Category Archives: Tourond Creek Discovery Centre / Rosenthal Nature Park

Composting Toilets at Tourond Creek Discovery Centre June 8th, 2018

Posted in: Tourond Creek Discovery Centre / Rosenthal Nature Park Watershed Moments

 

The Tourond Creek Discovery Centre (TCDC) is a unique public destination and outdoor learning environment located along Highway #52 near Kleefeld. Walking trails throughout the centre connect five distinct habitats to a viewing dock, lookout tower, and picnic shelter. School groups and outdoor enthusiasts visit the TCDC to explore nature in this naturalized space. It is also a convenient park-and-ride-sharing hub for local area commuters. The Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) recognized an opportunity to accommodate TCDC visitors by installing composting toilet facilities.

The TCDC features two composting toilet facilities for public use. A waterless alternative to conventional systems is needed since running water is unavailable at this former waste disposal site. Composting toilets use natural processes to decompose human waste within a controlled environment. Over 90% of the waste entering the composting chamber is made up of water, which is evaporated through the toilet’s ventilation system. A scoop of carbon material, such as sawdust, dried leaves, or straw is added to the composting chamber after each use. The carbon binds with the nitrogen found in liquid and solid human waste to eliminate odor as well as to form the main nutrients found in compost. A balance of oxygen, moisture, heat, and organic material provides a rich environment for oxygen-loving bacteria to decompose the solid waste material. The composting chamber is manually stirred with a built-in agitator. A raking mechanism is manually operated to separate finished compost into a tray for removal. Composting toilets are a great option for places where septic and water systems are unavailable or cost-prohibitive.

Envirolet Waterless Self-Contained system (above)

The SRRCD installed two different composting toilet systems by Envriolet (www.envirolet.ca), including the Envirolet Waterless Self-Contained system and Waterless Remote system.

The Envirolet Waterless Self-Contained unit was installed in the ground-level washroom to accommodate easy accessibly for all mobility types. This unit has a full-time capacity of four persons and a vacation capacity of six persons. The toilet and composting chamber are both incorporated into this stand-alone unit, which is ideal for remote or isolated locations.

The Envirolet Waterless Remote system was installed in the elevated washroom and is designed to demonstrate what a composting system looks like in a home or cottage. The composting chamber is housed below the floor directly under the toilet. It has a larger full-time capacity of six persons and a vacation capacity of eight persons. The unit can be installed in the basement or on the ground outside.

Each washroom is mounted with a solar panel and battery system to power an electric ventilation fan in both the self-contained and remote systems. The small fan built into the unit circulates oxygen throughout the composting chamber while a small ventilation turbine draws odor and evaporated material into the atmosphere. The TCDC is a very windy site and the ventilation turbine draws nearly all odor from the composting chamber. The battery system is subsequently rarely used.

The SRRCD maintains and operates composting toilet facilities at TCDC throughout the spring and summer months between the snow melt and first snowfall. Daily use of the toilets at TCDC is much lower than their capacity since toilet use is largely related to event bookings. The TCDC hosted 17 groups events in 2017, not including visitors from the general public. There have been minimal problems with exceeded capacity since SRRCD staff regularly monitor the status of the toilet systems. The units are able to handle single-ply toilet paper and carbon additives, like saw dust after each use. The SRRCD stocks foam hand sanitizers in each washroom for personal hygiene. The composting facilities at TCDC are compliant with provincial regulations for composting toilets and health and safety standards for their use.

Our biggest challenge in maintaining composting toilets for public use is teaching people how to use them. Some of the problems we have experienced are associated with using more sawdust than necessary after each use, or leaving the composting chamber exposed by forgetting to close the toilet lid. We made a few adjustments by posting clearly marked operating instructions in the washroom. Our staff cleans the exterior of the toilet with household disinfectant. Caution must be taken to avoid spilling cleaning solution into the composting chamber since microbial activity inside the toilet should remain undisturbed.

Finished compost is removed from the tray about two times throughout the operational season. Compost derived from human waste is not safe for food production. The SRRCD buries finished compost in a designated area away from the site. The effectiveness of composting toilets at degrading pharmaceutical compounds and residues is unknown and users should consider the risk of pathogens found in composted human waste. Composted human waste should not be used in any edible produce gardens.

The composting toilet systems at TCDC provide an effective waterless alternative to conventional systems. They are easy to maintain and odor-free when following the manufacturer’s recommendations on daily use. There are a variety of composting toilet brands available for different applications. We can answer your questions about the construction, installation, and operation of our composting toilet facilities. Come by the Tourond Creek Discovery Centre and try one out today!

 

Seine-Rat River Conservation District

154 Friesen Avenue

Steinbach, MB

(204) 326-1030

info@srrcd.ca

www.srrcd.ca

 

 

 

 

 

Bringing Outdoor Learning to Life at Tourond Creek Discovery Centre November 21st, 2017

Posted in: Environmental Education Tourond Creek Discovery Centre / Rosenthal Nature Park Watershed Moments

Educators across the Southeast are going outside with their students to make real world connections to classroom learning. Barret Miller, Special Programs Interpreter at Fort Whyte Alive, spends much of his time exploring the outdoors with students and educators across Manitoba. He is part of a movement of community organizations, including FortWhyte Alive, South Central Eco Institute, Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD), and Tourond Creek Discovery Centre (TCDC) that are partnering with Hanover School Division to promote opportunities for outdoor education. Teachers are keen to learn about using outdoor environments to make linkages with the school curriculum.

Barret specializes in helping educators make the most of outdoor learning opportunities. He tells a story about an experience he had while taking a group of students on a field trip to a nearby park. The group of students barely hiked 20 metres before becoming enthralled by a bluff of trees. Barret says the excited group spent over an hour exploring the bluff and discovering its wonders of life. The little bluff offered so many opportunities for teaching ecology that the group hardly had time for the rest of the hike.

Community organizations, like FortWhyte Alive, South Central Eco Institute, SRRCD, and TCDC make the most of experiential learning opportunities in the great outdoors.

Kent Lewarne runs the Riverwatch program at South Central Eco Institute. Riverwatch is a program linking the classroom study of chemistry, the nitrogen cycle, and environmental issues to real world understanding of watershed health pertaining to Lake Winnipeg. Students involved in all aspects of water quality testing help collect and analyze water samples and learn about what the results mean for our watershed.

Dorthea Grégoire at SRRCD runs the Backwater Buggin’ program. The program focuses on community ecology, biological diversity, and the importance of insect communities in monitoring ecosystem and waterway health. Students participating in Backwater Buggin’ gain hands-on experience by collecting and analyzing bug samples to learn more about the health of our rivers and streams and the different types of insect communities that live in our waterways.

The expertise of these community organizations empower educators to bring environmental education to life at places such as the Tourond Creek Discovery Centre. The TCDC is a public space and natural environment in the RM of Hanover. It is visited by families, nature-lovers, and school groups in the Southeast. Visitors come to the TCDC to discover the diversity of plant and animal life unique to the five distinct micro-ecosystems at the centre. Students and educators using the site as an outdoor classroom experience our connectedness to nature by encountering the natural systems vital to our sustainability.

Kathryn Labiuk is one of four teachers at Steinbach Regional Secondary School who took advantage of outdoor learning opportunities at TCDC during the school’s innovation week. Kathryn says, “The Tourond Creek Discovery Centre is a great local option for allowing students to encounter the outdoors with a fresh perspective. The space provides opportunities for students to engage in cross-curricular learning in an environment that encourages group interactions.”

Educators, like Kathryn, are taking the lead on outdoor education by making real world connections to the school curriculum at TCDC. The outdoor learning potential at TCDC provides endless possibilities for experiential learning.

You can call or email the SRRCD for more information about the programs we offer or to book your TCDC visit. Visit us online at www.srrcd.ca, or at www.tourondcreekdiscovery.ca.

Connecting with Nature at Rosenthal Nature Park June 20th, 2016

Posted in: Environmental Education Tourond Creek Discovery Centre / Rosenthal Nature Park Watershed Moments

This post was submitted by Alan Wiebe at the Seine-Rat River Conservation District

Historic community of Rosenthal

The Rosenthal Nature Park is a public space located in Mitchell, Manitoba, and is the site of the historic community of Rosenthal. This village was home to some 25 families who established themselves in the mid-1870s before relocating prior to the census of 1881. The presence of artifacts and the preservation of this site are intrinsic to the history of the local area that is characterized by rapid population growth and development.

Model for sustainable developmentUpland grasstand

Rapid population growth and development, and the severity of high water events in the southeast has culminated in an urgent need to rethink surface water management strategies and development planning. The Rosenthal Nature Park is an innovative model for sustainable development and integrated watershed management. It demonstrates the viability of utilizing the natural functions of wetlands to retain and slow high water flows; reduce surface water runoff in urban and semi-urban areas; and purify water quality with native plant species.

Park design

The design of the Rosenthal Nature Park is comprised of walking trails that connect the wetland and upland ecosystems of the park to wildlife observation areas. Observation areas throughout the park offer a visually pleasing and comfortable environment for visitors to encounter local wildlife.

The wetland ecosysWetland Observationtem is characterized by a lake and peninsula. This constructed wetland is planted with native aquatic plant species from local donor sites and is an ideal habitat for native and migratory water fowl.

The upland ecosystem of the park is seeded with a wild flower mix that flourishes into a colourful array of flowering plants that invite various butterfly species to the area. A forage mix seeded alongside the existing bushes bordering the northerly edge of the park provides the ideal vegetative ground cover for deer foraging. Grassland birdhouses and waterfowl houses placed throughout the park offer waterfowl and shorebird species places to nest.

Today, the Rosenthal Nature Park is bursting with life. The range of plant and wildlife species throughout the park contribute to greater biodiversity in the area and reflects an intentional effort to bring together the human and physical environment.

Strong partnerships transform Rosenthal site

The site of the Rosenthal Nature Park was formerly used as a borrow pit to shape the berm surrounding the Mitchell lagoon. Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) members of the Manning Canal sub-watershed worked together with the SRRCD Board and staff, as well as the RM of Hanover, to restore ecological function to the site. The RM of Hanover and the SRRCD subsequently entered into a cost-share partnership to re-naturalize the site for public use.

Connecting with nature

Connecting with nature through outdoor exploration is an essential component of the Rosenthal Nature Park. The park is modeled after the Tourond Creek Discovery Centre (TCDC) in Kleefeld. The TCDC is a green environment that is visited by families, nature lovers, and school groups. Teachers use the site as an outdoor classroom by facilitating hands-on learning activities that encourage outdoor play. These activities are designed to give meaning to environmental education by allowing students to interact with nature through fun, outdoor activities. More information about the TCDC is available online at www.tourondcreekdiscovery.ca. While the Rosenthal Nature Park provides opportunities for environmental education, it is a unique green environment that is now open for you to explore.

The naturalized environment of the Rosenthal Nature Park supports a broader vision for community health. It integrates active transportation and outdoor exploration into a unique green environment that facilitates the discovery of meaningful connections with nature.

The Rosenthal Nature Park is located north of Mitchell on Randolph Road and east of Road 30-E.

We look forward to seeing you there!
Rosenthal Map