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CentrEau Hebd'EAU | Preserving water and recovering nutrients by separating human excreta at source

80th webinar in the CentrEau Hebd'Eau series entitled "Preserving water and recovering nutrients by separating human excreta at source" by Fabien ESCULIER


Fabien Esculier is coordinator of the OCAPI research and action program ( He is a researcher at Ecole des Ponts ParisTech's Water, Environment and Urban Systems Laboratory (LEESU).

A senior civil servant in the French Ministry of Ecology, he worked for 6 years for various organizations under this Ministry on the development, implementation and evaluation of public water policies in the Seine basin (Navigation Service, Regional Environment Directorate, Water Agency). In 2014, he set up the OCAPI research and action program, which aims to study and support the socio-ecological transition of urban food/excretion systems and in particular investigate the potential for a paradigm shift in the management of human urine and feces through source separation and agricultural reclamation. He defended his thesis in March 2018 on this topic ( He continues to lead this program, which has largely expanded to include a multidisciplinary action-research team (biogeochemistry, agronomy, anthropology, sociology of innovation, geopolitics, territorial ecology...) and has become a national resource center on source separation.

See PPT presentation here »


Sewage systems have been developed primarily to ensure user comfort and an abundance of resources (infrastructure, energy, water, synthetic fertilizers, etc.). At a time when Western societies are committed to moving towards lifestyles that respect the planet's limits, managing human excreta by means of sewage systems is notoriously inefficient in most respects: nutrient pollution of water, high energy consumption, poor recycling of nutrients, microbiological contamination of aquatic environments, high and rising financial costs, and so on.

Alternative techniques for managing human urine and faeces, which were the norm until the 20th century, have been enjoying renewed interest in Europe since the 1990s. Today, numerous systems are being set up, with similar or even superior levels of comfort for the user. Many of them focus on preserving aquatic environments and returning nutrients to the agricultural soil, in order to (re-)complete the feeding/excretion cycle.

This webinar is in collaboration with École des Ponts ParisTech, the LEESU Laboratory, and the OCAP Program! 

The presentation will be given in French