PROJECT ACONCAGUA: Implementation of human waste disposal measure at base and high altitude camps
Project Status: Not yet implemented
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The project idea is to work closely with the park authorities and travel agents like ‘Inka Expeditions’ to implement human waste disposal measures at base camps and high altitude camps for climbers at Aconcagua, and monitor their implementation. One idea is to design and install dry composting toilets at base camps.
CONTRIBUTION TO MOUNTAIN PROTECTION
Our project aims to improve current measures that to date have not really addressed the mounting problem of waste at base camps, especially the high cost of flying out human waste (if collected) by helicopter. With retreating snow and ice, the evident waste around camps is very depressing. I work as a porter and mountain guide assistant at the Park, and I would like to get help to incentivise the Park and companies to trial new methods to address waste.
BENEFITS FOR LOCAL COMMUNITIES
We help the local park authority to deal with problems that they cannot solve on their own and with matters which we need to implement together with the private tourism sector. We also help provide employment for local arrieros (porters and horsemen).
COLLABORATION WITH LOCAL AUTHORITIES
We liaise with local authorities to assess what is feasible. So far the proposed action plan addresses the following points:
– Perform the separation of plastics, glass and organic material.
– General collection in the different fields of elevations to lower the waste.
– Elaboration of decantation basins for detergents used for washing and showers.
– Decantation basins for the use of kitchen and shower detergents are not suitable for they impact the glacier. The building of dedicated cleaning ‘pools’ is very simple. Using plastic containers, the first thing we do is an excavation 20 cm deep with a width of four meters and approximately six or seven meters long. This excavation will be carried out where the outlet pipes from the washing and showers. Once dug we place what we call here in Argentina a lining or ‘cloth of half shadow’ and remove all captured material at end of every season. You can do the same with recycled tetra pack containers In the mountains, which abound. Once cast all these layers we take the outputs of the hoses and take them to the pool. Last, place another half shadow over and we cover the ends with rocks that make a containment … different layers of plastic, half shade and tetra pack, will prevent debris directly into the glacier.
– Use of biodegradable cleaning products.
– Preparation of dry baths. Separation of urine and faeces.
IMPROVING ENVIRONMENTAL FUTURE OF THE PARK
The park does not currently enforce or regulate measures that completely remove waste from the park after climbing seasons. Our project will help resolve this issue. Furthermore, we will help raise awareness among operators who too can take initiatives, and not wait for the park authority to act. We need to show better examples to tourists.