Mark Nelson

 MNelson_hat_headshot_low resolutionMNelson_Book Cover_Low Resolution2

June 30, 2014
Synergetic Press
Trade paper, $23.95
Nonfiction, environment, water recycling, biography
Pages: 232



Mark Nelson (Santa Fe, NM)

Eco-system engineer and researcher

Chairman and CEO of the Institute of Ecotechnics

Author of The Wastewater Gardener

Mark Nelson’s webpage


Elena Meredith | | 512-481-7096 | Twitter: @prbythebook



  • Expert in wastewater reuse and recycling using Wastewater Gardens®, subsurface-flow constructed wetlands.
  • Has worked for several decades in closed ecological system research, ecological engineering, the restoration of damaged ecosystems, desert agriculture and orchards and wastewater recycling.
  • The proposed 2015 budget of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a $300 million reduction from the 2014 budget of $8.2 billion. The biggest cut? $581 million from a fund that helps states build wastewater and drinking water projects.
  • Chairman and CEO, and a founding director, of the Institute of Ecotechnics (, a U.K. non-profit organization consulting on several demonstration projects working in challenging biomes around the world.
  • Vice Chairman of Global Ecotechnics Corp.
  • Dr. Nelson was a member of the eight-person crew inside Biosphere 2, the 3.15 acre materially-closed facility near Tucson, Arizona, during the first two-year closure experiment (1991-1993).
  • Holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering Sciences from the University of Florida; an M.S. from the School of Renewable Natural Resources, University of Arizona; and a B.A. in Philosophy/Pre-Med Sciences from Dartmouth College.
  • His Wastewater Gardens projects have taken him to the coast of Yucatan, Mexico; the high desert grassland south of Santa Fe, New Mexico; the semi-arid tropical savannah of West Australia; the resorts of Bali; and most recently, the deserts of Iraq.
  • Author of The Wastewater Gardener and co-author of Life Under Glass and Space Biospheres.


  • Wastewater recycling
  • Restoring ecosystems
  • Constructed wetlands
  • Agriculture
  • Composting
  • Space biospheres

The Wastewater Gardener takes a global look at how we are misusing one of the world’s most valuable resources: human waste. Dr. Mark Nelson, who has worked for several decades in closed ecological system research, says that not only are we wasting a free, natural fertilizer, we’re polluting our dwindling supply of fresh water. In the book, Nelson offers a brief history of how we got into this “shitty” mess—and proposes a way to get out of it.

Up until the beginning of the twentieth century, human feces were regarded as a resource—fertilizer, medicine, face cosmetic—not as waste to be disposed. Now, in our “modern, civilized” society, indoor plumbing has changed that. Dr. Nelson says, “While some praise indoor plumbing and the flush toilet as sterling achievements, for others, it is the height of insanity to use drinking water to dispose of human waste and then wash it away into large bodies of water, spreading the potential for pollution of all Earth’s water bodies.”

What is the solution to keeping waste out of our drinking water? Wastewater Gardens—constructed wetlands that act like a “kidney” to treat effluent and purify all water, using only plants, microbes, sunlight and gravity.

Dr. Nelson began a life-long love affair with constructed wetlands while managing the sewage system of Biosphere 2, the most notable biological experiment of the 20th century. Since then, Dr. Nelson has constructed wastewater gardens all over the world—from the Yucatan to the Bahamas, from the Philippines to France, from Morocco to New Mexico and Australia. He is currently working on projects in Bali and Iraq.

In the book, Dr. Nelson offers large-scale ideas for what he calls managing the “Fecesphere” as well as tips for individuals wanting to conserve water (composting toilets, low-water use appliances). He also asks readers to consider a simple idea each time they visit the loo: the travel itinerary of waste. Because, as he says, “We change the world one small step at a time, one flush at a time.”


  • The Wastewater Gardener: the nitty-gritty of Dr. Nelson’s work constructing wetlands from Bali to Mexico.
  • The Taboo of Poo: A Brief History of How Waste Went From Fertilizer to Pollution
  • Change the World, One Flush at a Time! What you can do
  • Composting Toilets: An Eco-Friendly Alternative
  • Travelin’ Man: On the Scent of Solutions Around the World—from West Australia to Iraq.
  • Crap Politics: The EPA’s budget cut of $581 million from a fund that helps states build wastewater and drinking water projects
  • My Two Years as a Manager of a Small, Recycling World: Mark’s experience in Biosphere 2

Return to experts page

Are You Ready To Go From Author To Influencer?

Schedule your free assessment call now!