Written by Jens Götzenberger
BORDA Partner - DHAN Foundation
On 15 September 2009, DHAN Foundation’s Centre for Urban Water Resources (CURE) organised an awareness-building workshop on “Decentralised Wastewater Management” at Thamakkum Grounds, Madurai. The workshop was organised within the scope of the Madurai Symposium 2009, which thematically focused on “Advancing Development towards Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)” and was sponsored by CDD Society.
About the Madurai SymposiumThe Madurai Symposium is a development platform where development stakeholders - community institutions, civil societies, the Government, non-government organisations (NGOs), financial institutions and academia converge at Madurai for conventions, conferences and a development carnival. Three biennial symposiums were organized in Madurai in 2003, 2005 and 2007. Each Symposium was attended by over 15,000 participants. The 2009 Madurai Symposium focused on “Advancing Development towards MDGs”. People conventions, conferences and workshops were organized on themes such as poverty, women and children, environment and global partnership. The Symposium again was an opportunity for all the stakeholders of development to consolidate their experiences and field practices, share what they have learned, and establish an agenda for realizing the MDGs. DHAN CURE organised an one-day workshop in collaboration with Consortium for DEWATS Dissemination (CDD) Society on the second day of the Symposium in order to create awareness on alternative sanitation management strategies which can complement conventional treatment paradigms.
Objective of the Workshop on “Decentralised Wastewater Treatment”
During the awareness creating Workshop the importance of sanitation in achieving MDG 7 – Environmental Sustainability – and the other goals was discussed. The participants discussed technical solutions and approaches for decentralised wastewater treatment as well as the different fields of application and the benefits of such technologies. In an open discussion, the lead questions of the workshop were discussed. These included the scope for centralised and decentralised technologies, advantages and disadvantages of decentralised management approaches, the role of different stakeholders in promoting decentralised sanitation solutions and through this, working towards achieving the sanitation and the other goals of the MDG.
Approximately 50 participants attended the Workshop during the entire day. An additional number of floating participants attended the Workshop partly making it possible to participate in other parallel ongoing seminars and workshops.
Participants included delegates from local bodies such as engineers from Madurai Municipal Corporation, Public Works Department (PWD), Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Sewerage Board (TWAD) and the District Administration; as well as participants from other Municipalities and Panchayats. Additionally professors, research staff, lecturers and students from surrounding universities and technical colleges attended the 7-hour program. Other participants came from NGOs, the private sector, and Tamil Nadu Urban Infrastructure Financial Services. Besides these, external participants, the staff of DHAN Foundation also attended the workshop. These included research staff and post-graduate students from Tata-Dhan Academy as well as executive staff from the different DHAN programmes and locations.
Release of CURE publicationAt the beginning of the programme, CURE’s latest publication was released by Mr. Gopalram of TWAD Board and handed over to Mr. Stanzin Tsephel, CDD Society. The book named “Alternatives in Sanitation Management” was written by Mr. Götzenberger, CURE, and published in collaboration with CDD Society and BORDA. The book describes and discusses current and planned wastewater management practices in India in general. It is based on a case study on Madurai City and gives recommendations for improved sanitation management by integrating decentralised approaches into the conventional sanitation management (hybrid solution).
PresentationsThe Workshop was inaugurated by Mrs. J. Kanagavalli (Programme Leader, DHAN Foundation, Madurai) by welcoming the participants and introducing the resource persons. Following the introduction, Mr. Jens Götzenberger (Programme Officer, DHAN Foundation and CIM Integrated Expert) elaborated on the ‘Relation between Water and Sanitation and Achieving MDG 7’ and the other seven MDGs to show the relation between the Workshop and the overall motto of the Symposium. Subsequently, Mr. Joseph Ravikumar (Senior Water and Sanitation Specialist at Water and Sanitation Programme (WSP) of the World Bank, New Delhi and Mr. Pravin More (Urban Sanitation Consultant WSP) presented GoI’s National Urban Sanitation Policy and WSP’s Decision Support Tool for City Sanitation Plans followed by a WSP film on ‘Urban Sanitation’. After a round of discussion, Mr. Stanzin Tsephel (Executive Coordinator, CDD Society, Bangalore, representing BORDA) and Mr. Rajesh Pai (Coordinator, Monitoring and Evaluation Unit, CDD Society, Bangalore) presented Decentralised Sanitation Solutions and Approaches and the principles of DEWATS. A discussion focusing on the technical features of DEWATS and areas of applicability was followed by the film “DEWATS at Aravind Eye Hospital” produced by CSR Auroville. This was to showcase DEWATS technology working in praxis. Before lunch break, Mr. V.C. Sudhakar (President of Musiri Selection Grade Town Panchayat) and Mr. Vijay Anand (Project Coordinator EXNORA International, Chennai) presented a case study of a Community Based Sanitation (CBS) project combined with DEWATS, which is successfully implemented in Musiri, Trichy, as well as about the CBS-DEWATS approach in general, including social and technical aspects and benefits.
The afternoon programme started with the handover of a memento from Mr. Tsephel to Mr. Sudhakar, followed by the screening of IIYW’s film “Evidence for Hope” to focus attention on social aspects of CBS-DEWATS and to showcase another successful implementation. Subsequently Ms. Sowmya Haran (Director of Alchemy Urban Systems Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore) made a presentation on City Wide Sanitation Planning using Decentralised Approaches followed by a discussion round including the drawbacks of DEWATS, applicability of DEWATS for industrial use and in hilly areas. Ms. Haran’s presentation was followed by a presentation by Mr. S.T. Gopalram (Deputy Chief Engineer Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Sewerage Board (TWAD), Chennai about Sewerage Systems in Urban and Coastal Areas – an Integrated Approach in Tamil Nadu. The ensuing discussion focused on the restrictions of the implementation of sewerage treatment plants, TWAD Board’s future approach regarding decentralisation and potential reuse options for effluents of wastewater treatment systems.
Open Discussion and Way ForwardFollowing the presentations, the three lead questions of the workshop were discussed by a panel which included the eight key speakers and the audience.
The first question focused on the areas of applicability of decentralised systems. The detailed answers included settlements in the periphery of cities (peri-urban areas) where population density is low and provision for an underground sewer system is economically not viable, locations where the effluent could be directly reused, institutions like schools or hospitals, slum areas, as well as areas where the topography would require excessive pumping of sewage.
The second question lead to a discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of decentralised systems which were elaborated. Simplicity, low running cost due to energy savings, minimal O&M needs, high local reuse potential of effluents, easy and efficient user involvement and participation, applicability at household, cluster and community levels, as well as easy stormwater separation and therefore reduced treatment capacity needs were some of the mentioned benefits. A higher total number of necessary treatment units, higher total land requirements and higher total costs compared to centralised systems were the named disadvantages of decentralised wastewater treatments.
The third discussed question focused on the role of different stakeholders in the promotion of decentralised systems. Education of the public, provision of funding and training of technical staff were some of the points defined for government institutions. NGO’s role was defined for awareness building, community mobilization and education, formation of a sanitation network, sanitation promotion - especially in rural areas - as well as provision of skills and knowledge. Academic institutions can promote decentralised technologies by integrating these techniques into their curricula, by implementing showcase units and through research. The corporate sector’s role was defined for implementation, provision of technical skills and incorporation of the promotion of decentralised technologies into their corporate social responsibility.
Recapitulation and Closing
Mr. Vasimalai (Managing Director DHAN Foundation) highlighted the necessity of decentralised systems which need to complement the conventional centralised approach - particularly in rural areas – the necessity for good demonstration units and resource mobilisation. In order to thank the key speakers for their contribution to the workshop Mr. Vasimalai handed over mementos to the resource persons. The programme was closed with words of thanks by Mrs. Kanagavalli and congratulations by Mr. Stanzin Tsephel before the workshop successfully finished with the National Anthem.
Accompanying the workshop’s programme, a small exhibition provided an overview of the technical features of DEWATS, areas of application and showcase units. EXNORA International showcased models to demonstrate how DEWATS units can be structurally integrated, and displayed different info material in the form of brochures, fact sheets and posters. CDD Society provided info materials in the form of fact sheets and brochures and showcased info boards about different application areas of DEWATS (CBS, SME) and the different components of the DEWATS programme, including capacity development and technical aspects. DHAN CURE presented a 1:10 scale DEWATS model to demonstrate the functioning of the treatment modules; and WSP distributed booklets and brochures about technology options for urban sanitation, public toilets and GoI’s National Urban Sanitation Policy.