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Treating faecal sludge along with sewage in Sewage Treatment Plants is important for public health and for the environment, experts at the Tamil Nadu Urban Sanitation Support Programme said
Co-treatment — treating faecal sludge along with sewage in Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) — is important for public health and for the environment. The need to create awareness on the full cycle of sanitation and expanding co-treatment to more STPs in the State is being emphasised by the Tamil Nadu Urban Sanitation Support Programme (TNUSSP).
TNUSSP carried out a social media campaign focussing on the importance of co-treatment for public health and the environment. K.V. Santhosh Ragavan, co-team leader, TNUSSP, said sanitation was a neglected sector, and it was important to create awareness on full cycle of sanitation when the world is facing a pandemic.
“Unsafe disposal of septage affects public health and the environment. Poor sanitation is linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea and hepatitis,” he said. Around 75% of Tamil Nadu’s population is dependent on on-site sanitation systems (OSS) for which treatment facilities are limited.
The State government, through the operative guidelines for septage management for local bodies in Tamil Nadu, had planned co-treatment of faecal sludge from OSS along with sewage in STPs in 2014. The Technical Support Unit led by the Indian Institute for Human Settlements set up as a part of TNUSSP has been supporting the government to evaluate and upscale the functioning of STPs for co-treatment.
He added that co-treatment required low investment, and involved only upgradation or modification of existing facilities to receive septage. In Tamil Nadu, 50-plus STPs have surplus capacity and this represented an opportunity for co-treatment, he said.
He said that there are a total of 63 STPs in the State of which 14 have co-treatment. “Using existing facilities, quick and cost-effective treatment of faecal sludge improves public health and protects the environment,” he stated.
According to TNUSSP, the success of co-treatment depends on the functioning of the entire sanitation cycle from desludging at households to transportation, treatment and disposal of faecal sludge at decanting facility.