Field testing of a household-scale onsite blackwater treatment system in Coimbatore, India

TitleField testing of a household-scale onsite blackwater treatment system in Coimbatore, India
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsClaire M. Welling, Sarani Sasidaran, Prateek Kachoria, Sarah Hennessy, Brendon J. Lynch, Stephanie Teleski, Hitendra Chaudhari, Katelyn L. Sellgren, Brian R. Stoner, Sonia Grego, and Brian T. Hawkins
JournalScience of The Total Environment
Date PublishedJan-01-2020
Keywordsblackwater reuse, onsite sanitation, Tamil Nadu, User testing, WASH

4.2 billion people live without access to safely managed sanitation services. This report describes the field testing of an onsite prototype system designed to treat blackwater from a single flush toilet and reuse of the treated effluent for flushing. The system passes wastewater through a solid-liquid separator followed by settling tanks and granular activated carbon columns into an electrochemical reactor that oxidizes chloride salts from urine to generate chlorine to remove pathogens. The objectives of the study were to verify the functionality of the system (previously demonstrated in the laboratory) under realistic use conditions, to identify maintenance requirements, and to make a preliminary assessment of the system's user acceptability. The prototype was installed in a women's workplace and residential toilet block in Coimbatore, India, and tested over a period of 10 months. The treated water met stringent disinfection threshold for both E. coli and helminth eggs and produced a clear, colorless effluent that met or nearly met local and international discharge standards for non-sewered sanitation systems. The effluent had an average chemical oxygen demand of 81 mg/L, total suspended solids of 11 mg/L, and reduction of total nitrogen by 65%. These tests determined the recommended service lifetimes and maintenance intervals for key system components including the electrochemical cell, granular activated carbon columns, and solid-liquid separator. User feedback regarding the use of treated blackwater as flush water was positive. These findings will inform the design and implementation of next-generation systems currently under development.

Short TitleScience of The Total Environment