Assessing inter and intra-variation in the characteristics of faecal sludge from Vadgaon Maval, Maharashtra: For better faecal sludge management in India


  • Chandana
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  • I am a Environmental Engineer, currently pursing PhD in Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. I am working on Faecal Sludge Management for a town. I am looking for collaboration to provide solution for FSM by experimental investigation on FS from different onsite containment and paper publications.
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Assessing inter and intra-variation in the characteristics of faecal sludge from Vadgaon Maval, Maharashtra: For better faecal sludge management in India

Faecal  Sludge  (FS) produced in developing countries has become a significant source of water pollution. The optimal treatment of FS can lead to a sustainable economy. In India, the second phase of the open defecation free (ODF) initiative (energy recovery by providing city- or town-level centralised  FS treatment  plants) has begun from 2019 to sustain millions of toilets. However, to achieve this goal, India must address significant knowledge gaps such as the type of available on-site sanitation treatments (OSTs), optimal time of emptying the OSTs, and variations in the FS characteristics with age. Thus, the present study analysed FS samples collected from Vadgaon Maval, Maharashtra, India, to understand the inter- and intra-variation in FS characteristics. The pH,  electrical conductivity , total solids (TS),  specific gravity  (SG), organic matter (OM),  chemical oxygen demand  (COD), and pathogen content of FS samples were observed to be in the range of 7–7.65, 1.19–4.01 mS/cm, 1–123 g/L, 0.88–1.26, 18.4%–100%, 960–6080 mg/L, and 105–109 number/L of FS, respectively. The inter-variation of FS characteristics exhibited that the pH, EC, TS, and SG increased, whereas OM, settling, and drying capacity decreased with an increase in age. Fresh FS (excreta degraded for ≤3 years) was yellowish-brown in colour and exhibited low TS, low SG, and high OM. On the other hand, older FS (excreta degraded for >3 years) was blackish-brown in colour and exhibited high TS, SG, and pathogen content. This observation indicates that FS vacuum pumping may be difficult in the sludge zone after 3 years of excreta degradation, which may encourage the manual scavenging practice. Additionally, the analysis of FS treatment plant (FSTP) process control parameters (settled sludge volume, sludge volume index, and sludge drying capacity) indicated that the treatment time required for older FS is long, which increases the FSTP cost. Furthermore, FS intra-variation in OST exhibited that effluent FS could be directly sent for  effluent treatment  without any solid–liquid separation process. Thus, the present study can help practitioners in establishing or modifying FS treatment systems for addressing conditions based on the variation in FS characteristics at the town level in India.

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I have completed my BE in civil engineering with a distinction in 2011.
From 2011-2013 I worked as a software engineer in IBM.
later I completed my master in environmental engineering in NIT Warangal . My Mtech thesis was done in NEERI, Nagpur on "Indoor air pollution in micro-environments".
In 2015. I joined academics as Assistant professor and worked on issues like the design of landfill, MSW management, Air pollution, Decontamination of geomaterials, etc.
Currently, I am doing my PhD in faecal sludge management.
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