In Nelson Hernandez's interesting story on privies [Metro, Nov. 17], environmental scientist Kent Mountford is quoted as saying, "The dirty secret there [at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Education Center] is that the staff . . . uses real toilets, and guests use the composting [toilet]."

Mountford, who is familiar with our centers and our headquarters at the Philip Merrill Environmental Center in Annapolis, speaks from experience. But what he is quoted as saying is inaccurate and paints a misleading picture. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation owns five education centers and one headquarters building; three of them have only composting toilets, two have both conventional and composting, and one has only conventional. Here is the poop on each.

The CBF's headquarters building in Annapolis, where 90 staff members work, has nothing but composting toilets. Believe me, we use them, as do all those who visit and attend conferences there. The Meredith Creek Center in Maryland and Virginia's Fox Island Center have only composting toilets. Both are among the CBF's oldest centers.

The Karen Noonan Environmental Center on Maryland's Eastern Shore has both flush toilets and composting toilets. The house where the center manager lives, built in the early 20th century, has a conventional john. Because of design limitations the CBF could not retrofit a composting toilet, so it installed among the first aerobic-anaerobic de-nitrifying septic systems in Maryland. The education center itself has only composting toilets. All the center's guests and the staff use those.

At Port Isobel Island, near Tangier, Va., the William Baker Environmental Center and the dormitory, both remodeled by the CBF, have only composting toilets. The program manager and most of the visiting school students and conference participants live in the dormitory and use the composting toilets there. Four other buildings have the necessary facilities; all of them built before the CBF owned the property. A Wisconsin sand mound septic system, one of the first in Virginia, treats their wastewater.

At Smith Island, the CBF's two education center houses are in the middle of the village of Tylerton, Md. Neither could be retrofitted with composting toilets and both are hooked up to the town's sewage treatment system. There, staff, students and visitors alike use the flushable invention of Thomas Crapper.

My point is this: The CBF doesn't have a "dirty secret" when it comes to its temples of ease. They are clean and very public.

-- Michael L. Shultz

The writer is vice president for public affairs at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.