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Standard for sewage treatment plants for better sanitation in developing countries


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A standard for sewage treatment plants is to improve the sanitation situation in developing countries. The international technical services group TÜV SÜD has been awarded a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to assess facilities aimed at 1,000 to 100,000 people. The project started in November 2015 and is designed for a term of seven months.

Over one-third of the global population do not have access to functioning sanitation facilities and sewage disposal. This lack of sanitation adversely affects social and economic development in the countries concerned and is also a source of significant environmental pollution. One challenge is the treatment of sludge that even if collected in conventional pit latrines or sewage tanks often there is a lack of proper disposal.

"Sustainable improvement of this situation requires innovative technologies that support decentralised solutions for sanitation facilities and wastewater treatment," says Dr Andreas Hauser, Director of Water Services at TÜV SÜD. The Omni Processor concept for example, might convert faecal sludge and possibly other solid organic wastes into beneficial outputs such as biomass for generating electricity, potable or drinking and non-potable water for irrigation or other purposes and ash without any negative impact on the environment.

TÜV SÜD will examine and evaluate the various requirements and possibly relevant standards for decentralized, community scale faecal sludge treatment solutions that would generate valuable resources such as drinking water or water for irrigation, fertiliser and biomass for energy production. This work is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "Systems of this size offer cost-effective operation and are therefore also a feasible business model", explains Dr Hauser. The TÜV SÜD expert believes that in addition to certain technical requirements, further critical criteria for these technologies to prevail and spread throughout the world will also include factors such as operation and maintenance, occupational health and safety, emission values and guidelines for quality management systems. Furthermore, the certification bodies in developing countries must be provided with the expertise and know-how to perform testing and certification of complex machinery that directly affect human health and the environment.