Sanitation systems sub-categories on the Forum - a suggestion to change the current setup

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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Sanitation Systems categories

Hi Dean, I don't know what you mean?

Hi Mughal, there is no difference between (waste) stabilization ponds and oxidation ponds. There are actually so many terms for the same thing... Lagoon is another one. Unless you mean "oxidation ditches" which is a term used for reactors within the activated sludge process. -
Why do you ask?

Hi Roumiana, I take your point that "centralised" and "decentralised" are somehow ill-defined. You're probably referring to the sub-category which we have called "Centralised wastewater treatment plants and sewage sludge treatment". I think this term is meant rather losely but most people know what is meant with "centralised" here: a conventional sewer system that covers a large area or many people in a city (say more than 50,000 people (?)), leading to one large wastewater treatment plant (which can be so large to treat the wastewater from several million people) that is being operated usually by a water utility owned by the city.

A Wikipedia article listing some huge wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) is here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_wa...ter_treatment_plants

I think it's fair to call those large WWTPs all "centralised". But I agree we don't have a clear-cut definition where exactly decentralised ends and where centralised starts...

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Elisabeth
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  • goeco
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Re: Sanitation Systems categories

Hi Elisabeth, can a topic be cross referenced in more than one category?
Dean Satchell, M For. Sc.
Vermifilter.com
www.vermifilter.com

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  • F H Mughal
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Re: Sanitation Systems categories

Dear Elisabeth,

Ref: 3.3: What is the difference between (waste) stabilization ponds and oxidation ponds?

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F H Mughal
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  • Decentral
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Re: Sanitation Systems categories

Hi Elisabeth,

I agree with the latest structure and do not have more suggestions.

Just to clarify - wastewater treatment in the form of treatment plants or treatment units can not be centralized or decentralized. This categorization can be made only from the point of view of the whole system - generation of wastewater, conveyance, treatment and disposal/reuse. If in the framework of a population centre normally we have one bulk conveyance system with one treatment plant. For very large cities they can be several. Decentralization is related to a large number of small systems within the population centre, and the largest level of decentralization is the case of on-site sanitation, where we have a very short conveyance pipe and a treatment facility, e.g. a septic tank. Therefore, if we have a village with a simple centralized sewer system and one small treatment facility, e.g. DEWATS , this can be regarded as a small centralized system. The difference between centralized and decentralized is not in the size of the treatment facility, but in the number of independent systems within the population centre.

Best regards and congratulations for your hard work and valuable contribution,

Roumiana

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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Sanitation Systems categories

Dear Roumiana,

I got back to your post with the valuable suggestions today and want to react to what you said. I have copied your suggestions below and added my replies in line in red.

1. I have problem with the main definition of sanitation systems as per the main page of the website. Actually, all existing sanitation structures worldwide are included, but the site itself focuses mainly on existing practices and applications in developing countries. This is very clear by the number of posts and related topics. If this is not outlined, the area to be discussed becomes very wide and difficult to manage and categorize.

We see SuSanA and the Forum as not limited to developing countries issues, even though the bulk of our discussions revolve around developing countries issues as the need it greatest there. But we also have very interesting discussions about sanitation systems in the richer countries which are not always all that sustainable either.

2. Different types of toilets cannot be categorized as a system. These are sanitation fixtures/appurtenances. On my point of view there is no need to separate in two chapters the urine diverting and the other types of toilets.

I would like to leave it like that for now as toilets are an important part of a sanitation system and therefore deserve the "glory spot" of being listed first in this blue category which we have called "sanitation systems". Separating the urine diverting toilets from others is practical in my opinion as we've had loads of discussions about the urine diverting systems and it is easier to find them if they show up separately.

3. The “treatment processes…”:
3.1 Treatment processes and treatment technologies are different topics, so I suggest this chapter to be formulated as: “Treatment and disposal technologies for…..

OK, I have called it just treatment now which makes it shorter (i.e. neither processes nor treatment).

3.2 There are not centralized or decentralized treatment processes or technologies, so I suggest these two to be deleted.

I didn't understand your point here.

3.3 I suggest two additions to this chapter: aerobic technologies and stabilization ponds

I've thought about it, but we haven't had many discussions around aerobic technologies nor ponds, so I think it's OK to leave them lumped together into the one called "centralised treatment systems" because most people would assume that they are part of that.

4. The chapter “various topics…”, would sound better as: “various topics related to sanitation systems”

OK, done.

4.1 I see some overlapping between “resilience “and the “climate change” issues in the following chapter.

True, there is some overlap. To make it clearer I have renamed the first one to "Resilience and risk reduction" which is also shorter.

4.2 I do not understand well - a very serious problem, such as “wastewater characterization (in terms of quantity and quality)” is almost neglected in this forum. No treatment technology can work properly if the loads are not estimated correctly or close to it. Therefore, I suggest an additional chapter: “Wastewater characterization and conveyance (“sewers”)

We now have a sub-category for that, see under "Various topics of sanitation systems".

4.3 Storm water management is also a very important issue related to sanitation systems, but I am not sure in which chapter to go, in this one, or may be with the flooding issues.

True, we haven't had many discussions on stormwater management and therefore no sub-category for it yet. If anyone wants to post about that, put it under miscellanous for now.

4.3 The topic: “drinking water treatment” is totally unrelated to sanitation systems and should be removed (sorry, if somebody disagree)

True, it's only marginally related (drinking water treatment may become necessary due to pollution from onsite sanitation!) but I don't think there is any harm in case people want to put some topics there.


5. I agree the water reuse issue to be part of resource recovery, but people tend to forget that you have to produce (treat the wastewater) the water, which will be reused, therefore sanitation systems are linked to water reuse systems.

True, but I wouldn't lump resource recovery into the blue category of our forum. Everything is connected but it helps to have some broad categories I think.

+++++++++++

Thanks again for taking the time to comment!

Elisabeth
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  • Decentral
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Re: Sanitation Systems categories

Dear colleagues,
I was not able to enter the discussion earlier, but considering that it is an important on-going exercise, decided to share my comments, as related to the current structure of the forum.
1. I have problem with the main definition of sanitation systems as per the main page of the website. Actually, all existing sanitation structures worldwide are included, but the site itself focuses mainly on existing practices and applications in developing countries. This is very clear by the number of posts and related topics. If this is not outlined, the area to be discussed becomes very wide and difficult to manage and categorize.
2. Different types of toilets cannot be categorized as a system. These are sanitation fixtures/appurtenances. On my point of view there is no need to separate in two chapters the urine diverting and the other types of toilets.
3. The “treatment processes…”:
3.1 Treatment processes and treatment technologies are different topics, so I suggest this chapter to be formulated as: “Treatment and disposal technologies for…..
3.2 There are not centralized or decentralized treatment processes or technologies, so I suggest these two to be deleted.
3.3 I suggest two additions to this chapter: aerobic technologies and stabilization ponds
4. The chapter “various topics…”, would sound better as: “various topics related to sanitation systems”
4.1 I see some overlapping between “resilience “and the “climate change” issues in the following chapter.
4.2 I do not understand well - a very serious problem, such as “wastewater characterization (in terms of quantity and quality)” is almost neglected in this forum. No treatment technology can work properly if the loads are not estimated correctly or close to it. Therefore, I suggest an additional chapter: “Wastewater characterization and conveyance (“sewers”)
4.3 Storm water management is also a very important issue related to sanitation systems, but I am not sure in which chapter to go, in this one, or may be with the flooding issues.
4.3 The topic: “drinking water treatment” is totally unrelated to sanitation systems and should be removed (sorry, if somebody disagree)
5. I agree the water reuse issue to be part of resource recovery, but people tend to forget that you have to produce (treat the wastewater) the water, which will be reused, therefore sanitation systems are linked to water reuse systems.

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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Sanitation Systems categories

Dear Alexandra,

Thanks for your valuable suggestions! I took some on board but not all of them. Each time when a SuSanA member proposes changes to the blue category I get inspired to make some modifications, and move things around a bit. It is an incremental improvement process...

The blue category (called "Sanitation systems") is now structured like this: forum.susana.org/33-sanitation-systems?limitstart=0&limit=12

Things that I changed last week based on your suggestions:

I have reduced the number of "toilet sub-categories" from 3 to 2. To do that, I moved the one about container-based toilets into the "Other toilets" section, and I moved the one on "public/shared/community" more towards the end, near the sub-category on challenging environments. They are actually a bit related.

I couldn't bring myself to collapse the two toilet types into one, i.e. to put "urine diversion systems" in the same level as pit latrines for example, simply because we have heaps more discussions about urine diversion systems. It is one of the "hot topics" for many SuSanA members, and one that is not much discussed elsewhere. So I don't think it should be hidden amongst all the other toilet sub-categories.

I've also gone through all the threads that we've had about urine diversion systems and grouped them into new sub-sub categories to make it easier to get an overview of what we have discussed so far. It now looks like this:

forum.susana.org/34-urine-diversion-syst...-and-ud-flush-toilet

Toilets with urine diversion: (130 topics)

- Toilets with urine diversion (130 topics)
- Sanitation systems where urine is diverted (i.e. collected separately), for example UDDTs (urine-diverting dry toilets).
- Suppliers of pans, seats or moulds for urine diversion toilets (8 topics)
- UDDTs at schools (urine-diverting dry toilets) (12 topics)
- Urinals (18 topics)
- Urine diversion systems in cities (19 topics)
- UDDTs in mainly Muslim or Hindu societies (8 topics)
- Urine storage or treatment (7 topics)



Things that I disagreed with:

I don't think we should break up that block which is called "Fecal Sludge Management" (FSM). I think the current FSM crowd identifies quite strongly with it and wouldn't like it if e.g. treatment was taken out of that sub-category. I have re-arranged it a bit though to reflect the order of collection, transport, treatment:
forum.susana.org/53-faecal-sludge-management

Faecal sludge management (FSM): (174 topics)
This includes anything to do with wet faecal sludge collected from pit latrines, septic tanks or similar on-site sanitation systems

- Faecal sludge transport (including emptying of pits and septic tanks) (51 topics)
- Faecal sludge treatment (39 topics)
- Pit or vault content research and faecal sludge characteristics (28 topics)
- FSM Planning tools, toolboxes and guidelines (10 topics)
- Faecal Sludge Management - India's pathway to a "Clean India" (Thematic discussion - SuSanA Indian Chapter) (4 topics)


And you said:

3 Wastewater treatment technologies
Including all single technologies (on-site, centralised and decentralised) and treatment system consisting of several technology (DEWATS, etc.). It would also include re-use aspect (as long as it is still related to wastewater)


I wouldn't be in favor of putting reuse aspects here as well. We have the green category on that (called resource recovery). The reuse topics are more about agricultural aspects so I wouldn't include them here in the blue category which is mainly about collection or treatment technologies. Or what would be the advantage of include reuse aspects here as well?

Regards,
Elisabeth
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  • AlexandraDubois
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Re: Sanitation Systems categories

Dear all
As Jonathan said, it will be quite hard for us to agree on the “right” structure in this forum, however since we are at a brainstorming stage, here is my contribution. I believe that the 3 toilet sub-categories should be merged in one. I understand that many threads arose from all three categories, however if we speak about public toilet, mobile toilet, composting toilet, UDDT, pit latrines, I think that people will easily know where to search if we have only on subcategory call toilet system or user interface. I understand that there is a lot of discussions regarding toilets at the moment (and maybe this is the reason for breaking down the topic into 3 categories), but the trend might change and the interest can easily shift to another topic in the near future (emptying and transportation technologies for instance). My second contribution would be towards treatment technologies. From the last FSM conference in India, I realised that a clear distinction must be made between wastewater and faecal sludge treatment. According to practitioners, the distinction between both waste streams (with two very different characteristics) is not made and projects end up with unsuitable treatment technology. Therefore this is the structure I would propose:

1 Toilet system
Combine all 3 categories related to toilets

2 Emptying and Transportation
Including sewer, septic tank and pit latrines emptying technology (gulper, vacuum pumps, etc.)

3 Wastewater treatment technologies
Including all single technologies (on-site, centralised and decentralised) and treatment system consisting of several technology (DEWATS, etc.). It would also include re-use aspect (as long as it is still related to wastewater)

4 Faecal sludge treatment technologies
Including all single technologies (on-site, centralised and decentralised) and treatment system consisting of several technology (DEWATS, DTF, etc.). It would also include re-use aspect (as long as it is still related to faecal sludge)

5 Challenging environments, emergencies, reconstruction situations, resilience issues
Same as now

6 Various topics of sanitation systems
Same as now minus Sewers (in Emptying and transportation)
Alexandra Dubois

Technical Advisor
Sector Programme Water Policy – Innovations for Resilience
Division Climate Change, Environment & Infrastructure

GIZ │Deutsche Gesellschaft für
Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 32
53113 Bonn, Germany

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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Sanitation Systems categories

Hi Jonathan,

Just a follow-up regarding your suggestion: I received the following answer from our IT guy Steffen, explaining why it's not possible for us to implement that:


Everything is possible but to program such an algorithm needs a lot of highly specialist man power and someone who tags all categories that the scripts helps to suggest and assist the algorithms to learn ... it is kind of artificial intelligence ;-) if we write such a script/porgram that returns good results we could earn a lot of money! ;-)
And there is another problem that we had to implement it deep in the Kunena core files we don't want to change :-)


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Elisabeth
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Re: Sanitation Systems categories

Thanks Hajo, I've done a bit more work on this. Following your advice and the proposal by Dean for grouping things along the steps of the sanitation chains, I have come up with this new setup:

forum.susana.org/33-sanitation-systems

You'll see that that first three categories are now about toilets. This is followed by FSM. And then after that comes a sub-category where all the treatment processes are grouped together*. Afterwards we have the "challenging environments" and then "various topics".

Now I am still undecided if I should merge the three toilet sub-categories into one or if it's better to keep it like this. As you know the forum has had many discussions about UDDTs. Therefore, we have a sub-category on that. I could also move it to inside of "Other types of toilets" but I am not sure if that would help people or not. The way it is at the moment it does reflect a bit where the energy is, e.g. we have a lot of people interested in discussing UDDTs.

The other thing is that I've kept the FSM sub-category together in one block, rather than pulling out the "fecal sludge treatment" into the treatment sub-category. I think the FSM folks might prefer it like this?

I have added a sub-category at the end of the toilet list, and at the end of the treatment processes list, to enable and encourage comparisons between systems.

So here is now comparison of different toilet types (6 topics so far):
forum.susana.org/comparisons-of-various-toilets

And here is comparisons of different wastewater treatment technologies (9 topics so far):
forum.susana.org/comparisons-of-various-...ater-treatment-types

How does this proposed structure feel?

About Jonathan's suggestion:

An alternative approach could be to have a system in which the title of the posting (and therefore where it would sit within previous discussions) would be suggested by the platform based on previous postings/discussions. A bit like Google, insofar as you type a a word or even a few characters which provides enough for the software to make some suggestions about the theme under which you would like to post.

Interesting but technically not possible. Kunena (the forum software) is not as smart as Google... I have also not seen any other discussion forum where it has been implemented like this?

Regards,
Elisabeth

* I am still unsure how to deal with the sub-category called "Decentralised treatment systems" as it creates a fair bit of overlap with the sub-category called DEWATS.
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  • hajo
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Re: Sanitation Systems categories

hi all,

somehow I agree with Kris argument to cut down on the categories and omit even sub-categories...: by too many sub-categories we call for similar topics being discussed under different sub-categories... if all relevant topics are under one category the writer is not easily mislead posting under a 'wrong' sub-category...

also the idea by Jonathan that the category for a posting would be somehow proposed by the system based on the title of the posting sounds good to me... and can be joint with the idea of having less categories..

...and trying to marry the two with my previous proposal to have the categories somehow follow the 'service chain steps' I have developed a 6-tier structure which I attach herewith as EXCEL... you see the structure previously proposed by Elisabeth with all sub-categories in yellow, just to note that they are all considered in 'my' structure... but in future I would do away with the sub-categories...

ciao Hajo
We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
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Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of a genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
E.F. Schumacher
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. :-)
Albert Einstein

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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Sanitation systems sub-categories on the Forum - a suggestion to change the current setup

Very interesting suggestions by everyone, thanks. There is no right or wrong. At this stage, it is all about brainstorming and getting a feel what people would prefer - some people want a finer set of sub-categories, some want less...

The good thing about re-arranging threads and sub-categories is that the URLs of the threads continue to work even after moving a thread from A to B.

I do think the sub-categories are pretty helpful for newcomers to get a feel for what this forum is all about. E.g. they can easily see which sub-categories tend to be buzzing and which are only small. (they could also use the search function but then they would already have to know which words to search for; newcomers might like to browse, not search).

Mughal: We already have a sub-category on drinking water treatment and we also have one on solid waste management. The latter was under miscellaneous. To make it easier to find, I have re-arranged a few things. You can now find them here in a sub-category called "various technology options" at the end of the blue category on sanitation systems:

forum.susana.org/various-technology-topics

You can see here what we discussed so far about drinking water treatment (make sure you scrol down below the fold):
forum.susana.org/249-drinking-water-treatment

and about solid waste management:
forum.susana.org/208-solid-waste-management

While I was doing some basic re-arrangements, I took some of Dean's suggestions on board:
E.g. I have dissolved/renamed/rearranged the former sub-category on "Processing technologies for excreta or faecal sludge" and have also taken a closer look at the one on "other types of toilets" and "innovations".

Dean: please check if it's better now?
See here for an overview:
forum.susana.org/33-sanitation-systems

I still have a problem with the category on "Decentralised treatment systems". Many technologies can be implemented at a range of scales. For example constructed wetlands can be small, at a household level, or large at a municipal level with 100,000 or more people connected. For me it is more logical to have it grouped by technology, like we currently have it, e.g. with a sub-category on constructed wetlands, one on DEWATS etc.

On the other hand, I see also the popularity of the term "decentratlised treatment systems" and I also see that sometimes people want to compare different systems. Like it was done for this thread about Kabul in Afghanistan:
forum.susana.org/235-design-and-technolo...ut-kabul-afghanistan

So I am still a bit at a loss how to solve this conundrum. Perhaps a sub-category on "Comparisons between different wastewater treatment systems" which could go under "Various topics of sanitation systems" could be useful?

Regards,
Elisabeth
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