Public health implications of faulty septic tanks

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  • Sruthi
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Public health implications of faulty septic tanks

Hello all,

We would like to share a recent piece we wrote on the effects of unscientific and faulty septic tanks on public health. This was written in the wake of the death of a young girl from Shigella poisoning in Kozhikode, Kerala, India.

While the quality of food rightly gets bureaucratic and public attention, the underlying sanitation issues that lead to presence of biological contaminants in food and water is often overlooked. This piece highlights the role of inappropriate household level sanitation systems in the public health crisis and argues for a multi pronged approach with an equal  focus on the quality of household level sanitation systems and city level services.

You can read the article here -  www.thenewsminute.com/article/food-poiso...-septic-tanks-165371


Sruthi Pillai
Paresh Chhajed-Picha
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  • Hariprasad
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Re: Public health implications of faulty septic tanks

Many Congratulations to the authors for writing this wonderful piece.

As the article says, "While working to create wastewater and excreta treatment infrastructure, it is essential to also deal with inappropriate on-site systems". It is true that we are working at a higher pace for having 100% toilets and septic tanks/pits. But at the same time, faulty, unplanned, inappropriate construction of septage systems can cause more disadvantages than its advantages, mainly on the 'public health' front. Disadvantages at the public health side can undermine the very purpose of having such infrastructures as they were introduced mainly to solve public health concerns.

Prioritization of sanitation sector is a problem in Kerala, mainly the second generation issues - of having a proper system to empty, store , transport and treat the septage. This article is important for the same reason that the prioritization of many of the sanitation activities which we don't "see" or "notice" can cause hazards , and it will continue to be a problem for the governments and the people alike.
Hariprasad V M
Research Scholar
CTARA, IIT Bombay
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  • AjitSeshadri
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  • Marine Chief Engineer by profession (1971- present) and at present Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, Chennai, India. Also proficient in giving Environmental solutions , Designation- Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Head- Environment, The Vigyan Vijay Foundation, NGO, New Delhi, INDIA , Consultant located at present at Chennai, India
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Re: Public health implications of faulty septic tanks

Dear SuSanA Members 
and Mr Hari Prasad,
Subject :
Benefits n effects on faulty septic tank and systems:

Whenever Septic Tanks are made and put on service, it is taken as granted that all is well and the system would perform well whilst in service.

Time and efforts need to be afforded to get apt process in place with apt% remediation.
ie BOD reduction, and improve others too.

It would be most ideal if the owners opt to have remedial and evolve effluent water, duly on self - control realising parameters be used in site for gardens, farms Etc.
Sludges are also co composted to manure Etc.
If we maintain all these naturally, a lot is there  to gain.
.. wll wshs for prospects..

Prof Ajit Seshadri
Vels University 
Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, and
Head-Environment , VigyanVijay Foundation, Consultant (Water shed Mngmnt, WWT, WASH, others)Located at present at Chennai, India
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  • phansen
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Re: Public health implications of faulty septic tanks

Hi Sruthi

It is very good you have been able to get the issue of faulty septic tanks into the broader media. Have you also seen this thread, especially the paper at the very end posted by Musa?
forum.susana.org/environmental-issues/13...sanitation-practices

Whether a sealed septic tank with a separate soak pit will actually provide better protection to a community against pathogens than an unlined single "cess pit" where fecal matter is both stored and leaches into the ground is an interesting and probably difficult question. Most likely depends a lot on other local circumstances.
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  • Edmuch
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Re: Public health implications of faulty septic tanks

It  interesting to discuss how septic tanks can affect public health. Lusaka is an example of a city flooded with septic tanks especially in the newly developed areas. However, most of these septic tanks are not constructed to standard leading to seepage of contaminated effluent into the surrounding areas. Due to the rock formation for Lusaka, the faulty septic tanks lead to the contamination of ground water which forms part of the drinking water supply for Lusaka. Diarrheal  diseases such as Cholera have also been attributed to contaminated water due to faulty septic tanks and pit latrines. 
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  • AjitSeshadri
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  • Marine Chief Engineer by profession (1971- present) and at present Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, Chennai, India. Also proficient in giving Environmental solutions , Designation- Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Head- Environment, The Vigyan Vijay Foundation, NGO, New Delhi, INDIA , Consultant located at present at Chennai, India
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Re: Public health implications of faulty septic tanks

Dear Lusakan Resident and 
SuSanA Members:

We do not feel fine to note and report that if simple device / initiatives such as Septic Tanks and sanitation system is not proper and that certain medical problems are arising in communities. 

As a fellow member of  this SuSanA Forum and a vivid practitioner of Dewats system of  practices, wish to provide  guidance in making a Septic tank and following tanks with filters  and remedial plants applying phyto Remediation using Reed type plants viz cayhna indica sp., vetiver Etc.
This would give the needed system for safe operation and maintenance of sanitation facilities at each of the site- location Etc.

Any other SuSanA Member, willing to assist by giving guidance may also feel free to do the needful.  Please.

With Best wishes and Regards.
Prof. Ajit Seshadri,  
Vels Unversity, Chennai
And
Head - Environment, 
The Vigyan Vijay Foundation Ngo, New Delhi.

Dtd. 10th July, 2022 
Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, and
Head-Environment , VigyanVijay Foundation, Consultant (Water shed Mngmnt, WWT, WASH, others)Located at present at Chennai, India
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