Natural treatment system models for wastewater management a study from Hyderabad, India

Wastewater generated (330 km3/yr) on a global scale has become a significant component of hydrological cycle and water resources which necessitates appropriate management strategies in view of energy and environment. However, the complexities associated with wastewater are lack of economically viable treatment systems, especially in low- and middle-income countries. In view of this, we propose natural treatment systems (NTS) such as natural wetlands that are eco-friendly, cost effective, and can be jointly driven by public bodies and communities. In order for it to be part of wastewater management, we explore the NTS potential for removal of pollutants, cost effectiveness, and reuse options for the 1.20 MCM/day of wastewater generated in Hyderabad city, India. Under the Europium Union funded program ‘Saph Pani’, a pilot experiment has been carried out at wastewater irrigation landscape in Musi River basin. Hydrogeological, geophysical and bio-chemical investigations on the wastewater fed natural wetland determines its structure and functions with the pollutant removal efficiency for organic content (76–78%), nutrients (77–97%), and microbes (99.5–99.9%) from the wetland-treated wastewater and its suitability for agriculture applications. With the engineering interventions, we developed NTS models i.e. (i) constructed wetlands (ii) minimized community wetlands, and (iii) single outlet system suitable for urban, peri-urban and rural areas, respectively. Further, the cost benefit analysis (CBA) illustrates the capital cost of proposed NTS models with 2-10 times cheaper than the conventional STPs. Furthermore, farmer-consumers surveys and stakeholders’ workshops endorsed with the joint public body–community driven models of NTS as a long-term practice to contribute to wastewater management on a sustainable mode. The potential implications of the study can be under ‘Swatch Bharat Abhyan’ a national programme in India.


Sonkamble, Sahebrao; Wajihuddin, Md.; Jampani, Mahesh; Sarah, S.; Somvanshi, V. K.; Ahmed, Shakeel; Amerasinghe, Priyanie; Boisson, Alexandre (2018), Natural treatment system models for wastewater management: a study from Hyderabad, India, 77, 2, 479-492. Doi: 10.2166/wst.2017.565