Field testing of a household-scale onsite blackwater treatment system in South Africa.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Innovations that enable cost-effective and resource-conserving treatment of human waste are required for the 4.2 billion people in the world who currently lack safe and reliable sanitation services. Onsite treatment and reuse of blackwater is one strategy towards this end, greatly reducing the need to transport wastewater over long distances either via sewers or trucks. Here, we report on the field testing of a prototype onsite blackwater treatment system conducted over a period of 8 months. The system was connected to a women's toilet in a public communal ablution block located in an informal settlement near Durban, South Africa. Liquid waste was treated by separation and diversion of large solids, settling of suspended solids, and filtration through activated carbon prior to disinfection by electrochemical oxidation. System performance was monitored daily by measurement of chemical and physical water quality parameters onsite and confirmed by periodic detailed analysis of chemical and biological parameters at an offsite lab. Daily monitoring of system performance indicated that the effluent had minimal color and turbidity (maximum 90 Pt/Co units and 6.48 NTU, respectively), and consistent evolution of chlorine as blackwater passed through the system. Weekly offsite analysis confirmed that the system consistently inactivated pathogens (E. coli and coliforms) and reduced chemical oxygen demand and total suspended solids to meet ISO 30500 category B standards. Significant reductions in total nitrogen load were also observed, though these reductions often fell short of the 70% reduction required by ISO 30500. No significant reduction in total phosphorus was observed. Maintenance requirements were identified, and the resilience of the system to restart following a prolonged shutdown was demonstrated, but significant improvements are required in the design of the solid/liquid separation mechanism for application of this system in a wiping culture.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Sahondo, T; Hennessy, S; Sindall, RC; Chaudhari, H; Teleski, S; Lynch, BJ; Sellgren, KL; Stoner, BR; Grego, S; Hawkins, BT

Published Date

  • February 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 703 /

Start / End Page

  • 135469 -

PubMed ID

  • 31732183

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC6947494

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1879-1026

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0048-9697

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.135469


  • eng