Mobile Septage Treatment Unit unveiled

Addressing several barriers to achieving safely managed septic waste, WASH Institute has designed and developed a mobile septage treatment unit that was demonstrated amidst a gathering of sanitation professionals at the national capital on September 16, 2022.

The unit on wheels takes care of emptying, transportation and treatment of faecal sludge – which are essential steps in the sanitation value chain.

Among those who witnessed the working of the mobile treatment unit (MTU) were Secretary-DDWS, Smt. Vini Mahajan, WASH Chief-UNICEF, Ms. Marije Broekhuijsen, WASH specialist-UNICEF, Shri Sujoy Mojumdar, Executive Director-WASH Institute, Shri Arumugam Kalimuthu, sanitation specialists and others from the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS), Ministry of Jal Shakti.

Designed to treat the contents of a septic tank at household site itself, the unit on wheels that is mounted on a small medium truck first separates solid and liquids, treats the liquid on the spot, allowing for the thickened sludge to be carried for secondary treatment.  The operational capacity of the unit is 6000 litres per hour.

Process:  The process involves the separation of solid and liquids, sludge thickening through centrifuge and liquid treatment by way of membrane filtration.  While the thickened solid is taken for secondary treatment, the treated effluent is safe for disposal on site itself and can be used for secondary purposes such as gardening, etc.

Advantages:  Given that most of the villages and small towns do not have treatment facilities such as Faecal Sludge Treatment Plants (FSTPs) or Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs), the unit mounted on wheels can be an apt option for emptying and treatment of septage.  Further, with low operational costs, its treated effluents which meet the national and international norms can be used for secondary purposes such as gardening.  The system keeps the environment clean owing to the elimination of indiscriminate disposal and dumping of septage.  Also, the high flow rate of the MTU allows for the emptying and treatment of more septic tanks in a day.

Tested and validated:  The system has been validated by Duke University (US); RTI International (US) and BITS Piliani (Goa).  Thus far, the MTU has emptied 724 septic tanks and treated over 38.7 lakh litres of septage in different geographies across the country.

MTU during an emergency:  During the Kerala floods in 2018, WASH Institute in close partnership with UNICEF deployed four MTUs in the severely affected districts of Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta, Thrissur and Ernakulam.  The MTUs treated a total of 9,18,222 litres of septage from septic tanks in 156 locations across 60 camps, receiving accolades from the Kerala government.

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