Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Institute

Sustainable Treatment of Faecal Sludge and Septage in 485 Towns/Cities

Lead Organization

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Institute

Kodaikanal, State of Tamil Nadu, India


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Project Summary

Untreated Faecal Sludge and Septage from cities is the single biggest source of water resource pollution in India. Only 32.7% of urban households are connected with sewerage connections (Census 2011), while the rest depend on On-Site Sanitation (OSS). As most of the cities and towns do not have treatment facilities, the septage from the OSS is dumped indiscriminately in open environments and water bodies, causing enormous health and environmental hazards.We will address this problem by co-treating the faecal sludge with underutilised Sewage Treatment Plants (STP), applying decentralised solution like Faecal Sludge Treatment Plants (FSTPs) and innovative technology such as Mobile septage Treatment Unit (MTU).Indiscriminate dumping of faecal sludge causes faecal contamination, especially in water bodies. This affects the health of people, especially marginalised communities. Addressing this problem would result in lowering the health costs of these communities, thereby improving their productivity and standard of living.

Problem Statement

Faecal Sludge extracted from On-Site Sanitation (OSS) systems (such as Septic Tank and Pit Latrine) is dumped without treatment into open environments and water bodies causing severe environmental and health hazards. Although people from all sections of the society are affected by this problem, vulnerable and marginalised communities are most severely affected. In India, there are over 7400 towns/cities, however, the number of Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) (both existing and under construction) is less than 1300 and these facilities are concentrated in few selected cities. Even after decades of Independence, India is able to provide sewerage connection to only 32.7% of households. This is mainly due to the high capital and operational costs of STPs. As treatment facilities are minimal or non-existent in most of the towns/cities, the majority of households depend on OSS . With the fast pace of urbanisation, the number of OSS systems is likely to increase, thereby further aggravating the situation. The most influential ways to effect change are:•Promote treatment of Faecal Sludge from OSS systems at the underutilised STPs by adding a solid-liquid separation unit (Co-treatment).•Adopt decentralised treatment systems such as Faecal Sludge Treatment Plants (FSTPs) which have low capital and operational costs in comparison to centralised systems like STPs.•Use innovative technologies such as Mobile septage Treatment Unit (MTU) to empty and treat the Faecal Sludge / Septage on-site.•Partner with the Government and other stakeholders to implement and scale the above technological options to create a wider impact.

Solution Overview

Broadly, our solutions will fall under three categories viz:•Co-treatment of Faecal Sludge at existing Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs)•Faecal Sludge Treatment Plants (FSTPs)•On-site Mobile septage Treatment Unit (MTU)The above mentioned solutions are cost effective and viable technological options for safe management of septage from On-Site Sanitation (OSS) systems. The solutions to be implemented under this project would not only help to manage the treatment of Faecal Sludge and Septage from OSS in the targeted Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in five states (Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala), but also serve as a model for other Indian states and cities to replicate.The quantum of Faecal Sludge and Septage that is treated in the created facilities rather than being dumped indiscriminately will be an indicator of progress.Co-treatment will be introduced in 105 towns/cities with populations ranging from 75,000 to 150,000FSTPs will be constructed in 130 towns/cities with populations ranging from 25,000 to 50,000.MTUs will be deployed in 250 towns/cities with populations less than 25,000 where there is no feasibility of constructing STP or FSTP.The above solutions are expected to intensely and directly impact around 20 million people living in 485 targeted towns/cities across the above mentioned five States of India. Additionally, the proposed interventions will act as a successful model for the remaining Indian States to follow.The beneficiaries include the populations of the targeted towns/cities, sanitation workers, cess-pool operators and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) / City Administration.

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