Most of urban India is dependent on onsite systems like septic tanks and pits for the disposal of septage. The number of such systems is only going to increase as India moves towards achieving the ambitious, country-wide goal of putting an end to open defecation. But in many onsite systems, limited attention has been accorded to proper construction, operation and maintenance, and the management of septage generated. Despite Environment Protection Act, 1986 forbidding disposal of waste into water bodies, septage is dumped anywhere and everywhere, polluting water sources (both groundwater and surface-water), leading to severe health implications. It is recognized that septage management is essential to achieve citywide sanitation, as more than 70 per cent urban population in India is dependent on onsite sanitation systems (OSS). There is also enough evidence that conventional systems cost a lot of money and water.
This guide to septage management is meant to assist practitioners involved in the sanitation sector as well as urban designing and planning. The purpose of the guide is to explore the steps involved in managing septage throughout the sanitation chain (containment, emptying, transportation, treatment and enduse or disposal) and to demonstrate how septage management can be applied in cities.
The guide explains all stages of the sanitation chain for urban centres dependent on OSS by discussing the current scenario in India for each stage. It describes innovative tools that can be used to assess and plan for improving each stage. It explains the calculations through an example city (wherever possible) and showcases best management practices through case studies (international and national) throughout the guide.
Septage management is not just managing faecal sludge from septic tanks but also pits existing in urban centres. Moreover, this guide recognizes that just managing the sludge component would be an incomplete solution to the sanitation challenges rapidly growing urban centres face. Therefore, it is essential that the liquid component, or effluent, from these onsite systems is also managed, and end use of treated water is promoted to reduce freshwater demand. The approach used in this guide conforms with 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include clean water, sanitation and sustainable cities with community involvement as major priorities. In a nutshell, this guide intends to assist practitioners manage septage as a resource, by integrating it into city sanitation planning