Water Trails & Paddling
Building a Launch
By Dave Teffeteller, Coosawattee Watershed Alliance
An overview of site selection, permitting, design and cost estimating, construction, capitalization and maintenance.
This will put you on the permitting page. Look for Nationwide Permits.
The general phone number for the Savannah Office is: 1-800-448-2402.
For projects in the piedmont and mountains call the Morrow office at 678-422-2721 and ask for the project manager for the particular county the project would be located in.
For SW Ga. call the Albany office at 229-430-8567 (Lower Flint, Lower Chattahoochee, Suwannee, Ochlocknee river basins).
There will be some contact names and numbers for help.
The biggest concern when developing a water trail is the usability and comfort of the put-ins, because without a good put-in it is harder to get people (especially families) on the river. A major factor in developing an appealing place to start and end your day on the river is the availability of a restroom that is clean and private. Being able to run into a restroom to change out of wet clothes or to use the restroom before piling back into the car has a tremendous, and often overlooked, influence on a day on the river. Having clean and well-managed restroom facilities plays a major role in consistent use of your put-in.
The information and chart below outlines the basics about each of the main restroom options including: port-a-potty, vault-style, composting, and conventional flush toilets.
Another option for a restroom facility is a Composting Toilet. Composting toilets are extremely environmentally-friendly and use human waste to create a fertilizer, but they do have their issues. Most composting toilets are found in RV’s, boats, and in some homes, because of the low frequency of use. Inability to handle a high volume of users is the primary limitation of composting toilets, as they require sawdust or woodchips to be added to the mix at the end of every day (at the very least), both to absorb moisture and maintain the necessary Carbon-Nitrogen ratio in the compost. Without an appropriate amount of moisture absorption, odor and insects become a problem. Composting toilets must also be kept within a specific temperature range (depending on climate), must drain well, and the chamber that holds the waste must be properly aerated to ensure a lack of odor. Typically, a composting toilet will cost about $1000-$1500. After that, expenses are very low, but maintenance is labor-intensive. A composting toilet would be ideal for an outfitter or similarly existing structure to supplement or take the place of their restrooms, as it would be easily serviceable.
If your primary concern is cost, then the port-a-potty is the best option. Tried and true, the port-a-potty fulfills only the most basic restroom needs, and is the cheapest option. Ranging from $85 to $110 a month for a single, and about $150 a month for a handicap-accessible stall. In addition to this low cost, port-a-potties have extremely low maintenance fees, and can go just about anywhere. The primary issue facing port-a-potties is the odor, as well as ease of vandalism. Because of the simplicity of a port-a-potty, there is nowhere for the odor to go but back into the capsule, and because they are so light, it is easy to move them or push them over. The major selling point of a port-a-potty is the low price. At an average cost of $93.00 per unit, you can rent a port-a-potty for almost 30 years for the cost of installing an upper-level single unit vault toilet. This time frame does not account for any sort of incident, natural or otherwise, that would damage the port-a-potty or be cause for replacing one.
The next option for restroom facilities is a far more permanent installation than a port-a-potty, and one that is more at home in a national park than a jobsite. Vault toilets are roofed, enclosed structures that have a foundation, and offer a far more comfortable experience than a port-a-potty. There are several options for vault toilets ranging from pre-fabricated vaults that are placed into the ground as a single unit, to a completely customizable restroom facility that is tailor-made to your specifications. Most vault toilets function by collecting concentrated waste in an underground tank that is highly ventilated to reduce smell. The primary issue with vault-style toilets is that the vast majority of them are very expensive upon installation, with prices for a single ranging from $13,000-$34,000, and double units costing between $26,000 and $58,000. Despite this high up-front cost, vault toilets provide a level of comfort not found anywhere else, and will last far longer than any port-a-potty on the market. The real value of the vault style toilet is in the longevity and aesthetic value that far exceeds that of a port-a-potty. In a high-traffic area, the vault toilet is superior for its increased capacity and ability to be used regularly without immediately requiring maintenance. Plus, stainless steel or porcelain fixtures combined with the ease of applying a new coat of paint, and the ability to lock the restroom, greatly reduces potential for vandalism. While the vault toilet is more of an up-front investment than the port-a-potty, it is well worth the money in the long run.
Some vault toilets do pump water into the toilet bowl to clear out any remaining excrement, and these then drain into a separate tank that must be pumped out. These low-flow options are at the top of the cost bracket, costing between $35,000 to $59,000 depending on the model you choose. These units are quite expensive, but with the price comes an odor-free and clean restroom experience.
Conventional Flush Toilets
Restroom Spec Spreadsheet Coming Soon!