DEWATS at municipal colony, chathanad

an integrated solid and liquid waste management system for municipal colony

Pilot intervention at Chathanad canal

The disaggregation of the town into canalsheds allowed us to fix sanitation priorities and to propose and carry out a comprehensive intervention at Chathanad canal

Condition before intervention
After intervention and beautification
Public toilet before intervention
Aerobic unit and refurbished toilet block, now a reading room

Step 1: Institution building

The civil and household surveys in the pilot ward were carried out by civil engineering students from local engineering colleges (Cochin University College of Engineering, Kuttanad) and a survey protocol was developed. The Consortium for DEWATS Dissemination (CDD Society) and NEERI were roped in to develop a technical solution to deal with wastewater pollution in Chathanad canal. Based on the analysis, it was decided to focus on specific pollution hotspots, i.e Municipal Colony, Chathand which lacked improved sanitation facilities. 

As part of the social engineering process, Canal committee formation was initiated at Chathanad canal. The first two meetings were presided over by the ward councillor Rameesath. KILA district coordinator Jayaraj educated them about the present condition of the canals and the need to rejuvenate them.

In April 2018, the CANALPY campaign was officially launched as a people’s effort to clean and reclaim the canal commons of Alappuzha. 

step 2: canal cleaning campaign

The primary aim of the Chathanad cleaning held on Republic Day, 2019  was to promote the idea of ‘Youth Reclaiming Canals’. By cleaning the canal stretch of 1.51 km at Chathanad through a completely inclusive participation by mobilizing participants and volunteers from Alappuzha the CANALPY team achieved the aim in raising awareness on the ownership and responsibility in maintenance of the canal. 

To ensure the involvement of people from the neighbourhood of Chathand canal, the youth from CANALPY collected lunch packs and tools for cleaning the canal from the houses next to the canal itself. The canal was cleaned in a day, and the flow was reinstated through the clean canal – this went a long way in changing the perception of the general public. The mindset of the neighbourhood residents, as well as the youth who were part of CANALPY also changed – that it is possible to effect change as a mass effort. 

step 3: An integrated solid and liquid waste management system for Municipal Colony

Chathanad Municipal colony is a settlement of 52 households composed mainly of contingency workers of the Municipality. The existing sanitary facilities in the colony was just a public toilet, which due to non maintenance had fallen to disrepair. The blackwater was being managed by a combination of septic tank and a biogas unit, but due to a lack of maintenance both were heavily compromised. There was leachate everywhere which eventually found a way to the canal, and it was safe to assume that only the solids were getting contained. Additionally, the below standard sanitation facilities had led many residents to construct their own toilets close to or behind their homes, and these were mostly unimproved single pits which overflowed into an open drain in between the houses. This drain also carried the greywater and sometimes solid waste from households which leached into the canal. 

This project contains mainly two types of construction according to their functions, individual toilet construction to each house and a centralized wastewater treatment system. Onsite treatment systems for individual houses are not possible due to lack of land availability and thus a toilet for every residence is provided and a pipe is connected from each toilet to a common underground pipe and then to the common settling tank. Grey water from every house is also collected via a separate basin to reach the settling tank through the same pipes, connected by a manhole. A baffle reactor is constructed to treat the waste water which is pumped from the settling tank. The water gets purified when passing through the 6 chambers of the baffle reactor. It is further treated to 90% purity by passing through a gravel bed and a planted filter. All the tanks are constructed using reinforced concrete and a sump pump is used to pump the water from the settling tank to the baffled reactor.

step 4: a community toilet to a student’s space

The existing community toilet was renovated by demolishing the partition walls and converting the entire building into one space which can be adapted to a children’s study area by providing tables and internet connectivity. 

step 5: an aerobic composting unit from municipality

Since the colony generated more organic waste every day than which could be safely disposed of in bio-bins or a biogas plant, it was determined that the colony needed an aerobic composting system of its own. There was enough land to construct 5 aerobic composting units in the area north of the refurbished public toilet. This was constructed as a part of the Municipality’s solid waste management program.

step 6: beautification campaign by local artists

The area behind the houses which used to get waterlogged was now renovated and then beautified with the help of a local artist group. The walls of the road lining the canals entering the colony was also similarly painted through the voluntary contribution of a group of local artists.