Over the past few years on-site sanitation has been widely promoted as a solution which can be quickly implemented to address sanitation issues, and it is gaining traction. As such, treatment of the contents emptied from on-site containments has become a pressing issue. While dedicated treatment facilities for this purpose have been advocated, co-treating these wastes in sewage treatment facilities is a promising option, which many countries have implemented or are exploring. This option maximises the utilisation of city infrastructure. In cases where the existing sewage treatment facilities are underutilised, co-treatment presents a ready solution for managing fecal sludge and septage.
In spite of co-treatment being a well-known practice in many countries, it remains clouded in uncertainty, especially regarding the technical advisability, and potential risks of co-treating fecal sludge or septage in sewage treatment plants. Planners and decision-makers are often very apprehensive in considering co-treatment. As a result, the opportunity to better utilise available infrastructure for co-treatment of sludge is often being missed. Meanwhile, there are also many cases where co-treatment has been tried, either successfully or otherwise, but it has not been possible to draw conclusions from these, to guide the way forward.
This guide book explores some of the basic principles behind sewage treatment, and how it may be impacted by co-treatment of wastes from on-site containments, to try to throw some light on how co-treatment could be considered, in an incremental manner, recognising risks and mitigating them. It is intended to facilitate a better understanding among planners, engineers, decision makers and technical practitioners and to help them evaluate and consider the option of co-treatment.
Five worksheets are available for download here.