Is there a difference between faecal sludge and septage? - The issue of confusing terminology

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  • HAPitot
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Re: Is there a difference between faecal sludge and septage? - The issue of confusing terminology

I would associate 'septage' to cess pools, i.e. those septic tanks that don't discharge into a leach field or a soak pit or something else for disposal. These have to be regularly emptied and the material taken to a facility.

And sludge would be something thickened by deposition, either in a pit latrine, septic tank or a waste water treatment facility. Even though the contents of lined dry pit latrines is usually also called sludge.

H-A
Hanns-Andre Pitot
M.Eng. Environmental Pollution Control
presently in Seesen, Germany

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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Is there a difference between faecal sludge and septage? - The issue of confusing terminology

Yes, I was also a bit confused about it. Certainly septage seems related to septic tanks and would not apply to pit-latrine contents. While I think it would be ok to call the latter also faecal sludge if not totally fresh.

I also came across the definition of septage on the wikipedia:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septage
And there it seems to refer to the entire contents of a septic tank, i.e. also a significant proportion of water, scum etc... not just the settled sludge.
But to my understanding it is most commonly used for the sludge pumped from septic tanks.

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  • Elisabeth
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Is there a difference between faecal sludge and septage? - The issue of confusing terminology

Just a small little question from me today:
Is there a difference between the terms "faecal sludge" and "septage"?

I get the feeling that people working in India prefer the term "septage" and people working in Africa rather use "faecal sludge"?

This question occurred to me while reading in this thread started by Pawan Jah about septage management:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/53-fae...r-septage-management

OK, wait, I think I just answered my own question by checking the Glossary of the Eawag Compendium (www.eawag.ch/forschung/sandec/publikatio...ompendium_e/index_EN) which says:

Septage: A historical term to define sludge removed from
septic tanks.


Faecal sludge appears in their definition of the "product" called "Sludge":

Sludge is a mixture of solids and liquids, containing
mostly Excreta and water, in combination with sand,
grit, metals, trash and/or various chemical compounds.
A distinction can be made between faecal Sludge and
wastewater Sludge. Faecal Sludge comes from onsite
sanitation technologies, i.e., it has not been transported
through a sewer.
It can be raw or partially digested, a
slurry or semisolid, and results from the Collection and
Storage/Treatment of Excreta or Blackwater, with or
without Greywater. For a more detailed characterization
of faecal Sludge refer to Strande et al., 2014 (see Sector
Development Tools, p. 9). Wastewater Sludge (also
referred to as sewage Sludge) is Sludge that originates
from sewer-based wastewater collection and (Semi-)
Centralized Treatment processes.
The Sludge composition will determine the type of treatment
that is required and the end-use possibilities.


Do others agree with these definitions?

Should the term "septage" therefore be "phased out", is that what the Compendium authors suggest if they say "a historical term"?

As a general note, I think this is one of the flaws in our sector that leads to unnecessary confusions time and time again: that we use many different terms to denote - almost - the same thing... Should we try to adopt a common language e.g. by following the terminology proposed in the Eawag Compendium glossary?

It gets even worse when translations to different languages come in, e.g. to French - we discussed in Morocco (GIZ-AGIRE) for ages whether a "puits perdu" or a "puits perdant" is the same as a "pit latrine" or a "leach pit"... (but that's a different topic).

Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Freelance consultant on environmental and climate projects
Located in Ulm, Germany
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My Wikipedia user profile: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile
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