0
$\begingroup$

My question is in the header. It would seem to be a major environmental benefit if toilets used saltwater in stead of drinkable fresh water, right?

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Meta question about this one $\endgroup$ – Jan Doggen Jun 18 '16 at 9:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Not about Earth Science, but my guess is that you will need to build an entire water system (plumbing, infrastructure, etc) for salt water, in addition to fresh water. Then, I'm not sure there is any environmental or economical benefit. Some toilets use greywater, which is recycled water from laundry machines and dishwashers etc. $\endgroup$ – Gimelist Jun 18 '16 at 12:59
  • $\begingroup$ And grey water can also be rain water. Grey water is of course more widely available (not in quantity, but in geographical area) then salt water. $\endgroup$ – Jan Doggen Jun 18 '16 at 13:06
  • $\begingroup$ Please do not cross-post. $\endgroup$ – gerrit Jun 22 '16 at 10:49
3
$\begingroup$

This question has tenuous links to Earth Sciences, but the answer is simply that, historically, freshwater has been used to flush toilets, and hence the sewage treatment plants have been developed to treat non-saline sewage. The water can be (and frequently is) recycled for domestic use, whilst sewage sludge can be used to enrich farmland. No such benefits accrue to flushing effluent with saline water. It is then pollution, whether it is disposed of on land or at sea.

In many estuaries and deltas around the world sewage sludge does end up in the sea where it accumulates as tidal mud flats with an unnaturally high lipid content. Give this sediment a few tens of millions of years of compression and maturation and it will doubtless yield oil shale.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Good answer! Unfortunately the question is closed here, but it has been cross-posted on Sustainability SE where fits better. Would you consider posting your answer there as well? $\endgroup$ – THelper Jun 18 '16 at 17:30
  • $\begingroup$ By all means, move Q&A. $\endgroup$ – Gordon Stanger Jun 21 '16 at 14:10
  • $\begingroup$ Actually what I meant was; would you consider posting this answer yourself at the same question posted on Sustainabiltiy SE. We can't move this question and answer there because the exact same question was already posted on Sustainability SE. $\endgroup$ – THelper Jun 21 '16 at 17:36

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.