SuSanA - Forum Kunena Site Syndication Sat, 25 Apr 2015 08:48:23 +0000 Kunena 1.6 SuSanA - Forum en-gb Re: Final version of the checklist on safer siting of sanitation systems - by: mwaniki
You are doing some fantastic work in updating your page on Wikipedia on groundwork. Could you kindly add some material from the Africa Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Mar-Apr 2015 edition which was recently posted in the forum?

The article entitled “Man-Made Pollutants Finding Their Way into Groundwater through Septic Systems” could be of use in your updates.

For ease of reference kindly find the article enclosed in the attachments both in word and a pdf whichever you may prefer to use in your work.

Kind regards / Mwaniki]]>
WG 11 (Groundwater) Mon, 23 Mar 2015 12:57:47 +0000
Wikipedia article on groundwater pollution - by: muench
Ever since this document came out in February, I had it on my mind to utilise its content also for Wikipedia articles (see also related thread here).

I am now proud to present to you the new Wikipedia page on groundwater pollution which I set up recently!
Here it is:

Why did I decide to create a new page?

Well, there was an existing page on groundwater ( but the issue of groundwater pollution (let alone groundwater pollution from sanitation systems) was somehow buried in the page. There was bits and pieces on other pages, too e.g. on the page about "Water pollution" but I think it is much better to have a dedicated page now. I have already linked to it from a number of other pages (e.g. the page about pit latrines, septic tanks, arsenic pollution of groundwater etc.). (thanks to Joe for the tip which pages need linking)

I have included some of the key facts from this document ("Final version of the checklist on safer siting of sanitation systems"), as well as one of its schematics and photos:

This is work in progress and I urge all members of Working Group 11 (this is right now 1169 people!) to get involved.

How can you get involved?

  1. Read the article and correct any typos that you spot (you don't even need a login for that, just click on the edit button at the top:
  2. Make additions to the article or cite additional references.
  3. Put here in this thread (or into a new thread) what you think is missing if you don't have the time or energy to add it yourself.
  4. Use this thread here or the talk page of the article ( to discuss possible improvements.
  5. Propose additional photos or schematics that could be included (these must be available as a copyright-free version, i.e. open access).
  6. Take another read of the Working Group's factsheet (see: and incorporate content, facts or figures into the Wikipedia article (please no direct copy & paste though; that's because the factsheet is not (yet) open access and also because the language needs to be simpler, more easily understood in Wikipedia than the rather technical/scientific language used in the factsheet of the working group).

Please let me know if you have any questions. It would really make my day to see at least a few of you get involved with this article. I think it will be quite widely read as it's linked to from various other pages on Wikipedia. It is an opportunity to alert people looking for groundwater information to the topic of sanitation. And to alert people looking for sanitation issues about groundwater pollution issues.

I found it interesting to see that the information about groundwater pollution so far on Wikipedia was more focussed on the "high profile" events, such as the Walkerton event in Canada (which even has its own page), or well known industrial spill events. But the normal, daily, ongoing pollution of groundwater in developing countries due to pit latrines and septic tanks in urban areas - this was something hardly covered until now (not newsworthy!?). We can, and should, change this. As James Heilmann said "We can fix the internet" (see here).

WG 11 (Groundwater) Mon, 23 Mar 2015 11:08:58 +0000
Re: Distance between Septic Tanks and Water Wells - by: hajo
unfortunately keeping GW clear of septic tanks is not as easy as this EPA paper wants make us believe - and it is also a bit outdated, Jan. 2002.

We have newer and better information available if we scan the Forum:
one of our specialists on the forum seems to be 'kanalwolf', if you enter this user name in the search you find access to a number of information regarding this topic.

One of the search results refers you to recent publication (2015) on the Forum
which surely provides newer and more accurate information (copy attached).

I know in the field we often have not all information available which are required to take the correct decision when siting a septic tank/pit latrine or water source (well?) but the 50 feet in this paper seems to me so ridiculous small that I felt warning readers to work with it.

... also the term 'well' may be understood in different ways: for me and many others a 'well' is a hand-dug water source of max 15-25m depth thus drawing from surface close 'underground' water, which is why these 'wells' do not always provide potable water and are more vulnerable to contamination by close-by sanitation infrastructure. I guess the EPA paper by 'well' means 'drilled boreholes' which go deeper (~100m), draw from lower aquifers and therefore provide better quality. Especially with a sanitary seal they are not so prone to contamination by surface (close) water, but also for them it depends on the circumstances (see publication) of GW flow direction and underground geology.

... and I think the 50 ft in the EPA paper should not have any relation to presumably high construction standards in the US. A septic tank is supposed to have a leach field around where the effluent is percolated into the underground and hopefully cleaned by soil and micro-organism in the ground before it reaches the GW level. For this purpose the distance, soil condition, GW flow between septic tank and GW matters not the quality of structure, I presume. Anyway, I feel 50 ft is much too close even to work as a 'rule of thumb'.

ciao, Hajo]]>
WG 11 (Groundwater) Mon, 23 Feb 2015 06:26:31 +0000
Distance between Septic Tanks and Water Wells - by: F H Mughal
Distance between Septic Tanks and Water Wells

Attached is the USEPA publication titled: “Drinking Water From Household Wells.” While the title of the publication pertains to water, pp. 14 of the document gives distances between wells and septic tanks and other structures. The distances are:

Septic Tanks 50 feet
Livestock Yards, Silos Septic
and Leach Fields 50 feet
Petroleum Tanks, Liquid-tight Manure Storage,
Pesticide and Fertilizer Storage and Handling 100 feet
Manure Stacks 250 feet

As can be seen from above, distance-wise, septic tanks have been bracketed with livestock yards and leaching fields, while the distance increase to 250 ft for manure stacks.

I was expecting a larger distance (250 ft) for the septic tanks. The lower distance of 50 ft could be due to the fact that, in US, the construction standards are strict, and the workmanship is of high quality. That is why USEPA recommends a distance of 50 ft between septic tanks and wells.

F H Mughal]]>
WG 11 (Groundwater) Sat, 21 Feb 2015 16:06:07 +0000
Re: Final version of the checklist on safer siting of sanitation systems - by: muench ]]> WG 11 (Groundwater) Sat, 07 Feb 2015 10:43:56 +0000 Re: Final version of the checklist on safer siting of sanitation systems - by: kanalwolf
thank you for asking. The download link just worked out fine for me.
Nevertheless I attach the document also to this post.

I hope this works, anyone who has a major problem, please let us know-

Kind regards
Leif wolf]]>
WG 11 (Groundwater) Fri, 06 Feb 2015 21:47:53 +0000
Re: Final version of the checklist on safer siting of sanitation systems - by: fppirco
Thanks for information I have downloaded link but in message and it title talk about checklist I could not opened check list I also have sent this message for Andrea but I have not received any respond.

Thank you for your kindly attention.

Mohammad Mojtabaei]]>
WG 11 (Groundwater) Fri, 06 Feb 2015 18:50:16 +0000
Re: Final version of the checklist on safer siting of sanitation systems - by: kanalwolf
Without BGR, all my hand made drawings would still be unreadable and without Andrea´s input, steady follow up and constant drive, the idea would probably never turned into a publication.

Kind regards,
WG 11 (Groundwater) Thu, 05 Feb 2015 15:08:53 +0000
Re: Safer siting of sanitation systems: An introduction to criteria for risk reduction to groundwater quality - by: andreanick
the final version is now in the library as announced in this new thread:

You are welcome to use the new thread for you comments.

WG 11 (Groundwater) Thu, 05 Feb 2015 14:13:39 +0000
Final version of the checklist on safer siting of sanitation systems - by: andreanick
with a big hand to Leif Wolf and Aidan Cronin and all reviewers, I'd like to present to you the latest publication of this working group:

How to keep your groundwater drinkable. Safer siting of sanitation systems

It is available from the Susana library for downloads:

The checklist is meant to give an insight to planners and implementors in how far sanitation siting is more than separation distance.

Your comments are welcome; I would be most interested in where and how you use this document in your work and how useful you will find it.

Best regards,

A discussion about earlier drafts of this document took place here on the forum.]]>
WG 11 (Groundwater) Thu, 05 Feb 2015 11:12:25 +0000
Re: Safer siting of sanitation systems : An introduction to criteria for risk reduction to groundwater quality - by: andreanick
thanks a lot for taking part in this discussion and for your valuable input and references.

In our checklist which will be posted here tomorrow we direct he readers who are keen on knowing more about the topic to the Graham et al publication you have also linked to your post. Also we ask them to consider reading the ARGOSS manual and report by the British Geological Survey which is I think the standard on the onsite sanitation and groundwater protection issue at the moment.

I agree with you that pedestals are an important thing when talking about keping you wellwater safe. We have built in a figure on wellhead construction and sealing of annular space, but the pedestal might not be coming out as you wish. We will keep this in mind for a future version.

We have to make compromises between overall length of the document, depth of knowledge expected of the reader and mass of information that could be included.

So thank you again for the comments and be sure we thought about each of them.

All the best
WG 11 (Groundwater) Tue, 03 Feb 2015 15:20:01 +0000
Re: Safer siting of sanitation systems : An introduction to criteria for risk reduction to groundwater quality - by: F H Mughal
Attached is 1984 publication of the World Bank titled “Manual on the Design, Construction and Maintenance of Low-Cost Pour-Flush Waterseal Latrines in India.” Please see section 2.4.4 on Distance between 2 pits (pp. 7); section 2.4.8 on Water pollution aspects (pp. 8 ) and; Table 4 on pp. 10.

I think, the distances must be highlighted, when there is level difference, e,g., when latrine is uphill and a water well is downhill; and vice versa.

A paper on “Pit Latrines and Their Impacts on Groundwater Quality: A Systematic Review, by Jay P. Graham and Matthew L. Polizzotto,” (also attached), draws attention to nitrate, chloride and ammonia
(chemical contamination), as major contaminants of groundwater from latrines, due to their higher concentrations in excreta.

Whenever, I’m on a topic, like the one you have initiated, I’m always reminded of the proper platform for the handpumps on wells. Please highlight this briefly, as well. A RWSN publication on Platform Design is attached.


F H Mughal]]>
WG 11 (Groundwater) Sun, 25 Jan 2015 06:17:16 +0000
Re: Safer siting of sanitation systems : An introduction to criteria for risk reduction to groundwater quality - by: kanalwolf Thank you again for the helpful suggestions from the forum.
It was very quiet in this post because it took us some time to respond to feedback and also we added some subchapters.

Please see the final draft attached to this post. It is currently also for review with the SuSana core group.
If you have minor comments, please let us know before 30th of January and we will try to take them on board in this 2015 version before we publish it. Major suggestions however will be collected for the process of composing the next edition (probably in 2016)

Kind regards,
WG 11 (Groundwater) Thu, 22 Jan 2015 16:17:34 +0000
Re: Safer siting of sanitation systems : An introduction to criteria for risk reduction to groundwater quality - by: kanalwolf
Many thanks for the feedback and good suggestions to Kris, Christian and Percival.

I agree that it could be valuable to provide a bit more examples on separation distances.
However, I think that we need to make clear also to non-professionals that the idea of having a uniform separation distance for an entire country is most likely not the best approach.

E.g. even 50 m lateral separation distance migth not be sufficient in a strongly karstified system with a downgradient supply well or spring, while 10 m lateral separation distance is completely sufficient if there is a well developed clay cover layer and the annular space of the well is nicely sealed.

Ok. let me dream a little bit:
Possibly the best approach (if there is enough expertise available) would be to develop for each district or urban area an intitial water safety plan which 1) maps major and minor groundwater uses for drinking water 2) displays broad groundwater flow directions 3) maps the groundwater vulnerability based on criteria like karstification or vadose zone thickness / composition 4) maps high and low risk areas with corresponding minimum lateral separation distance regulations and 5)identifies the ability of residents to implement the recommended separation distances.

As for the checklist document, I will try to include
- more information on example separation distances,
- an explanation why it is completely sensible that so many separation distances were defined by different people ( in gross simplification of the real complexity of the problem)
- a simplified version of the table which Kris extracted.

Would this address your points?

WG 11 (Groundwater) Thu, 23 Oct 2014 21:48:56 +0000
Re: WaSH case study Yaoundé / Cameroon (fr) - Pilot Study on Groundwater Quality and Health in Yaoundé - by: epesshydro1

Best regards,]]>
WG 11 (Groundwater) Thu, 18 Sep 2014 20:42:09 +0000