This is t‍‍‍he story of my experiences living as an ex-pat in Mexico since 2003. It's to culminate in a published book. With your help, I'll be editing, selecting a title, and cover art: a participatory project. Your comments encouraged!

Letters from Mexico

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June 30, 2018

Water In Mexico

Mexico, as many other countries including the USA, experiences regional as well as seasonal water scarcity. Then how does it deal with water? When I asked what readers want me to write about, one suggested water. In a previous blog, I wrote a paragraph on water.

In this blog, I'll be introducing a local organization, in Tepoztlán, Morelos, which develops and educates on different aspects of water and sanitation sustainability.

A dry toilet at SARAR, Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexico. Photo by Don Karp.

Wh‍‍‍at is SARAR?

SARAR is an acronym for a participatory methodology that stands for:

Self-esteem/ Associative strengths/ Resourcefulness/ Action planning/ ‍‍‍Responsibility for follow-through.‍‍‍

It develops systems of sustainability, implements them, and provides courses and training to educate about them. This blog is a photo essay describing some of the technologies at SARAR: rainwater harvesting, filtration of potable water, soapy/grey-water management, dry urine- diverting and composting toilets, a dry urine diverter, urine collection and use as fertilizer, and "poposta:" composting of feces.

At the end of the blog is an interview with Ron Sawyer, the director of SARAR.

Rainwater Harvesting

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Rainwater is harvested from the roof, then filtered through a first-flush barrel and gravel before storage in a larger cistern. SARAR, Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Photo by Don Karp.

Filtration to potable (drinking) water

A standard type of water filter system. The ceramic filters need periodic changin‍‍‍g. In Mexico, water needs to be treated at the household level in some way to be drinkable. Photo by Don Karp.

Filtering soapy water

Greywater from the washing machine: lint needs to be filtered out first (above). Greywater from the kitchen feeds certain plants (below), and the plants absorb nutrients and remove‍‍‍ harmful materials. Photo by Don Karp.

Dry compo‍‍‍sting toilet/ urine diverter

The colorful entrance to the dry toilet is shown on the left. The right top is the waterless male urinal, and the bottom right shows the toilet with a urine diverter at the front. Keeping urine separate from feces allows for more efficient processing and different final uses. Photo by Don Karp.

‍‍‍Field toi‍‍‍let

This SaniHuerto–ArborLoo type of composting toilet works best out in a field. It does not have a urine diverter (top right) and is portable. When it's full, it can be moved, leaving a hole (middle right) where a planted tree grows fertilized (bottom right). Photo by Don Karp.

Urine‍‍‍ collection and use as fertilizer

The bottom left shows urine collection from the urine-diversion dry toilet (UDDT) down a tube into‍‍‍ a container. These containers are moved into a storage unit (bottom right) to age for at least two weeks. Then, the aged urine is used in a composting system (above), or directly in the garden.   Photo by Don Karp.


Organoponia, or "pipiponía," is an alternative enclosed system to use fermented aged urine as a fertilizer particularly for domestic reuse (top). Used rubber tires with a plastic bottom to retain moisture make a sort of flower pot (bottom). Photo by Don Karp.

Poposta: solid waste composting

The black door (top) contains the solid waste from UDDT urine-diverting dry toilet. It's to the right of where the urine is harvested. The lower photo is one unit of the solid waste compo‍‍‍sting system. Photo by Don Karp.

Buy a toilet?

Ron Sawyer, director of SARAR, showing us the exhibition and storage shed with different types of dry toilets are for sale and exhibition. Not only does SARAR develop and‍‍‍ implement alternative sustainable systems, they provide training workshops and demonstrations. Photo by Don Karp

        Interview with Ron Sawyer,      director of SARAR‍‍‍‍‍‍

Interview of Ron Sawyer, director of SARAR, Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Video by Don Karp.

Hopefully, this blog, with its photos and video interview, has given you some idea of how water systems have been developed in Mexico, a country where water is sparse.

If you'd like more information, please go to SARAR's website. You can contact them here: [email protected]

Were there any surprises? Did you learn something?




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