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Andrea Croskrey - Human Waste Management in the Caves of the US National Park Service

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Andrea Croskrey
Human Waste Management in the Caves of the US National Park Service
Exit Strategies Conference 2010
Sustainable Summits Initiative

Published in: Environment
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Andrea Croskrey - Human Waste Management in the Caves of the US National Park Service

  1. 1. A Presentation for the 2010 Exit Strategies – Managing Human Waste in the Wild Conference in Golden, CO
  2. 2.  High Energy  Active stream input  Lots of sources of “food” and nutrients being brought in  Short transit time
  3. 3.  Low Energy  Little to no flowing water  Little to no “food” or nutrients being brought in  Long to zero transit times
  4. 4.  Introduces lots of energy/carbon (food) to a “starved” environment  Disrupts the microbial ecosystem  Liquid waste elevates nitrogen  Solid waste introduces carbon
  5. 5.  Introduces foreign bacteria and viruses  Could contaminate drinking water supplies  Red Lake/Huapache Camp – tracking  Pink Dot – natural hydrologic processes
  6. 6.  Aesthetics (smell, visual)  Solid waste biodegrades slowly  Staining  Fouling routes
  7. 7.  Mammoth Cave  Cat holes  Streams  Low Visitation
  8. 8.  Underground wilderness can be downstream of urban centers and agriculture  Karst aquifers are contaminated  Elevated estrogen in Ozark Aquifer  Some caves have elevated E. coli from surface impacts
  9. 9.  Wind Cave and Jewel Cave:  pack it all out
  10. 10.  Lechuguilla Cave:  <48 hour trip – pack it all out  >48 hour trip – Urine is dumped at 4 sites adjacent to camps; all other waste is packed out  Dumping urine is not ideal. Some technological solutions proposed, but none proven.
  11. 11.  Why the difference?  Logistics of gear and weight requirements  Horizontal v. vertical  Stocked camps  Fear of dehydration in the warmer cave  Longer trips = more urine to haul  Precedence
  12. 12.  High NRG Caves  Into active streams
  13. 13.  Low NRG Cave  Concentrated impact  Time required between uses  Lower passages?  Wear booties
  14. 14.  In the sediments of active streams or on trail  Toilet paper didn’t breakdown  None in low energy caves
  15. 15.  Hard v. flexible  Disposable v. Reusable  Funnels/wide mouth
  16. 16.  Lg. Plastic Bags  Wine Bags
  17. 17.  “Burrito” Bags  Inexpensive  Gallon bags and aluminum foil  Drop cloth  Manufactured Options
  18. 18.  Provide Disposal Receptacles  Dumpsters  Bear proof  Recycling bottles  Flush contents  rinse
  19. 19.  Thanks to photographers: Jean Krejca, Hazel Barton, Ron Kerbo, Art Palmer  For more information about NPS Caves visit: http://www.nature.nps.gov/geolo gy/caves/

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