News & Events Categories

News & Events Yearly Archive

“What Happens When We Flush?” Virtual Fieldtrip

Thank you for joining EarthEcho International and Canaan Valley Institute for a "Virtual Fieldtrip," What Happens When We Flush? 

If you were not able to view the event live, please tune in below as Jenny Newland and Vicki Fenwick from the Canaan Valley Institute discuss the importance of wastewater while taking you on a tour through their greenhouse, which uses recycled wastewater. During the virtual fieldtrip they answered questions on why what goes down your drain is important to everyone and what you can do to make improvements in the wastewater in your homes and schools. We also heard from students from Petersburg Elementary School, who are doing their own stream testing to monitor the health of water in their community. Please submit questions via the form below and we will answer them here, on this page. For more information on Canaan Valley Institute, check out their website, here.



We've receieved lots of great questions from across the world and will continue to answer them as we get them! Below you will find the answers to questions we didn't have time to address on air. 

For a diagram of Canaan Valley Institute's Ecomachine, wastewater recycling system, go here:

Archie from Ontario, Canada asked two great questions, “Can you use this outside in a cold climate wetland?” and “Most homes in our area have septic tanks, how can we help?”
The largest concern with using similar systems in cold climates is frozen ground. If parts of the ground are frozen for part of the year, the water will not be able to circulate and filter properly. Also, for those who have septic systems at home, regular maintenance is very important. Tanks should be pumped and inspected every 5 years. Creating materials with advice about what to put into your septic systems and the best maintenance practices would be a great service learning project!

Nick would like to know, “In the purification process, if any disease makes it through, can that purification company be charged?”
That’s a great question. Transmission of diseases is one reason why we only use the recycled water for things like flushing our toilets. Since most disease would be transmitted by drinking contaminated water, purification of drinking water is left to really specialized treatment plants.

Classrooms from Cooper, FL and Walled Lake, MI would like to know, “How many plants are in the greenhouse? What plants do you have there?”
There are a couple of different types of taro plants (the ones with the giant leaves) and a couple of types of papyrus plants (the tall ones that look a little bit like palm leaves). We’ve never actually counted how many plants are in the greenhouse, but we know there are a lot and they get really big!

A class from Merida, Mexico would like to know, “How did the plants grow so big?”
The plants in the greenhouse have been there for quite a few years so they have had a lot of time to grow and mature. With this water recycling system, we are able to give them all of the nutrients they require to grow, so they are able to grow quite large.