Lake Eleanor Campground Outhouse Removal & Replacement with Nonpermanent Composting Toilet

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The purpose of this project is to remove the deteriorated infrastructure from the Lake Eleanor (LE) Campground and ensure human waste from visitors to the Lake Eleanor campground is disposed of properly. LE Campground receives about 1,000 use nights per year. Two existing pit latrines are located approximately 216 feet from the high water line of LE (an auxiliary reservoir for the Hetch Hetchy System). Due to the deteriorated state of the current outhouses and the proximity to the lakeshore/water table, the effect on the water quality is a concern. The existing outhouses are also visually intrusive due to their location and unsightly condition.

Because there is no holding tank for the human waste in the outhouses (waste is deposited into large pits in the earth), continued use may negatively impact water quality in LE. The structures are unsightly and unsafe due to their state of disrepair. Anecdotal evidence from LE rangers is that campers bypass the latrines due to their appearance and perceived unsanitary conditions.

The park has analyzed various options including a) no action, b) removal of the existing pit latrines and requiring all users to cathole, c) removing the pit latrines and constructing a permanent composting restroom facility, and d) removing the pit latrines and using Romtec Trailside toilets that sit on top of the ground. According to NPS policy and the Pacific West Regional Office Public Health Officer, it is not an option to close the existing pits and dig new pit latrines.

The preferred solution is to use Romtec toilets, siting them ~280 feet farther from the high water line of Lake Eleanor and in a sunny location to maximize the technology of the composter. The facility can handle 1,150 overnight visitors per season. It measures 48" x 40" x 36" and weighs approximately 100 pounds. The unit sits on the ground with no ground disturbance. A privacy fence/screen of a compatible color will be constructed (designed and built by park staff). This will likely require minor post-hole penetration of the ground and will not obstruct photovoltaic functionality. The existing outhouse structures will be removed and the existing pits closed/remediated, resulting in an overall beneficial impact.

These toilets require regular, bimonthly maintenance, according to park subject matter experts. Adding bulking material (pine shavings) to the composter may be required if too much liquid develops. Visitor education and signage will be implemented to emphasize keeping liquid waste and trash out of the composter, thus reducing the frequency of transporting material. Only one toilet is believed to be needed to manage the use, but both will be placed in the campground to ensure project goals are met.

The park will evaluate effectiveness of the installed toilets annually. A manual with instructions, safety materials, etc. will be assembled for the onsite rangers. These will include the requirement to conduct an annual evaluation and instructions on how to do so.