Posts Tagged ‘sanitation’

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On the need for professional plumbing courses in India

October 3, 2013

The crisis of plumbing, where are the skilled plumbers?

 

Everyday miracles occur in our homes and apartments daily and yet we are oblivious to it. You open the tap in the kitchen sink and fresh clean water flows from it to wash the vegetables for cooking. You go and use the toilet and the flush takes away the waste from your sight cleanly and into a vast underground network of pipes which hopefully will then clean it up in a sewage treatment plant somewhere at the end of it. If anything distinguishes a civilized world from a less civilized one, it is plumbing. The provision of treated piped water inside homes and the taking away of waste-water has been the single largest lifesaver ever, decreasing mortality , increasing life span , reducing morbidity and improving quality of life overall. The great cities of the world are those which have built water supply networks bringing potable water home and underground sewers capable of handling all wastes including for a growing population. The invention of the flush toilet, which many regard as one of the world’s greatest inventions, also called for skilled plumbers to connect them to the sewage systems emerging.

From the days of Harappa and Lothal circa 2500 B.C.E or thereabouts, when the cities had a good sewerage and drainage system, to the current day’s plumbers seem to be a non-formal, ‘learn on the job as you apprentice’ trade. Great cities were built in the past and disappeared into the mists of history. Presently a construction boom grips our cities and yet one of the most crucial jobs that of providing water remains in the hands of a trade where there is no formal training institution and which has not professionalized itself. The most expensive fittings in the market for taps , showers , baths and flushes are put in place by untrained hands.

While it is true that skills not necessarily have to be learnt in formal institutions yet that there is no single poly-technic which teaches plumbing as a formal course to those wanting to enter the job market looks like a missed opportunity for the construction sector. There is also a great need to improve the skills of those who are already in the trade and who would want to take their income earning opportunities to the next level , perhaps even as as contractors or entrepreneurs.

Skill training for plumbers will improve the efficiency of design of buildings, improve water and sanitation handling abilities, ensure fire-safety and ensure the increased life of buildings since leaking water and sanitation lines are one of the biggest culprits for the reduction of life of buildings. Leaking pipes cause fungus and mold to develop and directly impact the health of the occupants. Blockages of pipes and sewers are a nuisance taking tremendous efforts to repair once a problem occurs.

Meanwhile Babu goes about his work in putting in place a new plumbing system for the house recently expanded and a first floor built. He has been in the trade for 13 years. He uses the crudest of methods to heat and join pipes. He has no idea on say putting a siphon type rainwater drain-out pipe which can reduce the diameter of the pipe and thus reduce cost for the owner. He has no clue on how to build a rainwater harvesting system which can collect at least 100,000 litres of rainwater for the building annually. The joints of the drainage pipe are reasonably well done but he has no idea how to have a dual pipe system which can reuse grey-water from the building and recycle it. The building owner and the contractor trust him completely and therefore are condemned to a sub-optimal design for the rest of the life of the building.

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Needed-Training institutions and skill up-gradation courses for plumbers

The Indian Plumbing Association, a newly formed body, has brought out its own code for plumbing including a Green Plumbers Code. It is valiantly trying to bridge the skill up-gradation and capacity building gap. They need the assistance of many a poly-technic and the skill up-gradation council of India to develop and deliver a special course to bring trained plumbers into the market. The construction sector will only benefit from such an effort as well as employment opportunities for the young in a trade which is life saving and very important. Water wisdom demands that society invest in skilled plumbers. That time is now.

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On the Twin Leach Pit pour flush toilet -TPPF

September 28, 2013

Of all the countries grappling with a sanitation problem India tops the list. The number of households without access to a toilet and defecating in the open is nearly a staggering 50 % of the total households in India according to the census of 2011. Even where there is a toilet many simply discharge into the open drains and do not ensure safe disposal. An economic loss of 6.4 % of the GDP amounting to a staggering 53.8 billion US dollars annually was one estimate by the World Bank in 2006 for India. Another recent study establishes a distinct link between open defecation and stunting of growth in children having far reaching implications for a young population.

 It is therefore time to revisit a technology more or less developed and fine tuned in India decades ago and which still continues to be extremely relevant for the sanitation sector. This is the Twin pit pour flush toilet – TPPF- to professionals in the sector.

 

The whole toilet users world is divided into sitters and squatters.

Then therImagee are wipers and washers. The Indian populace is largely squatters and washers. Keeping this factor in mind the TPPF has been designed. It makes use of an Indian squatting pan with a steep slope that uses just 2-3 litres of water to flush and clean. It has a trap with a water seal, usually a minimum of 20 mm. This constant presence of water in the seal ensures that there is no foul smell that comes back into the toilet and that no insects or cockroaches come into the toilet. A 75 mm diameter to 90 mm diameter pipe then takes the washed material to an inspection chamber. Here a diversion trap is made wherein at a time one pipe is opened.

These pipes lead to twin pits which are generally honeycombed. A typical pit would be about 1 metre in diameter and about 1 .5 metre in depth with a solid cover on top. The washed material from the toilet ends up in one pit at a time. A pit takes about one year to fill. Once one pit is full at the diversion chamber the pipeline to this pit is blocked and the other pipe is opened to allow the second pit to fill. The distance between the pits is usually at least a minimum of the depth of one pit i.e. about 1.5 mt. This of course depends on the space available.

While it takes one year for the second pit to fill in the meantime through process of bacterial action the first pit is sanitized for most bacteria, virus and worms. This can then be emptied usually using mechanical evacuation methods such as that of the vacuum trucks called Honeysuckers. The emptied material especially in rural areas can be further composted and used as an excellent fertilizer by farmers.

The superstructure of the TPPF can be permanently done with brick or concrete blocks and a roof of sheet or RCC. In other places they can also be temporary with just privacy ensured for use. Typically a TPPF toilet should cost around Rs 10,000 in most places in India.

Water should be made available only in small buckets of 3 litres for ablutions as well as for pour flushing. This will ensure that excess water is not poured into the pit.

Pits can be designed in high water table areas with a concrete bed and with a 50 cm sand cushion all around. The pits should also be a minimum distance of 8 metres from a water source such as a well or a Borewell. Pits can also be lined with charcoal and limestone to further improve performance and remove pollutants.

Experience has shown that a well designed TPPF can provide safe sanitation and containment of excreta and over the life cycle it can also be much safer than toilets connected to underground sewage treatments with no treatment plants which end up contaminating and polluting water bodies such as rivers and lakes.

In urban areas for those without access to sanitation such as construction workers and in rural areas where open defecation is the norm the TPPF should be pursued and made mandatory for all to use, Skills in its construction also can be developed rather easily .

It is time we revisited this sanitation technology seriously and managed it in a safe manner so that all of India becomes open defecation free, safe sanitation is practiced and the health benefits accrue to all especially the young generation.

In safe sanitation lies water wisdom. 

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Building bye-laws and sanitation in urban india

September 16, 2013

Summary:

1. Building bye-laws should recognize and insist on the provision of a rainwater harvesting recharge well within the site.

2. Building bye-laws should also recognize that non-sewered areas will have to make provision for two concrete ring lined pits for sanitation waste. One pit for black water and one pit for grey water. These can be mechanically emptied using vacuum trucks. The pits too should be located within the site of the building and not be allowed to discharge into storm water drains for public safety, health and hygiene.

 

Building bye-laws help regulate and maintain a certain discipline regarding the management of water and waste-water in urban areas apart from their role as a major urban planning tool.

Some of the good things they do are for example the insistence on identifying a toilet of a minimum dimension in any house construction before approval .In the Bangalore context rainwater harvesting is made mandatory and the building approval plan to be submitted has to show the recharge structure that is to be implemented.

It is surprising therefore that they miss out on some basics and do not refine the old. Take the rainwater harvesting detail that the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike insists on. This is how the design looks like, a recharge pit filled with crushed stone and sand with a splash pad on top.

 

 

 In the days were sand dredging or mining has caused devastation to rivers and soil why insist on an archaic design that uses sand and gravel inside it? The design by the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) is much better, a recharge well with no sand inside it. It works perfectly well and in fact, if the hydro-geology favours, a recharge well can easily become a withdrawal well. This building bye-law for a recharge well instead of a sand filled pit can easily be made mandatory for all the towns in Karnataka.

 

Sanitation: While building plans sent for approval have to show toilets, unfortunately there is no insistence on clearly indicating how the waste is to be disposed. While larger buildings and apartments have Sewage Treatment Plants made mandatory, the smaller ones do not have to show any system of appropriate waste disposal. Since septic tanks are costly precast concrete ring pits are used commonly as they cheap and easy to install. Unfortunately most buildings make only a single large pit located outside the house on the pavement or even sometimes the roads. This makes it very difficult for future road works or for water supply and sewage lines to be placed when infrastructure finally arrives in that area.

To remedy this situation the building bye-laws should insist that each building have two pits for sanitary waste disposal. One of the pits should be for the toilets and one for the grey water. The pits can have a small PVC pipe fit to the covering lid to enable emptying using the vacuum trucks called Honey-suckers. The pits should accessible and located appropriately to the front or to the side of the building.

 This one insistence in the bye-law can eliminate the scourge of manual scavenging, clean up the storm water drains and improve the hygiene of our small towns dramatically reducing the disease burden.

It is time for building bye-laws to recognize reality and become water wise.

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On the Indian rural sanitation conundrum

June 11, 2013

A massive drive has been launched to cover the nation with the worlds largest open defecators and provide toilets.

Here is a glimpse of the effort people are putting in and what they fell about toilets

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpFuS9FUwsY

and

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOcoF_NUcso

In the second case a determined drive by an IAS officer called Manjula who was the then DC of Bangalore Rural District , persuaded recalcitrant elected reps and govt officials at the Gram Panchayat and village level to talk to people and persuade them to build toilets. People by and large put in the effort and built toilets and sometimes bathrooms too putting in their own money.

In the first case , though toilets have been built they are not used since people prefer the great outdoors.

On the other hand efforts are being made to build Ecosan toilets so that farmers too can benefit from the toilets .

Ecosan explanation

 

and

Ecosan

 

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Innovation is alive and kicking in sanitation

June 8, 2013

It is not only Bill and Melinda who are funding innovation in the toilet business :).

When millions of people all across India start to build toilets in rural areas and in small towns they do not have a sewerage system to connect to. They usually build a single pit lined with concrete rings and connect the toilet to it. In India the toilets too are pour flush toilets and not the dry toilets prevalent across much of Africa.

Eventually these pits do fill up, depending on many factors such as the depth of the toilet pit , the number of users, their diet , the soils ability to infiltrate water etc etc.

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The pan for an Indian toilet – this has a water seal too

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A single pit toilet lined with pre-cast concrete rings

Eventually they will fill up

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Jugaad to the rescue – These tablets if placed in a full pit will ‘burn’ it and reduce the filling making it possible to use the pit for more time

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These are called ‘pit medicine’ in Kannada and are available across many small towns. Each set costs Rs 50 ( 1 US $) and is a single time use.

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Taa-daah …Honey-sucker to the rescue. Will empty the pit toilet in minutes.

Now imagine a set of tablets which can also sterilize the pit content and kill all pathogens . The pit sludge can then be easily removed using the ‘Honey-sucker ‘ and spread out on the fields in the rural areas and in the small towns to act as fertilizer for the crops.

..and oh by the way , one of the fastest growing business around small towns and villages is in these pre-cast concrete ring making. All you need is an empty site , a steel mould for pouring the concrete , some cement and GI wires /streel rods and you are in business. As there is a huge government push for sanitation demand is picking up in villages for these rings for the toilet pit

The concrete ring makers

                            All over South India , in small towns and large villages, concrete    rings for pit toilets are being made

This is what we will be working at in the near future.

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From China

April 28, 2013

http://worldvoices.pen.org/nonfiction/public-toilet-manager

 

A brilliant, brilliant piece.

 

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Managing the periphery – Water and sanitation design for Bangalore

November 25, 2012

zenrainman@gmail.com

The peripheral areas of cities are seeing an unprecedented growth and Bangalore is no exception. Land use is changing from agricultural to non-agriculture use and sites are being developed in ‘layouts’ all across. While infrastructure like roads and electricity can and will eventually reach the layouts the case of water and sanitation infrastructure is more difficult.

The Bangalore Metropolitan Regional Development Authority assisted by 11 Local Planning Authorities is the planning approval authority for over 8000 square km. of area around the city of Bangalore.

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Since no more water is likely to be pumped from the Cauvery River with the completion of the Phase IV Stage 2 it is groundwater that most of the peripheral development must depend on. Ground water is however getting increasingly overused in the surrounding semi-arid areas of the city where the rainfall is 700 mm on an average.

How can the authority make sure that the people who move in to these developments have water and sanitation in the future?  One good way to begin is to get the layout  developer do a yield test for the bore-wells dug or available on site. If this is done in summer it is likely to give a better understanding of reliable yield for the entire layout. A quality test of the bore-well waters would also establish potability or otherwise. Water treatment plants may become necessary if the water is hard or contaminated. This should be basic information with the authority as well as what potential buyers of sites or buildings should demand from the developer.

No individual bore-well should be permitted to be drilled and only common use of groundwater under metered and tariff conditions should be encouraged in the layouts.

While rainwater harvesting is insisted upon by the entire local planning authorities a more detailed implementation and design would help both the authority and the consumer. For example it should be made conditional that all homes and flats have rainwater harvesting structures to store or recharge 60 mm of rainfall .

It should also be made conditional that all storm-water falling on non private plot area is completely recharged in to the ground. The recharge structures should be site specific and should be based on infiltration and recharge data from each site. Only in case where recharge is not possible should storage and reuse be permitted. In any case each layout should be designed as a zero run off area for rainwater.

However all conditions imposed should be easily implementable, should bring tangible benefits to the occupiers, should be easy to monitor and should have clear ownership so that it is maintained in the long run and is therefore sustainable.

At the macro-level, the BMRDA would be better off generating a detailed micro-watershed map of the area under its jurisdiction. It should then be able to push for the maintenance of these tanks and other water bodies plus their inter-connectedness through adequate policy, legislative and fiscal incentives.

The BMRDA should also map the aquifers and detailed sub-aquifer maps overlapping with the micro-watershed maps should be generated so that groundwater situation is better understood and managed with the development that will take place inevitably in the megalopolis area.

Sanitation: The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board insists on a sewage treatment plant for each development in the BMRDA zone. While this is motivated with a need to prevent water pollution and to add to reuse and recycling of water, the practical aspects of what happens to these treatment plants and who maintains them should be studied. Resident Welfare Associations and Flat owner associations find it difficult to maintain these units. As units or houses are built incrementally, it is difficult for the treatment plants to become fully functional until occupancy is at least 50 % and above.

As a matter of choice individual on-plot sanitation systems like septic tanks and baffled reactors with the right design should be permitted. These have the benefits of being maintained by individual owners and also they demand much less water than piped sewerage. A dual system of grey-water disposal and back water disposal on plot should be permitted.

While on-plot sanitation systems can be maintained with as low as 70 lpcd of water, piped sewerage will demand at least 135 litres per person per day especially for self cleansing velocity requirements.

The sustainable management of water and sanitation outside the BWSSB influence zone is a challenge. The BMRDA has to think wisely and move ahead quickly so as to avert a serious water shortfall situation.

This would be water wisdom for a city.

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With a little bit of help-rainwater harvesting is a community effort -Kannada

February 4, 2008

Neighbour’s plunge in to help place the stone slab covers for the rainwater tank in a house in the village Arjunabetahalli near Bangalore. With a little bit of help from friends systems work better and additional water is available for household use.
Kavya, all of 8, is fascinated by the operations as much as the camera. She however lets the cameraman know that a ‘Totti’ (tank) is being built to collect rainwater. She also know that the first rain separator allows the initial dirty water from the roof to flow out. The clean rainwater collected can be used for washing clothes, for animals to drink and other such uses.
The stone slabs being placed are a local slate called Cuddapah stone after the place here it is prevalent. This is the cheapest covering available though heavy. Once placed on top, the gaps between two pieces of stone are sealed with mud mortar to prevent mosquito breeding.
Late evening gives the film a Bergmanesque touch :):).

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Eco-san technology transfer- the people who make it happen

February 1, 2008

These are the new eco-warriors – the toilet man Sharad Nayak – explains an arch panel roof

and how he hopes to fly with his new weapon, an eco-san pan , to Madhya Pradesh to change the defecation

habits of people :):) there

Ecosan uses less water, prevents pollution of ground wter and converts human waste to a resource. It is youngsters with the skill set and the interest levels like Sharad who are part of India’s movement for sanitation. The Rainwater Club is prou of its latest honorary member Sharad Nayak.

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Water,literacy and the girl child

January 31, 2008

In Arjunabettahalli of Nelamangala and about 40 km from Bangalore little Vinutha, all of 10 and studying in the 5th standard answers questions on water and rainwater harvesting. She emphasizes that water is a limited natural resource (Parimita sampanamoola in Kannada and in her own beautiful words) and therefore should be used carefully. She also has been studying about rainwater harvesting in school and now sees one being built in her house. Every day she and her mother spend half an hour to 2 hours in bringing water to the house.

When questioned she is perplexed as to why the boys in the family do not do this work. Harvesting rain helps the girl child from hauling water during the rainy days at least. Ultimately gender equality will alone answer the burden put on little girls. (less)

Can a state level survey be done asking 9 to 12 year old girl children their relationship with water and sanitation?

Can we then take the results of the survey to policy makers and institutions as the girl childs voice on water and sanitation?

We can do this at 2 places – The house and the school. Questions can elicit information an arm her with knowledge on many things such as

1. Who is responsible for bringing water to the house hold ?

A survey in 1990 by IMRB suggested that nearly 68% of the water collection in households was done by women.

4% of this was by the girl child younger than 15 years.

2.What is the source of the drinking water?

Dug wells were a pre dominant source yet there was no programme for protecting the dug well and ensuring its sustainability through recharge

3. How far is it from your house?

4.How much time does it take to bring the water?

To collect approx 192 litres per family per day it took 1.2 to 3.5 hours daily

5.How many trips do you make in a day?

6. Where do you store the water brought to your house?

7. Where does the waste water from your house go?

8.Do you have a toilet in your house?

9.Who takes care of the cleanliness of the toilet?

10. Do the boys/men in the house help with water in the house?

11. Do you have sheep/goat/cows in your family?

12.How do they get water to drink? Who takes them to the water? Who brings water for them? How much water?

SCHOOLS

1.Does your school have a water source?

2.Do you take water to school from home?

3.Does your school have a toilet?

4.Do you use the toilet in the school?

5.Who keeps the toilet clean in school?

PERSONAL HYGIENE

1.How often do you have a bath?

2.Do you use soap to wash your hands ?

3.How often do you wash your clothes?

4.How often do you change your clothes?

5.Do you have a water borne disease or have you had one in the last week?

Diarhoea /skin disease

6.Have you had malaria/chikungunya/dengue in the last one year?

Lakshmi here for example has understood the benefit of rainwater harvesting to combat fluorosis. Can this knowledge be translated to all the women in the more than 5400 habitations with excess fluoride.?

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