even when septic systems aren't working as intended, they can still contribute excess nutrients and pollutants to groundwater and nearby surface waters.

Passed in 2015, Act 64 (or, the Vermont Clean Water Act) mandates an "all-in approach" to water quality; meaning that the solutions to our State's water quality problems require multi-sector input.

Run-off and percolation from our historic community centers, especially those located along rivers, may be contributing to Vermont's water quality problems.

Nutrient Reclamation &

"Waste" Disposal

The material that leaves our bodies, or lovingly known as poo and pee, is conventionally referred to as our "waste." But, what if we took a more discerning look at this paradigm?

The Rich Earth Institute is a local organization that conducts nationally-recognized research on the effective use of urine as fertilizer on local farms. This reduces our dependence on synthetic nitrogen and foreign sources of phosphorous, and lessens the impact on our wastewater infrastructure.

What if our community planning involved more of these closed-loop systems, where one's resources needs are met by another's "waste"?

Where are there opportunities for our communities to be resource efficient and resilient? 

© 2018  Windham Regional Commission.

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