The Impact of Pit Latrines on Groundwater Quality

  • RickJohnston
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Re: The Impact of Pit Latrines on Groundwater Quality

Dear all:

The British Geological Survey published a useful manual on this topic about 10 years ago, under the project Assessing the Risk to Groundwater of On-Site Sanitation (ARGOSS). www.bgs.ac.uk/research/groundwater/Argoss.html

The manual was field-tested in Bangladesh and Uganda. As I recall, the soil conditions were important drivers of safe distance. Also it's important to consider the depth of the wellscreen as vertical distances as horizontal ones contribute to pathogen attenuation.

Rick
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  • mmadrid
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Re: The Impact of Pit Latrines on Groundwater Quality

Hi my colleagues,

I recently came across the tool “SanitContam”, developed by INREM Foundation in 2011:
www.inrem.in/project_sanitation/tool_sanitcontam.html

This is a simple Excel spreadsheet model. Any thoughts about it?

I will look at it in detail and later on we can comment.

Cheers,
Miguel
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  • SudhirPillay
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Re: The Impact of Pit Latrines on Groundwater Quality

WRC Research Project 2115/1/15

Title: Investigation into Pollution from On-Site Dry Sanitation Systems

Authors: Lorentz, Wickham and Still

WRC Manager: Jay Bhagwan

A literature review can also be accessed in the document.

I sat on Reference Group for this project. Hypothesis that pollution spreads from pit-type sanitation solutions was tested. Results must be viewed with respect to soil and geology in that study area (KwaZulu-Natal). Important was development of methodology for testing hypothesis - could be used by others.

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Sudhir

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  • F H Mughal
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Re: The Impact of Pit Latrines on Groundwater Quality

Publication by British Geological Survey is useful and interesting. The publication provided by Sudhir is also very useful.

I'm afraid, I could not achieve much success with “SanitContam”
Aren't there any publications that go with this tool?

F H Mughal

F H Mughal (Mr.)
Karachi, Pakistan
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  • pkjha
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Re: The Impact of Pit Latrines on Groundwater Quality

Dear Mudgal and All

There are several reports on contamination of ground water due to leach pit toilets. Such contaminants are mainly pathogenic bacteria and nitrate. There are different opinions of degree of contamination- travel of contaminants in soil. It varies mainly with the nature of soil and hydraulic loading rate in and age of pit latrines. Of course, flow of ground water is also one of the factors. But it is only for academic point of view. A household going for defecation in open should not be expected to know all these factors before construction a toilet.
Even knowing such disadvantages with leach pit toilets, the “technology” is being implemented in many developing countries with the financial support from the respective governments and international funding agencies.
WHO/ UNICEF have defined a sanitary toilet, having safe confinement of human excreta. Leach pit toilet with cover pit is categorized under sanitary toilet. Perhaps such definition is based on the physical confinement of human excreta. Contamination of ground water or surface water has been overlooked.
There are some areas in India where ground water table is only a few feet and such leach pit (single or double pit) toilets are implemented in a large scale. The technology may help to eliminate Open Defecation but for future this may result severe ground water pollution causing irreversible and more adverse affects on health than open defecation.
WHO/ UNICEF and other international agencies should redefine sanitary toilets, also taking into consideration of possible ground water pollution from the technology.

Regards

Pawan

Pawan Jha
Chairman
Foundation for Environment and Sanitation
Mahavir Enclave
New Delhi 110045, India
Web: www.foundation4es.org
Linked: linkedin.com/in/drpkjha
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  • joeturner
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Re: The Impact of Pit Latrines on Groundwater Quality

That's true, Pawan, but the discussions on the definition of "safely managed" sanitation (under the words used in the Sustainable Development Goals) seem to prioritise systems which contain the faeces, which suggests to me that the JMP are thinking hard about the risks of contamination of groundwater.

But you make a very good point in that the rush to "end open defecation" could indeed lead to an increase in technologies which might actually increase the risks to health.

To me the whole thing seems very confused.
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  • F H Mughal
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Re: The Impact of Pit Latrines on Groundwater Quality

Here, in Pakistan, I have noticed there is no consideration for groundwater pollution, when constructing a toilet.

Pawan: You have a good point - creating groundwater pollution in an rush to end OD.

F H Mughal

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Karachi, Pakistan
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