Developing better on-site wastewater treatment strategies for developing countries
Investigators: Dirk Erler, Bradley Eyre, Douglas Tait and Leigh Davison
Funding: AusAID, NZAid, CIMRIS,
Broad Objective: This project aims to develop better technologies for the treatment of domestic wastewater in the Pacific
Nutrient discharge from septic tanks in Pacific Island nations is thought to be a significant contributor to the eutrophication of once pristine coral reef ecosytems. Because many Pacific Island nations rely on the natural beauty of their marine resources to attract tourists, inappropriate sewage treatment could seriously impact their economic stability. While a number of â€śoff the shelfâ€ť products are available to treat domestic effluent, most require significant financial outlay, have a high space requirement or need ongoing specialist maintenance. Experience has shown that such systems are destined for failure in developing countries. Our research is two pronged, firstly, together with our research partners at CIMRIS (Cook Islands Marine Resource Institute Strengthening), we have designed a range of simple cost effective on-site sewage treatment systems for use in permeable sand environments. The systems have been called the ecoTrench and this component of the project involves installing and testing the ecoTrench in the Cook Islands. The secondly component of the project incolves studying the effects of nutrient rich discharge on ground and lagoon water quality in coral islands.
To date we have installed two ecoTrenches on the island of Rarotonga. The monitoring component of the project will be completed in December 2010. Currently we are also running a number of trials to look at how sewage discharge affects groundwater in coral islands.
Updated: 21 December 2010