Category Archives: Watershed Moments

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

 

 

 

 

 

Project Spotlight: Marynowski Alternative Watering System and Exclusion Fencing Project March 23rd, 2018

Posted in: Livestock Programming Watershed Moments

The Marynowski family is farming a legacy of sustainability. In 2017, the Marynowski family partnered with Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) to implement a year-round solar powered alternative watering system and exclusion fencing project for their 150 beef cattle operation. Alternative watering systems use solar panels, wind turbines, or a combination of both to power a pumping system for providing safe and reliable drinking water to livestock from a nearby source. Alternative watering systems can improve water quality and reduce streambank erosion by controlling livestock access to surface water, like dugouts, rivers, and streams. Exclusion fencing around dugouts and waterways reduce the risk of herd health problems relating to direct watering, like fluke worm, foot rot, and other water borne diseases. Exclusion fencing can also prevent injury or death caused by livestock falling through ice or getting stuck, drowning, or suffocating in muddy rivers and ponds.

The Marynowski Alternative Watering System replaced a dugout, which had served as a watering hole for their summer grazing and overwintering pasture site. The family drilled a deep well at their own expense to mitigate potential problems in drought years when dugouts tend to dry out.

A 24 volt centric pump located in the well is powered by two (2) 160 watt solar panels hooked up to four (4) deep cycle batteries. The system allows the pump to run off of solar energy while excess energy is stored in the batteries for later use at night or on overcast days. The advantage of solar powered systems is that they can be used in areas where electric power lines are unavailable or too expensive to set up. Solar powered systems also replace the need for generators because they are able to run during electric power blackouts. The well head, batteries, and system controls are sheltered in a small shed. This sheltered structure makes it easy to access the system for monitoring and maintenance, especially during inclement weather. The solar panels and motion eye sensor, which activates the pump when cattle approach the trough, are securely mounted high up on the shed to protect the expensive components against damage from livestock and curious wildlife. A new system feature allows an option for producers to use a smartphone app for remotely monitoring system parameters, such as pumping rate and volume. The subscription-based app costs a few dollars a month and requires an area with cell reception to send producers system status notifications.

The Marynowski family also implemented an exclusion fencing project around their dugout. The fencing extends past their dugout and encloses an area which also functions as a bale storage area. This unique multi-purpose space improves on-farm management by keeping bales close at hand and out of livestock reach. The fenced-off area simultaneously acts as a buffer to reduce the likelihood of water contamination caused by manure being washed into the dugout during the spring runoff and after heavy rainfall events.

The projects implemented by the SRRCD are initiated at the local level by people whose livelihoods are deeply connected to the landscape. These innovative projects are custom designed to benefit the unique needs of each farm and to improve the health of our watershed. The SRRCD funded the total project cost of $9,300 for the Marynowski Alternative Watering system and Exclusion Fencing Project:

 

Item Cost
Solar System $6,200
Shed $850
Batteries $700
Delivery $150
Installation $600
Excavation $700
Fencing materials $100 *
Project Total $9,300
SRRCD Cost $4,675
Landowner cost $4,625

 

*Funded at 75% of cost, remainder of items funded at 50% cost

Looking Ahead: Lessons Learned

The Marynowski Alternative Watering System has been running at full capacity this winter. The watering trough where the cattle drink has been accessible throughout the winter months and there have been no problems with the trough freezing over. The Marynowski family will be adding a wind turbine to the system to supplement the solar panels. The system can run effectively for up to five (5) consecutive days during overcast and cold winter days. Installing more solar panels requires the addition of more batteries to increase energy storage capacity. The option to add a wind turbine provides a secondary battery recharge mechanism during overcast conditions to ensure that the system will operate most effectively 365 days a year.

The success of these riparian livestock management projects have spread throughout the district. The SRRCD is looking forward to implementing more projects with local producers throughout our watershed.

The SRRCD provides funding for riparian livestock management projects, including:

  • Alternative watering (river, creeks), 75% SRRCD contribution up to $7,500
  • NOTE: The SRRCD does not cover the cost of well drilling.
  • Riparian fencing (rivers, creeks), 75% SRRCD contribution up to $4,000
  • Livestock crossing improvement, 75% SRRCD contribution up to $1,000
  • Alternative watering (dugouts), 50% SRRCD contribution up to $5,000
  • NOTE: The SRRCD does not cover the cost of well drilling.
  • Exclusion fencing (dugouts), 75% SRRCD contribution up to $1,000
  • Grant writing to help you cover 100% of qualifying projects

The SRRCD encourages producers to apply as soon as possible for available funding by contacting our Steinbach office at (204) 326-1030, or our Vita office at (204) 425-7877. You can also visit us online at www.srrcd.ca to download your applications today.

Farming for the Future: Young Farmers at Work in Roseau River Watershed February 16th, 2018

Posted in: Livestock Programming Watershed Moments

Livestock producers in the Roseau River watershed are farming for the future in partnership with Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD). They are innovative young families enhancing their farming operations with environmentally sustainable livestock management initiatives, like alternative watering systems, exclusion fencing, and livestock crossings.

Alternative watering systems provide livestock with a safe, clean, and reliable source of drinking water. They use a solar or wind powered pump to draw water from nearby water sources. These systems are used to restrict livestock access to surface water, such as dugouts, rivers, and streams. Fencing off dugouts and waterways can reduce the risk of herd health problems relating to direct watering, like fluke worm, foot rot, and other water borne diseases. Exclusion fencing can also prevent injury or death caused by livestock falling through ice or getting stuck, drowning, or suffocating in muddy rivers and ponds. Livestock crossings allow cattle to safely cross waterways without disturbing the natural flow of water or the vegetated area along waterways known as riparian zones. Riparian livestock management protects waterways from erosion, sedimentation, and loss of riparian vegetation from constant grazing. Programs for establishing alternative watering systems, exclusion fencing, and livestock crossings prevent cattle from drinking water contaminated with manure. They also reduce nutrients, like phosphorus and nitrogen, flowing downstream into Lake Winnipeg.

Livestock producers in the Roseau River watershed are looking for sustainable ways to keep the farm in the family. They are recognizing opportunities for lowering the cost of production by reducing risks to herd health and improving water quality for future generations. Local farmers working in partnership with the SRRCD implemented several riparian livestock management programs in the Roseau River watershed. The projects implemented by the SRRCD are initiated at the local level by people whose livelihoods are deeply connected to the landscape. These innovate projects are custom designed to benefit the unique needs of each farm and to improve the health of our watershed.

The Marynowski family installed a fencing enclosure to limit livestock access to their dugout area. The enclosure also includes additional room for bale storage. The family drilled a well at their own expense to provide a reliable drinking water source to their 150 cattle during the winter and summer months. This alternative watering system draws water from the well using a solar powered pump. The system also has an option for allowing the farmer to use a smartphone app for remotely monitoring parameters, like pump output.

The Schubert exclusion fencing project was implemented to keep cattle out of a flood-prone riparian area, which regularly overflowed water beyond the existing fence line. The Schuberts drilled a well, at their own expense, on a nearby ridge and moved the herd’s watering area to higher ground. The family is now looking into upgrading their existing solar watering system by incorporating a wind turbine to better accommodate overcast weather conditions.

The Barnabe family from Woodmore implemented an alternative watering system for their expanding livestock operation with 220 head of cattle. The system draws water from a nearby gravel pit during the winter and summer months.

The Chubaty alternative watering system near Ridgeville is an all-season project, which provides safe and reliable access to 150 calf/cow pairs and is the second project undertaken by the Chubaty family in the last five (5) years.

The Abrams solar winter watering system and exclusion fencing project currently accommodates 30-40 head of cattle. The family is looking to expand their livestock operation as part of a larger farm improvement plan.

The Boileau family incorporated numerous on-farm improvements to their 140 calf/cow pair farming operation. The Boileau’s installed exclusion fencing on three (3) dugouts and implemented a well head remediation project to improve the conditions of the existing well structure.

The success of these riparian livestock management projects have spread throughout the district by word-of-mouth advertising. The SRRCD is looking forward to implementing more projects with local producers throughout our watershed.

The SRRCD provides funding for riparian livestock management projects, including:

  • Alternative watering (waterway protection), 75% SRRCD contribution up to $7,500
  • Riparian fencing (waterway protection), 75% SRRCD contribution up to $4,000
  • Livestock crossing improvement, 75% SRRCD contribution up to $1,000
  • Alternative watering (groundwater protection), 50% SRRCD contribution up to $5,000
  • Exclusion fencing (groundwater protection), 75% SRRCD contribution up to $1,000
  • Grant writing to help you cover 100% of qualifying projects

The SRRCD encourages producers to apply as soon as possible for available funding. The SRRCD is available at our Steinbach office by telephone at (204) 326-1030, or in Vita at (204) 425-7877. You can also visit us online at www.srrcd.ca to download your applications today.

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

Posted in: Environmental Education 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.