Hi Praire Dog
Interesting concept. I doubt that it would work here. We have a small greenhouse to produce food but it is tiny. I seem to remember that you can’t use greywater to grow food. Too much chance of accidental release of heavy metal contaminants etc into the food supply. My guess is that your inside wetlands is pretty large in order to cover a family of 4. Here we can have as many as 1200 people during crunch times. Without doing the math I’m imagining that the building required to house a wetlands for that many people would have to be enormous. Then how would you stop the plants from freezing? We would have to bring in some more oil to burn to keep the building heated. To build the building it would require shiploads of materials brought in. Buildings seldom get finished here in one year which means a couple of years of flying in extra people for the project. Then there is the problem of the Antarctic Treaty . Other than food plants it’s against the treaty to introduce species to Antarctica. We are not even allowed to grow houseplants for fear something could spread to the local ecosystem. Finally all the dead plant material would have to be handled. Since the treaty prohibits it, we can’t dispose or compost anything that might harbor organisms so it would have to be crated up and sent back to the states for disposal. I think the amount of oil and fuel that would be spent having a natural greywater system would negate most of the ecological benefits.
The National Science Foundation that runs the base is committed to protecting the environment and continually mandates improvements in the way the base runs. In the past the Navy just dumped trash. NSF makes us pack up all trash and send it the US for disposal. We have up to 20 catagories for recycling so a huge portion of our trash is reused somewhere.
This year our waste water plant went online. All of the waste is run into a system of large vats where the solids are biologically broken down. The remaining sludge is run through a press to remove moisture and is then crated up and sent to the states. The remaining liquid is run through an ultraviolet filter to kill any living organisms that might me present. This is far better than the old method of just dumping raw sewage in the ocean. While just having a camp the size of McMurdo is bound to cause problems, I forsee NSF continuing to press to keep Antarctica a clean pristine place.
mike in mcmurdo