Water for Two Worlds: Designing Terrestrial Applications for Exploration-Class Sanitation Systems 2004-01-2269
At the United Nations Millennium Summit in September of 2000, the world leaders agreed on an ambitious agenda for reducing poverty and improving lives: the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)1, a list of issues they consider highly pernicious, threatening to human welfare and, thereby, to global security and prosperity. Among the eight goals are included fundamental human needs such as the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, the promotion of gender equality, the reduction of child mortality and improvement of maternal health, and ensuring the sustainability of our shared environment. In order to help focus the efforts to meet these goals, the United Nations (UN) has established a set of eighteen concrete targets, each with an associated schedule. Among these is Target 10: “By 2015, reduce by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water.” 2 A closely related target of equal dignity was agreed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, September 2002): “By 2015, reduce by half the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation” 3.
One of the greatest successes in the development of Exploration-class technologies for closed-loop, sustainable support of long-duration human space missions has been the work both ESA and NASA have done in bioregenerative water reclamation (WRS), and secondarily, in solid-waste management. Solid-waste and WRS systems tend to be combined in the commercial world into the field of sanitation, although as we will see, the most essential principles of sustainable terrestrial sanitation actually insist upon the separation of solid and liquid excreta.
Seeing the potential synergy between the space program ALS technologies developed for Mars and the
urgent needs of hundreds of millions of people for secure access to clean water here on Earth, we set out to organize the adaptation of these technologies to help the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) meet Target 10. In this paper, we will summarize the issues and results of the first “Water for Two Worlds” summit held in January of this year, describe the status of the sustainable sanitation systems that are on the table for adaptation to widespread terrestrial use, and present fundamental strategies for forward work.