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Listening to the Earth: An Environmental Audit For Benedictine Communities
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Listening to the Earth: An Environmental Audit For Benedictine Communities


Listening to the Earth: An Environmental Audit For Benedictine Communities …

Listening to the Earth: An Environmental Audit For Benedictine Communities

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  • 1. LISTENINGTO THE EARTH An Environmental AuditFor Benedictine Communities by Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pennsylvania at Lake Erie-Allegheny Earth Force
  • 2. About the authors: This Environmental Audit for Benedictine Communities in Central and SouthAmerica was prepared under the direction of members of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, PA whose work with Earth Force, Inc. gives expression to the Community’s commitment to Ecological Stewardship. Principal author, William L. Bartlett, graduated from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Mathematics; he has been an advocate for environmental protection and human rights through hiswork with various non-profit making organisations. Presently he is preparing to spend a year serving as an Americorps volunteer working with Lake Erie- Allegheny Earth Force, where he will continue to work with groups of youthtrying to implement sustainable changes in their communities. He remains very grateful for the Benedictine community of Erie, and for his beautiful son who was born during the preparation of this manual. Annette Marshall, OSB has served as Director of Administration for theWestern Pennsylvania (USA) branch of Earth Force* since 1997. After twenty-five years as teacher and school administrator in Catholic elementary and high schools, she now enjoys sharing her love for nature and her commitment to developing the next generation of civic leaders with school teachers and youth leaders. Pat Lupo, OSB has served as Program Director for the Western Pennsylvania (USA) branch of Earth Force since 1997. Daily through the education ofteachers and students and in her personal commitment to local, state, national and bi-national boards, Pat models responsible citizenship and environmental stewardship. Margarita Dangel, OSB has served as Education Director for the Western Pennsylvania (USA) branch of Earth Force since 1997. Her position as a summer camp director and assistant for environmental education at the Benedictine owned center prepared her in many ways to guide youth and educators to become actively involved in their community. Her goal is to help young people realize that they are really needed in their community and that they can contribute to finding solutions to environmental problems. * Cover image: “Web of Life” painting by Daniel Fallshaw
  • 3. LISTENING TO THE EARTH An Environmental Auditfor Benedictine Communities by William L Bartlett Margarita Dangel OSB Pat Lupo OSB Annette Marshall OSB Lake Erie-Allegheny Earth Force, Erie, PA, USA
  • 4. This publication is funded by The World Bank’s Faiths and Environment Initiative* with support from the President’s Contingency Fund in partnership with ARC (Alliance of Religions and Conservation)† The authors would like to thank: Joanne Robinson – Handbook Co-ordinator, ARC Tony Whitten – Coordinator, the World Bank’s Faiths and Environment Initiative Bekir Onursal and John Morton – World Bank peer reviewers Richard Prime – designerP. Martin Neyt OSB and Gisela Happ OSB – AIM, Alliance Inter-Monastères, Paris Jordi Sánchez – translation into Spanish IoL Language Services Ltd (Débora Chobanian) – translation into Portuguese Published in London 2006 This edition is also published in Spanish and Portuguese © Earth Force, Inc. 2006 * †
  • 5. ContentsFOREWORD by Joan D Chittister OSB . . . . . . vii The health effects of air pollution . . . . . . . 18 What’s causing the problems? . . . . . . . . . . 19ABOUT THIS MANUAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix What’s being done? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 What can we do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 BENEDICTINE LIFE AND MINISTRIES Outdoor Air Pollution: Inventory . . . . . . 20 1. Vehicles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 2. Community Transportation Practices. . . 21 Environmental Stewardship in Benedictine 3. Public Transportation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Life: Assessment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 4. Other Internal Combustion Engines . . . 22 5. Other Combustion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Environmental Stewardship in Benedictine 6 Ozone depleting substances . . . . . . . . . . 23 Life: Inventory. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 7. Herbicides and Pesticides . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 1. Prayer and Liturgy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 8. Community Tree Preservation . . . . . . . . 23 2. Ministries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 9A. Expert Environmental Information 3. Community Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Source. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 4. Community Leadership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 9B. Expert Public Health Information 5. Community Resource Management . . . . . 7 Source. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 6. Investments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Outdoor Air Pollution: Evaluation. . . . . . 24 Environmental Stewardship in Benedictine 1. Community Vehicles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Life: Evaluation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 2. Community Transportation Practices. . . 27 1. Prayer and Liturgy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 3. Public Transportation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 2. Ministries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 4. Other Combustion Engines . . . . . . . . . . 30 3. Community Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 5. Burning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 4. Leadership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 6. Ozone Depleting Substances . . . . . . . . . 31 5. Resource Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 7. Pesticides . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 6. Investments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 8. Community Tree Preservation . . . . . . . . 31 Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 9. Expert Information. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 322 AIR Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Indoor Air Pollution: Assessment . . . . . . 34Overview of Chapter:Air Pollution, Indoor Air pollution—Inside . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34and Outdoor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Air, Earth’s Sacred Gift. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Indoor Air Pollution: Inventory. . . . . . . . 34 Combustion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 1. Types and uses of community fuel . . . . . 34 Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 2. Getting fuel; buying and gathering . . . . 35 Overview of Outdoor and Indoor Air 3. Fuel drying (for biomass fuels). . . . . . . . 35 Pollution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 4. Health and Wellbeing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 5. Smoking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Outdoor Air Pollution: Assessment . . . . . 16 6. Ventilation of the Kitchen area . . . . . . . 36 This Chapter’s Assessments . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 7. The stove . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Our Atmosphere: A Gift to be Preserved . . 16 8. Smoke extraction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Problems in the Air . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 9. Education, Policy, and Civic Engagement38 i
  • 6. Listening To The Earth Indoor Air Pollution: Evaluation . . . . . . . 38 Site-Specific Source: Evaluations. . . . . . . 61 1-2. Types, Uses, Costs of Community’s Surface water (A) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Fuel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Ground Water: Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 3. Fuel Drying . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Ground water: Dug wells (B) . . . . . . . . . . . 62 4. Health and Wellbeing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Ground water: Boreholes (C) . . . . . . . . . . . 63 5. Smoking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Ground water: Springs (D). . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 6. Ventilation of the kitchen area. . . . . . . . 39 Rainwater (E) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 7-8. The stove and smoke extraction . . . . . 40 Water vendors (F) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 9. Education, Policy, and Civic Engagement41 Piped Water (G) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 413 DRINKING WATER Water Conservation: Inventory . . . . . . . . 69 1. Monitoring Water Consumption . . . . . . 69 2. Leaks and plumbing fixtures . . . . . . . . . 69 Water: Catalyst and Crisis . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 3. Water Provider’s Practices . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Water: The Catalyst of Life . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 4. Education and Personal Habits . . . . . . . 70 Water: Global Crisis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 5. Using Greywater. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Uses and Abuses of Water Resources . . . . . 46 Assessment of Community Practices . . . . . 47 Water Conservation: Evaluation . . . . . . . 70 1. Monitoring Water Consumption . . . . . . 70 Drinking Water Quality and Source 2. Leaks and plumbing fixtures . . . . . . . . . 71 Protection: Inventory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 3. Water Provider’s Practices . . . . . . . . . . . 71 1. Main Drinking Water Source . . . . . . . . . 47 4. Education and Personal Habits . . . . . . . 72 2. Potential sources of pollution: . . . . . . . . 48 5. Using Greywater. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 3. NGO involvement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 4. Community Water Governance . . . . . . . 49 46 Ways of Saving Water . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74 5. Water Quality Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Saving Water Outdoors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 6. Water Treatment by the Community . . . 49 General Water Saving Tips. . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 4 SANITATION AND WASTE 7. Water Storage. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Drinking Water Quality and Source Protection: Evaluation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Overview: Sanitation, Municipal Waste, and 1. Water sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Hazardous Waste . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 2. Water Source Pollution Hazards . . . . . . 51 3. Water resource protection committee . . 52 Community Excreta Handling and 4. Water Governance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Sanitation: Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 5. Water quality testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Ecological Sanitation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 6. Water Treatment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Sanitation and Population Explosion: A 7. Water handling. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Deadly Mix? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Excreta: Environmental Pollutant and Health Hazard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 Site-Specific Source: Assessment . . . . . . . 57 Sewered Sanitation Technology: Problematic A Surface Water . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 and Unsustainable . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 B Dug Well . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Sustainable Approach to Sanitation, and this C1 Borehole: Deep with Mechanized Assessment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 Pumping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 C2 Borehole with Handpump . . . . . . . . . . 58 Community Excreta Handling and D Spring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Sanitation: Inventory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 E Rainwater Collection and Storage . . . . . 59 1. Mix or No-Mix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 F Vendors (Tanker Trucks) . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 2. Soil conditions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 G Piped Water (General) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 3. Characteristics of Sanitation System: . . 82 G1 Piped Water (from Storage Tank) . . . . 60 4. Resource Recovery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 G2 Piped Water (from Water Provider) . . 60 5. Sewer Network . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 6. Waste Water Treatment . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84 ii
  • 7. 7. Hygiene Behavior . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 1. Community Waste Generation Survey 118 8. General Sanitation Practices . . . . . . . . . 85 2. Community’s Practice for Solid Waste Collection and/or End-Disposal . . . . . . . . 119Community Excreta Handling and 3. Solid Waste Collection . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121Sanitation: Evaluation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 4. Recycling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122 1. Mix or No-Mix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 5. Land Disposal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123 2. Soil Conditions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 6. Seeking Expert Information . . . . . . . . . 125 3. General Characteristics of Sanitation 7. Cleaning of Public Areas . . . . . . . . . . . 126 System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 8. Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127 3i. Characteristics of Sanitation System: Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128 Plumbing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93 3ii. Characteristics of Sanitation System: Hazardous Products and Wastes: Components . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94 Assessment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129 3iii. Characteristics of Sanitation System: An Overview of this Assessment . . . . . . . 129 Emptying . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 What is Hazardous Waste? . . . . . . . . . . . 129 Evaluation of Sanitation Facilities (3-3iii) . 97 How Hazardous Waste Affects Health. . . 130 4. Resource Recovery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 How Hazardous Waste Affects the 5. Sewer Network. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 Environment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130 6. Wastewater Treatment . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101 What needs to be done? . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132 7. Hygienic Behaviors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103 Your Community’s Responsibility . . . . . . 133 8. General Sanitation Practices . . . . . . . . 103 Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104 Hazardous Products and Wastes Handling: Inventory. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133Community Solid Waste Management: 1. Hazardous Product Survey. . . . . . . . . . 133Assessment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105 2. Hazardous Product Handling. . . . . . . . 134 Preserving the Gifts of Garbage . . . . . . . . 105 3. Quantities and Priorities . . . . . . . . . . . 135 The Inherent Dangers of Solid Waste . . . 105 4. Legislative Policy Framework and Regional The Waste Crisis: A Burden Borne by the Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135 Poor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106 Contributions to the Mismanagement of Hazardous Products and Wastes Handling: Waste . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109 Evaluation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136 What’s Being Done? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109 1-2. Hazardous Product Inventory and Community Action. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110 Handling. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136 3. Quantities and Priorities . . . . . . . . . . . 149Community Solid Waste Management: 4. Legislative Policy Framework and RegionalInventory. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110 Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149 1. Community Waste Generation Survey 110 Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150 5 ENERGY 2. Community Waste Collection and Disposal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112 3. Solid Waste Collection . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113 4. Recycling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113 Energy: The Animation of the Universe 155 5. Land Disposal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114 Properties of Energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155 6A. Waste Handling Workers or Workers’ Many Forms of Energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155 Association . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115 Electricity, a Special Form of Energy . . . . 156 6B. Governmental Regulatory Agency . . . 116 Electricity: Modern ‘Utility’ . . . . . . . . . . . 156 6C. Environmental Information Source . . 116 The Grid and Social Inequality . . . . . . . . 157 6D. Expert Public Health/Safety Producing Electricity, Creating Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116 Catastrophes? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157 7. Cleaning of Public Areas . . . . . . . . . . . 117 Sustainable Alternatives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159 8. Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117 Keeping Energy Sacred . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159Community Solid Waste Management: Electricity Production Practices:Evaluation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118 Inventory. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160 iii
  • 8. Listening To The Earth 1 Community Consumption . . . . . . . . . . 160 4. Refrigeration and Freezing . . . . . . . . . . 176 2 Community Generative Potential . . . . . 160 5. Water Heating . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176 3 Community Generative Practices . . . . . 160 6. Lighting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177 4. Sources of Expert Information . . . . . . . 161 7. Electric Motors and Pumps . . . . . . . . . 177 5. Electricity Provider Governance. . . . . . 162 8. General Conservation Practices . . . . . . 177 6. Public and Environmental Safety. . . . . 163 7. Provider Quality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163 Electricity/Energy Conservation: 8. Community Practices and Education . . 163 Evaluation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 178 1. Community Energy Use . . . . . . . . . . . . 178 Electricity Production Practices: 2. Air Conditioning/Cooling . . . . . . . . . . . 178 Evaluation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 164 3. Air/Space Heating . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181 1. Community Consumption . . . . . . . . . . 164 4. Refrigeration and Freezing . . . . . . . . . . 181 2. Community Generative Potential. . . . . 164 5. Water Heating . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182 3. Community Generative Practices. . . . . 165 6. Lighting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183 4. Sources of Expert Information . . . . . . . 169 7. Electric Motors and Pumps . . . . . . . . . 183 5. Electricity Provider Governance. . . . . . 169 8. General Conservation Practices . . . . . . 184 6. Public and Environmental Safety. . . . . 170 Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184 6 AFTER THE AUDIT: DEVELOPING AN 7. Provider Quality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171 8. Community Practices and Education . . 171 Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172 ACTION PLAN Prioritizing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187 Conservation Practices: Inventory. . . . . 173 Evaluating Options. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 188 1. Community Energy Use . . . . . . . . . . . . 173 Generating an Action Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . 189 2. Air Conditioning/Cooling . . . . . . . . . . . 173 3. Air/Space Heating . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174 Appendix: General Resources . . . . . . . . . . 190 iv
  • 9. v
  • 10. vi
  • 11. Foreword A Benedictine Consciousness Whose Time Has Come—Again by Joan D. Chittister OSB f you are wondering why you are even considering such a thing as an ‘environmental audit’ inI a life that seems so removed from such processes, consider the time in which you live. There are two moments in history when Benedictinism has been needed in a very special way:the first was in the 6th century; the second is now. In the 6th century, Europe was reeling from the loss of civil order and the breakdown ofagrarian communities. Farm lands lay in ruin from the movement of foreign invaders acrossEurope, trade routes were unsafe with the loss of the Roman Legions and the countryside was leftovergrown and in ruins. To that sorry state, Benedictinism brought a new system of order, a new pattern of life, a newcommitment to the land and to life. Almost 700 years later, Cistercian groups again devotedthemselves to the reforestation, the replanting and the reclamation of some of the worst land inEurope. As a result of those conscious efforts, Europe became a garden again. Life thrived. Peopleorganized themselves into productive communities. Agriculture flourished everywhere. Now, in this last century, our own century, after over 100 years of erosion, pollution, and thediminishment of natural resources by most unnatural means, the whole world is becoming alertto the relationship between the gift of creation and sins against creation again. The garden we were given to live in as a people, we have failed to tend. The solemncommitment we made as a species to steward the fruits of the earth we have failed to honor. On the contrary. We have all taken it for granted, even while it was being plundered right infront of our eyes. The industrial revolution that made the robber barons rich also made the globe poor: Wepoisoned our fresh waters and drowned them in tin cans and coffee cups. We wasted our forestsand drained the world of their medicinal herbs. We turned farmland into grazing land to makecheap hamburgers and so denied the people of the land, the very land they needed to live. Webelched gasses into the atmosphere till people died from the lack of fresh air. We saturated ourfarmlands with chemicals which, in the end, ironically, bled them dry of nutrients. We strippedthe globe of whole species of animals. We dealt carelessly, recklessly, heedlessly and arrogantlywith the very resources that sustained us. Now, we find ourselves locked in mortal struggle between those who are trying to redeem thoseresources and those who are simply committed to making even more quick money on what’s leftof them. We find ourselves faced with those whose philosophy of life is “after me the deluge,”—who use what’s available without restraint and leave the problem of scarcity to generations tocome—and those who simply fail to understand the magnitude of the problem and so go onblindly, using what we should be saving, destroying what we cannot do without. Time is of the essence; the future is at stake. We are choosing between a philosophy ofconsumption that gobbles up the world for its own satisfaction and a philosophy of co-creationthat is committed to preserving natural resources for the sake of those to come. vii
  • 12. Listening To The Earth We are choosing now between those who are willing to drain the present for the sake ofpersonal gratification and those who, loving the present, love it enough to preserve its richnessfor the sake of the future, as well. Clearly the whole world needs Benedictinism again, needs a mindset that cares for the tools oflife “as if they were vessels of the altar.” We need a sense of balance, of enoughness, ofstewardship and a sense of the eternal presence of God. We need a life lived in harmony with theseasons, the sun, the self and the other. For Benedictines, an environmental audit is not a fad. It is not a social nicety. It is certainlynot an option. It is simply a contemporary manifestation of an ancient commitment to therhythm of the earth, the needs of the community and the God of Creation. Congratulations to those who see its sacramental value, its claim to the Benedictine heart.They shall be called blessed for centuries to come, just as our ancestors before us. viii
  • 13. Preface About This ManualIntentions municipality, or town is implied, the word “community” will be qualified with adjectives such his manual was assembled specifically for as “larger” or “greater.”T Benedictine religious communities in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC)region. Nevertheless, the majority of the manual’s Premisescontent can easily be applied to any population, The following controversial presumptions underlieespecially those living in the LAC region. While the content of this manual:most of the explanatory text focuses on theconditions of the LAC region, the main 1) That a respect for Creation, or reverence forenvironmental principles that underlie the the environment to which we areregional—specific information are applicable to intrinsically connected, is an essentialany region of the world. It was intended that this spiritual attitude.manual be as broad as possible, give attention to 2) That industries, governments, andboth rural and urban environments, but address municipal operations (like water suppliers,only those issues that can be affected by the trash haulers, etc) should be operated in aactions of ordinary citizens. transparent and democratic manner; that is, The main intentions of this manual are to (1) that citizens should both be able to knoweducate the reader about environmental problems how a system is operating and be able toand crises being faced by the world’s populations directly influence the, (2) to provide the communities that utilize 3) Best practices are those that minimize orthe manual with a means of assessing how their eliminate adverse environmental impacts.daily practices may contribute to these problems, 4) That despite the enormity of theand (3) offer ideas and resources regarding better environmental problems being faced—practices. which are often large enough and serious Thus, each subject area consists of three enough to be called crises—there is stillsegments: an introduction, an inventory, and an hope that future generations may still liveevaluation. The introductions provide background on this earth, and thus that actions we takeinformation about the subjects at hand, including today can make a difference.the scope and importance of the problems, andhow individuals’ actions contribute to the Guidance for using this manualproblems. The inventories, then, are series ofquestions which are suggested approaches to For ease of understanding, it is recommended thatinventorying the behaviors of community the introductory material—contained in themembers. Lastly, each suggested inventory is Preface and Introduction—is read in its entiretyfollowed by an evaluation section that provides before reading the main text. It should be notedmore information specific to the questions asked in that the chapters in the main text are notthe inventory sections. organized in a chronological or methodological order; that is to say that the chapters may be usedTerminology in any order. The last chapter, “Developing an Action Plan,” is intended to help guideSince this manual was written specifically for communities into a decision making and actionreligious communities, throughout the work, the planning process after conducting one or moreword “community” will often be used. When the inventories. Thus, this chapter can be read as soonword is left unqualified, it may be assumed that the as the community is ready to take action. Thereferent of the word is your religious, or intentional resources found in the appendix can be usedcommunity. If the larger population of a barrio, throughout the process. It is recommended that ix
  • 14. Listening To The Earthyou review the appendix before beginning the work thus the entirety of available Spanishof the audit so that you may be familiar with the literature was not utilized, with very fewresources available to you in your work. exceptions. As mentioned before, each chapter begins with 2) The inventories are intended to analyze thean introduction section that provides background practices that are shared in a general wayinformation about the subject at hand. Following by the population of the LAC region. Asthe introduction are one or more assessments such, they do not adequately account forwhich focus upon a particular set of practices. The the vast diversity of living conditionsassessments will vary in their applicability to an encountered throughout this region. Thus,individual community’s characteristics, and a each inventory can at best be considered acommunity can choose which assessments it will suggested list of questions to ask. This workperform. Nevertheless, it is recommended that an in no way can make a claim to provide aentire chapter be read over completely before thorough analysis of a community’s totalmaking the decision, as some parts of an contribution to environmental pollution.assessment may be found to apply even when most 3) The majority of entries provided in theof it does not. appendix unfortunately assume that internet connectivity is available. As well,Content sources and acknowledgements there is an overabundance of English resources.This manual was mainly edited in the UnitedStates by an English speaking editor. It was Nevertheless, the amount of informationcomposed primarily with resources publicly provided by numerous citizens, agencies,available on the Internet, and all attempts have industries, and governments around the world thatbeen made to acknowledge the actual sources used. is pertinent to the environment of LAC is truly(See the Endnotes.) amazing and beautiful. Much gratitude is given by Given these characteristics, there are several the authors of this manual to all those workingweaknesses to the manual which suggest possible towards a sustainable future, especially those thatimprovements. The three most important publish their material for the benefit of allweaknesses, in the authors opinion are: humanity. 1) The resources used were written in English, Un otro mundo es posible! x
  • 15. Introduction Steps to a Successful Environmental Program ongratulations for your environmental Guidelines for Establishing a SuccessfulC stewardship! The very fact that you are reading this publication is evidence thatyour community has within it a seed for improving Environmental Program 1. Create a team or committee to take chargeyour community’s environmental practices. of the work of the Environmental Program.Hopefully, like you, your religious community has In general, the best way to approach thethe will to live sustainably; nevertheless it takes implementation of an Environmental Program inmore than just will-power to achieve this, and the your community is to form a team that isintention of this publication is to help you go responsible for carrying out the work of the audit,further. assessing the results, producing ecological In our present world, it is becoming ever more alternatives, and then helping the community toimportant that communities adopt a sustainable implement the changes. Perhaps this work maymanner of life that is in harmony with nature and begin with one or more motivated individuals innot opposed to it. Today, in all countries, we are your community who would like to increase thefacing the grievous effects of atmospheric environmental stewardship of your community, ordegradation, water pollution, and soil depletion. maybe it begins with a directive from above; butAside from upsetting the intricate balances found whatever provides the initial impetus for thewithin God’s creation, we are now finding that project, it is important that there is an identifiablechronic, debilitating, and often fatal, human head or executive member of the project. Besidesdiseases are on the rise. And it is our day-to-day the executive member, it is important thathabits that make the greatest contribution to the representatives from each department or serviceongoing ecological devastation. branch of your community serve on the committee To get the most out of this manual, it is (e.g. housekeeping, administration, grounds-recommended that your community establish an keeping, ministries, etc…) Beyond this, any otherongoing Environmental Program. An interested members of the community canEnvironmental Program implies that there is a volunteer to serve on the of people that are charged with the oversightof community environmental practices. This team, Characteristics of an Environmental Program Teamor committee, ensures that your community’s • Leadership: Someone in charge andpractices are continually moving towards accountable for the Programimproving the relationship between your • Regular Communication: Hold regularlycommunity and the Earth. Hopefully, with the scheduled meetings to discuss progress andresources found herein, you will be able to assess share new information or ideasyour community’s ecological impact, find policies • Recordkeeping: Record meetings,and practices that need to be changed, and gain discussions, and progressideas for more sustainable alternatives. The goal of • Shared vision: Develop and share a visiona successful Environmental Program is to change of what your community will look like atyour community’s practices in a permanent the height of ecological stewardship.manner. This requires thoughtful analysis, • Consensus: Cooperative decision-making toevaluation, and planning by a dedicated ensure a unified orientationcommittee. • Longevity: Maintain the Program’s team to continue progress 1
  • 16. Listening To The EarthThe committee should begin by establishing present your findings to the community at large forcommon ground by agreeing to fundamental their input in prioritizing. Practices that wereprinciples that will guide the work of the program found to be critically important or dangerous(e.g. a respect for Creation), and then extrapolating should, of course, be addressed first if possible.these principles into a shared vision of what yourcommunity could achieve someday if it were to Once your team has assessed your community’srealize all these principles in everyday practices. present practices, has established relationships with people or agencies that can further your2. Community Environmental Inventory understanding of issues and alternatives, and hasThe next major task of the team is to identify your established priorities, you are ready to give seriouscommunity’s environmental problems or threats consideration to alternative courses of action andand related community information, including its their potential consequences. Your team shouldstrengths. This is the step where your team gains develop a list of alternatives solutions to any oneawareness and creates visions: i.e. seeing “what is” problem. In creating this list, the rationale,and “what can be” more clearly, in terms of beneficial impacts, expected difficulties, costs, andenvironmental risks and sustainable development. measurability of each alternative should beThis is the step in which the chapters that follow included for analysis. Once this list is generatedcan be utilized most effectively. your team may wish to consult with the entire In addition, it is recommended that you community and/or outside experts, for help inidentify and analyze relevant public and private deciding which alternative to choose.policies in addition to your community’s policiesand practices. Examine who makes policy and how, Characteristics of a Reasonable Option for Actionand strive to understand different perspectives on • Compatible with the overall program goalsissues. • Acceptable to those who will work to In using this manual, it may be helpful to achieve themchoose to work on only one section, or • Understandable by everyoneenvironmental topic, at a time. Several of the • Motivational to encourage participation ofassessments included in this manual are fairly entire communityinvolved, and so several problems may be • Achievable with a reasonable amount ofidentified within one assessment. Thus, to prevent effortbeing overwhelmed by data, problems, and • Measurable over timeoptions, it may be a good idea to limit your team’sfocus to one area until your team feels that it has 5. Taking Actionthe capacity to move onward. Once your team has decided what it needs to do, an action plan needs be developed and3. Forging partnerships implemented. This plan should include theAs you conduct your inventory, you will have specifics regarding how to acquire and mobilize theseveral opportunities to create relationships with resources necessary for success, and a deadlineexperts, industries, and government officials. It is established. A budget may need to be created, andimportant to establish productive relationships funding secured. The plan should include how toand working alliances with these people whenever effectively communicate the change to otherpossible. These relationships provide a means of community members. As well, the means ofincreasing your team’s knowledge, experience, and assessing the action’s success should be developed.power. Thus, these partnerships can enhance your With all this accomplished, the action plan shouldability to effect change not only within your be executed and the results measured over time.religious community, but also throughout thelarger community. 6. Looking Back and Ahead Periodically, especially after an action plan has4. Setting Priorities and Evaluating Options been executed, the Environmental Program teamGenerally, the results of your audit identify several should reflect upon and assess the Program itself.areas that could be improved, but changing them Identify successes and failures, strengths andall at once is impractical. Thus, it is important to weaknesses, difficulties and examples of efficientprioritize your findings, and possibly even to functioning. The overall progress and effectiveness 2
  • 17. Introductionof actions taken should be assessed. It is importantto address the problems identified with theProgram, but it is equally important to celebrate itssuccesses! The goal of this reflection period is to updatethe Program with your learned experiences, and toidentify the next steps to take to continue movingyour community toward sustainability. 3
  • 18. 4
  • 19. Chapter 1 Benedictine Life and Ministries Environmental Stewardship in are telling us is that our planetary life-support system is in danger—and that it needn’t be, if we Benedictine Life: Assessment take perfectly feasible steps to protect it.” n the past 1500 years, Benedictines have held Environmentalists around the globe are calling forI Environmental Stewardship as an essential, defining value. It is an explicit policy of mostBenedictine monasteries and communities action on behalf of the planet. As earth citizens we have a responsibility to respond. As Benedictines we have a responsibility to help create a new visionworldwide to apply environmental stewardship for our planet by applying 1500 years of livedprinciples to their land, buildings and work. This community experience to the new realities facingsection of the Environmental Inventory is designed us. “When looking back at Benedict of Nursia andto examine the extent to which your community his legacy,” McCarthy, OSB, offers, “humilityembraces this core value, grows in its emerges as the primary gift that Benedictines canunderstanding of environmental responsibility, and offer a new millennium: a gift that will giveexpresses it in prayer, ministry and community life. positive shape to the human relationship with all The Earth Charter, forged at The Council for a the cosmos.” Humility helps us recognize that asParliament of the World’s Religions in 1993, human beings we are not outside or above thechallenges all of us: “We stand at a critical moment community of life. As spoken by Native Americanin Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose Chief Seattle, “We have not woven the web of life;its future. As the world becomes increasingly we are but a strand within it.” We depend on theinterdependent and fragile, the future at once holds whole for our very existence.great peril and great promise… The choice is ours: Today, we are challenged to extend theform a global partnership to care for the Earth and one traditional Benedictine value of stewardship byanother or risk the destruction of ourselves and the abandoning dominance and embracing inter-diversity of life. Fundamental changes are needed in dependence. We must recognize that our care forour values, institutions, and ways of living.” the earth extends far beyond this time and place. Just as our understanding of the universe in Native peoples of the Americas have long taught uswhich we live and the interrelatedness of all of to evaluate all that we do in light of “the seventhnature has been stretched and deepened by recent generation.” That is, our actions today must becosmological discoveries, stewardship needs to be viewed in terms of how they will affect those to bestretched to recognize the co-dependence that we born seven generations from now.share with the rest of the natural world. Anne Sustainability, meeting the needs of the presentMcCarthy, OSB, writes, “Stewardship assumes a without compromising the ability of futurerelationship in which the human is dominant: generations to meet their own needs, is a call toprimary, central, the superior species responsible justice. Sustainable living is an approach to socialfor all other lesser species. This essential and economic, indeed, all activities, for alldominance, even if a very benevolent, responsible societies, rich and poor, which is compatible withdominance is being critiqued in our day as the preservation of the environment. It is based ontroubling at best and destructive at worst.” a philosophy of interdependence, of respect for lifeHumans were not placed on the earth to dominate. as well as non-living parts of Nature, and ofRather, humans are one of many species sharing responsibility for future generations.this earth, part of a vast web. If humans are toprosper, so must the entire web. Principles for sustainable living include: We are living in a time when the ability of the • respect and care for the community of lifeearth to support future generations has been called • improve the quality of human lifeinto serious question. Donnella Meadows explains, • conserve the Earth’s vitality and diversity“What the scientists and now also the economists • minimize the depletion of non-renewable resources 5
  • 20. Listening To The Earth• keep within the Earth’s carrying capacity community ministry locations?• change personal attitudes and practices 123456789• enable communities to care for their own environments To what extent does the community include an• provide a national framework for integrating understanding of sustainable living practices as part of environment and conservation its education/expectation of employees working in its• create a global alliance ministries? Caring for the Earth: A Strategy for Sustainable Living, 123456789 WCU/UNEP/WWF If your community offers retreats, to what extent isAs we look to this section of the audit, we do so attention given to the relationship between humans andknowing that today’s call to Benedictine the cosmos, between humanity and the earth?Stewardship is a call to sustainable living. If we 123456789hold stewardship as a core value in our lives, it willnot be assigned to a segment of life; it will Is your community involved in teaching?permeate what we think and how we pray, minister Yes / Noand live together in community. If so, to what extent does it recognize the need for ongoing environmental education and training for itself and all those engaged in religious instruction? Environmental Stewardship in 123456789 Benedictine Life: Inventory To what extent does it promote environmental education(please answer where relevant according to the following within its schools/ organizations, especially among youthnumerical gradation: 1 = not at all, 9 = to a great and children?extent) 123456789 To what extent does it pursue peacemaking as an1. Prayer and Liturgy essential component of conservation action? 123456789To what extent does the community use songs/hymns,readings, and/or symbols during Community Prayer In its ministry of hospitality, to what extent does thethat call attention to creation? community model the use of sustainable practices and 123456789 promote these for guests? 123456789To what extent does the community include reflection onstewardship, sustainability, creation, responsible living, 3. Community Policyetc. in its communal prayer? 123456789 To what extent does the Community believe that sustaining environmental life systems is a religiousTo what extent does the community celebrate special duty?days/ observances that give attention to the universal 123456789call to care for the earth? (i.e. Earth Day) 123456789 To what extent do community members implement individual and communal actions on behalf ofTo what extent does the community promote the use of sustainable living?reflection materials that encourage ongoing development 123456789of ecological values? 123456789 Has the community committed itself to sustainable practices through the development of a community2. Ministries policy, expression in a corporate commitment or mission statement, and/or publication of a position paper?To what extent are sustainability practices promoted in Yes / No 6
  • 21. Chapter 1: Benedictine Life and Ministries4. Community Leadership Environmental Stewardship in Benedictine Life: EvaluationTo what extent does the Community Leadershipemphasize env-ironmental issues in teaching and At the end of each discussion section, there will beguidance to the community? statements and a list of numbers from which to choose. 123456789 Choose a number from 1-9 to indicate your assessment of how well your community represents the statementTo what extent does the Community Leadership given. (1 = disagree, community practices unhealthy; 9recognize the need for ongoing environmental education = agree completely, no change needed)and training for themselves and for communitymembers? 1. Prayer and Liturgy 123456789 As prayer and liturgy are the central expression ofHas the Community Leadership called for a self-review a religious community’s intentionality, theseand auditing process on conservation issues and its elements can be the most powerful means ofrenewal on a regular basis? expressing and reinforcing your community’s core Yes / No values. The content of your community’s liturgical life serves as a profound teaching opportunity, as it5. Community Resource Management raises the awareness of the praying community and helps to strengthen the members’ commitment toIf the community sponsors events/gatherings, to what the values expressed. Hence, if environmentalextent does the planning include attention to sustainable sustainability is indeed a core value of yourpractices such as purchasing locally grown food, avoiding community, it should find expression in prayer andexcessive use of paper products, recycling, use of green liturgy.products or services, mass transportation? If, on the other hand, your community does not 123456789 include environmental consciousness in its prayer life, you should determine why. Is it the case thatTo what extent is the community involved in sustainable environmental stewardship is not a shared value offood production and consumption? your community? Is it a value that is simply 123456789 unexpressed for lack of knowledge or resources? Or does the absence of inclusion reveal a divisionTo what extent does the community encourage within your community regarding this value? Eachsustainable land use practices such as organic food reason has its own set of possible solutions, andproduction, pesticide/herbicide reduction, habitat God’s inspiration should be sought to help guideprotection, maintaining green zones and/or use of land your efforts in uniting your community to acceptfor the poor? and express the importance of environmental 123456789 sustainability in this most important aspect of your community life.6. Investments Consult the references listed at the end of this chapter for resources on incorporatingTo what extent does the community use investment environmental consciousness into yourcriteria that promote ecological principals? community’s prayer life. 123456789 To what extent does the Community incorporateTo what extent does the community use fair trade environmental consciousness into its prayer life?practices devoid of financial, economic and political 123456789exploitation? 123456789 2. Ministries Ministries are the most direct way that your community can express its commitments and values to the greater community. As such, they can be the most powerful means of demonstrating 7
  • 22. Listening To The Earthleadership through example. Whether your greater chance that the policies may not be realizedcommunity expresses its service through in everyday practice. Leaders play a tremendouseducation, spirituality programs, providing food or role in unifying and influencing the actions of theother alms to the poor, or other ministry, the community since they are ultimately responsibledeeply held values of your community are for executing community decisions. Thus it isnaturally expressed both by the content and important that your community’s commitment tostructure of the ministry itself, and by the actions environmental stewardship be reflected in theof the individuals delivering the ministry. Thus, it communications and decisions made by theis important that your community ministries are community leadership. The leader(s) of theinformed by agreed upon principles, including community should see to it that sustainableenvironmental stewardship. Environmental principles are realized in ministries, liturgy, andstewardship can be expressed in any ministry. educational activities, as well as in the Your community’s ministries should exemplify administrative, fiscal, and domestic affairs of theenvironmentally sustainable practices and respect community. It is suggested that a permanentfor Creation to the greatest extent possible. All committee should exist to continually review thethose engaged in ministerial activities should be sustainable practices of all community affairs, to beeducated about both the importance of sustainable responsible for educating the rest of thepractices, as well as ways in which they can community regarding environmentally consciousexemplify these in their ministry. A deep respect practices, and to regularly update the leadership onfor Creation should be modeled in all activities. developments. The resources found at the end of this chaptermay be helpful in improving the Earth- To what extent does the Community’s leadership givecenteredness of your ministries. expression to environmental consciousness? 123456789To what extent does the Community incorporateenvironmental consciousness into its ministries? 5. Resource Management 123456789 The keystone to environmental sustainability is3. Community Policy the proper management of resources. Thus, to express its commitment to sustainable principles,The practices of individual members of your your community should definitely manage its owncommunity are ultimately the true expression of resources in the most sustainable manner possible.your community’s environmental stewardship; Community resources include the property,however, having policies in place which inform and buildings, equipment, and other commoditiesguide the actions of community members helps to owned by the community. Buildings, properties,unify and clarify the community intentions and and community events should be managed in avalues. Furthermore, having policies in place way that minimizes the impact on theprovides the opportunity to hold community environment.members accountable for their actions. Thus, it is The following chapters of this manual wereimportant that your community adopt policies to designed to more closely examine how well yourstrengthen and inform each member’s community incorporates sustainable practices intocommitment to environmental stewardship. its resource management.To what extent does the Community incorporate To what extent does the Community incorporateenvironmental consciousness into its community policy? environmental consciousness into resource management? 123456789 1234567894. Leadership 6. InvestmentsEven if your community has policies regarding While it is certainly the intention of investment toenvironmental stewardship and/or sustainability maximize the return, doing so without regard topractices, without the support and espousal of what or who is being invested in is nothing short ofthese by the community leadership, there is a irresponsible. Investments should be made in line 8
  • 23. Chapter 1: Benedictine Life and Ministrieswith community principles. Investing money is If you found areas of your community life that could besimply a way of encouraging those who receive your improved in regard to environmental stewardship andinvestment to succeed so that you can profit as sustainability, list them below:well. Hence to realize your community’scommitment to environmental sustainability, the Category (I-III)environmental record of potential investments Issue 1(companies and funds) should be reviewed beforeyour community makes the decision to invest. Or,if there are already standing investments, theseshould be audited in the same way and adjustmentsmade if deemed necessary. In addition, if yourcommunity does own stock in a company withquestionable practices, you can exercise your rights Issue 2as stockholders to bring attention to these issues atstockholder meetings, or directly influencecompany decisions if the company is small enoughor your position large enough.To what extent does the Community incorporate Issue 3environmental consciousness into its investments? 123456789Conclusions Issue 4Now enter the scores from each section in thecolumn on the right: score1 Prayer and Liturgy2 Ministries Now categorize each issue listed above into one of3 Community Policy the following three categories:4 Community Leadership I = Most important. Should be addressed immediately II = Important, but does not demand immediate5 Community Resource Management attention. Must be addressed III = Current practice should be improved, but is not6 Investments immediately important 9
  • 24. Listening To The EarthAcknowledgements for Chapter 1 Berry, 1999, Bell Tower NY. Dedicated to all children, the book calls us to experience creation as a source ofThe information contained in this chapter has been adapted from the wonder and delight. We are urged to move into thefollowing sources: future making use of the four-fold wisdom available (ofCaring for the Earth: A Strategy for Sustainable Living, indigenous peoples, of women, of classical traditionsWorld Conservation Union, United Nations and of science), using this moment of grace toEnvironmental Program and World Wildlife Fund, transform this cenozoic era into the ecozoic.Geneva, Switzerland, 1980 Voices of Hope in the Struggle to Save the Planet, byThe Earth Charter: A Religious perspective, in A Source Marjorie Hope and James Young, 2000, ApexPress,Book for the Community of Religions, Joel Beversluis, Council on International and Public Affairs, Inc., 777International Coordinating Committee on Religion and United Nations Plaza, Ste. 3C, New York NY 10017;the Earth, ed. Chicago: The Council for a Parliament of 800/316-2739. Beginning with the prophetic voice ofthe World’s Religions. 1993, Preamble. Thomas Berry, the book continues with the lives and ideas of key spiritual leaders in Judaism, western andA Humble Stance: Benedictines’ Gift to the eastern Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Shinto,Cosmos, McCarthy, Anne, OSB. American Benedictine and faiths of Native Americans and two otherReview, Volume 58, 2nd edition. p. 52. indigenous peoples.Expert Statements Worth Paying Attention To, The Environmental Books for Children. All available fromGlobal Citizen, Meadows, Donella,, Wordsworth, a publishing service. Write for catalogueSustainability Institute, Hartland, VT to Wordsworth, 702 NE 24th St. Newton KS 67114, (316) 283-6708.Resources for Chapter 1 Ecology and the Jewish Spirit: Where Nature and the Sacred Meet, edited by Ellen Bernstein, Jewish LightsInternet Resources Publishing, Sunset Farm Offices, Rte.4, PO Box 237, Woodstock, VT 05091; 800-962-4544. The first bookAlliance of Religions and Conservation: in the emerging field of religion and environment ARC is a secular body that helps the reflect a Jewish ecological perspective.major religions of the world to develop their ownenvironmental programs, based on their own core Ecology and Religion: Scientists Speak, John E. Carrollteachings, beliefs and practices. The web site contains and Keith Warner, OFM, editors, 2000, Franciscanseveral resources, both online and available in print. Press, Quincy University, Quincy IL 62301; 217/228- 5670; An interfaith group ofCatholic Conservation Center: religious scientists articulate their understanding of the Available en español. relationship between religion and ecology. The bookThis site contains several resources on incorporating challenges the various faith communities to address theenvironmental consciousness into Catholic life. environment as a legitimate religious concern.National Catholic Rural Life Conference: Peace with God the Creator, Peace with All Creation, a The NCRLC is is a membership resource packet of the US Catholic bishops’ Renewingorganization grounded in a spiritual tradition that the Earth program, includes homily helps; articles onbrings together the Church, care of community and ecological spirituality, environmental hazards, the goodcare of creation. Their website contains a variety of life and the problem of consumption; guidelines toinformation on environmental topics, particularly of integrate environmental education into responsibilitiesinterest to agricultural congregations. of parish committees; environmental justice resources,Earth Ministry/ Caring for Creation: and much more. Available from Environmental Justice The mission of Earth Program, US Catholic Conference, 3211 Fourth St.Ministry is to inspire and mobilize the Christian NE, Washington DC 20078, 800/235-8722.Community to play a leadership role in building a just Love of Nature and Environmental Activism: Danger orand sustainable future. (In English only.) There are Duty for Christians, by Paul Hansen, available fromseveral resources available here, including a 225 page Hansen, 2899 Agoura Rd., West Lake Village CAhandbook of their own. 91361; 805/498-6066. A helpful booklet for ChristiansEcoCongregation: working with Christians who are new to, or opposed to, Based in Europe, earthkeeping.EcoCongregation offers an ecumenical toolkit that Discovering Your Life-Place: A First Bioregionalencourages churches to weave creation care into their Workbook, by Peter Berg, Planet Drum Foundation,life and mission. They also provide an environmental 1998. Leads readers to a new appreciation of theiraudit manual with several modules. bioregion through practical, hands-on map-makingPrint Resources (in English) exercises, for rural or urban areas, all ages. Order fromEmbracing Earth: Catholic Approaches to Ecology, by Planet Drum Foundation, PO Box 31251, SanAlbert J. LaChance and John E. Carroll,editors, Francisco CA 94131; 415/ 285-6556;1994,Orbis Books, Maryknoll NY, 800/258-5838. of seminal contributions by contemporary Ministering with the Earth, by Mary Elizabeth MooreCatholic writers. Besides the editors, authors include: ($20), 1998, Chalice Press, St. Louis MO. Stories andThomas Berry CP; Miriam Therese MacGillis, theological discussion view the Earth as a sacredFrederich G. Levine, David Toolan SJ, Mary Rosera creation of God in which we participate in a covenantalJoyce, and more. relationship. Using the metaphor of quilt making, theThe Great Work: Our Way into the Future, by Thomas author challenges us to orient our spiritual life and ministry in partnership with (rather than caring for) 10
  • 25. Chapter 1: Benedictine Life and Ministriesthe Earth. Appendix includes a retreat design “Quilting different religious perspectives, explore ways to responda life in Relation to God and to God’s Creation.” to the environment as the spiritual issue of our time.Holy Ground: A Resource on Faith and the Ecotherapy: Healing Ourselves, Healing the Earth, byEnvironment ($5) 1997, by Sojourners, 2401 15th St. Howard Clinebell, Ph D, The Haworth Press, 1996; 10NW, Washington DC 20009; 800/714-7474. Study Alice St., Binghamton NY 13904. Clinebell bringsguide for four sessions – Covenant with Creation; together long overlooked issues at the boundarySystems of Environmental Degradation; Environmental between human health and the health of the naturalRacism; Justice and Living Rightly with the Earth; environment; plus theories and methods of ecologicalwritings, resources, activities and discussion questions. diagnosis, treatment and education.Forty Nights; Creation Centered Night Prayer, by Divided Planet: The Ecology of Rich and Poor, by TomDaniel J. McGill, Paulist Press, 997 Macarthur Blvd., Athanasiou ($24.95), Little Brown, New York, 1996. AMahwah NJ 07430, (201/ 825-7300) 1994. Blending challenging analysis of social and economic conditionsecology and ecumenism, these prayers are the author’s of the ecological crisis. A call to institute the radicalpersonal response to the spiritual and intellectual social and economic changes required to shift thetransformation of our age. Each of the 40 prayer priorities of the New World Order with its everservices may be used alone or with responses from a widening gap between rich and Women and the Environment, by Annabel Rodda,Celebrating the Earth, by Scott McCarthy, 1998 1991, United Nations Publications, 2 UN Plaza, RoomResource Publications, Inc., 160 E. Virginia St., San DC2-853, Dept.COO3, New York NY 10017, 800/253-Jose CA 95112; 408/286-8505. An earth-centered 9646. Focusing on women’s roles as users, producerstheology of worship with blessings, prayers and rituals and managers of the earth’s resources, the bookthat link Christian spirituality with the natural cycles explains all the major environmental issues and revealsand patterns of earth. how women can be a major force for environmentalPonderings From the Precipice: Soulwork for the New change. Includes a glossary of environmental terms, aMillennium, by James Conlon,1998 Forest of Peace guide to education and action, bibliography andPublishing, 251 Muncie Rd., Leavenworth KS 66048; resource guide.800/659-3227. Forty-eight short reflections intended as Your Health and the Environment: A Christiancompanions for moments of meditation. Perspective, by Shantilal P. Bhagat, 1998, Eco-JusticeNature, God and Pulpit by Elizabeth Achtemeier, 1992, Working Group of the National Council of Churches.paperback, Eerdmans. Intended primarily for preachers, Each of 13 chapters provides a biblical anchor,this book draws together and interprets all the biblical information, suggestions and. discussion questions.materials dealing with the natural world and God’s Order from NCC Environmental Justice Resources,relation to it. It also relates the materials to findings of 800/762-0968.modern science. Caring for Creation: Reflections on the Biblical Basis ofThe Greening of Faith: God, the Environment, and the Earthcare, by Lisa Lofland Gould, 1999, FriendsGood Life, John E. Carroll, Paul Brockelman, and Mary Committee on Unity with Nature, Burlington VT. FiveWestfall, editors, 1996, University Press of New chapters focus on Celebration, Humility, Connections,England, University of New Hampshire 1995. Fifteen Right Relationship and Stewardship; study guidephilosophers, theologians and environmentalists, from included.802/658-0308 11
  • 26. Listening To The Earth 12
  • 27. Chapter 2 Air Quality Assessment Overview of Chapter: process efficiency and fuel type. Generally, combustion results in the emission of complex Air Pollution, Indoor and mixtures of gases, organic pollutants, metals, and Outdoor fine particles. As a result of our practices, indoor and outdoorAir, Earth’s Sacred Gift environments are widely contaminated by complex mixtures of combustion-derived gases ir is our most precious resource, even and particles, and these pollutants create bothA though it is often taken for granted. All living things need air to survive. Withoutwater a person cannot live for more than a couple local and global human and environmental health problems.days, but without the oxygen found in air a person Definitionswould die within minutes. In fact, all animals andeven plants need air to survive. Unfortunately, In order to understand and communicate aboutpoor air quality, or polluted air, can be dangerous air pollution, it is quite helpful to know a little bitto life. Air that contains human-produced about the most common air pollutants. These arepollutants can and does kill plants, trees, and particulate matter (PM), oxides of nitrogen (NOX), oxides ofsmall organisms, and can cause extreme illness in sulpher (SOX), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbonhumans. It is up to us to become aware of and monoxide (CO), ozone (O3), carbon dioxide (CO2) andchange those practices of ours which contribute to chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). These are not by anythe poisoning of the Earth’s atmosphere. means the only pollutants, but they are the most common. Each is described below.Combustion Particulate matter, or PM, is the term for particles found in the air, including dust, dirt, soot, smoke,The most common way that humans affect air and liquid droplets. Particles can be suspended inquality is by burning different materials and fuels. the air for long periods of time. Some particles areThe process of burning is called combustion. large or dark enough to be seen as soot or smoke.Combustion in its various forms is probably the Others are so small that individually they can onlymain source of both indoor and outdoor air be detected with an electron microscope. Theypollution, and thus it will be mentioned come from a variety of sources such as cars, trucks,frequently in this assessment. For this reason, it buses, factories, construction sites, tilled fields,may be helpful to briefly describe combustion. unpaved roads, stone crushing, and burning of The most obvious example of combustion is a wood. PM is usually categorized by the size of thesimple fire like those used for cooking or heating, particles; e.g. PM10= less than 10 microns,burning refuse or cropland. However, internal PM2.5= particles up to 2.5 microns, etc.) Incombustion engines, like those used in general, the smaller the particles the moreautomobiles, trucks, generators, tractors, as well dangerous they are to living other engines like those used in airplanes, or Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a colorless, odorlessthose used in lawn care equipment also use gas that is formed when carbon in fuel is notcombustion for energy, and are very important burned completely. It is a component of motorsources of pollution. Combustion of fuels (usually vehicle exhaust, and so higher levels of COoil, coal, or natural gas) is also used for the generally occur in areas with heavy trafficproduction of electricity, as well as other industrial congestion. In cities, 85% to 95% of all COprocesses that require heat. emissions may come from motor vehicle exhaust. Not only are combustion processes diverse, but Other sources of CO emissions include industrialthe by-products emitted by them vary with processes (such as metals processing and chemical 13
  • 28. Listening To The Earthmanufacturing), residential wood burning, and dissolves in water vapor to form acid, andnatural sources such as forest fires. Woodstoves, precipitates as acid rain. SO2 interacts with othergas stoves, cigarette smoke, unvented gas and gases and particles in the air to form sulfates andkerosene space heaters are sources of CO indoors. other products that can be harmful to people andThe highest levels of CO in the outside air their environment.typically occur during the colder months of the Over 65% of SO2 released to the air, or moreyear when the air pollution becomes trapped near than 13 million tons per year, comes from electricthe ground beneath a layer of warm air (a process utilities, especially those that burn coal. Othercalled inversion). sources of SO2 are industrial facilities that derive Carbon dioxide (CO2) is also a pollutant, even their products from raw materials like metallic ore,though it is an important natural component of coal, and crude oil, or that burn coal or oil tothe atmosphere. Plants need it to grow; thus, produce process heat. Examples are petroleumvegetation removes CO2 from the air, and in turn refineries, cement manufacturing, and metalprovides us with the oxygen we need. CO2 is also processing facilities. Also, locomotives, large ships,a product of all combustion reactions. Carbon and some nonroad diesel equipment currentlydioxide is not directly harmful to our health; burn high sulfur fuel and release SO2 emissions tohowever, one important characteristic of CO2 is the air in large quantities.that it is able to reflect heat back towards the Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, is a generalearth. This process is called the ‘greenhouse term that covers a wide range of organic (i.e.effect,’ and consequently, CO2 is called a carbon-containing) compounds. VOCs may result‘greenhouse gas.’ When too much greenhouse gas from combustion processes, or from theexists in the atmosphere, the temperature of the evaporation of gasoline, solvent, and other organicearth begins to rise, and this can cause many compound vapors. VOCs (especially methane)severe problems. Since this is occurring, CO2 is an contribute to global warming, and they react withimportant pollutant to consider. (The greenhouse other pollutants to form ground level ozone. Someeffect and global warming will be discussed more VOCs are in and of themselves toxic andfully below in the Outdoor Air Pollution section.) hazardous to human health. Sources of VOCs Nitrogen oxides, or NOX, is the generic term for a include: paints, paint strippers, and othergroup of highly reactive gases, all of which contain solvents; wood preservatives; aerosol sprays;nitrogen and oxygen in varying amounts. Many of cleansers and disinfectants; moth repellents andthe nitrogen oxides are colorless and odorless. air fresheners; stored fuels and automotiveHowever, one common pollutant, nitrogen dioxide products.(NO2) along with particles in the air can often be Finally, Chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs are pollutantsseen as a reddish-brown layer over many urban that affect the amount of ozone found in theareas. NOX gases can also dissolve in water; when upper levels of the atmosphere—called the ‘ozonethis occurs in the atmosphere, the NOX causes layer.’ The ozone layer is the importantacid rain. Furthermore, NOX react with other component of the Earth’s atmosphere that blockspollutants to create smog. Nitrogen oxides form dangerous radiation from hitting us on thewhen fuel is burned at high temperatures, as in a ground. CFCs have been used extensively ascombustion process. The primary manmade refrigerants, aerosol propellants, and solvents, andsources of NOX are motor vehicles, electric are also used in some industrial processes. Onceutilities, and other industrial, commercial, and CFCs enter the atmosphere, it takes a very longresidential sources that burn fuels. NOX can also time before they stop affecting the ozone formed naturally. Thus, although their use and production has Sulfur dioxide, or SO2, belongs to the family of dramatically declined on account of a successfulsulfur oxide gases (SOX). These gases dissolve international agreement, called the Montrealeasily in water. Sulfur is prevalent in all raw Protocol, it will be at least 100 years before theirmaterials, including crude oil, coal, and ore that effects on the ozone layer disappear because ofcontains common metals like aluminum, copper, their long atmospheric lifetimes.zinc, lead, and iron. SOX gases are formed when Opposite is a table which summarizes thefuel containing sulfur, such as coal and oil, is information about these pollutants.burned, and when gasoline is extracted from oil, ormetals are extracted from ore. Like NOX, SO2 14
  • 29. Chapter 2: Air Most Common Air PollutantsPollutant Description Sources Health Effects Welfare Effects Headaches, reduced Motor vehicle mental alertness, exhaust, indoor heart attack,Carbon Monoxide Colorless, odorless Contribute to the sources include cardiovascular(CO) gas formation of smog kerosene or wood diseases, impaired burning stoves fetal development, death Combustion of anyCarbon Dioxide fuel, including oil, Does not directly Colorless, odorless Major contributor to(CO2) coal, natural gas, impair human gas global warming diesel fuel, gasoline, health etc. Deforestation Coal-fired power Contribute to the plants, petroleum Eye irritation, formation of acidSulfur Dioxide Colorless and refineries, wheezing, chest rain, visibility(SO2) reactive gas manufacture of tightness, shortness impairment, plant sulfuric acid and of breath, lung and water damage, smelting of ores damage aesthetic damage containing sulfur Susceptibility to res- Contribute to the Motor vehicles, piratory infections, formation of smog, electric utilities, andNitrogen Dioxide irritation of the lung acid rain, water Reddish brown, other industrial,(NO2) and respiratory quality deteriora- highly reactive gas. commercial, and symptoms (cough, tion, global warm- residential sources chest pain, difficulty ing, and visibility that burn fuels breathing) impairment Eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, Gasoline, solvents, loss of coordination, Major contributor,Volatile Organic Reactive carbon con- industrial processes, allergic skin reaction, along with NOx, to fatigue, dizziness,Compounds (VOC) taining compounds pesticides and other nausea; damage to ground level ozone, chemicals liver, kidney, and cen- or smog tral nervous system. Cancer Vehicle exhaust and Eye and throat Gaseous pollutant certain other fumes. irritation, coughing,Ozone (O3) Plant and ecosystem when it is formed in Formed from other respiratory tract damage the troposphere air pollutants in the problems, asthma, presence of sunlight lung damage Compounds Reacts with ozone in containing carbon, Used as refrigerants, upper atmosphere chlorine, fluorine, aerosol spray Generally do notChlorofluoro- whcich destroys the and hydrogen easily propellants, solvents, directly impaircarbons (CFCs) ozone layer. converted from and foam-blowing human health liquid to gas and Contributes to agents vice versa global warming Eye irritation, Visibility Very small particles Diesel engines, asthma, bronchitis, impairment, of soot, dust, or power plants, lung damage, cancer, atmosphericParticulate Matter other matter, industries, heavy metal deposition, aesthetic(PM) including tiny windblown dust, poisoning, damage droplets of liquids wood stoves cardiovascular effects Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2006) 15
  • 30. Listening To The Earth Overview of Outdoor and Indoor Air Gift to Life, as it is used by all plants and animalsPollution to sustain life. While it is generally available everywhere, today it is often in a condition that is The air surrounds us all, and we all share this gift not suitable for human health nor forwith each other. Yet despite this many of our environmental sustainability. These unacceptablepersonal and communal practices are not in accord conditions tend to especially occur in larger citieswith the need to respect and protect this sacred where industrial activities are concentrated,gift. The quality of Earth’s air has been transportation networks are intense, anddeteriorating by alarming degrees over the past population density is high. Wherever we live, it iscentury because of humanity’s use of fire, our job to make sure that we do our part not touncontrolled or inadequately controlled industrial contribute to these problems, and to help correctprocesses, and internal combustion engines. them wherever possible. It is the intention of thisAlthough many people are now aware of the assessment to help your community achieve theseproblems, and the need to do something about goals.them, much is still left to be done. The Earth’s atmosphere consists of a number of In addition to outdoor sources such as factories, gases and water vapor which provide anpower plants and vehicles, a person’s health can be environment within which life can flourish.seriously affected by exposure to indoor air Unfortunately, the atmosphere is being affected bypollution. Polluting fuels (wood, coal, etc.), poor human activities in ways that are threatening theventilation conditions, and long exposure times are life-sustaining ability of the air. The air is used byresponsible for conditions of ill-health. To make all forms of Life in a vital process called respiration,matters worse, relatively little attention has been or breathing. People and other animals inhalepaid to the significant risks associated with the oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide; plants are viceindoor use of solid fuel for cooking and heating. versa. Unfortunately, as pollutants deteriorate theSimple stoves burning solid fuel (mostly biomass air quality, we are now breathing in irritating andfuel) are used by about half of the world’s people. harmful gases along with the natural constituentsPoor ventilation and inefficient combustion result of our atmosphere; thus, breathing air may now bein significant daily exposure ,particularly of women contributing to disease.and young children, to a host of dangerous The gases in our atmosphere provide other giftspollutants. to life on earth besides the ability to breathe. Some gases, particularly carbon dioxide, have the ability to trap heat inside the Earth’s atmosphere, allowing the globe to maintain the stable Outdoor Air Pollution: temperatures necessary for life. However, an excess Assessment of these gases cause temperatures to increase around the world—a process called ‘globalThis Chapter’s Assessments warming.’ The water vapor in the atmosphere is also an essential component for life. As part of theThe two assessments in this chapter are intended to ‘water cycle’ (the endless cycle through whichhelp you identify ways in which your community water flows from the earth to the sky and from thepollutes the air, and will hopefully encourage better sky to earth), water on earth evaporates into thepractices. Specific attention is paid to indoor air air before returning again as precipitation. Thepollution because it is such a widespread but process of evaporation and precipitation helps tooverlooked problem, particularly in rural areas. purify water so that life on the surface is Besides these two assessments, it is continually provided fresh, clean water.recommended that your community also complete Unfortunately, because human activities havethe Energy Assessment, Chapter Five, since a large contaminated the air, pollution is now mixing withportion of air pollution is a consequence of energy the water vapor before precipitating as aproduction. contaminated solution. This effect of pollution is called ‘acid rain.’Our Atmosphere: A Gift to be Preserved The upper levels of the atmosphere include a layer of a special type of oxygen, called ‘ozone.’The air is a vital environmental resource, a Sacred This ozone functions as a protective filter which 16
  • 31. Chapter 2: Airprevents the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays from in Latin America aggravates the problems of airburning the life that exists on the earth’s surface— pollution. Without a sustainable policy frameworklike us. However, some forms of air pollution are to guide development, this growth is occurring at adestroying this protective characteristic of the considerable and often increasing cost. Moreatmosphere, progressively increasing our exposure people, more industry and more motor vehiclesto harmful radiation from the sun. will continue to produce ever-worsening air The earth’s atmosphere has also been a source pollution, unless serious changes are made to theof aesthetic pleasure; it has provided us with a practices and policies of city dwellers.window in which we may glimpse the grandeur Below we will discuss four main phenomenathat our Creator has wrought. However, especially that are caused by air pollution. These problemsin densely populated urban areas, the clear blue are found in geographic regions all around theskies have been replaced by a hazy, murky, world, some have severe implications for the futuremalodorous cloud. This phenomenon is also a of life on this planet, and all are the result ofresult of pollution, and we call it ‘photochemical human activity.smog,’ or simply smog. Each of these problems will be discussed more Smog or Ground-level Ozonefully below. Ozone is the same molecule regardless of where it is found, but its significance varies depending on ifProblems in the Air it is up high (stratospheric) or closer to the ground (troposheric). Stratospheric ozone is found in theMany Latin American cities are slowly becoming region between 10 and 50 km high. This is calleduninhabitable because of air pollution. Santiago, the ‘ozone layer.’one of the most polluted urban areas in the world, On the other hand, a high accumulation ofis often forced to declare environmental ozone gas in the lower atmosphere closer to groundemergencies on days of extreme air pollution, level is air pollution and can be harmful to people,resulting in school closures and a severe reduction animals, crops, and other materials. Ground levelin outdoor activities. The emissions measured in ozone is a secondary product created by theother South American metropolises can reach reaction of different types of pollution. Nitrogendizzying heights. In Mexico City, for example, oxides and hydrocarbons (VOCs) are known as thearound 5 million gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel chief ‘precursors’ of ozone. These compounds reactare consumed every day. As a result, 53,000 metric in the presence of sunlight to produce ozone. Thetons of gaseous substances are generated. sources of these precursor pollutants include cars,Unfavorable topographic and meteorological trucks, power plants and factories, or whereverconditions in some cities, like Mexico City, further natural gas, gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, and oilexacerbate the impact of pollution: as the Valley of are combusted.Mexico obstructs the dispersal of pollutants from These gaseous compounds mix like a thin soupits metropolitan area, the hills surrounding in the atmosphere, and when they interact withSantiago do the same. Thus the air pollution sunlight, ozone is formed. Ground level ozone isconcentrates above such cities, seriously increasing generally called ‘photochemical smog’ or simply,both the visible and palpable effects of the ‘smog.’ Smog is the gas responsible for the hazypollutants. cloud that often surrounds cities. The general When pollutants are emitted into the air, the reaction is:area surrounding the source of emission is the firstto experience effects; the most acute impacts of VOC+NOX+HEAT+Sunlight=Ozoneurban air pollution generally occur in this vicinityor region. However, since the atmosphere is always Ozone pollution, or smog, is mainly a daytimein motion, emissions from one area eventually problem during summer months because sunlightdisperse and mix with the flowing air. Hence, the plays a primary role in its formation.impacts of air pollution extend beyond theimmediate areas and become problems for Global Warming or Greenhouse Gasneighboring locales and, indeed, the rest of the Emissionsworld. Like light hitting a mirror, the sun’s heat bounces The rapid and sustained growth of many cities off the Earth, back towards space; however, like the 17
  • 32. Listening To The Earthroof of a greenhouse, carbon dioxide and certain the lungs. This narrows air passages and irritate theother gases (called greenhouse gases) trap some of lungs, thereby contributing to pneumonia andthe heat inside the Earth’s atmosphere. Without bronchitis and the weakening the body’s immunegreenhouse gas, the Earth would be frozen; but system.with too much of it, temperatures rise around theglobe. This phenomenon is called ‘global warming.’ Ozone Layer depletionGlobal warming is happening at an alarming rate The ozone layer, i.e. stratospheric ozone locatedas you read this, largely on account of humanity’s 10-50 km in altitude, is extremely important to uscombustion of fossil fuels. The ramifications of because it is how the Earth shields us againstglobal warming are predicted to be severe: higher harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun, which wouldtemperatures mean many areas will become cause serious harm to living things if not filtered. Itdeserts; ocean levels will be significantly higher, is suspected that a variety of biologicalflooding coastal regions, and reducing the amount consequences, including increases in skin cancer,of available fresh water; weather patterns will be damage to plants, and reduction of planktonaffected, potentially causing greater natural populations in the world’s oceans would resultdisasters. Scientists continue to speculate about from increased UV exposure.and observe many other significant consequences. Unfortunately, the ozone layer is beingScientists and world governments have been destroyed, or depleted by chemicals that humanstaking these consequences very seriously, and on are releasing into the air. These chemicals includeaccount, have entered into several international chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as well as other ozoneagreements like the Kyoto Protocol, which has depleting substances. Atmospheric levels of thesebeen signed by over 140 countries. For these chemicals have increased dramatically in the lastcountries, and for citizens throughout the world, 30 years, and consequences have been observed inreducing greenhouse gas emissions is now the ozone layer.considered a necessity. Worldwide public and governmental concerns Making the situation more critical is the fact about ozone depletion led to the adoption of thethat Nature’s own method of ‘scrubbing’ CO2 out Montreal Protocol in which it was decided thatof the atmosphere—trees and other plants—is chlorofluorocarbons and other ozone-depletingsimilarly being assaulted by human activity, in the chemicals, such as methyl chloroform, should haveform of deforestation. Deforestation, or the large- been completely phased out by the end of 1999.scale cutting down of trees, is a major problem Some countries had proceeded to ban allthroughout the world, and especially in Latin production of chloroflurocarbons even before thisAmerica. Lush forest land is destroyed or date. Many consider this international agreement‘developed’ so that humans can use the wood from to have been the most successful agreement everthe trees, or extract resources from under the trees, implemented, as most countries have fullyor utilize the land for grazing cattle or growing complied and atmospheric levels of ozonecrops, while little or no effort is made even to depleting substances have leveled off, and in somereplant some of what has been cut down. cases declined.Acid Rain The health effects of air pollutionAcid rain is caused primarily by emissions ofsulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides (NOX). When Air pollution is causing severe respiratory problemsthese chemicals mix with water, they become acidic among city dwellers, with higher rates ofcompounds. Acidic precipitation kills plants and pneumonia and many premature deaths fromanimals in bodies of water. It eats away the surface respiratory diseases. The World Healthof buildings and structures, and damages soils and Organization estimates that 100 million people inforests. It can also cause respiratory problems for Latin America have health problems related to airhumans. As a lake becomes more and more acidic, pollution. In the case of particulate matter (PM),many of its small life forms die. This removes the recent PAHO studies show that more thanfood source for fish which then die as well. As soil 100,000 people die each year in the region due tobecomes more acidic, vegetation that draws water PM exposure. For example, in São Paulo and Riofrom the soil can be damaged or die. Acid rain de Janeiro alone, 27 million people are exposed toaffects human health when tiny drops of it enter high levels of particulate air pollution, which is 18
  • 33. Chapter 2: Airestimated to cause at least 4000 annual cases of eighty percent of urban air pollution in the LACpremature mortality. region can be attributed to vehicle use. Vehicles are As with most social problems, urban air generally powered by either a gasoline or dieselpollution generally has a higher impact on the engine, both of which spew a great deal of dirtyurban poor than on the population in general. The emissions into the air, including CO, VOCs, NOX,health of the poor is often below average to begin and CO2. In some areas of LAC, engines releasewith, and thus their resistance to disease is significant amounts of lead into the air (note,reduced, and the chances that they will suffer however, that leaded fuel is now illegal to use inhealth effects from air pollution are increased. most areas). Furthermore, the sprawling nature of Secondly, the housing of the poor is usually low contemporary urban development compounds thein quality, poorly ventilated, heated by very basic problem because residents must increasingly relysystems using fuels and techniques which produce on personal vehicles for their needs. Publichigh levels of indoor pollution; the same is true of transportation, which can be an environmentallycooking facilities In some poor urban areas, indoor sound solution to the problem, is rarelyair pollution is the most serious health threat. successfully developed or implemented. Vehicle Lastly, the urban poor often live in the less emissions regulations and on-board equipmentattractive areas which are often near air pollution exist that can also do a great deal to curbsources in heavily exposed down-wind areas; this emissions, but their implementation is problematictypically exposes them to highly localized and tardy for a variety of reasons. Nevertheless, itconcentrations of air pollution which are much is ultimately the vehicle operators who aremore severe than the average levels measured responsible for reducing and eliminating vehicularelsewhere in the city. air pollution—and they can do a great deal simply by properly maintaining their vehicle, andWhat’s causing the problems? following pollution-conscious driving practices.The vast increase in industrial facilities and Deforestation and agricultureactivities, large-scale agricultural operations, and Natural forests cover 47% of the land area of Latinpersonal transportation vehicles over the past 30 America, and the Amazon basin accounts for one-years has been accompanied by a steady increase in third of the world’s tropical forest area. Theseairborne emissions. The increase of large-scale forests are an important source of products,agricultural operations has also meant a vast fuelwood and employment for local people, adecrease in the amount of forest cover. Since trees major source of foreign exchange for governments,and other vegetation do a great deal to purify the serve important functions in protecting watershedsair, the relationship between deforestation and and freshwater resources, act as a storehouse foragriculture is a particularly injurious one. carbon and support a significant portion of the world’s biodiversity.Industrial processes and Energy Production Unfortunately, Latin America is losing aroundThe trends emerging from recent inventories 58 million hectares of natural forest per year, evensuggest that more than 50% of emissions come though the rate of deforestation in, for instance,from industrial production, most especially energy the Amazon has slowed considerably since thegeneration. Industrial pollutants originate mostly mid-1990s. Most deforestation in Latin America isfrom fuel being combusted to generate electricity. due to expansion of the agricultural sector,In oil producing countries, emissions from the considerably less is due to logging, and only aboutrefining process are also significant— for example, 4 per cent is due to the construction ofin Mexico City, almost 60% of SO2 emissions infrastructure. In addition, demographic pressure,originate from industry, including oil refineries in unemployment and inequitable land distributionthe metropolitan area. In many countries, mining are important drivers for the further degradation ofactivities also result in local deterioration of air forests. At the same time, there is a gross imbalancequality. between destruction and reforestation, with only 1 hectare planted for every 25 hectares destroyed.Use of Personal Vehicles The combination of these trends leads to theDepending upon the city and the particular type of prospect of increased soil degradation, morepollutant in question, anywhere from fifty to frequent flooding and the degradation of 19
  • 34. Listening To The Earthfreshwater resources. This conversion of primarytropical forests to agriculture and to secondary How to reduce air pollutionvegetation is a significant change on a global scale. • If 190,000 car owners started to getWhat’s being done? regular tune-ups, they will keep some 40 million kilograms of carbon dioxide out of theFortunately, urban populations are becoming atmosphere.better informed about the nature of the air • If consumers set their air conditioners sixpollution, and are increasingly unwilling to let it degrees higher, it will save 190,000 barrels ofworsen. In many cities, both popular and official oil a day—and eliminate all those pollutantsattitudes have changed and there is a growing that come from burning the oil to produce thepolitical commitment to the need for change. electricity involved. In LAC, there are at least three regional urban (Source: US EPA)air quality programs that represent internationalpartnerships. The first is the Clean Air Initiative inLatin American Cities, supported by a partnership What can we do?that includes donor agencies, private companiesand foundations, NGOs and a technical secretariat When environmental scientists talk about airat the World Bank. One of the main goals of this pollution, they talk in terms of millions of tons ofinitiative is to promote the integrated development pollutants. It is not easy to relate such figures toor enhancement of action plans to improve air the smoke that comes out of your chimney or thequality in metropolitan centres. Six cities are exhaust coming out of your car. However, ourcurrently participating: Buenos Aires, Lima-Callao, individual contributions to air pollution, whenMexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, and Sao added to hundreds or thousands of other smallPaulo. sources, do great harm to the environment and are The second regional initiative is the Program dangerous to health. This means that we are allAire Puro in Central America, supported by responsible for the pollution that occurs.Switzerland. The main goal of this program is to Conversely, however, every habit that we changeimprove urban air quality through the training of and teach to someone else is a direct benefit to theprofessionals in the automobile industry sector, environment.establishment of inspection and maintenance If we all do our share to reduce air pollution, theprograms for automobiles, and public awareness. benefits will be tremendous—see the example Third, PAHO’s Regional Plan on Urban Air opposite.Quality and Health proposes activities to be The following inventory is meant to evaluateundertaken by countries to improve indoor and your community’s contribution to atmosphericoutdoor air quality. It covers areas such as policy, (i.e. outdoor) airborne emissions, as well as tostandards and regulation; environment and health indicate several alternatives for more sustainablesurveillance; and education, training and public practice.awareness. Besides these international partnerships, eachcountry and region generally has some intiatives,policies, or dedicated organizations that are Outdoor Air Pollution: Inventoryintended to curb society’s airborne emissions. For example, the Brazilian program of adding 1. Vehiclesalcohol to gasoline has reduced their carbondioxide emissions by some 30 per cent, and has Does your community own and operate any vehicles?significantly decreased other pollutants as well. Yes / NoDespite this, Brazilians do not believe their effortshave been sufficient, and São Paulo now restricts If Yes then complete the following questions forprivate car circulation, as do Mexico City and each vehicle—if more than one vehicle, use extraSantiago. paper: 20
  • 35. Chapter 2: AirYear of manufacture of vehicle: Is there a person in your community responsible for the maintenance of the vehicle(s)?Make and Model of vehicle: Yes / No Name of person responsible:Record the distance driven by the vehicle, and theamount of fuel used over the course of a week: Contact the mechanic that maintains and services Kilometers driven (km): the vehicle (may or may not be the person listed Liters of fuel used (L): above): Is the vehicle regularly maintained according to theNow calculate the fuel efficiency by dividing the distance manufacturer’s suggested schedule?driven by the amount of fuel used: (for example 100 km Yes / No/10 L = 10 km/L) (if maintenance schedule is unknown, you may contact the Fuel efficiency (km/L): manufacture to request the information)What type of fuel is used to power the vehicle? Has the mechanic been trained to service vehicles that Gasoline have emissions control devices? Diesel Fuel Yes / No Ethanol or methanol (alcohol) Bio-Diesel Are the maintenance expenses of the vehicle(s) Natural gas or Propane incorporated into the regular budget? Electricity Yes / No Other (name):What pollution control, or emission control devices are 2. Community Transportation Practicespresent on the vehicle? (if unsure, you may need to aska mechanic) What is the cumulative distance that your community Catalytic converter members drove through the course of one month? Positive crankcase ventilation valve Exhaust gas return valve Electronic fuel injection (This can be determined by listing all community vehicles, Evaporative collection and purge reading their odometers, waiting a month, reading their Fuel tank cap odometers again, subtracting the two readings, and adding all Other (name): the distances together)Observe the vehicle with the engine running and note Does your community make an intentional effort (e.g.the characteristics of the exhaust smoke: by use of policy or established protocol) to minimize the Amount: amount of distance driven? Visible plumes Yes / No Light wisps Not visible In which of the following practices does your community Color: participate? Blue Car-pooling / ride sharing White Trip planning Black/grey Public Transit Bicycling or WalkingWho operates the vehicle? Other (name): Other (name):Does the operator check the following fluid levels eachtime the vehicle is refuelled? Are the members of your community educated about Motor oil driving habits that reduce fuel efficiency? Transmission fluid Yes / No Engine coolant 21
  • 36. Listening To The Earth3. Public Transportation Item (type of equipment):Is/are there any form(s) of public transportation What type of fuel powers the engine (tick all thatavailable for use in your larger community? apply): Yes / No Gasoline If so, which modes are available?: Diesel fuel Ethanol or methanol (alcohol) Bio-diesel Natural gas or PropaneFor each of public transportation modes available, Electricitydetermine the party that is responsible for the Other (name):management of the service. Name of Service: Who is responsible for the maintenance of this engine? Name of contact person: (name of person) Contact information: Is the engine maintained according to the schedule provided by the manufacturer? (if maintenance schedule is unknown, you may contact the manufacture to requestWhat percentage of the population uses the transit the information)service? Yes / NoWhat problems is the service facing? Or, what restricts According to the operators of the equipment, as well asthe expansion of these services? the community consensus, how important or essential is this equipment? 123456789 (Luxury item, unnecessary……Critical for community life)If applicable, does the service enforce—or must theservice comply with—emissions regulations for their fleet Do the operators of the equipment make an effort to runof transportation vehicles? the engine only when necessary, and turn it off when not Yes / No in use? If so, describe: Yes / No / Sometimes Are the maintenance expenses of the engine(s) incorporated into the regular budget? Yes / NoWhat avenue(s) do(es) the public have to influence themanagement decisions affecting the service? 5. Other Combustion Besides a cooking fire or other indoor uses, does your community burn fuel or rubbish for any other purpose? Yes / No4. Other Internal Combustion Engines According to the community’s consensus, how important or essential is this practice?Does your community own and operate any other 123456789internal combustion engines? (consider generators, (Useless/unneccessary…Critical for community life)tractors, power equipment, motorized bicycle/ cart, etc) Yes / No (Refer to the next section, ‘Indoor Air Quality Assessment’ to evaluate indoor uses ofIf Yes then complete the following questions for combustion)each vehicle (if there are more than one engine,additional paper will be required): Is there a community policy that prohibits the burning 22
  • 37. Chapter 2: Airof the following materials? Does your community intentionally plant trees, or Plastics organize tree-plantings in your larger community? Motor oil Yes / No / Not applicable Rubber Other petrochemicals Is your community active in the struggle to stop the Painted items deforestation that is occurring throughout forested Electrical equipment regions in Latin America? Yes / No6 Ozone depleting substances If Yes describe how:Does your community use any aerosol products (i.e.products that have a propellant that sprays the productthrough a nozzle, and contained within a metal can)? Yes / No If so, does the product contain a chlorofluorocarbon 9A. Expert Environmental Information Source (CFC) propellant? Yes / No It will be helpful to contact an environmental advocacy organization or agency that can provideDoes your community use any refrigerators or air reliable, expert data about the atmosphericconditioners? pollution occurring in your area. Yes / No Name of Organization: If so, does your community have a trained technician service this equipment, in the interests of preventing Name of contact person: the release of refrigerant into the atmosphere? Yes / No Contact information:7. Herbicides and PesticidesDoes your community, or a nearby agricultural According to these experts, what are the main sources ofoperation (farm, plantation, etc.) regularly spray atmospheric pollution in your area?pesticides or herbicides on fields? Yes / No If so, do members of your community experience any of the following symptoms around the time of pesticide application? According to these experts, what policies (i.e. laws or Irritated eyes legislation) exist regarding airborne emissions that are Headaches applicable to your locale? Fatigue Difficulty breathing Incidence of asthma Disorientation According to the organization, what are the most8. Community Tree Preservation important actions people can take to reduce the pollution?How would you rate the tree cover of the landscape ofyour geographical vicinity? 123456789(Densely urbanized…Some tree cover…Wooded areas…Dense forest)Does your community have a policy that is intended topreserve any trees that are on community grounds? Yes / No / Not applicable 23
  • 38. Listening To The Earth9B. Expert Public Health Information Source If we are to preserve the Earth’s air for ourselves, the Earth’s other creatures, and futureIt will also be helpful to contact a public health generations, we must prevent as much vehicular airadvocacy organization or agency that can provide pollution as we can. There are three primary waysreliable, expert data about the incidence of disease to reduce vehicular air pollution: (1) Minimizeamongst the population. distances driven, (2) Maximize fuel efficiency, (i.e. Name of Organization: drive more distance per unit of fuel), and (3) Reduce emissions: Emit fewer pollutants per unit Name of contact person: of fuel or unit of distance. Contact information: 1. Minimizing distances driven: The best way to reduce emissions is to eliminate them by not generating them in the first place. Refer to point 2 on page 28 for a more in-depth look at reducing use ofAccording to these experts, what is the incidence of community vehicles.pulminary and/or heart disease attributable toatmospheric pollution in your municipality? 2. Increasing Fuel Efficiency: Fuel efficiency can be easily calculated by determining how many kilometers were driven in between fuelings, and then dividing this number by the volume of fuel consumed. Greater fuel efficiency means that the amount ofAccording to the organization, what can people do to pollution emitted during a vehicle’s trip is reducedprotect themselves from the harmful effects of air simply because less fuel is used. Several factorspollution? influence a vehicle’s fuel efficiency, including proper maintenance, engine wear, driving style, vehicle condition, engine calibration, as well as environmental considerations such as road surface condition and the relative flatness of terrain. Basically, the harder an engine has to work, the less fuel efficient it becomes. It is a good idea to keep records of the vehicle’s fuel consumption, and to review them regularly so the person responsible for Outdoor Air Pollution: the vehicle’s maintenance can be made aware of Evaluation sudden changes in fuel efficiency. If there is a sudden change, take corrective action. The vehicleAt the end of each discussion section, there will be may have a leak or be in need of service.statements and a list of numbers from which to choose.Choose a number from 1-9 to indicate your assessment 3. Reducing Vehicular Emissions: Vehicular emissions canof how well your community represents the statement be reduced in many ways. The main factors thatgiven. (1= disagree, community practices unhealthy; 9 influence a vehicle’s emissions are: (a) Type of fuel,= agree completely, no change needed) (b) Emissions control devices, and (c) Preventative maintenance.1. Community Vehicles (a) Fuel Type: The type of fuel used to power the engine is probably the most important factor toVehicular air pollution is one of the largest consider. Emissions are greatest for the combustionenvironmental problems in Latin America, of gasoline, a bit reduced for diesel fuel, and moreespecially in urban and peri-urban areas, and it is so for bio-diesel; they are considerably reduced forlargely due to the practices of individual citizens. alcohol, and minimal for vehicles powered byAll vehicles emit some amount of pollution, and natural gas or propane. Electric vehicles do notmost vehicles operated in Latin American emit a emit air pollutants directly; however, thesignificant amount. Thus it is that Latin American production of the electricity used to charge thevehicle operaters and users can do a great deal to vehicle does (See Chapter 5, Electric Energyprevent atmospheric pollution. Assessment). 24
  • 39. Chapter 2: Air Often different fuels are blended to reduceemissions without requiring equipment Alternative Fuelsmodification. The box on the next page describessome of the most common alternative fuels used to Biodieselreduce emissions. Biodiesel is a diesel fuel that is produced from A note about leaded gasoline: It is now internationally organic materials. It can be processed from anyillegal to manufacture or sell new vehicles requiring number of suitable plant oils. Biodiesel offersleaded gasoline. Similarly, the sale of gasoline the advantages of not releasing sulpher oxides, and does not release prehistoric carbon into thecontaining lead or lead additives is also illegal. This atmosphere in the form of greenhouse gasesregulation has dramatically reduced the amount of (CO2). Bio-diesel is often sold as a blend withlead that enters the atmosphere. Lead was once regular diesel of the most prevalent pollutants, and also one Alcoholof the most hazardous. Ethanol is widely available and produceable (b) Emissions control devices: In many countries, throughout Latin America, and much is alreadyvehicles are required by law to be equipped with produced from sugar cane, particularly in Brazil.properly functioning emission control devices. Each ton of sugar cane has the energy potentialAlthough similar legislation exists in some Latin of 1.2 barrels of oil. Between 2003 and 2004,American countries, in the few places where it does Brazil produced 1.4 billion liters of alcohol. Of the 17 million light vehicles circulating in Brazil,exist, the regulations are often not enforced. some 3 million use bio-fuels or some otherNevertheless, with or without legislation, vehicle mixture.owners have the option to only purchase vehicles Methanol is another liquid alternative fuel.that are equipped with emission control devices. However, methanol is corrosive, and thus it is The main emission control device is a catalytic expensive to convert existing vehicles to use thisconverter. This device looks similar to a muffler, fuel. Today, it is sold as a blend of 85% methanolbut is positioned nearer to the engine than a and 15% gasoline, commonly called M85.muffler. The catalytic converter does the most to The easiest way to integrate the use of alcohol isremove a range of pollutants like carbon monoxide by using a low-level blend of ethanol and(CO), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and gasoline commonly referred to as ‘gasohol.’ Most conventional automobiles and trucks cansometimes nitrogen oxides. However, the life of a use gasoline blended with up to 10% ethanol,catalytic converter is not infinite, and it can be without any modification to their fuel systemseasily damaged by an engine that is not running or engines, while still being covered by theproperly. Furthermore, since the catalytic converter manufacturer’s warranty.only functions properly when the engine’s air/fuel Propane and Natural Gasmixture ratio is adjusted appropriately, this fact Propane is currently the most widely available ofnecessitates electronic engine controls and sensors. the alternative fuels. Most vehicles produced in Other emissions control components include an North America can be converted to propaneexhaust-gas return valve, which functions to reduce operation. Propane is stored under pressure in cylinders that are located under the vehicle or inthe amount of nitrogen oxides that the engine the trunk or rear compartment. It is alsoproduces; a positive crankcase ventilation valve possible to leave the original gasoline system inwhich prevents internal engine gases from being place as a backup.released; a fuel tank cap and evaporative vapor Natural gas (methane) is generally considered toreturn valve, which both work to prevent VOCs be the cleanest of all the commercially availablefrom being released by the fuel; as well as a variety fuels and produces low tailpipe emissions. Mostof sensors and actuators which function to of the vehicles produced in North America cancontinuously control the efficiency of the engine’s also be converted to operate on natural gas. As with propane, the gas is stored in high-pressureoperation. cylinders that are located under the vehicle, or Most modern cars are equipped with some in the trunk or rear compartment. Because theemission control devices. However, not every new fuel has a low energy content, you need to refuelvehicle available in Latin America is guaranteed to the vehicle more frequently. For convenience,be equipped with such components. Look for most conversions leave the original gasolinevehicles that are OBD-II compliant, as this system in place in case you need to refuel in a location where natural gas is unavailable.indicates that the vehicle has a full range of suchdevices. 25
  • 40. Listening To The Earth Finally, be aware that pollution will increase manufacturer or a nearby dealer to obtain a copydramatically if a vehicle’s emission control system of the owner’s manual if your community does notis tampered with or leaded gasoline is used in a have one.vehicle designed for unleaded gasoline. In many By taking proper care of a vehicle, its life iscountries these activities are illegal—for individual extended, its resale value increased, and its fuelvehicle owners as well as for fleet operators and efficiency optimized. Records should be kept of theauto technicians. Any tampering with emission preventive maintenance carried out to ensure thatcontrol components may not only drastically the manufacturer’s recommendations are followed.increase emissions but is likely to have a negative Like all material creations, combustion-poweredeffect on vehicle performance and durability. vehicles naturally tend to deteriorate with age and (c) Preventative maintenance: A vehicle’s emissions usage, and as a result, emission levels can risecan be reduced, and its performance enhanced if significantly as the engine ages. Good maintenancethe manufacturer’s recommended maintenance is required to keep emission levels at or near designguidelines are followed. The owner’s manual levels. A preventative maintenance programspecific to a particular vehicle contains a wealth of specifically targeted toward emissions control caninformation. It outlines recommended especially identify problem vehicles and assuremaintenance intervals, product specifications, and their repair. If a modern car has high emissions, itoperating procedures. The manual also explains is usually due to a defined malfunction that needsthe manufacturer’s warranty of the emission to be fixed.control system, if so equipped. Contact the Every vehicle has some items that need to be Common Causes of Vehicle Smoke (Note: it is normal for smoke to appear during only the first few seconds after engine startup) Gasoline enginesColor of smoke Diagnosis Probable causes Coolant or water leaking into • Bad head gasketWhite combustion chamber • Cracked block or cylinder head • Oil leaking into combustion chamber • Worn piston rings, valves or cylindersBlue Engine oil being burned • Bad exhaust manifold • Bad head gasket • Clogged air filter • Carburetor, choke, fuel injection, or emission systemBlack/Gray Incomplete fuel combustion malfunction • Ignition timing off • Low compression due to engine wear Diesel engines • Faulty fuel injection system • Incorrect fuel injection and valve timingWhite Improper air/fuel mixture • Engine overheating • Faulty fuel pump and/or injection pump • Excess engine oilBlue Engine oil being burned • Worn piston rings, valves or cylinders • Damaged air filter • Faulty fuel injection system • Clogged air filterBlack/Gray Incomplete fuel combustion • Wrong grade of fuel • Incorrect fuel injection pump timing • Engine overheating • Low compression ratio Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, 2002 26
  • 41. Chapter 2: Airchecked on a regular basis and others that need to required in Latin American cities as replaced periodically. These include the air filter, Nevertheless, with the proper instruction andvacuum and coolant hoses, oil, oil filter, fluids, comprehension of engine controls, any individualbelts, and so on. It’s also important to keep the can perform their own inspection. But, it remainstires inflated to the recommended pressure. This important that a vehicle be serviced by a skilledwill minimize tire wear and help your vehicle get technician who understands modern emissionthe best possible fuel economy. Check the tire control systems. See the resources provided at thepressure at least once a month and maintain the end of this chapter for more information regardingmaximum tire pressure specified by the vehicle vehicle emissions inspection education programs.manufacturer. This will decrease fuel consumptionand emissions. Regular vehicle maintenance and inspections are an The most important maintenance requirement important priority in our communityis regular oil changes. Oil is the vehicle engine’s 123456789‘life blood.’ It reduces wear caused by frictionbetween the moving parts of the engine and Our community includes emissions reduction as aremoves acids, sludge and other harmful criterion for fuel choicesubstances. Oil helps to cool the engine, provides a 123456789seal between the cylinder walls and the pistons,and prevents the engine from rusting. Eventually, Our community includes emissions reduction as aoil becomes contaminated and its performance criterion for vehicle purchasesadditives deteriorate, so it is important that the oil 123456789be changed regularly. Neglecting to replace worn-out oil can result in severe damage to the engine 2. Community Transportation PracticesThe oil filter should be changed with every oilchange. (Refer to the Hazardous Products and Reducing cumulative distance drivenWaste section of the Waste Handling chapter, page The most important way that your community can138, for a discussion regarding the proper disposal reduce their atmospheric pollution is to simplyof used motor oil, as well as other fluids and drive less—this means reducing the cumulativematerials used on your vehicle.) amount of distance that your community members In addition to having the vehicle serviced drive. The world now realizes that vehicles areaccording to the maintenance schedule a quick driven too much. Since most vehicles are compactwalk-around inspection to check for fluid leaks, to mid-sized sedans, they generally hold only 2-5low tire pressure, and exhaust smoke passengers, and are often operated for the purposescharacteristics should be performed every time of only a single individual. This pattern of vehiclesomeone uses the vehicle. Routinely inspect the use is extremely inefficient. Thus, the most basicspot where the vehicle is parked for evidence of way to reduce your community’s cumulativefluid leaks. Leaking fluids are not only a sure sign vehicle use is to reduce the need for individualthat the vehicle needs repair, but the fluids are also trips.harmful to the environment. Below are common While reducing cumulative distance mayfluids that can leak from a vehicle: require a higher degree of coordination and planning than is presently practiced in yourcolour of drippings fluid community, the benefits are numerous. Less wear-Black or dark brown: motor oil or grease and-tear on community vehicles means lessYellow or green: coolant or antifreeze maintenance, less fuel expenses, more cooperationPink or red: transmission fluid amongst community members, and less pollution.Clear: brake fluid, power steering fluid or gasoline Probably the easiest ways to reduce distance are: advanced planning of trips, sharing rides, and The table on the previous page describes some using other means of travel besides the smallof the most common causes for vehicle smoke—a pollution generators known as cars. Each arevehicle’s exhaust should normally be very light, discussed below.almost invisible. Trip planning: By planning errands such that Compulsory emissions inspections are required several tasks are undertaken during a single trip,by law in some countries and are beginning to be your community can get the most out of the time 27
  • 42. Listening To The Earthany one members spends behind the wheel. Avoid unnecessary idling: Do not allow a vehicle’sSeveral tasks can be accomplished when you go engine to run when it is not being driven. Ifsomewhere by simply driving to a central location practical, this may extend to any situation in whichand parking, and then walking, biking, or using you are going to wait for more than 30 seconds. Topublic transit between destinations. accomplish this, several car manufacturers now Ridesharing: Ridesharing can also be an ideal way produce ‘hybrid-electric’ vehicles that incorporateto reduce your community’s contribution to an automatic shut-off into their design. ‘Hybrid’pollution. Every time a ride is ‘shared’ (i.e. two or vehicles also reduce emissions by supplementingmore people with their own itineraries use the the combustion engine with an electric motorsame vehicle), at least one individual trip is which is charged by the vehicle’s own brakingeliminated. energy. Other modes of travel: Briefly, the main alternate Plan your route to reduce ‘stop-and-go’ driving: Drivingmodes of transportation to small vehicles are: in traffic is not always avoidable. But wheneverpublic transport, pedestrian travel, and bicycling. possible, plan trips outside rush hour and peakBecause public transport greatly reduces the traffic periods. Try to ‘smooth’ your driving bynumber of individual trips needed by many people, accelerating and decelerating gradually,the use of public transportation is a great way to anticipating stops and starts for traffic lights,reduce cumulative mileage. See question #3 for a changing traffic speeds, and so on. A vehicle that ismore in-depth look at public transportation. crawling along releases about three times moreBiking or walking to a destination creates no smog-producing VOCs than one cruising at thepollution at all. These activities have the benefit of most fuel-efficient speed. Also, avoid rough roadsalso increasing a person’s physical fitness level. where possible: smooth road surfaces can reduce Unfortunately, as roads expand in cities, fuel consumption by 10 to 30%.walking options are often reduced substantially. Reduce the use of air conditioning: Use of a vehicle airLimited investment in sidewalks combined with conditioner increases load on the engine. This canspace constraints mean that sidewalks along streets increase emissions and decrease fuel economy. Tryare often either non-existent or very narrow, opening the window or the fresh air vent to coolforcing individuals to walk in the streets, where the inside of your vehicle. Also, park in the shadethey must compete for space with motorized if you can to prevent the car from heating up in thevehicles. In addition, as motorized vehicle traffic sun. Besides keeping the interior temperature ofgrows, it becomes increasingly difficult for your car more comfortable, you will lessen theindividuals to cross by foot without some pollution and waste that occurs when gasolinesupporting infrastructure such as stoplights. These evaporates from the engine and gas tank.problems are only exacerbated if decisions are Reduce vehicle weight: Your car burns more gas andmade to widen the streets to accommodate more emits more pollution when the engine is operatingvehicle traffic. under high load; that is, when it is working Bicycles also face growing impediments. They, especially hard. Extra load is created by carryingtoo, must compete for space with motorized extra weight. Thus, remove excess weight fromvehicles, and are often outlawed altogether on vehicle and keep the vehicle free of unnecessarymajor streets. Moreover, even if they can be used to objects which would add weight.reach a public transportation stop, there is no safe Drive vehicle as smoothly as possible: Maintainmeans of storing the bicycles, either by locking moderate speeds and accelerate smoothly—i.e.them up or by taking them onto the public avoid speeding and abrupt starts and stops. Thetransportation vehicles. In addition, bicycles are optimum fuel economy for most vehicles isoften treated as a luxury item and are assessed achieved at a steady speed of between 80 andsubstantial tariffs, if imported. 100km per hour. Tests show that most cars use about 10% less fuel when driving at 90 instead ofDriving efficiently 100km/hr. Avoiding speed changes saves fuel.Even a perfectly maintained car will pollute more Accelerate and decelerate gradually. (This will alsothan necessary if it is driven carelessly. Your car’s reduce engine wear.) Anticipating trafficemissions will be lower if you apply common sense movement will help you avoid frequent braketo your driving and follow some basic rules like applications. Stepping on the accelerator toothese below: heavily can use up to four times as much fuel as 28
  • 43. Chapter 2: Airmoderate acceleration. Refer to the owner’smanual to determine optimum gear shift points formanual transmissions. When going up hills, let the The Case of Mexico Cityvehicle’s speed drop off gradually or shift to a Using Transport Policy to Combat Air Pollutionlower gear when necessary. When driving downhill, ease up on the accelerator and let gravity move Mexico City may well have the most polluted air of any city in the world. The city is nestled in athe vehicle. valley 2,300 meters high, surrounded by mountains and subject to frequent inversions.Members of our community strive to minimize the The thick layer of ozone and other air pollutantsamount of distance driven that blanket the city, 83% of which are produced 123456789 by the area’s 2.5 million vehicles, has reached such levels that the quality of life has been severely affected. To reverse the steadilyMembers of our community make every effort to drive deteriorating situation, in 1990 the governmentefficiently launched a comprehensive program centering on 123456789 improved transportation. This involves reducing the number of private cars, cleaning the gasoline3. Public Transportation produced in the country’s refineries, and replacing the engines on 3,500 old diesel public buses. In addition, the 1995-2000 Program toGood public transportation systems used by a large Improve Air Quality in Mexico City (Proaire)fraction of urban citizens are critical in terms of introduced new activities in the field ofminimizing costs, air pollution, oil dependence and monitoring, education and public participation.traffic congestion. Yet, presently these systems are Other initiatives included the establishment of the Valley of Mexico Environmental Trust Fund,inadequate in most cities; they tend to be poorly which is maintained with tax revenue from petrolmaintained, highly polluting, often uncomfortable, and finances air quality improvement activities,and limited in accessibility. the Automatic Environmental Monitoring There are many varied forms of public Network, Environmental Emergency Programs, ‘Atransportation, including buses, rapid transit bus Day Without a Car’ Program, a reforestationlines, trains, subways, mono-rails, trolleys, taxi programme and environmental education in the metropolitan area of Mexico City. Some of theservices, as well converted pick-up trucks. key actions being introduced to reduce urban air The larger-scale public transit systems are found pollution include: • Requiring drivers to leave their cars home one Transformation of Bogotá working day per week • Setting emission standards in bidding In just a few years, innovative planning documents for new bus engines the same as those transformed Bogotá, Colombia into the world’s in effect in California leading model for sustainable urban design. The • Raising subway fares to cover the costs of the once polluted and congested city, where many new bus engines as well as subway improvements people were unable to reach vital destinations, • Rationalizing the routes of the 60,000 private now has one of the world’s most efficient and mini-vans that carry riders from low-density accessible transportation networks. suburbs to the city center Latin America’s largest network of bicycle routes, • Raising the price of gasoline by 12.5% and 150 miles long (250 km) using ensuing revenues to fund the environmental program A world-class Bus Rapid Transit system of • Requiring that, by the end of 1990, all new dedicated bus lanes called TransMilenio vehicles sold must be equipped with catalytic The world’s longest pedestrian-only street, converters spanning 10.2 miles (17 km); and hundreds of • Regulating that all vehicles be inspected twice a miles of sidewalks, many through the city’s year to check auto emissions, with a monitoring poorest neighborhoods program to detect and penalize cheaters. In addition, the program involves tree planting, Car-Free Sunday, when many streets are closed to creation of new parks, substituting less-polluting motorized traffic to make space for thousands of fuels in power plants and other industries, and cyclists and pedestrians improving industrial efficiency. (Source: Institute for Transportation and Devlopment (Source: Leitmann, 1991) Policy, 2003) 29
  • 44. Listening To The Earthparticularly in large metropolitan areas, while services do exist, the movement should be towardsmaller systems exist in other areas. On any scale, reducing the emissions from this service. Considerthere are problems that such service systems face. that a fleet of diesel-fueled buses driving inIn some cases the problems overwhelm the service, congested urban traffic use more fuel and emitand it becomes lost to the public. In other cases, considerably more pollutants than, e.g. the samethe cost of the service prohibits the general public, buses driving in their own unobstructed lanes, orfrom using it. In addition, a lack or deficiency of the same buses using a cleaner fuel.logistical control can severely affect the reliabilityand usefulness of the service. Thus, to be effective Our community utilizes public transportation wheneverand beneficial, a public transit system should be it is a feasible alternative to drivingwell planned, accessible, and equitable. 123456789 In LAC, as in other parts of the world, thetraditional pattern for developing urban Our community publicly supports the development oftransportation systems has been first to invest in and sustenance of public transportationroad infrastructure. Public transportation systems 123456789and their associated infrastructure, whether road-based or not, are rarely planned for or invested in 4. Other Combustion Enginesduring this initial period. Such an investmentstrategy, similar to what has occurred in most of The evaluation information for this question canthe cities in North America, breeds the creation of be reasonably adapted from the informationa personal automobile-based transportation provided in question number 1, as the operativesystem. As cities grow, the existing infrastructure principles are the same.fosters transportation demands being met bypersonal automobiles, further fueling demand for Our community strives to minimize emissions from theexpanding the road-based system, which, in turn, engines we use besides those belonging to vehiclesstimulates the development of urban sprawl. As a 123456789result, when attention turns to designing publictransportation systems and their associated 5. Burninginfrastructure, the sprawling nature of a city’sdevelopment limits the applicability of public In some areas, particularly those that lack atransportation. Either only a small portion of a comprehensive system of waste collection, opencity’s residents are able to make use of the public burning of waste by residents can be a majortransportation system, or the cost of developing a contributor to air pollution. Open burning of wastetransportation system sufficiently extensive to can produce mixed and very toxic fumes. Burnserve a large fraction of the city’s population is barrels often emit acid vapors, carcinogenic tars,prohibitively expensive. The consequence, and ‘heavy metals’ such as lead, cadmium andinevitably, is to fortify and expand the personal car- chromium, as well as dangerous levels of carbonbased system instead. Because there are powerful monoxide. The closer you stand to the burn barrel,interests (e.g. car manufactures, oil companies, the more of these harmful chemicals you inhale.etc.) that actively, if covertly, oppose public Residual ash is another result of incompletetransportation initiatives, sometimes political combustion. Frequently, a significant portion ofaction is necessary to oppose these forces. In these material in the barrel—especially at the bottom—cases, as well as in areas where there is no public is not burned up. Ash disposal outside of a sanitarytransit available, but there is a need, political landfill can cause problems sooner (for thoseaction is often required to motivate the municipal immediately exposed) or later (for example, ifleaders to commit to a project, or to keep them water contacting the ash becomes contaminatedcommitted to the sustainability of an existing and gets into groundwater and/or surface water).service. Your community should be aware of these See the Waste Handling Assessment, Chapter 4and other issues surrounding the sustainability of to take a closer look at your community’s wastepublic transportation in your area, and become disposal practices.actively engaged in ways your community feels Materials that absolutely should not be burnedappropriate. in a burn barrel are tires, plastics, electrical For the areas in which public transportation equipment, and rubber. These also should not be 30
  • 45. Chapter 2: Airburned in a furnace, wood stove or similar home Refrigerant found in appliances should also beheating system. Painted surfaces as well as various reclaimed before disposal of the appliance. Apetrochemicals also release a great deal of trained technician is capable of emptying apollutants into the air, so they also should not be refrigeration system without leaking any refrierentburnt. into the atmosphere. This refrigerent can then be Even the smoke generated by a large number of re-used. Thus, it would be helpful for yoursimultaneous leaf fires can cause significant health community to locate a technician that is capable ofproblems. Leaf smoke can irritate the eyes, nose performing this work.and throat of healthy adults. But it can be muchmore harmful to small children, the elderly, and Our community strives to eliminate the use of CFCspeople with asthma or other lung or heart diseases. 123456789Our community strives to eliminate the use of fire as a 7. Pesticideswaste disposal option 123456789 Pesticides and herbicides that are sometimes used in agricultural operations are generally very6. Ozone Depleting Substances biologically toxic substances. This means that they have many negative health and environmentalA single chlorine atom, released by the action of effects. In general, these products should not beUV radiation on chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, is used unless they are deemed absolutely necessary.capable of destroying tens of thousands of ozone Nevertheless, several farms—particularly largermolecules during its residence in the stratosphere. scale operations—do use these products on aCFCs are found mainly in either (1) aerosol cans regular basis. Besides reaking havoc on thethat were manufactured more than a decade ago, ecosystem within which the product is used,(2) industrial processes, or (3) refrigerants used in airborne particles of the product can be inhaled andair conditioners and appliances. may cause problems in humans. Health problems Prior to 1976, the most common propellants are exacerbated in cases of chronic exposure. Thus,used for aerosol spray cans were CFC’s, but their if pesticides or herbicides are used in your vicinity,use has been subsequently banned by many inventory the community for signs of exposure, andgovernments. Therefore, many aerosol cans still seek help or advice from environmental or healthhave on their label, ‘Does Not Contain CFC’s’. agencies if several people display similar symptomsCFC propellants were replaced by propane and associated with these chemicals.other gases, most of which contribute to VOCemissions and pose other dangers like flammability. Our community is aware of the dangers of pesticide andIt is best if your community chooses not to use any herbicide usageaerosol products. However, if your community has 123456789any, be sure to use the product up before disposal.Refer to Chapter 4 for more information regarding Our community strives, through whatever means, towaste handling. If your community possesses any protect ourselves and our larger community fromCFC aerosol sprays, the best thing to do is to locate pesticide/herbicide usea service that is capable of safely handling the 123456789CFCs and turn the products over to them fordisposal. 8. Community Tree Preservation Vehicle air conditioning systems in modelsearlier than 1994 contain, and leak, CFCs. The air It would be hard to overstate the value of trees.conditioners of most later models use refrigerants Trees are an extraordinarily valuable and essentialthat are less harmful to the ozone layer than CFCs. component of a healthy environment. Trees areIf a vehicle air conditioner contains CFCs, ensure one of the largest sources of oxygen, which we needthat it is properly maintained. Have the air to breathe. One acre of trees generates enoughconditioner serviced by a facility that is certified to oxygen each day for 18 people. Alternately, treescapture, clean and recycle the used CFCs rather also consume and store carbon dioxide, the gasthan simply venting them into the air and refilling largely responsible for global warming; a single treethe unit. stores on average 28 kilograms of carbon annually. 31
  • 46. Listening To The EarthBesides affecting these critical gases, trees also 9. Expert Informationdirectly reduce pollution by filtering pollutants outof the air; they cleanse the air by intercepting and It is important to be involved in local efforts toslowing particulate materials causing them to fall reduce air pollution. Aside from the air pollutionout of the air, and by absorbing pollutant gases that your community members may generate,into leaf surfaces. Pollutants abated by trees there may be industries, utilities, or practices ofinclude nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides, carbon your larger community that greatly contribute tomonoxide, carbon dioxide (required for tree the deterioration of air quality but that are beyondgrowth), ozone, and small particulates less than 10 your community’s direct influence. For this reason,microns in size. it is important to educate yourself about the Trees are a critical part of the water cycle; one overall quality of air in your area, and to discoveracre of trees on a summer day transpires close to the main causes behind the pollution present in it,4000L of water back into the atmosphere. Trees as well as what policy framework exists withinprevent soil erosion, while increasing groundwater which polluters must operate.recharging by intercepting, slowing, evaporating, Expert agencies like environmental protectionand storing water through normal tree functions. It organizations and public health organizations areis estimated that trees alone could reduce by 95% likely to have considerable knowledge about thethe amount of sediment that erodes from prevailing environmental conditions, and they may‘developed’ landscape. also have ideas regarding action steps to take in Trees provide shade and wind breaks, lowering order to correct problems. Unfortunately, funds arethe temperature in areas that would otherwise be often limited, so the information that theunder direct sunlight, and offering shelter against organizations have to share does not end up beingstrong winds. Similarly, trees also reflect and broadcasted throughout the population. Thus,absorb sound energy, while adding a natural ‘white your community, for example, can help spark morenoise’ through the movement of branches and widespread citizen engagement by sharing anyleaves. education that you receive from these Trees are living systems that interact with other things in sharing and recycling resources—as In general, it is a wise idea for your communitysuch, trees are living centers where living thing to have relationships with such organizations. Letcongregate and are concentrated. It is a fact that them know that you care. Learn about local effortspeople feel more comfortable and at ease when in and issues, and what the agencies are doing aboutshaded, open areas of trees as compared to urban them. One of the driving forces behind reducing airareas surrounded by non-living things. People’s pollution is citizen concern and involvement.preferences for locating areas of social interactions Besides educating citizens, community membersin calming, beautiful, and nature-dominated areas may speak up at public hearings to let officialsrevolve around the presence of community trees know how they feel about air pollution problems inand forests. Furthermore, people are not the only your community, they may report problems, orones who thrive in an environment replete with they may actually serve on administrative ortrees; many forms of wildlife need trees as part of advisory boards that work directly to solve airtheir habitat, and such bio-diversity increases the pollution of any ecosystem. Tackling urban air pollution requires Thus, it is advisable that your community do all coordinated actions at many levels. Nationalthat it can to preserve and augment the number of governments are the level at which many neededtrees on your grounds, as well as throughout the policies and regulatory frameworks are set; thelarger community. responsibilities for implementation are divided between several ministries including energy,Our community holds the preservation of trees and industry, transport, trade, finance, environmentforest on our grounds as a priority and health. Sub-national authorities often have 123456789 major enforcement responsibilities for environmental regulations, and local governmentsOur community makes explicit efforts to end typically manage key areas such as land use anddeforestation throughout Latin America urban transport planning. There are also other, 123456789 non-governmental stakeholders with important 32
  • 47. Chapter 2: Airroles. For example, of the approximately US$1.3Billion invested in the Santiago Metropolitan Pesticides/Herbicides: actionRegion over the last decade, 90% was from theprivate sector. 8 Tree Preservation: community land The development of a comprehensive strategyfor tackling air pollution requires a level of Tree Preservation: deforestationinformation and understanding that is oftenlacking. Thus, an important role that national and 9 Expert Informationlocal authorities can also be influenced to play is todevelop capacities and support activities to collectreliable air quality data, develop emissions Now that you have comprehensively examined yourinventories, model air quality and its impacts, community’s contribution to air pollution, how wouldidentify measures for improving air quality and you rate, overall, your community’s practices in theseassess costs across sectors, besides drafting and regards?enforcing environmental legislation. It is important that the surrounding Excellent / Satisfactory / Poor / Criticallycommunities be aware of what is being released by deficientmanufacturers in their area. All appropriatemeasures should be taken to eliminate the release If you found that problems exist, list them below:of hazardous substances into the air. Category (I-III) Problem 1Our community has developed relationships with andutilizes the information available from expertorganizations in our area 123456789Conclusions Problem 2Now enter the scores from each of the precedingsections in the column on the right: score1 Community Vehicles: maintenance Problem 3 Community Vehicles: fuel choice Community Vehicles: purchasing2 Transport: minimizing distance Problem 4 Transport: efficient driving3 Public Transportation: use Public Transportation: advocacy Now categorize each problem listed above into one4 Other Combustion Engines of the following three categories: I = Critically important. Currently dangerous,5 Burning must be addressed immediately II = Important, but not immediately dangerous.6 Ozone depleting substances Must be addressed III = Current practice should be improved, but is7 Pesticides/Herbicides: education not immediately important 33
  • 48. Listening To The EarthIndoor Air Pollution: Assessment pollutants add up to a great deal of disease and environmental degradation; however, when smokeAir pollution—Inside is concentrated by walls and a roof, the dangers become much more critical.Air pollution can affect our health in many ways Inside most Latin American households, thewith both short-term and long-term effects. stove or cookstove is the major source of emissions.Different groups of individuals are affected by air The indoor air pollution that comes frompollution in different ways. Some individuals are cookstove fires is the most harmful and deadlymuch more sensitive to pollutants than are others. problem facing most people of the countryside,Young children and elderly people often suffer especially the women and children.more from the effects of air pollution. People withhealth problems such as asthma, heart and lungdisease may also suffer more when the air ispolluted. The extent to which an individual is Indoor Air Pollution: Inventoryharmed by air pollution usually depends on thetotal exposure to the damaging chemicals, i.e. the The following sections are designed to help yourduration of exposure and the concentration of the community make an inventory of its indoor airchemicals must be taken into account. Consider pollution. This is so that the community can assessthat indoors, gases can rapidly become much more both the sources of indoor air pollution, as well asconcentrated than outdoors. what is being done (or can be done) to help Examples of short-term effects include irritation improve the community’s the eyes, nose and throat, and upper respiratory The following inventory is based around theinfections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. likely main sources of a community’s indoor airOther symptoms can include headaches, nausea, pollution: cooking/heating, and smoking; thus, itand allergic reactions. Short-term air pollution can will especially examine the kitchen area. However,aggravate the medical conditions of individuals the principles of efficiency and ventilation of awith asthma and emphysema. cookstove readily apply to any other use of fire Long-term health effects can include chronic that your community might have. Each question isrespiratory disease, lung cancer, heart disease, and discussed in the section following the inventory,even damage to the brain, nerves, liver, or kidneys. where you will be provided a means to evaluateContinual exposure to air pollution affects the your responses, and directions to go forlungs of growing children and may aggravate or improvement.complicate medical conditions in the elderly. Indoor air pollution, like atmospheric pollution, 1. Types and uses of community fuelis generally a result of combustion. Combustion isa chemical reaction that lets off a great deal of Here is a list of fuels you might be using:energy. We experience this energy as the light and Biomass Fuels:the heat that comes off a flame. Harnessing this Dungenergy has been very useful to us. Fire is a reaction Woodwhich breaks ‘organic’ matter down into smaller Agricultural residuesbits. (Organic matter is anything that has the Other residueselement ‘carbon’ in it.) Residue briquettes ‘Incomplete combustion’ means that the fuel is Charcoalnot being fully broken down. We see evidence of Liquid and Gas Fuels:incomplete combustion whenever we see smoke. Kerosene (Paraffin)Most of the pollution from fire comes from Bottled gas (LPG)incomplete combustion. Biodiesel or other liquid bio-fuel Smoke is made up of a wide variety of particles Biogasand gases. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a very deadly Solar Energy:gas that is a result of incomplete combustion. Solar cookerThere are many other dangerous components like Solar electric (solar PV)nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, sulfur oxides, and Other Fuels:suspended particle matter. In general, all these Grid electricity 34
  • 49. Chapter 2: Air Batteries Falling down with load Wax candle Twisted/sprained ankle Any other fuel (specify): Broken bones Cuts/lacerations from blades or sawsUsing the list above, what types of fuel do you use for Back strainthe following purposes? Dehydration main fuel secondary fuel Dizziness or faintingCooking: Other problem reportedLighting: Other problem reported:Keeping warm:Heating water: 3. Fuel drying (for biomass fuels)Cooking for selling:Cooking animal feed: Do you ever use ‘green’ fuel (i.e. wood or plants that areElectrical equipment: still growing, or have been growing very recently, whenOther task 1 (specify): collected) not applicable—do not use biofuelOther task 2 (specify): never occasionally usually2. Getting fuel; buying and gathering alwaysWhat is the source of your main type(s) of fuel? The main fuel that you use – about how dry is it Raw biomass (wood, dung) usually? Petroleum products not applicable—do not use biofuel Converted biomass (e.g. Biogas, biodiesel, Very dry plant oil, residue briquettes, etc) Dry Grid electric—if so, is it generated from Damp coal, oil, nuclear or hydro? Wet ‘Green’ The sun Definitions: Other source (specify) Very dry: wood that is completely dry having been outdoors Fuel 1 in very dry weather for a long period, or kept to dry in the Fuel 2 house for some weeks at least; Dry: wood that does not feel damp, was gathered when theIf you buy fuel, how much do you pay for it per week? weather was variable and has needed to be dried in the house (show unit of currency) for several days;Wood: Damp: wood that feels slightly damp, has not been dried inCharcoal: the house;Kerosene (paraffin): Wet: wood that is wet due to prevailing rain and dampnessBottled gas: rather than because it is green (see below), and not havingGrid electricity: been dried to any degree in the house;Batteries: Green: wood that was cut while still growing, or was doing soWax candles: very recently, so that the wood contains sap.Other (e.g. gelfuel):Total cost: Do you dry your main fuel before use? not applicable (not biofuel or always veryIf your fuel is gathered, who is responsible for gathering dry)it? always usuallyHow many hours a week are spent gathering fuel? occasionally neverCheck any problems encountered by those collecting fuel: Supply is scarce 35
  • 50. Listening To The Earth4. Health and Wellbeing Semi-openSurvey the members of your community and any Permanent ventilation in roof of kitchen:workers that work there. In what ways does smoke affect Nonetheir health? Answer each question by indicating the Small holes (less than 10cm in diameter)percentage of people that report each symptom, i.e.: Large holes (more than 10cm in diameter) 1 = 0-25% No roof, or very open roof 2 = 26-50% 3 = 51-75% Does the kitchen area have eavespace? 4 = 76%-100% none All round roomHow many people are being interviewed for this Along outside wallsquestion? Along walls within houseWhat percentage report itchy, watery or irritated eyes? How many windows are in the room where cooking is done?What percentage report a persistent cough? How many doors are there in the kitchen?What percentage presently have a chest illness? Are the door(s) usually open or closed?What percentage report having a shortness of breath? Can any black soot or residue be found on the walls,What percentage report having frequent headaches? ceiling, or other locations? 7. The stove5. Smoking Type of stove—main stove and secondary stove (chooseHow many members of the community smoke? from the following): main secondaryDo people smoke inside? Three-stone or two-stone fire (i.e. No / Occasionally / Yes, regularly open fire) Shielded (from wind or air currents)Has your community been educated about the health mud fire or mud stove (includingand environmental effects of smoking? chimney stove) Yes / No Wood-burning ceramic stove (made of fired clay)Does the community have a smoking policy? (e.g. smoke Metal stoveonly in designated areas) Improved charcoal stove Yes / No Pressurized kerosene stove Non-pressurized kerosene stoveIs the community policy explained to all members and Gas stoveguests? Solar cooker Yes / No Grid-powered electric stoveAre there designated smoking areas? If unsure, or if you have ‘other’ type of stove, please Yes / No describe: If Yes where are these areas located?6. Ventilation of the Kitchen area If the stove burns biomass fuels, does the stove (or fireIs the kitchen: pit) have a grate upon which the fuel is placed? Enclosed Yes / No / Not applicable 36
  • 51. Chapter 2: AirIs the space between the flame and the burner plate(s) If Yes do people sleep in that room?or pots minimized? Yes / NoDoes the burning area have insulation to absorb and (list who sleeps there)retain heat? (e.g. Clay, sand, brick, etc.) Yes / No / Not applicable 8. Smoke extractionCan the burning chamber be closed, excepting an inlet Is there any type of smoke extraction in the kitchenfor air? (chimney stove, hood etc)? Yes / No Yes / NoIf the stove has spaces for multiple pots, are there plates If the answer is Yes rate the condition of each type ofto block unused burner areas? extraction device on a scale from 1-5 (1 being ‘poor’). Yes / No / Not applicable Consider things like rust, holes, cleanliness, state of repair:If the stove has spaces for multiple pots, can the air flowto each be controlled with internal baffles? Extraction method: 1-5 Yes / No / Not applicable Chimney (built into structure of building): Smoke hood (semi-permanent fixture):If the fire is internal, are there dampers on the air inlet Other (specify):to control the size of the flame? Yes / No / Not applicable If ‘other’ smoke extraction method, please describe or sketch it:Is there a flue (i.e. chimney) built into the design of thestove? Yes / NoObserving the stove in operation, answer thefollowing questions:How much smoke does the fire produce? none visible light wispy If there is a smoke extraction device, watch the gray and steadily produced stove in operation and answer the following fairly heavy with some soot questions: thick with black soot Can or does the smoke reenter the building throughWhat color is the flame? eaves, windows, or doors? Blue Yes / No Yellow Orange Does the smoke drift toward another home? Red Yes / No Occasional flame, mostly smoldering coalsHow many people usually sleep in the room with the Maintenance:main stove? Is there someone in your community that is charged with maintaining all exhaust systems (chimneys, etc)?Is this stove usually kept alight at night? Yes / NoIs a stove used in any other room in the house other Does your community have a regular maintenancethan the kitchen? schedule for chimneys and vents? Yes / No Yes / No 37
  • 52. Listening To The Earth9. Education, Policy, and Civic Engagement compressed residues, liquid fuels, gaseous fuels, solar energy (most efficient).Has everyone in your community been educated about Thus, using dung as fuel (without firstthe dangers of indoor air pollution? converting it into biogas) releases the greatest Yes / No amounts of particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and several other pollutants. Burning corn cobs orDoes your community have a policy on indoor air stalks, or other crop wastes is slightly cleaner thanpollution? dung. Cleaner yet is wood, charcoal, coal, or other Yes / No solid fuel types. However, all these ‘biomass’ fuels release a great deal of pollutants because they doDoes your community have an active plan to help not often burn completely. This is why liquids andeducate the public about air pollution, deforestation, gases release much less air pollution.and better practices? Bottled gas, kerosene, and other heating liquids Yes / No and gases are much cleaner relative to wood. Nonetheless, all of these fuels let off carbonIs your community taking steps to address or change dioxide and usually carbon monoxide, which arepublic policies which affect air quality (e.g. forest use, both pollutants that can concentrate intoemission standards, fuel standards, etc)? dangerous levels indoors. In addition, if the fuel is Yes / No petroleum based, there are still a number of pollutants released besides carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, like sulfur oxides and volatile organic compounds. ‘Biofuels’—for example, gasesIndoor Air Pollution: Evaluation made from the digestion of dung, or ethanol made from corn, or diesel made from seeds—release farAt the end of each discussion section, there will be a statement fewer pollutants than their petroleumand a list of numbers from which to choose. Choose a number counterparts.from 1-9 to indicate your assessment of how well your If your community uses electric power (fromcommunity represents the statement given (1= disagree, the grid) for heating or cooking, refer to thecommunity practices unhealthy; 9= agree completely, no change chapter in this manual about energy, Chapter 5.needed). By far, the cleanest, most efficient means of heating and cooking is the sun, or solar energy. The1-2. Types, Uses, Costs of Community’s Fuel use of solar energy releases no pollution and uses no fuel. You can use passive solar warmers to bakeThe purpose of these questions is to inventory the bread, to boil water, to heat vegetables, as well astypes, uses, and costs of the community’s fuel. many other tasks that would normally require the Making an inventory of the types of fuels used burning of fuel. Solar technology is rapidlyfor various purposes helps your community spreading throughout Latin America because thedevelop a clear picture of your community’s required materials are generally available andpractical fuel choices. It is often the case that inexpensive, and, of course, because there is a lotseveral different fuels are used within a community, of sun!but each for their own purposes. It should be your The cost is an important aspect to keep track of,community’s goal to maximize the efficiency and because it measures how much of the community’scleanliness of fuel for each purpose that fuel is resources are being used for fuel. These resourcesneeded, with the priority being set on those fuels may be monetary or they may be in the form ofwhich are used most often. personal labor. If a decision is made to change The choice of fuel has perhaps a greater effect fuels, or to include the use of solar heating, keepingupon the amount of pollution emitted by burning track of the fuel costs becomes an importantthan any other single factor. Basically, the hotter means of judging the efficiency of the fuels.and cleaner that a fuel burns, the less pollution it Refer to the resources at the end of this chapterlets off. The gradient of efficient burning is as to find additional information regarding bio-gas,follows (this is general and does not include factors cooking fuels, and solar cookers. Resources for bio-like dryness or stove capabilities): dung (least gas production can also be found in the Wasteefficient), crop residues, wood, charcoal or Handling, Chapter 4. 38
  • 53. Chapter 2: AirOur community strives to use very efficient sources of 5. Smokingfuel and monitors how much of our resources we spendon fuel Research has proven without a doubt that smoking 123456789 is very injurious to both the smoker’s health and to those who inhale second-hand tobacco smoke. It is3. Fuel Drying extremely harmful to one’s health, particularly to one’s lungs and heart. Since the environmentalIn some cases, the use of wood or other biomass tobacco smoke let off by smokers is as harmful tofuels is unavoidable. In these cases it is most others in poorly ventilated areas as it is to theimportant to create situations in which the fuel smoker, it is important to the health of theburns as hot and completely as possible. This can community to have a smoking policy that restrictsbe accomplished by using an efficient cookstove, smoking to open areas that are well ventilated.and by drying the fuels being used. Although adopting such a policy may represent If your community uses wood or other residues a divergence from the normal cultural habits, it isfor fuel, be sure to have a sheltered area available very important that the policy be explained toin which to store recently collected wood or crop everyone affected by it: community members,wastes. Fuels should be dried until they are as dry workers, and guests alike. The explanation ofas possible (preferably a week or more). policy may serve as an opportune time to educate There should be a regular program in place to about the dangers of smoking. Educating smokersrotate the fuels so that the driest are always what and non-smokers alike about the dangers ofare burned, and recently collected fuels have ample smoking is an important step to take to reduce thetime to dry before use. numbers of people smoking.Our community takes steps to ensure that any biomass Our community strives to eliminate the dangers offuels are thoroughly dried before attempting to burn environmental tobacco smokethem 123456789 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (choose 10 if not applicable) 6. Ventilation of the kitchen area4. Health and Wellbeing The purpose of these questions is to provide the rational background to deciding how important itIt is important to survey the members of your is for your community to increase the ventilationcommunity, including any workers that spend time of your cooking areas.there, especially those that spend a lot of time in or A properly working cookstove will have thenear the kitchen. ability to pull in as much air (i.e. oxygen) as it Shared health problems (especially respiratory needs to burn the fuel, and it will vent all exhaustdiseases) may indicate that indoor air pollution is outside into the atmosphere away from people ora real problem in the community that should be confined spaces; however, the ventilation of theaddressed immediately. kitchen area is also very important. The presence of smoke may immediately cause Roof vents (not including flue pipes orirritated eyes, headaches, or coughing. Longer term chimneys) and eavespaces are important in orderexposure may lead to upper and/or lower that vapors are able to escape. However, anyrespiratory infections like pneumonia. In addition, venting near the ceiling or roof must be coupledlong term exposure to smoke may lead to with venting closer to the ground, like doors,emphysema, lung cancer, chronic obstructive windows, or other openings. In addition, windowspulmonary disease, and other debilitating diseases. and doors also serve the important function of Those most at risk are those who do the providing light to the working areas of the kitchen,cooking, or those who sleep near sources of smoke. which makes operating in the kitchen much safer. Poorly ventilated kitchens will most likely showOur community shows no signs of health problems evidence of soot or smoke residues on the walls,related to smoke inhalation. ceilings, or settled on surfaces. If any evidence of 123456789 poor ventilation is found, structural improvements should be considered. 39
  • 54. Listening To The Earth Nevertheless, since several of the structural 5. Maximize user satisfaction by making theimprovements that could be made to increase stoves convenient to use (with local fuels, cookingventilation are costly and/or labor intensive, these pots, and utensils) and able to easily prepare localquestions about kitchen design can be used to dishes wellindicate the relative importance of upgrading the 6. In summary, only a stove with what might beefficiency of the cookstove, or the installation of a called robust efficiency will consistently save fuelchimney or vent hood. For example, if your kitchen under conditions of actual use. Stoves must behas no windows, only one door, and very little easy to use and fuel efficient under a variety ofeavespace, it is very important that the smoke is conditions: when it is boiling, simmering, baking,vented. However, if there are roof vents, eavespace, or frying food; when it is using only one opening ofwindows, and a door, replacing a chimneyless stove a large, three-pot stove; and when it is dirty oris less important than making sure that the stove is worn. Cookstoves are workhorses, not racehorses,burning efficiently. and must be designed accordingly. It is important to include the comments of all It is absolutely essential that all fires are vented.those who work in the kitchen (not only those who That is, each stove should have either a built-inare community members) in this inventory, since chimney vented outdoors, or a vent hood which isthey may have a more intimate knowledge of the similarly vented outside. If any fire in yourkitchen, stove and ventilation problems than community is not equipped with such a device,anyone else. installing one is the highest priority in order to improve indoor air quality. Ample kitchenOur community’s kitchen is very well ventilated. It has ventilation (with eaves, windows, roof vents, etc.)adequate eavespace, is well lit, and shows no signs of reduces the danger of concentrated exhaust smoke,soot or smoke build-up but does not completely alleviate it. Consider that 123456789 on a day where the air is stagnant, air currents do not flow through the kitchen, and thus do little to remove the smoke. References to resources to help7-8. The stove and smoke extraction you in this can be found in the categorized reference section in the back of this manual.The cookstove and its smoke extraction device are It is important that all chimneys, vents, stoves,the crux of the indoor air pollution matter. The or other heating device be checked on a regularcookstove should be as efficient as possible. schedule to ensure proper operation. TheEfficiency not only makes the operation of it inspection schedule might be as infrequent as oncecheaper, it greatly reduces the amount of air a season, but it is very important that it occur. Anypollution released by it. There are a few simple vent must be intact (without holes), clean and freeprinciples to keep in mind when designing or of obstruction. All burners must be functioningupgrading a cookstove. properly, smoke shouldn’t be escaping into the There are an incredible variety of cookstove kitchen with a well designed cookstove. It isdesigns; but the qualities of a good cookstove are probably best if one person is put in charge of theas follows: regular maintenance of cooking, heating, and 1. Maximize combustion of the fuel by keeping ventilation systems within the community.the temperature high and ensuring the presence of Refer to the resources at the end of this chaptersufficient oxygen to find more information regarding indoor air 2. Maximize radiative heat transfer from the pollution, cookstove designs, and to the pot(s) by keeping the pot as close to theflame as possible Some care and thoughtfulness has been put into the 3. Maximize convection from the fire to the design of our community’s stove(s). All stoves arepot(s) with a stove design that passes as much of directly vented with either a chimney or a vent hood.the hot gases over the pot(s) as possible; reduce They are as efficient as they can be for the primary typedrafts of fuel used 4. Maximize conduction to the food pot(s) by 123456789using an insulating material for the stove so thatthe heat is retained and concentrated near thepot(s) 40
  • 55. Chapter 2: Air9. Education, Policy, and Civic Engagement Now that you have comprehensively examined your protection of indoor air quality, how would you rate,Reducing indoor air pollution is everyone’s overall, your community’s practices in these regards?responsibility. Therefore it is important that Excellent / Satisfactory / Poor / Criticallyeveryone be aware of the dangers of smoke and deficienthow to avoid its concentration inside confinedspaces. Reducing indoor air pollution should not If you found that problems exist, list them below:only be a personal policy, but a community policy Category (I-III)as well, since it affects all members of the Problem 1community. Spreading the principles of clean air needs tohappen not only within your community, butwithin your municipality, country, and throughoutthe world. Thus to protect God’s creation, it isimportant that your community work at all levelsto educate and change policies regarding air Problem 2pollution.Our community has made a point to create policies toprotect the quality of air both within and outside thecommunity buildings. We are actively engaged ineducating each other and the general public about airquality issues Problem 3 123456789ConclusionsNow enter the scores from each section: Problem 4 score1-2. Fuel types, uses and costs3. Biomass fuel drying4. Health and well being5. Smoking Now categorize each problem listed above into one of the following three categories:6. Kitchen ventilation I = Critically important. Currently dangerous, must be addressed immediately7-8. Cookstove and smoke extraction II = Important, but not immediately dangerous. Must be addressed9. Education, Policy, Civic Engagement III = Current practice should be improved, but is not immediately important 41
  • 56. Listening To The EarthSome suggestions for reducing Indoor Air Pollution Your Car and Clean Air: What YOU Can Do to Reduce Pollution. EPA, Office of Mobile Sources, United StatesFuel types / Alternate fuel-cooker combinations: Environmental Protection Agency, document 420-F-93- 002. Available online:• Briquettes and pellets• Charcoal, Kerosene Energy-Environment Linkages in the Urban Sector.• Liquid petroleum gas (LPG) Leitmann, Josef, UNDP/World Bank/UNCHS Urban• Biogas, Producer gas Management Program (UMP). Discussion paper, 1991.• Solar cookers (thermal) Environmental Issues Information Sheet: Air Pollution.• Other low smoke fuels Smith-Sebasto, University of Illinois Extension. 2000.• Electricity Full text available online:Drying biomass fuels: sheets.html.• All biomass is thoroughly dried Urban Air Quality Handbook. Prepared and written byTobacco smoking: the staff and consultants of the Sustainable Cities• Only in well ventilated areas or outdoors Programme, UNCHS, Kenya. Available online:Kitchen design and placement of the stove:• Shelters/cooking huts GEO3: Global Environmental Outlook. UNEP, 2002.• Windows/ventilation holes Available online:• Eavespaces Smoke – the Killer in the Kitchen. Warwick, Hugh and• Stove at waist height Alison Doig, ITDG Publishing, London, UK; 2004Improved ventilation Ecological Cookers: An essential element in Bettering• Hoods/fireplaces and chimneys (built into structure Household Health. Whitfield, David, Fundaciónof house) CEDESOL. Available by request online: cooking devices: Chapter 2: Resources for Air Quality• Chimneyless improved biomass stoves• Improved stoves with flues attached Sustainable Urban Transport Project for Latin America:Kitchen practices: Cra. 14 # 94a- 24 of. 409; Bogotá, Colombia; Tel: (+571) 635 9048; Fax:• Use of pot lids (+571) 635 9015. SUTP is dedicated to advancing• Good maintenance sustainable transportation practices throughout• Sound operation developing countries. They are a great resource for• Partially pre-cooked food policy makers and concerned citizens. Their free Sourcebook for Policy Makers in Developing Countries Source: ITDG, 2004 (modules available in Spanish and English) provides a tremendous amount of information and guidance on topics such as: vehicle maintenance and inspection, cleaner fuels, eco-driving, mass transit options, and raising public awareness.Chapter 2: Acknowledgements Clean Air Initiative: The Clean Air Initiative is a project of the World Bank thatThe information contained in this chapter has been adapted from the advances innovative ways to improve air quality infollowing sources: cities by sharing knowledge and experiences throughThe Origin, Fate, and Health Effects of Combustion By- partnerships in selected regions of the world. LaProducts: A Research Framework. Avakian, Maureen D., Iniciativa de Aire Limpio en Ciudades de AméricaDellinger, Environmental Health Perspectives. Latina (IAL-CAL) tiene como propósito revertir elVOLUME 110, NUMBER 11, November 2002. deterioro de la calidad del aire urbano en América Latina, que es el resultado de la creciente urbanización,Emissions of Rural Wood-Burning Cooking Devices, A aumento del transporte vehicular, y de la producciónthesis submitted to the Faculty of Engineering, Ballard- industrial.Tremeer, Grant, University of the Witwatersrand,Johannesburg, 1997. Available online: Environmental Protection Agency of the United States: pages available in spanish. Many resources on air pollution, mobile sources, andSmoke, Health, and Household Energy, Volume 1. Bates, pollution prevention.Liz and the Smoke Team, UK Department forInternational Development, 2005. Available online: Resources for the Future: Offer several articles and reports on air pollution, climate change, and pollution prevention.Urban Transportation: Challenges facing Latin America.Bleviss, Deborah Lynn, 1999. Available online: Drive Green - Environmental guide to driving: From Environment Canada, a guide to better drivingCentral America: Environmental Issues. Energy practices.Information Agency, United States Department ofEnergy, 2002. Online: GREENTIE: GREENTIE was an international directory of suppliers whose technologies help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. GREENTIE 42
  • 57. Chapter 2: Airceased collecting new information at the end of March Energia: International Network on Gender and2005. Nevertheless, the information will remain Sustainable Energy: Tel:available through this web site’s search facilities as it +31.(0)33.4326044 (Netherlands). ENERGIA is anrepresents one of the World’s most detailed repositories international network on gender and sustainable energyof such information. which links individuals and groups concerned with energy, sustainable development, and gender.Diesel Emissions Evaluation Program: ENERGIA’s goal is to contribute to the empowerment Check under their listed of rural and urban poor women through a specific focusresearch projects for diesel maintenance guidelines and on energy issues. ENERGIA provides numerousbest practices. publications and resources toward improving cookingEmissions of Rural Wood-Burning Cooking Devices: practices. Ph.D thesis by Aprovecho Research Center: Ballard-Tremeer which offers a detailed analysis The Aprovecho Research Center website containsof cookstove designs and their emissions. construction plans for many different cook stoveRenewable Energy Policy Project (Center for Renewable designsEnergy and Sustainable Technology): SPARKNET: SPARKNET REPP’s goal is to accelerate the use is an interdisciplinary interactive Knowledge Networkof renewable energy by providing credible information, focusing on energy for low-income households in Southinsightful policy analysis, and innovative strategies and East Africa.amid changing energy markets and mountingenvironmental needs by researching, publishing, and HEDON Household Energy Network:disseminating information, creating policy tools, and The HEDON Householdhosting highly active, on-line, renewable energy Energy Network is an informal forum dedicated todiscussion groups. improving social, economic, and environmental conditions in the South, through promotion of local,Biomass Cooking Stoves discussion forums: national, regional and international initiatives in the household energy sector.This site exists to help people develop better stoves forcooking with biomass fuels in developing regions. Professor Kirk R. Smith: University of California, Berkeley: Excellentountries/country.htmlLinks to biomass cooking stove resource on the effects of indoor air pollution fromresources in different countries. cookstoves. 43
  • 58. Listening To The Earth 44
  • 59. Chapter 3 Drinking Water—Quality and Source Protection Water: Catalyst and Crisis account for 3.5 per cent and soil moisture accounts for only 1.5 per cent.Water: The Catalyst of Life Fresh water is a limited resource. Our demands on it can not be unbounded. ater is essential to all forms of life onW earth. It is a critical part of any ecosystem. Without water, neithervegetation nor animal life can survive. Our own Water: Global Crisis The Earth, with its diverse and abundant lifebodies are made up of over 70% water. forms, including over six billion humans, is facing Water is unique in that it is the only substance a serious water crisis. All the signs suggest that it isto naturally exist in all three of its physical states getting worse and will continue to do so, unlesswithin the Earth’s atmosphere. Water can be found corrective action is taken. This crisis is one ofas ice or snow in its solid form, as liquid water, and water governance, essentially caused by the waysas gaseous water vapor. in which we, as humans, mismanage water. Perhaps more importantly, water is the key Despite its limited supply, the human demandingredient that allows the environmental elements for freshwater is increasing exponentially. Humansof the Earth to keep moving and intermingling. are now using groundwater at a rate much fasterWater is the ‘universal solvent’ capable of than the Earth can replenish it by absorbingdissolving almost everthing. In an organism, water precipitation. There are two main factorsis needed as a medium for the transport of responsible for the increasing demand: 1) Thenutrients, minerals, and ions, as well as for human population is continuing to skyrocket,hydration. rapidly approaching 7 billion people; and 2) Unfortunately, this property of water means Individuals, per capita, are using more water.that both beneficial and harmful substances can be While there are several factors affecting thedissolved in and dispersed throughout a body of population increase, per capita consumption iswater, and then ingested by living organisms. directly affected by our personal practices. The Earth’s water is continually cycling from Especially in urban areas, people tend to have verythe atmosphere, where it exists as water vapor or wasteful water-use habits. In rural areas,precipitation, to the earth’s surface, where it either agricultural practices may make wasteful use ofis absorbed as ground water or ‘runs off ’ the land water; however, in many rural areas the criticalto become surface water. This cycle is called the problems are water scarcity and inadequate supply.hydrological (or ‘water’) cycle. Once upon the Adding to the crisis, the health or quality ofsurface, the water returns to the air either through existing water supplies is rapidly deteriorating. Thethe process of evaporation, or via biological environment has a natural absorptive, self-processes. Thus, plants, and animals (including us) cleansing capacity. However, this capacity can be,help to return water back to the air. and is being exceeded. Humans are polluting water Of the Earth’s water supply, only 2.5% is fresh much faster than the Earth can clean it.water; the rest is salt water. Of this amount, close As a result of these problems: millions of peopleto two-thirds is locked in glaciers or permanent die each year from thirst, or water-based illnesses;snow cover. This means that less than one percent biodiversity is lost; livelihoods are affected; naturalof the Earth’s water is available to us to drink. food sources (e.g. fish) are damaged; and high If the polar ice caps and glaciers are not clean-up costs result.considered (since their waters are locked in place), This reduction in both water quantity andgroundwater accounts for nearly all usable quality has serious impacts on not only ourselves,freshwater. Lakes, swamps, reservoirs and rivers but on ecosystems, and the Earth’s life in general. 45
  • 60. Listening To The EarthIn many areas of the world water has become a other groundwater sources are linked to pipedvery scarce resource, and safe water has truly distribution, limited disinfection is usually carriedbecome a rarity. Correcting these critical out prior to consumption.impairments is of global significance. In addition to its use as drinking water, water from beneath the ground has been exploited forTherefore, to ensure their own health, and the health of domestic use, livestock and irrigation since thethe environment, communities must: earliest times. Groundwater use has grown• Ensure source adequacy and quality of drinking water consistently ever since successful methods of• Take care to safely handle and/or treat drinking water bringing the water to the surface have been• Identify and eliminate wasteful and polluting practices developed.• Ensure sustainable protection of its water source In Latin America, many of the continent’s largest cities, Mexico City, Lima, Buenos Aires andUses and Abuses of Water Resources Santiago, obtain a significant proportion of their municipal water supply from groundwater. In theHumans affect the quality of the Earth’s valley of Mexico City, over 1,000 deep wells supplygroundwaters, surface waters, and atmospheric 3.2 billion cubic meters per day, which is about 95waters. Ground and surface waters are being per cent of the total supply to a population ofoverconsumed and polluted, while atmospheric nearly 20 million people. (WHO)waters are greatly affected by air pollution. Thus, Unfortunately, while groundwater may bebelow we will discuss the uses and bad cheap and abundant, the critical measure of thesemanagement practices that adversely affect sources is not their volumes, but their renewability.groundwater and surface water, while reserving a When groundwater sources are tapped beyonddiscussion of air polluting habits for another their capacity for renewal, water levels drop,chapter. (See the Outdoor Air Quality Assessment, aquifers become brackish through salinization,Chapter 2). pumping costs increase, and sooner or later the resource is depleted.Groundwater The dominant role of groundwater resources isOften the importance of groundwater is clear and their use and protection is, therefore, ofunderestimated. It is customary to think of fundamental importance to human life andgroundwater as being more important in arid or economic activity.semi-arid areas and surface water as moreimportant in humid areas. However, inventories of Surface watergroundwater and surface water use reveal the Humans use surface water for a large variety ofworldwide importance of groundwater. The reasons reasons. Some of the major uses of surface waterfor this include its convenient availability close to are:where water is required, its natural quality which is 1. sources of drinking water supplygenerally adequate for potable supplies, and the 2. irrigation of agricultural landsrelatively low capital cost of development. 3. industrial and municipal water supplies A principal feature of groundwater bodies 4. industrial and municipal waste disposalwhich distinguishes them from surface water is the 5. navigationrelatively slow movement of water through the 6. fishing, boating and body-contact recreationground. This means that residence times in 7. aesthetic valuegroundwaters are generally orders of magnitude Rivers are our most important freshwaterlonger than in surface waters. Once polluted, a resource. Social, economic and politicalgroundwater body could remain so for decades, or development has, in the past, been largely relatedeven for hundreds of years, because the natural to the availability and distribution of fresh watersprocesses of through-flushing are so slow. contained in riverine systems. As groundwater in its natural state is often of Upstream use of water must only be undertakengood microbiological quality, it is often the in such a way that it does not affect water quantity,preferred source for drinking water. In many cases, or water quality, for downstream users. Use of rivergroundwater sources do not receive any form of water is, therefore, the subject of major politicaltreatment, as they are low-cost supplies designed negotiations at all levels.for community-management. Where boreholes or In addition to the above list of uses, lakes are 46
  • 61. Chapter 3: Drinking Waterprime regions for human settlement and achieving these goals. In addition to thesehabitation. It has been commonly believed that inventories, Chapter 4 on Waste Managementlarge lakes have an infinite ability to absorb or provides information regarding safe sanitationdilute industrial and municipal waste, and it is practices and preventing diffuse chemicallargely as a result of human waste disposal pollution, and the Outdoor Air Qualitypractices that monitoring and assessment are Assessment in Chapter 2 provides informationproving to be necessary in many large lakes. about the ways in which our air pollution affects water quality.Good surface water quality is essential for providingdrinking water, maintaining fisheries, and for theprovisions of recreation and bathing. The degradation ofwater induced by agricultural use and by industrial and Drinking Water Quality andmunicipal waste disposal practices must be stopped. It is Source Protection: Inventoryincumbant upon every stakeholder in a watershed toprotect it from degradation. 1. Main Drinking Water SourceAssessment of Community Practices What is/are the main source(s) of your religious community’s drinking water? Check all that apply: AWe have seen that in order for communities toensure their health, the health of their larger Surface Watercommunity, and the health of ecosystems, it is Springnecessary that they: River/ Stream • Ensure source adequacy and quality Pond/ Lake • Take care to safely handle and/or treat Dam B drinking water • Identify and eliminate wasteful and polluting Dug Well practices Private well • Ensure sustainable protection of their water Open public well C source Communities in rural areas may not have Boreholewasteful habits, but may instead be faced with an Private well C1inadequate supply. Assessment of source selection Public well C2may thus be more important to consider for rural Mechanical pumpcommunities; however, communities in urban Handpump Dareas may have to focus more on their wastefulwater use habits. Spring Safe handling of water is most important to Open springassess in poorer communities, where source or tap Protected spring Esharing is more frequent, or compromised watersources are more prevalent. Rainwater Ensuring sustainable source protection is Covered containereveryone’s concern and responsibility. Aside from Open Container Fdirect measures, (for example, protection of aspring,) source protection means becoming Commercial Water Vendorinvolved in all levels of water management. Small water vendorCommunities should be aware of what decisions Tanker Truckare being made that affect their water source, and Bottled Water Gbecome advocates for its protection. Politicalaction may be necessary to ensure that protective Piped waterpolicies are both made and enforced. House connection G1 Public standpipes G1The inventories that follow are designed to help Gravity fedyour community assess how well it strives towards W/service reservoir 47
  • 62. Listening To The Earth Water Provider G2 Distance Comment Other (specify): Agricultural activity LivestockIs the water collected off-premises? Yes / No Crops—commercialIf so, how often is water collected? Crops—small scale Everyday Once a week Chemical storage Longer —how long does it take to travel to the source, collect Other (specify): the water, and return? Distance CommentDo water shortages often occur in your community? Industrial activity Yes / No Food processingIn the case of a water shortage: Textiles Where will water be collected? Tanneries Does your community share water with neighbors? Yes / No Brewery How far away are alternative sources of water and how long does it take to collect the water? Small scale industry (including garages) Are there known problems with the alternative Slaughterhouse source’s water quality? Yes / No MiningNow proceed to the section entitled ‘Site-Specific Other (specify):Source Assessments,’ found on pages 60-64 tofurther develop information regarding the safety of Distance Commentletters A-G next to your selections above to locateyour water source. Use the capital bold-faced Miscellaneous Deforestationthe questions pertaining to your source(s). Erosion2. Potential sources of pollution: Other (specify):Identify which activities occur within the vicinity of yourwater source. Remember to consider activities that occur 3. NGO involvementupstream, if a moving body of water: Distance Comment Is there an NGO, committee or group within your Residential larger community that attends to the maintenance, preservation, and/or protection of your water source, e.g. Construction a groundwater or watershed protection group? Yes / No Other (specify): Name of Organization: Does an individual from your religious community serve on this committee? Yes / No 48
  • 63. Chapter 3: Drinking Water4. Community Water Governance the water source for drinking water quality? Yes / NoDoes your larger community have a body (i.e.Committee, organization, corporation, government Was the testing:bureau, etc.) which is in charge of water governance? A one time occurrence Yes / No Part of a regular testing cycle Testing interval:Is there an individual from your religious communityserving as a member of the governing body? Are the results of the tests made available to the public? Yes / No / Not applicable Yes / NoHow reliable is the governed water supply? Does the water source have any chemical pollution Very Reliable (uninterrupted supply) problems? Reliable (no disruptions for months) Yes / No Fair (some disruptions in the past few months) Does the water source have any biological problems? Intermittent (disruptions on a weekly Yes / No basis) Sporadic (only available a few times a Explain the problems identified with the water source: week) Inadequate (supply is critical concern)Are fees established for the water supply? Yes / No What are the recommendations for improving the water source, if any are known:How were the fees established? Vote Decree with community input Decree without community input Other (specify): Does your community test source water quality itself? Yes / No Was everyone’s interests represented in the vote? Yes, everyone was represented or could vote 6. Water Treatment by the Community Only men were represented / could vote Only landowners were represented/ could Does your religious community treat your water in any vote way to make it safer to drink? Other restriction (specify): Yes / No / Not applicable (water treated by supplier) What happens if someone does not pay on time? If you do, what methods do you use? Receives a reminder Boil Access refused Solar Distilled/Disinfected Collector visits again Add Bleach/Chlorine Water turned off Sedimentation/Settling Other (specify): Sieve it through cloth Candle filters Does your community include water expenses as part Other (specify): of the budget? Yes / No Is water treatment a standard protocol? Yes / No5. Water Quality Testing If bleach or chlorine is used, does your communityHas a government regulatory agency, or other qualified chemically test the water?entity (besides the Water Provider, if one exists) tested Yes, chlorine levels are tested 49
  • 64. Listening To The Earth We have test kit, but do not use it Drinking Water Quality and We do not have test kit Source Protection: EvaluationIs there someone in charge of overseeing water At the end of each discussion section, there will be atreatment? statement and a list of numbers from which to choose. Choose a number from 1-9 to indicate your assessment Name of supervisor: of how well your community represents the statement given. (1 = disagree, community practices unhealthy; 9 = agree completely, no change needed)Does the community include water treatment expenses aspart of the budget? 1. Water sources Yes / No Each water source listed as an option in this7. Water Storage question is followed by a capitalized, bold-faced letter. This letter is meant to indicate theIs drinking water stored in containers? appropriate inventory to complete in the next Yes / No / Sometimes section, called ‘Site-Specific Source Assessments,’ found on page 60. The sets of questions foundWhat type(s) of container(s) is/are used to store therein help you determine the safety of yourdrinking/ cooking water? water sources, and describe standard protection Narrow-mouthed vessels methods. Following the inventories and Wide-mouthed vessels evaluations, there is a list of things to consider if bowls or pots your community decides to improve its water source. The inventory for your source(s) should beAre the containers covered? completed at this point, and the results assessed All / Some / None below. To promote community health, an easilyAre the containers clearly labeled or recognizable? accessible water supply should be available that All / Some / None provides sufficient safe water to meet community needs. There are many types of low-risk waterHow often are the water storage container(s) cleaned supplies for drinking and other domestic uses.with soap? Often, communities have unprotected water Once a day sources, such as springs, traditional wells and Once a week ponds, which are open to contamination and pose Less than once per week a potential health risk. To ensure that the water is Never potable, the water supply should be protected and the water should be treated before use.Is this a regular habit/protocol? Unprotected sources can be improved, and this Yes / No may be preferable to constructing completely new supplies.How do you draw water from the water container(s)? In general, it is best to be able to rely upon one Pouring source for all your community’s drinking water Spigot/Tap needs. Relying only upon one source minimizes the Dipping amount of resources a community must spend Other (specify): monitoring the safety of their sources. Both pouring and dipping If your main source often goes dry, consideration should be given to undertaking theIf drawn by dipping, what is used to remove water? construction of an additional water supply. In cases Same receptacle/cup used to drink from of water shortages, water is often obtained from Special receptacle only for drawing drinking alternative sources, or from neighbors. In such water cases, it is important to treat the water as if it were contaminated, since you cannot be sure of its quality. 50
  • 65. Chapter 3: Drinking WaterOur community’s drinking water source is nearby and due to operational failures and leaks due tomeasures are in place for its protection*. The source corrosion or structural failure of pipes or tanks.consistently provides an adequate and safe supply. Petroleum and petroleum products are the most 123456789 important because they are widely used. *NOTE: Source Inventory must be completed The cost of aquifer restoration measures and/or before answering this question. provision of alternative water supplies after major incidents of this type can be extraordinarily2. Water Source Pollution Hazards expensive. All too often the expense is not paid, and the disasters do not get cleaned up.There are a number of hazards to the sustainability ofboth groundwater and surface water resources. The World vi. Agricultural habitsHealth Organization points out these following Agricultural land-use and cultivation practicespertaining to groundwater: have been shown to exert major influences on groundwater quality. Under certain circumstancesi. Unsewered sanitation serious groundwater pollution can be caused byContamination of groundwater supplies by agricultural activities.unsewered sanitation. Problems usually arise wherethe water table is so shallow that on-site sanitation vii. Mining activitiessystems discharge directly into the saturated zone. A range of groundwater pollution problems can beOften the most serious problems arise in medium associated with mining activities. The nature of theto smaller sized towns and in densely populated pollution depends on the materials being extractedperi-urban and rural areas where local, shallower, and the post-extraction processing. Coal, salt,and often untreated, groundwater sources are used. potash, phosphate and uranium mines are majorIn these circumstances, direct pollution of the polluterssource at the wellhead by the users, by livestockand by wastewater can be a serious problem. viii. General sources of contaminants to rivers and lakes:ii. Contamination at sourceUnprotected extraction points allows a. Direct point sourcescontamination to enter well/ spring waters directly. Municipal and industrial discharges.iii. Leaks in sanitary sewers b. Diffuse agricultural sourcesLeakage is a common problem, especially from old Wash-off and soil erosion from agricultural landssewers, and may be caused by defective pipes, poor carrying materials applied during agricultural landworkmanship, breakage by tree roots, settlement use, mainly herbicides, pesticides and pesticides.and rupturing from soil slippage or seismic activity c. Diffuse urban sourcesiv. Disposal of waste Wash-off from city streets, from horticultural andThe most common method of disposal of solid gardening activities in the sub-urban environmentwaste is by deposition in landfills. Also, and from industrial sites and storage areas. Streetmunicipalities and factories will sometimes create litter, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, pet andponds for liquid waste . Unfortunately, very few yard waste, motor oil, anti-freeze, householdlandfills or ponds are built to sanitary standards, hazardous wastes, and paint are just a few of theand many are simply raw dumps. Contaminates pollutants that find their way into storm drains.leach from the landfills (dumps) into the This water travels from storm drains into localgroundwater. streams, ponds, and lakes, and ultimately into local streams and rivers.v. Industrial accidents and spillsGroundwater pollution incidents from major d. Waste disposalindustrial complexes are becoming more common Pollution from solid and liquid industrial wasteand are often the subject of major, expensive disposal sites and from municipal and householdinvestigations and clean-up activities. The causes hazardous or infectious waste.include accidents during transportation, spillages 51
  • 66. Listening To The Earthe. Fecal contamination of water (surface water or ground water) have aThe primary water quality issue in rivers. Although committee consisting of stakeholders that attendthis applies to both rural and urban areas, the to the environmental quality of the water resource.situation is probably more critical in fast-growing The committee should have broad participationcities where the population growth rate still far from the surrounding populace, and should not beexceeds the rate of development of wastewater limited by gender, occupation, education, orcollection and treatment facilities income. Your religious community could have at leastf. Salinisation one person serve on such a committee, if oneIncreased mineral salts in rivers may arise from exists, so that your community is able toseveral sources: (i) release of mining wastewaters, contribute to the betterment of local water(ii) certain industrial wastewaters, and (iii) resources. This member can serve as a liasonincreased evaporation and in the river basin representing your religious community’s interests(mainly in arid and sub-arid regions) resulting from to the committee, and the committee’s interestsreservoir construction, irrigation returns, etc. back to the community. If no such committee exists, a motivatedg. Acidification individual of your community could be encouragedOccurs as a result of: (i) direct inputs of acidic to organize one.wastewaters from mining or from specificindustries, either as point sources (e.g. sewers) or There is a committee that attends to the health of ourdiffuse sources (e.g. leaching of mine tailings), and water source and our religious community is represented(ii) acidic precipitation (acid rain) mainly from the in that committee.burning of fossil fuels. 123456789The hazards to our community’s water source have been 4. Water Governanceinventoried and no significant risks exist. 123456789 Local water management is everywhere valuable, especially in times of water scarcity, but it requires3. Water resource protection committee good governance to fulfill its potential. Good governance is open, participatory, and responsible.Water resources are shared resources. The activities It undertakes careful research so that decisions areof many people affect the quality of the water made based on factual evidence, and workssource, and it is easy for the actions of just a few deliberately to better the lives of its poorest andpeople to affect the entire community’s water most vulnerable members. The condition ofsupply. Thus, it is important that all the women, minorities, and the landless poor is astakeholders, (those people that use or affect the specific responsibility of the institutional authority.water source) are aware of the health of the water It is now recognized that women in poorbody and how their activities might affect the communities must be involved in local water andquality of the water. sanitation management. They work longer hours It is also important that a group of local people, than anyone else on domestic water and hygiene,local stakeholders, are able to communicate both and they are other stakeholders, and to larger regulatory Participation in the water management bodybodies (e.g. governments) about the conditions of should be broad, with the interests of alltheir water resources, and about the problems stakeholders represented. Thus, it is importantfacing it. that your religious community have a member Although national or regional governments serve on the body, if that is possible.often have divisions whose stated purpose is the To make and carry out sustainable resourceprotection of water or environmental resources, decisions, good governance requires institutionalthese governmental entities are often slowed by capacity. That includes the capacity to gather andtheir internal beaurocratic processes, and/or have a assess relevant information, to deliberate, togeographical region to cover that far exceeds the execute policies, and to answer responsibly tocapacity of the staff. members of the community. On the smallest, For these reasons, it is advisable that each body simplest scale, institutional capacity represents a 52
  • 67. Chapter 3: Drinking Waterneighborhood’s ability to build and maintain a principles, and our religious community is represented inshared network that stores and distributes the management body.rainwater around a few city blocks. It is the forum 123456789where villages up and down a hillside canapportion seasonal runoff for maximum usage and 5. Water quality testingminimum losses of water and soil. It is themechanism that can mobilize a community’s Water of poor microbial quality can have acapital investment in a wastewater recycling plant significant impact on the health of communityor in new-technology groundwater pumping members by causing disease and contributing tosystems. It is the recognition that management the spread of epidemics. Water quality shouldinvolves administrative and financial tasks, as well therefore be monitored on a regular basis. Ideally,as technical ones, that regular maintenance is as it should be tested by staff working with qualifiedimportant as initial construction, and that from bodies such as a governmental Healthtime to time enforcement of rules and regulations Department/ Ministry of Health, or Ministry ofwill be necessary. It is the deliberation in which Environment. There are also both national andenvironmental quality is acknowledged as a value, international NGO’s that provide water qualityand where the interests of future generations are monitoring services. The community shouldheard and accepted. request such support, particularly if it suspected Communities attempting local water that the community water supply is need supportive links with their The test results should be provided to the‘senior’ governments. This is especially important community and if any problems arise, thein the management of watersheds and aquifers that community should request recommendations formust be shared with others. Creating coherent solutions.relationships between local management and widerwatershed approaches goes to the heart of good Microbial qualitywater management. Governments can encourage The principal method of assessing the microbialthe diffusion of new and helpful knowledge, quality of water is to test for bacteria whoseespecially to its agencies and extension services. presence indicates that feces may be in the water.These arms of government have the organization An analysis of the test results is usually beyond thewith the expertise and resources to speed resources of communities and will be carried outdissemination and promote education. By by health or water officials. Some kits have beendiffusing the results of research and development, developed for community use, but the results ofgovernments multiply many times the value of new these tests should be analysed with caution.knowledge to local communities. So doing, with Water quality tests look at the microbiology ofNGOs and others, they enlarge the national wealth water samples to identify viral, bacterial andand the welfare of citizens. parasitical agents linked to hepatitis A, diarrhea, Unfortunately, there is a trend in Latin America typhoid and other illnesses. The major concern oftoward the ‘privatization’ of water management. microbiological testing is whether feces haveMeant to reduce the burden placed upon contaminated the water supply, as most of thegovernment, privatized water supplies are infectious water-related diseases, such as choleramanaged by corporate managers, with the goal of and dysentery, are caused by fecal contamination.making a profit for the corporation’s stockholders. Although these diseases can also be transmittedThe stockholders are most often not the through poor hygiene and inadequate sanitation,stakeholders, and quite often live in distant control of drinking-water quality is one of the maincountries. In most scenarios of privatized water ways of preventing their, the corporate management is not open, Microbiological testing should be conductedparticipatory, and not responsive to the needs of whenever a new water source is put into use.the poor. Regular monitoring should continue afterward, on Activism at all levels becomes essential if your at least a monthly cycle. More frequent testingcommunity is suffering hardships due to poor should be conducted if a problem is identified untilmanagement of water resources. the problem has been corrected and the quality has stabilized. Furthermore, it is advisable to test waterOur water supply is managed with good governance after a heavy rain, as flooding and increased flow 53
  • 68. Listening To The Earthcan change the properties of a water body. 6. Water TreatmentSanitary inspection Sometimes the best option for improving waterAn analysis of water quality usually also includes a quality is to treat water in the home, by boiling,sanitary inspection. This is a visual assessment of filtering, chlorinating or leaving the water to settle.the water supply, using standard forms to record These options are discussed in more detail below.information, to see whether fecal pollution existsand whether such pollution could reach the water Boilingsource. Sanitary inspections can be undertaken by Bringing water to a rolling boil will destroycommunities on a regular basis as part of operation pathogens in the water and make it safe to drink.and maintenance, and forms have been developed Boiled water tastes ‘flat’, but if it is left for a fewin several countries to help communities undertake hours in a partly filled, covered container, it willthese inspections. Many of the risks to the water absorb air and lose its flat relate to improper operation andmaintenance activities in the area around the water Canvas filterssource, and sanitary inspection can be used to Canvas bags are the simplest type of home filter.ensure that these tasks are carried out to keep the The bag is filled with water and the water iswater supplies safe. Refer to Chapter 7, Waste collected as it seeps out of the bag. This makes theHandling Assessment, for more information water cleaner and, although it does not remove allregarding sanitary inspections. pathogens, is particularly useful for removing Cyclops containing guinea-worm eggs. Bags thatChemical quality have been specially treated to prevent them fromIt may also be necessary to test community water rotting are for harmful chemicals. Certain chemicals,such as fluoride, nitrate and arsenic, represent a Candle filtershealth risk, whereas others, for example iron, Candle filters are hollow, porous ceramicmanganese and sulfate, may cause consumers to cartridges. Although they do not filter out allreject the water because it is unpleasant to drink or pathogens, they should remove the larger onesstains clothes and causes other problems. Testing is such as protozoa, worms and bacteria (but notusually done by health or water officials, but viruses). Ceramic candles need carefulcommunity members can play a key role by maintenance and should be cleaned and boiled atdemanding that such analyses are carried out, and least once a week, even if they are not clogged. If aby informing officials of any developments that candle filter becomes clogged, it should bemay cause contamination of the water supply. scrubbed under running water with a stiff brushWhen a water supply is first developed, a full water free of soap, grease or oil. To reduce the risk thatquality analysis should be carried out. The water will pass through a candle without beingcommunity should request feedback regarding this filtered, such as through a small crack, candleanalysis and ask for guidance concerning the filters should be regularly inspected and replaced ifsuitability of the water source for drinking. necessary. In some countries it is common to both You should be able to find much information filter and boil water. Where this is done, the waterabout water quality testing from the resourceslisted at the end of this chapter. For example, the Household water treatmentWorld Health Organization promotes water In Bolivia, household water treatment wasquality monitoring through its Healthy Villages introduced into two communities where waterprogram. quality was generally poor... After the treatment was introduced, fecal contamination of water samples was reduced by over 90% and the incidence ofWe are satisfied that our community’s water source is diarrhea dropped by almost 50%. Similarregularly tested for microbial quality, and has also been improvements have been observed in othertested for chemical quality. The community is informed countries, such as Bangladesh, demonstrating that household treatments can be effective.of the test results and no problems exist. Source: Diarrhoea prevention in Bolivia through 123456789 point-of-use water treatment and safe storage, Epidemiology and Infection, 122:83-90, Quick RE et al, 1999 54
  • 69. Chapter 3: Drinking Watershould be filtered first and then boiled. Some from the ground seeds of Moringa oleiferafilters incorporate silver into the candle, but this (horseradish tree) and Moringa stenopetala,does not disinfect the water and the candle acts sprinkled onto the water surface.simply as a normal filter. It should be stressed that settling does NOT remove all pathogens, silt or clay. The settling ofDisinfection particles may reduce pathogens but some willOne method of treating water in households is to remain, and water should be boiled or disinfectedadd chlorine. This will kill most bacteria and some before it is consumed.viruses. Since the taste of chlorine disappears when Many of the resources listed at the end of thiswater is left in open containers, a very small lump chapter will help you identify the various waterof bleaching powder or one drop of household treatment technology options that may bebleach can be added to a 20-liter water container reasonable for your community.and the mix left to stand for at least 30 minutes.After this time, if a faint smell of chlorine can be Our community treats our water to ensure that it is safedetected in the water, it should be low-risk and to drink. We strive to use environmentally friendlypalatable to drink. Chlorine should only be added treatment clear water otherwise it will be absorbed by the 123456789dirt in the water. Moreover, chlorine that has beenstored for some time will lose potency. The use of 7. Water handlingdisinfectants as a household treatment system hasbeen successfully implemented in Latin America Frequently, water collected from a communal pointand Asia. and transported back to houses for use becomes Despite its effectiveness, the use of chlorine contaminated because of poor handling.poses several risks that may be avoided by using Community members should therefore be aware ofother disinfection methods. Many of the the risks of contaminating the water and how itcompounds formed when chlorine reacts with can be prevented.contaminates in water are carcinogenic, and/or are All water containers should be clean, especially‘persistent environmental pollutants,’ meaning inside. It is always best to clean the insides ofthat they do not decompose and remain in the storage containers with either detergent orenvironment, often accumulating to unsafe levels. chlorine. Leaving a capful of bleach in a sealedIn addition, sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach) plastic or metal container full of water for 30is very toxic, and poses severe health risks if minutes will kill most pathogens. If detergent orconsumed undiluted. Extreme caution should be chlorine is not available, the insides of clay potstaken whenever chlorine is used. can be cleaned with ash. If ash must be used, it Other disinfection systems have been should be from a fire of organic fuel, not metals,developed for treating household water, plastics, paints, or electronic equipment. Plastic orparticularly the use of solar radiation. Simple metal containers should be cleaned weekly bymethods of solar disinfection (e.g. SODIS, which putting clean sand and water inside them andrequires little more than a capped plastic bottle shaking for a few minutes. The top of the waterand some tape or paint), can effectively treat water, container should be covered to stop dust and otheralthough they may take longer than chlorine contaminants falling into the drinking-water. Fordisinfection. Performed correctly, solar disinfection the same reason, water containers should also haveis very safe and ecologically friendy, and thus is a a narrow neck. It is best for water to be pouredpractical and preferable alternative for water from the container to prevent contact with dirtytreatment. fingers and hands. When scoops are used to take water out of the storage container they should beSedimentation/Settling clean and kept inside the water storage jar. TheyWhere water is cloudy or muddy, a simple should never be placed on the floor.treatment is to allow particulates in the water tosettle overnight. Clear water at the top of the Our community takes the utmost care to preserve thecontainer is then poured into a clean container. quality of our drinking water any time that it is storedAdding certain chemicals can help settling, such as for use.a pinch of aluminium sulfate (alum), or powder 123456789 55
  • 70. Listening To The EarthConclusions Problem 2Now enter the scores from each section in the column atright: score1. Water source adequacy and safety2. Water source pollution hazards Problem 33. Water resource protection committee4. Water governance5. Water quality testing6. Water treatment Problem 47. Water handlingNow that you have comprehensively examined yourdrinking water quality and source protection measures,how would you rate, overall, your community’s practicesin these regards? Excellent / Satisfactory / Poor / Critically deficientIf you found that problems exist, list them below: Now categorize each problem listed above into one Category (I-III) of the following three categories:Problem 1 I = Critically important. Currently dangerous, must be addressed immediately II = Important, but not immediately dangerous. Must be addressed III = Current practice should be improved, but is not immediately important 56
  • 71. Chapter 3: Drinking WaterSite-Specific Source: Assessment is a list of questions to be considered if your community decides to improve its water supply.boldface letters A-G found on page 50 in the preceding A Surface WaterBelow, each method of water extraction, as indicated by theinventory, has an associated set of questions. Answer theinventory questions, and then continue to the discussion section. 1) Is there excessive logging or visible erosion on theIf at first some of the terminology used in the questions is unclear banks/ shore of the water body?to you, go back and read over the previous discussion section Yes / Noassociated with your source before completing the inventory. 2) Is there run-off from urban area(s), or other humanThe purpose of the following inventories is to settlements entering the water body?assess the level of protection that exists at the Yes / Nopoint of extraction. Included within these analysesare abbreviated sanitation inspection questions, 3) Are there any farm animals or crop productionsince the major cause of poor drinking water upstream, polluting the source?quality is poor sanitation. Yes / No In order to ensure that water supplies canprovide water that represents a limited risk to 4) Is the water body used for public bathing?health, adequate source protection measuresshould be in place that prevent pathogens or 5) Are industrial waste streams or sewage dischargedharmful chemicals from entering the supply. into the water body?Source protection measures should be in place for Yes / Noall water sources that are used for domesticconsumption, and different measures will be 6) Must people enter the water in order to withdraw it?required at different levels. Yes / No It may be necessary to identify what basicmeasures are required at local and broader scales, 7) Is the intake (if one exists) unprotected?and to identify the people responsible for Yes / Noundertaking protection work. This may includecommunities and users as well as water suppliers, 8) Is the intake unscreened?planners and environment protection bodies. The Yes / Nopreceeding inventory should help you to assess thelevel of protection afforded by NGOs and/or water 9) Is the means of intake protection in need ofgovernance bodies, as well as what environmental maintainence or repair?problems may threaten your water source quality. Yes / No Following the inventories and discussions, there 10) Are algae blooms a problem in the water body? Characteristics of low-risk water sources Yes / No Water (A)’, on page 61. Refer to the evaluation below, labeled ‘Surface • The water source is fully enclosed or protected (capped) and no surface water can run directly into B Dug Well it. • People do not step into the water while collecting it. • Latrines are located as far away as possible from 1) Is there a latrine within 10m of the well? the water source and preferably not on higher Yes / No ground. If there are community concerns about this, expert advice should be sought. • Solid waste pits, animal excreta and other 2) Is the nearest latrine uphill of the well? pollution sources are located as far as possible from Yes / No the water source. • There is no stagnant water within 5 metres of the 3) Is there any other source of pollution within 10m of water source. the well? (e.g. Animal breeding, cultivation, roads, • If wells are used, the collection buckets are kept industry, etc) clean and off the ground, or a handpump is used. Yes / No 57
  • 72. Listening To The Earth4) Is the drainage faulty, allowing ponding within 5m 7) Is the floor of the pumphouse permeabe to water?of the well? Yes / No Yes / No 8) Does water form pools in the pumphouse?5) Is the drainage channel cracked, broken, or in need of Yes / Nocleaning? Yes / No 9) Is the well seal unsanitary? Yes / No6) Is the fence missing or faulty? Yes / No 10) Does the water change colour after heavy rain? Yes / No C2 Borehole with Handpump7) Is the well uncovered or is the cover faulty ormissing? Yes / No 1) Is there a latrine within 10m of the borehole/well?8) Does the well lack a cement pad (apron) or is the Yes / Nocement less than 1m in radius around the top of thewell, or are there cracks in the floor? 2) Is there a latrine uphill of the borehole? Yes / No Yes / No9) Does spilt water collect in the apron area? 3) Are there any other sources of pollution within 10m Yes / No of borehole/well? (e.g. Animal breeding, cultivation, raods, industy, etc)10) (if applicable) Is the handpump loose at the point Yes / Noof attachment to the well head? Yes / No 4) Is the drainage faulty, allowing ponding within 2m of the borehole?11) Does the water change colour after heavy rain? Yes / No Yes / NoRefer to the evaluation below, labeled ‘Ground 5) Is the drainage channel cracked, broken, or in need ofWater: Dug Wells (B)’, on page 66.Water Overview’ and then continue to ‘Ground cleaning? Yes / NoC1 Borehole: Deep with Mechanized Pumping 6) Is the fence missing or faulty? Yes / No1) Is there a latrine or sewer within 100m ofpumphouse? 7) Is the apron less than 1m in radius? Yes / No Yes / No2) Is the nearest latrine unsewered? 8) Does spilt water collect in the apron area? Yes / No Yes / No3) Is there any source of pollution within 50m? 9) Is the apron cracked or damaged? Yes / No Yes / No4) Is there an uncapped well within 100m? 10) Is the handpump loose at the point of attachment Yes / No to the apron? Yes / No5) Is the drainage around the pumphouse faulty? Yes / No 11) Does the water change colour after heavy rain? Yes / No6) Is the fencing damaged, allowing animal entry? Refer to the evaluation below, labeled ‘Ground Yes / No Water Overview’ and then continue to ‘Ground 58
  • 73. Chapter 3: Drinking WaterWater: Boreholes (C)’ 3) Is guttering that collects water dirty or blocked?D Spring Yes / No 4) Is the top, or the walls of the tank cracked or1) Is the spring unprotected (i.e. unimproved)? damaged? [If the answer is yes, skip to 5. Answer yes to 2- Yes / No4)] Yes / No 5) Is water collected directly from the tank (no tap on the tank)?2) Is the masonary protecting the spring faulty? Yes / No Yes / No 6) Is there bucket in use and is this left where it can3) Is the backfill area behind the retaining wall eroded? become contaminated? Yes / No Yes / No4) Does spilt water flood the collection area? 7) Is the tap leaking or damaged, or absent? Yes / No Yes / No5) Is the fence absent or faulty? 8) Is there any source of pollution around the tank or Yes / No water collection area? Yes / No6) Can animals have access within 10m of the spring? Yes / No 9) Is the tank clean inside? Yes / No (E)’7) Is there a latrine uphill and/or within 30m of the Refer to the evaluation below, labeled ‘Rainwaterspring? F Vendors (Tanker Trucks) Yes / No8) Does surface water collect uphill of the spring? Yes / No 1) Is the discharge pipe dirty? Yes / No9) Is a diversion ditch above the spring absent or non-functional? 2) Can the discharge pipe touch the ground? Yes / No Yes / No10) Are there any other sources of pollution uphill of 3) Is the delivery nozzle dirty or in poor condition?the spring (e.g. Solid waste) Yes / No Yes / No 4) Is the tanker ever used for transporting other liquids?11) Does the water change colour after heavy rain? Yes / No Yes / NoRefer to the evaluation below, labeled ‘Ground 5) Is the inside of the tanker dirty?Water: Springs (D)’.Water Overview’ and then continue to ‘Ground Yes / NoE Rainwater Collection and Storage 6) Does the tanker fill through an inspection cover? Yes / No1) Is rainwater collected in an open container? 7) Does the tanker leak? Yes / No Yes / No Vendors (F)’ Refer to the evaluation below, labeled ‘Water2) Are there visible signs of contamination on the roofcatchment? (e.g. Plants, excreta, dust, etc.) Yes / No 59
  • 74. Listening To The EarthG Piped Water (General) (G)’ Refer to the evaluation below, labeled ‘Piped Water G2 Piped Water (from Water Provider)1) Do any tap stands leak? Yes / No2) Does surface water collect around any tapstand? Name your Water Provider: Yes / No Contact the Water Provider and answer these3) Is the area uphill of any tapstand eroded? following questions: Yes / No 1. Who is the contact person?4) Are the pipes exposed close to any tapstand? Yes / No 2. When there is a problem with your water supply,5) Is there any human or animal waste within 10m of who do you contact, and how?any tapstand? Yes / No6) Is there a sewer within 30m of any tapstand? 3. Does the provider treat the water? Yes / No Yes / No7) Has there been a discontinuity in the last 10 days 4. If Yes, what treatment method(s) do they use?at any tapstand? Chlorination Yes / No Sedimentation Filtration8) Are there signs of leaks in the main pipes? Other (specify): Yes / No 5. What are the most common water supply problems?9) Is the main pipe exposed anywhere? Leaks Yes / No Sediments Broken pipes10) Does the water change colour after heavy rain? Smells Yes / No Illegal withdrawal Bacterial contamination11) Is the system’s water source untreated before being Broken metersdistributed? Treatment not working Yes / No Fees not paidG1 Piped Water (from Storage Tank) Other (specify): What is being done to correct these problems? (explain)12) Does the pipe leak between the source and storagetank? Yes / No 6. Do they test water quality?13) Is the storage tank cracked, damaged, or does it Yes / Noleak? 7. How often is it tested?14) Are the vents and covers on the tank damaged oropen? 8. What percentage of tests conform to standards (e.g WHO Drinking Water Quality standards)? Refer to the evaluation below, labeled ‘G Piped15) Is dirt or other debris present on the vents orcovers? Yes / No Water’ 60
  • 75. Chapter 3: Drinking WaterSite-Specific Source: Evaluations normally would be keeping the water healthy. Surface waters have traditionally been used asAt the end of each discussion section, there will be a few sources of drinking-water. Although they are easilystatements and a list of numbers from which to choose. contaminated, the water quality can be improvedChoose a number from 1-9 to indicate your assessment by careful use. For example, if platform steps orof how well your community represents the statement ramps are constructed at the water edge, peoplegiven. (1 = disagree, community practices unhealthy; 9 can be encouraged not to walk into the pond or= agree completely, no change needed) lake when collecting water. This improvementSurface water (A) helps to stop the discharge of guinea-worm eggs into the water. Nevertheless, dirt deposited on these structures can enter the water, especiallySurface water sources are always more vulnerable when it rains. Preventing urination and defecationto contamination than groundwater sources and as close to or in a pond may reduce schistosomiasis.a result should always be treated before Pumps mounted on the banks of ponds can alsoconsumption. supply water to people away from the pond, but While protection measures are less effective these may be difficult to maintain. Alternatively, athan for groundwater, it is still important that protected intake with a layer of sand as filter cancatchments for reservoirs, river and lakes are be constructed in the pond or lake and beprotected as far as possible from polluting connected to a handpump. It is important to keepactivities. Typically, pollutants will include the intake protection works in good repair tomicrobiological contamination, suspended solids, prevent damage to the pump or clogging of pipes.inorganic and organic pollutants. Whichever method is used, however, domestic Defining protection of surface water water drawn from ponds and lakes must always becatchments is often difficult as they often draw treated before consumption.water from large areas. Critical components ofsurface water protection should include the Our community’s water source has a protected intakeprevention of excessive logging in upper reaches of which is well maintained.rivers and lake catchments, prevention of 123456789untreated discharges of domestic and industrialwastes, control of urban run-off and prevention of Our community strives to make the point of waterencroachment into the immediate area around an extraction, and the surrounding area sanitary.intake or a reservoir. The latter is often a particular 123456789problem in Latin American countries andrepresents a major source of pollution. Our community strives to maintain a zone of protection In many water bodies, there are natural around the body of water used for drinking water.mechanisms that may reduce the pollutant load 123456789such as aquatic plants and the formation of heavymetal complexes in sediments. However, while Our community is satisfied with the quality andthese often provide reasonable protection, it quantity of water provided by this source.should be stressed that a pollution-reduction 123456789strategy should be developed. Aquatic plants maydie, and if not harvested, may release Ground Water: Overviewcontaminants during decay. Sediments maybecome disturbed and release pollutants back into Groundwater sources, whether small community-the water. managed point sources or utility-operated Sometimes aquatic life is hazardous to water boreholes supplying distribution networks, oftenquality, as is the case with algae blooms. When the become contaminated. This may result fromwater body is heavily loaded with nutrients (from widespread contamination of an aquifer fromagricultural run-off, sewage, etc.) fast-growing pollutant sources or because the point ofaquatic plants may bloom. These blooms may add abstraction or discharge has been poorly protectedunpleasant, and sometimes poisonous, tastes to or maintained and allows direct routes forthe water. As well, they may deplete the water’s contaminated surface water to enter the source.dissolved oxygen, and destroy the ecosystem that The first level of ground water source protection 61
  • 76. Listening To The Earthis the immediate sanitary protection works at the Ground water: Dug wells (B)source. These works are primarily designed toprevent contaminated surface water or wastewater Dug wells are usually shallow wells dug by hand,from directly entering the water source and although some may be quite deep. Wells are oftenpreventing other hazards that may allow direct lined with bricks.contamination of the aquifer. Unless artesian water is tapped, many dug wells Such works include measures such as casting go dry or have very little water in dry periodsconcrete aprons on the ground surface and sealing because it is difficult to sink wells below the waterof upper levels of boreholes and dug wells, and the table without using more sophisticated excavationconstruction of diversion ditches and covering of techniques.the backfill area of springs. Good source protection Dug wells are often more vulnerable toat this level depends in part on good design and contamination than other point sources because itconstruction, but the maintenance of such is difficult to make the lining of the wellmeasures when put in place is extremely impermeable and the means of withdrawing waterimportant. Well-designed sanitary protection can easily become unsanitary. In some cases, dugmeasures may easily deteriorate if they are not wells are constructed to reduce the specific risk ofmaintained. guinea worm transmission and therefore only have The next stage of source protection is to define an headwall to prevent people from entering theareas where land-use and in particular the release well. However, such wells may still beof contaminants will be controlled—a process contaminated and it is therefore preferred that dugusually referred to as groundwater protection wells should be covered and either a handpump orzones. Several zones may be defined, typically windlass installed to withdraw the water.including an inner zone to protect against Where water is collected by a bucket, this maymicrobiological contaminants, a second zone to contaminate the well, particularly if each personcontrol chemical contamination and a final zone to uses their own bucket and the area is not wellprotect recharge. All zones are usually determined fenced to prevent animals from having access toby a travel time – i.e. the time expected for a the well. Dug wells can be improved by using amicrobe to reach a water source from the ground protected intake. This may use a filter box installedsurface. Such zones must take into account the at the base of the well. Where wells are used, youvulnerability of the aquifer, the nature of the should ensure that these are covered, have ahydrogeological regime and the likely hydraulic headwall of at least 30cm above the apron and aload applied. handpump or windlass is used. For the inner zone, a value of 50 days is often Ponding around the well provides a greatused. Some research may need to be persued in environment for insect breeding which contributesorder to determine the characteristics of your to the spread of disease. Furthermore, pondinggroundwater aquifer. The hydrogeological around a well which does not have a concretedepartment in the national water resource apron (or one that is cracked), can easilymanagement body should define travel time safety contaminate the well water.zones based on hydrogeological surveys. Rainwater may also affect the water quality of a The further zone may be defined for chemical dug well. If the water turns a different color after acontaminants, again based on an estimated travel period of rain, this indicates an unsanitarytime that will reduce contaminants to acceptable condition. Water is seeping into the well from areaslevels. Where natural chemicals represent a of the ground that it usually doesn’t, or is movingproblem, it is important to identify whether certain through the earth faster than it is able to beparts of the aquifer represent a higher risk and to filtered.define depths of abstraction that may reduce the The shaft of an improved dug well should haveproblem. a concrete lining above the dry-season water table A final zone may be defined to cover the and a series of concrete rings (caissons) sunk belowrecharge area to provide protection for both quality this level to ensure a year-round supply of water.and quantity of water. The purpose of all these The lining acts both to protect the shaft fromzones is to control land-use in such a way that it collapse and to prevent surface water fromdoes not create a significant deterioration in source infiltrating into the well at shallow depths.water quality. The top of the well (the wellhead) should be 62
  • 77. Chapter 3: Drinking Waterbuilt up by at least 30 cm and an apron cast Our community is satisfied with the quality andaround it to prevent surface water from entering quantity of water provided by this source.the well directly. 123456789 Ground water: Boreholes (C) Generally, a permanent cover should be putover the well and water drawn by a handpump orwindlass and bucket. A communal rope and bucketattached to the well can be used to draw water, but Boreholes are narrow holes drilled into the groundthe bucket and rope should be kept off the ground. that tap into groundwater. Boreholes can be drilledOne way to do this is to put a hook inside the well using motorized rigs operated by trained staff, butand always store the bucket on it. Once a dug well this is expensive. Boreholes can also be drilled byis completed it should be cleaned with chlorine hand using an augur, or by forcing water into theand the pump installed. ground under pressure (‘jetting’). If a community is The advantage of improved dug wells is that involved in the actual sinking of the borehole, it isthey can be deepened and, if the handpump or likely to use auguring or jetting because these arewindlass fails, water can still be collected, although less expensive methods, but it is not possible tocare should be taken not to contaminate the water sink deep boreholes with these using individual buckets. However, dug wells Depending on the depth of the groundwater, aare more likely to go dry in prolonged dry periods, handpump may be required to bring the water toor if large volumes of water are pumped from the surface. The practical limit for mostnearby deep boreholes, and they are easily handpumps is 45 metres; beyond this a motorizedcontaminated. Nevertheless, they provide a low- pump (diesel, electric, wind or solar powered) maycost water supply and communities can be actively be required.involved in their construction. As the borehole is drilled, a lining of plastic, In some arid areas, dug wells have traditionally steel or iron is sunk to protect the hole frombeen constructed in sandy riverbeds. Where collapse. The lining has slots in the bottom sectionflooding is rare, such wells can be improved to to allow water to enter the borehole and gravel isprovide dry-season water sources. To protect the placed around the bottom of the lining to improvewell from river damage during the rainy seasons flow and provide filtration. The top few metresthe well opening can be covered with a concrete around the borehole should be sealed usingslab and a concrete barrier built upstream from the concrete, and a concrete apron is cast around thewell. In sandy riverbeds with water-resistant top of the borehole to prevent surface water frombedrock beneath, walls can be constructed under flowing into the lined shaft. A stand is usually castthe sand to create sand dams. These collect the into the apron to provide a stable base for theriver water and can ensure that nearby wells are pump. Once the borehole is completed it should beproductive for longer periods in the dry season. cleaned with chlorine and the pump installed.However, keep in mind that changing the structure Unfortunately, many boreholes worldwide areof the riverbed may have unwanted environmental no longer working because simple repairs have noteffects and should be done only after an been carried out. Consequently, if a borehole isenvironmental impact study. drilled in a village, it is important that Abandoned wells should be closed to avoid maintenance costs and activities can be met by thepolluting groundwater. community. Finances should be managed to ensure that funds can be raised for maintenance. InOur community’s dug well has well maintained addition, it is particularly important to make sureprotection measures. that all required spares can be purchased within a 123456789 reasonable distance from the village. For major repairs beyond the skills of the community, clearOur community strives to keep the point of water information as to how these repairs will be carriedextraction, and the surrounding area sanitary. out should be requested from the relevant agency. 123456789 Boreholes usually provide good quality water, but the water sometimes contains harmfulOur community strives to maintain a zone of protection chemicals, such as fluoride and arsenic, or nuisancearound the well. chemicals such as iron. Community members 123456789 should either carry out chemical tests, or request 63
  • 78. Listening To The Earth actual recomended size for protection zones is dependent upon many factors. An expert’s advice should be sought to determine the protection zones necessary for your particular borehole. Such problems may include poor drainage of wastewater that allows stagnant water to form pools close to the borehole; the deterioration in the apron leading to undercutting of the borehole; or a handpump being loose at the base where it is attached to the apron. These all require attention to prevent future problems and the community should be encouraged to make minor repairs and Handpump on a borehole clean the environment close to the borehole to Source: World Health Organisation prevent contamination. Again, where fences arethat tests be carried out by the government agency lacking and there is no means of ensuring surfaceor otherwise, and the results fully discussed with water cannot flood the apron area, the risks ofthe community. contamination will increase and the community While it is often found that boreholes have a should work to address these problems.better water quality than other point sources For boreholes, it is often important to preventbecause they are sunk deeper into the ground and latrines and animal enclosures from beingoften have greater protection against constructed close to the borehole as these maycontamination, problems may exist which may allow direct contamination of the groundwater.reduce the quality of water from a borehole. You should always try to ensure that such hazardsBecause of their depth, a larger protected area are a protecting distance away from the boreholearound them is required than for a dug well. In the and if there are latrines uphill, you should increasegeneral case, 10 meters surrounding a this distance if possible. Boreholes where the top ofhandpumped borehole, and 100 m surrounding a the rising main (the pipe that comes out of themechanized pump are recomended. However, the ground) cannot be sealed represent a particular Operational and Maintenance Tasks for a Borehole Wet season—after Activity Dry season Wet season—routine heavy rainfall grease working parts of the at least once per week at least once per week at least once per week handpump check hand pump to see whether at least once per at least once per at least once per worn parts need replacement quarter quarter quarter make sure fence is in good at least once per at least once per at least once per condition and make repairs quarter quarter quarter check drainage channels and clean at least once per month at least once per week clean if required clear rubbish away from area at least once per week at least once per week clean if required around borehole, particularly uphill keep paths and grassed areas aboce at least once per month at least once per month clean if required borehole clear of rubbish check whether any water collecting close to the borehole and clear if at least once per month at least once per week clean if required required carry out regular inspections of the at least twice per week daily after every heavy rain borehole and note any faults Source: Howard, Guy. Water Supply Surveillence, 2002 64
  • 79. Chapter 3: Drinking Waterhazard as this means that surface water may be the ground. The area behind the wall or box isable to directly enter. In this case, try to create a backfilled with sand and stones to filter water as itconcrete ring around the top of the pipe and if enters the box and help remove contamination inpossible seal this by making a small plinth for the the groundwater. The backfill area is capped withhandpump to rest on and extend the rising main clay and grass is planted on top.into the base of the handpump. The whole area should be fenced and a ditch dug above the spring to prevent surface water fromOur community’s borehole has well maintained eroding the backfill area and contaminating theprotection measures. spring. The collection area should be covered with 123456789 concrete and sufficient space left beneath the outlet pipe for people to place jerry cans andOur community strives to keep the point of water buckets. A lined drain should be constructed toextraction, and the surrounding area sanitary. carry spilled water away from the spring. The 123456789 water could be used for laundry, to feed an animal- watering trough or for irrigating a garden. In otherOur community strives to maintain a zone of protection situations spilled water may be drained to a soak-around the borehole. away pit or to the nearest surface water body. To 123456789 prevent mosquito breeding, water from the spring should not be allowed to form pools.Our community is satisfied with the quality and For protected springs, it is important to look atquantity of water provided by this source. the state of the protection works—including the 123456789 backfill area—to see whether these show anyGround water: Springs (D) deterioration, like cracks, tilting, leaks, crumbling, etc... In many cases, the deterioration in the immediate sanitary protection works is moreA spring is where underground water flows to the important in causing contamination than thesurface. Springs may occur when the water table hazards such as pit latrines. However, themeets the ground surface; these are called gravity deterioration in the sanitary protection measuressprings. Other times water is forced to the surface are important to improve irrespective of what thebecause the water-carrying layer meets an quality of water is like from any samples taken. Forimpermeable layer (gravity overflow springs or instance, the catchment area may become erodedcontact springs). In some cases, groundwater is held and lose its vegetation cover and at the same timeunder pressure and springs come to the surface there is no fence and the uphill diversion ditch isbecause of a natural break in the rock, or because a either absent or faulty. The erosion of theshallow excavation is made (artesian springs). catchment areas results from two major factors: (1) Springs can make very good water supplies The lack of a fence means that both people andprovided that they are properly protected against animals can get access directly onto the catchmentcontamination. If springs are found above the area and may cause erosion by creating footpathsvillage, they can feed a pipe system for providing or by making holes in the ground. (2) The lack ofwater close to homes. When a spring is at the a diversion ditch allows surface water to runsame, or lower, level than the village, it can still be directly onto the backfill area that not only causesprotected, but greater care is needed and it is erosion but also may allow water to directly enterunlikely that water will flow through the pipe the water source. If only the backfill area issystem by gravity. The first step in deciding improved without putting in place the fence andwhether a spring should be protected is to diversion ditch, the risk of contamination in thedetermine whether it provides enough water for longer-term will remain.the expected number of users. This can be done by Designs for protected springs should be usedmeasuring the time it takes for the spring to fill a that enclose the area for where backfill media willbucket of known volume, and estimating how be placed, which enables both flow to be directedmany liters are used per day. towards the outlet pipes and to ensure that To protect a spring, a retaining wall or box is filtration is maximised during flow through theconstructed, usually with concrete, around the backfill media. The backfill media should be gravel‘eye’ of the spring, where the water emerges from with a nominal diameter of less than 25mm. This 65
  • 80. Listening To The Earth The spring box should always be protected from erosion and inundation. This can be done by providing an uphill diversion ditch that has a concrete lining, stone pitching or well-compacted clay and putting a fence around the protected area. The number and size of outlets of the spring should be carefully considered. In many cases, there is a problem of congestion at the source and this may lead to significant problems. This may be overcome by increasing the number of outlets by constructing a spring box with outlets on several sides. Where this is not possible, several filling points can be fitted to a single delivery pipe by using a ‘T’-junction. It is also usually better to use smaller diameter pipes for the outlets. When large pipes are used, a large proportion of the water may be lost during collection and this may increase problems with congestion. By using a smaller pipe diameter, not only can the water be directed more A well-protected spring effectively into the collection vessel, but may also Source: World Health Organisation allow more pipes to be used.provides greater filtration potential than larger An example of a well-protected spring is shownaggregates that are often used, thus increasing the opposite. Although protected springs require verypossibility of removing contaminants that may little maintenance, far less than a borehole withenter the structure. The gravel pack should be handpump, basic checks should be carried out (seeoverlain by layers of clay and sand to provide table).additional protection against the entry ofcontaminated surface water with a top layer of soil, Our community’s spring has well maintained protectionwhich is essential to be able to support an measures.adequate vegetation cover. 123456789 Operational and Maintenance Tasks for a Protected Spring West season— Wet season—after Activity Dry season routine heavy rainfall at least once per at least once per Clear uphill diversion ditch clean if required month week Clear drainage ditch from at least once per at least once per clean if required outlets month week at least once per dry at least once per Slashing grass inside fence not necessary season month Make sure steps are clean and at least once per at least once per clean if required not broken week week Clear rubbish away from at least once per at least once per around spring, particularly clean if required week week uphill Keep paths and grassed areas at least once per at least once per clean if required above springs clear of rubbish month month Trim hedge once it reaches a do not trim in dry when hedge reaches 4 not necessary height of 4 feet season feet Carry out regular inspections at least twice per after every heavy of the spring and note any daily week rains faults Source: Howard, Guy. Water Supply Surveillence, 2002 66
  • 81. Chapter 3: Drinking WaterOur community strives to keep the point of water Water should be drawn from a tap at the baseextraction, and the surrounding area sanitary. of the tank, rather than with a bucket, which may 123456789 contaminate the water. It is better not to bury the collection tank, even partially, since contaminatedOur community strives to maintain a zone of protection water from the soil can enter the tank. Coveringaround the spring. the tank is also essential for preventing 123456789 contamination of the water and for reducing opportunities for disease vectors to breed.Our community is satisfied with the quality and The household should make sure that the roofquantity of water provided by this source. is not overhung by trees or close to food stores as 123456789 this may encourage rodents and lead to excretaRainwater (E) being found on the roof. Our community’s rainwater collection apparatus is wellAlthough rainwater can be a good source of water maintained and sanitary.for drinking and domestic use, it may be seasonal, 123456789and it is often difficult for a community to rely onrainwater alone. Collecting sufficient rainwater for Our community is satisfied with the quality andan entire community also requires relatively large quantity of water provided by this source.roofs and tanks, and the supply may still not be 123456789 Water vendors (F)sufficient. Nevertheless, using rainwater is a freeand low-impact means of satisfying at least part ofthe community’s drinking water needs. If the rainwater is to be used for drinking it is In general, the better you know the source andbetter to collect it from a roof, rather than from a handling of your purchased water, the moreground catchment where it may become confident you can be in its quality. A great varietycontaminated. Ground catchments are more of water quality from various vendors should beappropriate for agricultural use. expected since the water in a tanker can be Using roofs to collect rainwater is relatively easy contaminated in many ways. If the inside of theand a lot of water can be collected. For example, 50 tanker is not regularly cleaned, or becomesmm of rainfall on a 4 m2 roof yields 200 litres of contaminated (e.g. by filling the tank with a tubewater. All that is required are gutters around the through an inspection cover), the water quality isroof that discharge into a collection tank. The compromised.roofing material is important and hard surfaces, Nevertheless, if your country, province, or othersuch as iron sheets or tiles, allow more rain to be governing body has enforceable standards forcollected than softer surfaces such as thatch and marketed drinking water, you may be reasonablygrass, which absorb water. Hard surfaces are also assured of its quality.easier to keep clean and are less likely to haveinsects and animals living in them. Our community is satisfied with the service of our Any roof used to collect rainwater for human vendor, and are assured of its water quality.consumption must be thoroughly cleaned at the 123456789 Piped Water (G)start of the rainy period. Birds and animals mayleave feces on the roof and these can be a source ofpathogens. There should be a system for divertingthe flow of water in gutters away from the tank, so Many villages may have piped water systems thatthat the first rains (which are more likely to pick supply communal taps or yard taps. These pipedup contamination from the roof) are not collected. water systems are often small and rely onA small filter may be added to the top of the community management, and many use untreatedcollection tank as an added protection. The tank groundwater sources. Small piped water systems areshould also be cleaned every year and any silt or usually fed by gravity, either from protected springsalgal matter removed. After cleaning and before or from surface water above the village, althoughuse, the tank should be scrubbed using a chlorine some may be supplied from boreholes fitted withsolution (bleach). motorized pumps. Most piped water supplies 67
  • 82. Listening To The Earth Another problem with piped systems is that users often do not consider the impact of how much water they use, and may not think it is important to turn off the tap after use. When there is a lot of water, this may not have negative consequences. However, where the amount of water available is limited, if users at the high end of the system leave taps running, users lower down may suffer shortages or intermittent service. This can force them to use less safe sources of water. Moreover, if the pipes are dry or have very low flow rates, surface water may enter the pipes and contaminate the piped water. Users of piped water systems should thus be aware of the impact of their Example of a standpost water use on others and good water use should be Source: World Health Organisation promoted. This could be supported through villageinclude storage tanks so that water is always regulations or by-laws that penalize people whoavailable, even when demand is heaviest. Such persistently abuse the system.tanks are usually necessary because the rate of Sanitary risks often occur within thewater use at peak times of the day (often early environment immediately around the tap. Thesemorning and early evening) is greater than the are problems like the exposure of a pipe close toaverage rate of use throughout the day. The tanks the tap, finding stagnant water close to the tap oralso provide emergency storage in the event of a the erosion of the area around the tap. In manybreakdown. When planning a piped system, cases, contamination occurs because of thesecommunity members should consider carefully problems rather than as a result of poor supplywhere to locate the taps, so that everyone has management. In these cases, attention should berelatively easy access. However, the design of piped focused on ensuring that the area around the tapsystems can be quite complicated and it may not be and the customer main is kept clean and that thepossible to place taps where people would prefer. pipe remains buried. It is important to determine that the water used In many cases, the pipe that connects the tapas the source for the pipe system is sanitary. The riser to the supply main is buried at a very shallowmain source water should be treated before depth and therefore is easily exposed anddistribution, in order for potable water to be damaged. The particularly weak points are theavailable to the taps. If your water source is not joints at the connection to the supply main (wheretreated before distribution, be sure to treat the pressure may be highest) and the joint between thewater yourself. supply pipe and the riser pipe at the tap itself. In Piped systems require regular maintenance. the latter case, this is often damaged when manyPipe leaks need to be repaired rapidly to prevent people use the tap and the riser pipe has nowater loss, and to prevent surface water from support. Where this is the case, users of the tapsentering the pipes and contaminating the supply. should be encouraged to put in a support for theAlso, communal taps are likely to be used heavily riser pipe. Where there are existing taps, this mayand users may not be as careful as they would be have to be a metal support, but for new taps, thewith their own taps. As a result, the taps are more use of a concrete plinth should be encouraged.likely to break and will need frequent replacement. Communities may sometimes put lengths ofOne way of dealing with these issues is to give hose on the tap to improve the direction of flow ofsomeone in the community responsibility for water where the tap design cause a wide stream ofchecking communal taps and making repairs. To water to flow from the tap. These attached hosesprevent the accumulation of stagnant water around may cause contamination and their use should becommunity taps, which could become mosquito discouraged. One way to reduce the need for usingbreeding sites, community members could build a such attachments is to use taps that have an insertconcrete ‘apron’ at the base of the taps and include that directs water into a single stream even at higha drain and a soakage pit. An example of a pressure.standpost is shown above. An alternative approach is to reduce the 68
  • 83. Chapter 3: Drinking Waterdistance between the tap outlet and the opening Water Conservation: Inventoryon the water container. The height of the riser pipecan be reduced to a level that is just above the (These questions apply primarily to communities inheight of the usual container. Riser pipes do not urban areas with individually tapped piped waterneed to be 0.5m high if the usual container is only supplies.)0.3m high. Another approach, which may beappropriate when the tap is already in place, is toconstruct a small plinth to rest the container on 1. Monitoring Water Consumptionthat will raise the container up to close to theheight of the tap. This will also help to support the Estimate the number of liters of water that thetap against damage. community uses in a day. Try to minimize the For more information regarding sanitary guess-work by actually measuring as much asplumbing practices, refer to the WHO publication possible. If your water is metered, you can simplylisted at the end of this chapter, ‘Health Aspects of divide the amount of water used per period by thePlumbing.’ number of days in the period.Our community is satisfied with the quality and Amount of water used per day:quantity of water provided by the water system. 123456789 2. Leaks and plumbing fixturesOur community does all it can to maintain the safety Is there a plumber (someone charged with maintainingand sanitary conditions of its tapstands and piping. water lines, faucets, toilets, sinks, etc.) in the 123456789 community? Yes / No Factors for communities considering water supply improvements The following questions should be directed to the • Have community members been fully consulted person responsible for making plumbing repairs: about the type of water supply? • Have community members had previous Are all faucets or taps free of leaks or drips? experiences with water supply improvements and Yes / No / Not Applicable have these been reviewed? • How will the water supply be managed to ensure that it is reasonably accessible to everyone in the Are all toilet fill lines free of leaks? community? Yes / No / Not Applicable • How will initial costs be paid and is the community expected to provide labour? • Will labour be provided free or will the Are all garden hoses free of leaks? community have to raise funds to cover labour Yes / No / Not Applicable charges? • What are the long-term financial implications of the choice of water supply? Is all plumbing free of leaks? • Can the community afford to pay expected Yes / No / Not Applicable operation and maintenance costs? • What spare parts are required and how often should they be replaced? Does the community have replacement parts that are • Who sells these spares and where are they commonly needed (eg. washers, fittings, obtained? faucets/valves)? • What tools are required and where can they be obtained? Yes / No / Not Applicable • Who will be trained to operate and maintain the water supply? Are routine checks of pipes and faucets performed? • What skills should operators have and what training will they receive? Yes / No / Not Applicable • What long-term support can the community Is there a procedure in place for reporting leaks? expect from the government and other agencies? Yes / No • If major repairs are required, whom should you Describe Procedure: contact and who will pay? • Will the quality of the water be tested? • How often will testing be done and how will the information be communicated to the community? 69
  • 84. Listening To The Earth 3. Is a mop and bucket or a broom used to clean the If available, are water-conserving devices in use in ground/ floor, instead of a hose or dumped water. the community? Yes / No / Not Applicable Yes / No / Not Applicable 5. Using Greywater Does your community use composting toilets? Yes / No / Not Applicable Is greywater (wash water, not contaminated with feces) collected and reused?3. Water Provider’s Practices Yes / No / Not ApplicableContact your water provider and to answer the Used water is collected from the following sources: (checkfollowing questions. all that apply) Water provider: Showers Kitchen sinks Name of contact person: Bath tubs Bathroom sinks Contact infromation: Utility sinks Dishwasher How much water is lost from the system through Washing machines leakage?What measure(s) is/are the provider taking to alleviate Water Conservation: Evaluationany leakage problems? Communities need to conserve water resources for future generations; the following discussion addresses several ways in which this can be accomplished. Following the discussion section is a reference chart filled with a variety of ways toHas the provider assessed the effect that the water conserve water.system’s intake has on groundwater levels? If so, describeit below; or if not, ask why it has not been done: At the end of each discussion section, there will be a statement and a list of numbers from which to choose. Choose a number from 1-9 to indicate your assessment of how well your community represents the statement4. Education and Personal Habits given. (1 = disagree, community practices unhealthy; 9 = agree completely, no change needed)Is the community well-informed about the need for waterconservation, and about personal habits that could be 1. Monitoring Water Consumptionchanged in order to not be wasteful of a valuableresource? There are good reasons to determine the amount of Yes / No water your community uses on a daily basis. For instance, by comparing month to month changes,1. Is an effort made to reduce the amount of time spent your community can continually assess theirin showers, or to reduce the amount of water used in the consumption of water.showering process? How much does a person need? To sustain a Yes / No / Not Applicable reasonable quality of living requires between 25 to 80 litres of water per person per day. If the2. Is an effort made to shut off the tap/ faucet when consumption is much higher than this, much ofwater is not being used (e.g. When brushing teeth or extra use is probably due to careless wasting. Inwashing dishes, etc) such a case, it may be important to assess the water Yes / No / Not Applicable needs of the community. Although tedious, by interviewing the various members of your 70
  • 85. Chapter 3: Drinking Watercommunity about their water usage, you many grossly out of proportion with the waste that thedetermine why the consumption is so high. water flushes.Inessential uses of water should be identified and • Install a composting toilet, if appropriate, andeliminated, and less consumptive practices should you can do away with using water to flush awaybe disseminated throughout your community. your wastes. The added benefit to this simple technology is the rich compost at the end of theOur community regularly keeps track of our water process, returning nutrients back to the soil thatconsumption and consistently strives to minimize the would otherwise end up in rivers. In China andamount used. Japan night soil (as it is called) has been 123456789 scrupulously collected for centuries to fertilise the fields. Composting toilets need no water and2. Leaks and plumbing fixtures depend on bacterial action to break down harmful bugs in the waste.Check for leaks, especially faulty washers, and (Consult the resources listed at the end of thisrepair them. It’s probably best if the community chapter for more information regarding waterhas at least one person that is responsible for conservation technologies. More informationmaintaining plumbing and plumbing fixtures. about composting toilets can be found in the The community should keep a small inventory Sanitation Assessment in Chapter 4.)of commonly needed parts and tools needed torepair the most common problems. A good Our community has clear policies and proceduresinventory is best stocked according to the regarding water leaks, so that any leaks are quicklyaccumulated history of the community’s plumbing repaired.problems (water leaks). The experience of a 123456789community plumber is one way to keep track ofthe history, but maintaining records is a wise idea Our community also strives to use water conservingalso. devices whenever they are available. There should be routine inspections, especially 123456789in the most common problem areas, such as areasthat receive high amounts of useage (community 3. Water Provider’s Practicessinks, taps, etc.). In addition, all communitymembers can be a part of a continual inspection by Write to, or call your local Water Provider and findreporting any leaks encountered. The reporting out how much water it loses in its pipes throughprocess should be easy, standard, and known to all leakage and what measures it is taking to alleviatecommunity members. the situation. In some areas this figure is over one Fit water conserving devices. Many commonly third.used appliances can be modified to conserve water Communities should discuss with the Wateror bought specifically for their water conserving Provider the short- and long-term impacts of waterqualities: supply improvement on water resources. For • Spray taps and faucet aerators are an example, sinking too many boreholes in an areaalternative to steady flow taps enabling a smaller may cause serious depletion of water heldvolume of water to achieve the same results. underground and even cause water sources to dry • Low flow shower heads can be fitted to up.maximise water coverage and minimise water This can also lead to deteriorating watervolume. quality: as the water table falls, domestic boreholes • In the toilet: By adding a sealed plastic bottle must be sunk deeper into underground water thatfilled with water inside your toilet cistern or by may contain harmful chemicals such as fluoride oradjusting your ballcock, the amount of water used arsenic.per flush can be reduced to a minimum. Because community members are the principalAlternatively a dual flush toilet system can be stakeholders of local water resources, they shouldfitted which discharges a small volume of water for always assess the longer-term effects of waterliquid waste and a larger volume for solid waste, pumping on the environment and should beefficient flushing depends upon the velocity of the actively involved in evaluating the risks.water rather than the volume which tends to be Especially if shortages occur, if costs rise, if 71
  • 86. Listening To The Earthmetering is in place, if the water system is loosing Think twicea lot of water, or the groundwater table is being Much water conservation is common sense:rapidly depleted, the Water Provider is not being • Washing clothes: Use full loads in yourmanaged in the best interests of the community washing machine, or if purchasing a machine lookthat it is serving. In such a case, the community for economy features such as half load capability orshould do what is necessary to ensure that the reduced water consumption.Water Provider’s management practices are • Refrigerate drinking water in order to preventchanged. running the tap for long periods waiting for cold water.Our community actively pressures our Water Provider • Conversely, insulate hot water pipes toto use the best management practices it can to conserve prevent running the tap for long periods waitingwater. for hot water. 123456789 • Wash dishes by hand, using one bowl for washing and one for rinsing. Bowls are filled with4. Education and Personal Habits less water than it takes to fill the sink. • Use showers instead of baths. Have baths as aWater conservation treat, a sensual experience to be relished once in aAlthough it is important that people use enough while. Showers with low flowheads use far lesswater for good hygiene, it is also important not to water than the averag bath.waste water. Piped water supplies are particularly • Collect rainwater. This collected water can bevulnerable to wastage; if they are not properly used for most applications but care should bemanaged, the community as a whole may suffer taken if you suspect any leaching of particles fromwater shortages and people will have to wait longer your roof surface. If this is the case then the waterto collect water. Most piped water systems leak can still be used for washing your car, or bicycle,and need to be checked regularly and repaired as and watering ornamental, (non edible) plants.soon as faults are discovered. Taps should also be • Car washing: It is possible to wash a car withturned off immediately after use and children only one bucket of water. But does it really needdiscouraged from playing with taps. washing? • Garden watering: To save water and to giveWhy conserve water? your plants the maximum benefit it is best to waterUltimately, the fresh water available to a out of direct sunlight, i.e., in the evening. This willcommunity depends upon the amounts of rainfall, cut down on water loss due to evaporation. Avoidlocal hydrology and the geology of the area. sprinklers, which use water indiscriminately, and If the community takes out more water than try to target the water precisely where it is mostthe natural system will allow, then this leads to a needed. Grow plants in beds, not containers.lowering of the water table and possible dramatic • Save cooking water and use it as stock or as aeffects upon water quality, future water supplies base for soups; it can be kept for several days in aand agriculture. It also has harmful consequences cooler or frozen.for the wildlife/amenity value of the landscape,reducing flowing rivers to muddy puddles. Our community is well informed about the need for Faced with the problems of over abstraction water conservation practices, and our members adaptfrom natural water bodies the knee-jerk reaction is their behaviour construct more reservoirs. This solution impacts 123456789heavily upon the wildlife/amenity value of naturallandscapes and alters the hydrology of the area. 5. Using GreywaterThe sane alternative to this tinkering response is touse the water you have in a sustainable way by Recycle greywaterconserving and recycling it. All the water used in the community, apart from A community must value their water supply toilet flush water, can be re-used to some degree.and ensure that the community’s demands upon it Water can be collected from seven main sources:are not too great, so that the supply can last into • Showersthe future. • Bath tubs • Bathroom sinks 72
  • 87. Chapter 3: Drinking Water (These three together use 75% of non-flush water detected by making a test for pH. Any possible used in the home and contain less than 10% of the harmful effects can be minimised by diluting the particulates) greywater with collected/fresh or filtered water. • Washing machine Explore the resources listed at the end of this • Utility sinks chapter to learn of inexpensive and safe ways to • Dishwashers adapt your plumbing to reuse greywater. • Kitchen sinks Our community makes the most reasonable use of ourMaking use of Waste Water greywater.A temporary solution is to manually bucket the 123456789water, usually termed greywater, from the source toits eventual destination. A more sophisticated Conclusionsmethod is to re-route the drain pipes of the fixturesand appliances from which you intend to re-use Now enter the scores from each section in the column atwater into a common discharge buffer tank. A rightsmall electric or hand pump may be needed if scoregravity feed is not possible, dishwashers andwashing machines have their own discharge pumps 1. Water consumption monitoringwhich are capable of delivering water to anelevated storage tank. 2. Leaks and plumbing fixturesGreywater qualities & uses 2. Water conservation devicesThe quality of the greywater the communitycollects ultimately depends upon what it is 3. Water Provider’s practicescollected from, and how well it is filtered before re-use. Greywater can generally be used as a flush 4. Education and personal habitswater without any treatment besides simplefiltration. Greywater can also be used on garden 5. Using Greywaterand potted plants, although more filtration mightbe considered for this application. Particles can be filtered out by using a simple Now that you have comprehensively examined yourmesh filter on the plughole. Soap and detergent community’s water conserving habits, how would youresidues can be harmful to plants, so it is best to rate, overall, your community’s practices in theseuse bio-degradable cleaning products, sparingly. regards? If the greywater is passed through several Excellent / Satisfactory / Poor / Criticallyfiltering systems i.e a settling tank, then grease deficienttrap, then sand filter, the resulting water can beused with little worry over the potential If you found that problems exist, list them below:accumulation of harmful chemicals. It can be Category (I-III)applied to all types of vegetation. Problem 1 If you do not possess the space or resources forthis kind of filtration the greywater that you haveso scrupulously saved can still be used to top upyour toilet system, or used selectively in thegarden. In this case, care should be taken to wateronly ornamental plants or mature well establishedvegetable plots, it is also advisable to avoid contact Problem 2between the greywater and the vegetation itself, i.ewater the soil around the plants only. Sodium, contained in detergents, can build upafter lengthy periods of application necessitatingadding gypsum to the soil to lower the alkalinitywhich sodium causes. This build up can easily be continued 73
  • 88. Listening To The Earth 3. Repair dripping taps by replacing washers. If your tap isProblem 3 dripping at the rate of one drop per second, you can expect to waste over 5,000 liters per year which will add to the cost of water and sewer utilities, or strain your septic system. 4. Check for toilet tank leaks by adding food colouring to the tank. If the toilet is leaking, colour will appear within 30 minutes. Check the toilet for worn out, corroded or bentProblem 4 parts. Most replacement parts are inexpensive, readily available and easily installed. (Flush as soon as test is done, since food colouring may stain tank.) 5. Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects and other such waste in the rubbish bin rather than the toilet. 6. Take shorter showers. Replace you showerhead with anProblem 5 ultra-low-flow version. Some units are available that allow you to cut off the flow without adjusting the water temperature knobs. 7. Use the minimum amount of water needed for a bath by closing the drain first and filling the bath only 1/3 full. The initial burst of cold water can be warmed by adding hot water later. 8. Don’t let water run while shaving or washing your face.Now categorize each problem listed above into one Brush your teeth first while waiting for water to get hot,of the following three categories: then wash or shave after filling the basin. I = Critically important. Currently dangerous, 9. Retrofit all wasteful household taps by installing aerators must be addressed immediately with flow restrictors. II = Important, but not immediately dangerous. 10. Operate automatic dishwashers and clothes washers only Must be addressed when they are fully loaded or properly set the water level III = Current practice should be improved, but is for the size of load you are using. not immediately important 11. When washing dishes by hand, fill one sink or basin with soapy water. Quickly rinse under a slow-moving stream from the tap. 12. Store drinking water in the refrigerator rather than letting the tap run every time you want a cool glass of water. 13. Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator or by using the defrost setting on your microwave. 14. Kitchen sink disposals require lots of water to operate properly. Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing food waste instead of using a garbage disposal. Garbage disposals also can add 50% to the volume of solids in a septic tank that can lead to malfunctions and46 WAYS OF SAVING WATER maintenance problems. 15. Consider installing an instant water heater on your1. Never put water down the drain when there may be kitchen sink so you don’t have to let the water run while another use for it such as watering a plant or garden, or it heats up. This will reduce heating costs for your cleaning. household.2. Verify that your community is leak-free, because many 16. Insulate your water pipes. You’ll get hot water faster plus homes have hidden water leaks. Read your water meter avoid wasting water while it heats up. before and after a two-hour period when no water is being 17. Never install a water-to-air heat pump or air-conditioning used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is system. Air-to-air models are just as efficient and do not a leak. waste water. 74
  • 89. Chapter 3: Drinking Water18. Install water softening systems only when necessary. Save 31. Outfit your hose with a shut-off nozzle that can be water and salt by running the minimum amount of adjusted down to fine spray so that water flows only as regenerations necessary to maintain water softness. Turn needed. When finished, ‘Turn it Off ’ at the tap instead of softeners off while on vacation. at the nozzle to avoid leaks.19. Check your pump. If you have a well at your home, listen 32. Use hose washers between spigots and water hoses to to see if the pump kicks on and off while the water is not eliminate leaks. in use. If it does, you have a leak. 33. Check all hoses, connectors and spigots regularly.20. When adjusting water temperatures, instead of turning 34. Consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water. water flow up, try turning it down. If the water is too hot If you wash your own car, park on the grass to do so. or cold, turn the offender down rather than increasing 35. Avoid the installation of ornamental water features (such water flow to balance the temperatures. as fountains) unless the water is recycled.21. If the toilet flush handle frequently sticks in the flush position, letting water run constantly, replace or adjust it General Water Saving TipsSaving Water Outdoors 36. Create an awareness of the need for water conservation within your community.22. Don’t over-water your lawn. As a general rule, lawns only 37. Be aware of and follow all water conservation and water need watering every 5 to 7 days in the summer and every shortage rules and restrictions that may be in effect in 10 to 14 days in the winter. A hearty rain eliminates the your area. need for watering for as long as two weeks. 38. Encourage your employer to promote water conservation23. Water lawns during the early morning hours when at the workplace. Suggest that water conservation be put temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces in the employee orientation manual and training program. losses from evaporation. 39. Patronise businesses that practice and promote water24. Don’t water your street, driveway or sidewalk. Position conservation. your sprinklers so that your water lands on the lawn and 40. Report all significant water losses (broken pipes, open shrubs ... not the paved areas. hydrants, errant sprinklers, abandoned free-flowing wells,25. Install sprinklers that are the most water-efficient for each etc.) to the property owner, local authorities or your Water use. Micro and drip irrigation and soaker hoses are Management District. examples of water-efficient methods of irrigation. 41. Encourage your school system and local government to26. Regularly check sprinkler systems and timing devices to be help develop and promote a water conservation ethic sure they are operating properly. It is highly among children and adults. reccommended that anyone who purchases and installs an 42. Support projects that will lead to an increased use of automatic lawn sprinkler system should also install a rain reclaimed waste water for irrigation and other uses. sensor device or switch which will override the irrigation 43. Support efforts and programs to create a concern for water cycle of the sprinkler system if inadequate rainfall has conservation among tourists and visitors. Make sure your occurred. To retrofit your existing system, contact an visitors understand the need for, and benefits of, water irrigation professional for more information. conservation.27. Raise the lawn mower blade to at least three inches. A 44. Encourage your friends and neighbours to be part of a lawn cut higher encourages grass roots to grow deeper, water conscious community. Promote water conservation shades the root system and holds soil moisture better than in community newsletters, on bulletin boards and by a closely-clipped lawn. example.28. Mulch to retain moisture in the soil. Mulching also helps 45. Conserve water because it is the right thing to do. Don’t to control weeds that compete with plants for water. waste water just because someone else is footing the bill29. Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground such as when you are staying at a hotel. covers, shrubs and trees. Once established, they do not 46. Try to do one thing each day that will result in a savings need to be watered as frequently and they usually will of water. Don’t worry if the savings is minimal. Every drop survive a dry period without any watering. Group plants counts. And every person can make a difference. So tell together based on similar water needs. your friends, neighbours and co-workers to ‘Turn it Off ’30. Do not hose down your driveway or sidewalk. Use a and ‘Keep it Off ’. broom to clean leaves and other debris from these areas. Using a hose to clean a driveway can waste hundreds of (Source: Water Ambassador) liters of water. 75
  • 90. Listening To The EarthAcknowledgements for Chapter Three internet page contains technical and educational resources regarding water quality andThe information contained in this chapter has hygiene.primarily been adapted from the works of Guy Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative CouncilHoward, especially from the following three (WSSCC) By UN mandate,publications: the Council seeks to accelerate the achievement ofHoward, Guy. Water Quality Surveillance: A Practical sustainable sanitation, hygiene and water services to allGuide. WEDC, Loughborough University, 2002. people, with special attention to the unserved poorAvailable online from through: advocacy and awareness raising campaigns,Howard, Guy. Water Supply Surveillance: A Reference and facilitating concerted action programmes focusedManual. WEDC, Loughborough University, 2002. at improved sanitation and hygiene service delivery.Available online from Water, Engineering, and Development CentreGuy Howard, with Claus Bogh, Greg Goldstein, Joy (WEDC) is one of the world’sMorgan, Annette Prüss, Rod Shaw, Joanna Teuton. leading institutions concerned with education, training,Healthy Villages: A guide for communities and research, and consultancy relating to the planning,community health. World Health Organization, 2002. provision, and management of infrastructure forAvailable online from: development. Their internet site provides access to numerous documents regarding safe water handling.ings/healthvillages/ WaterAid is anIn addition, the World Health Organization’s international non governmental organisation dedicatedGuidelines for Drinking Water Quality, 3rd Ed. were exclusively to the provision of safe domestic water,used as a reference, as well as the WHO publication: sanitation and hygiene education to the world’s poorest people. WaterAid helps local organisations set up lowWater quality assessments: a guide to the use of biota, cost, sustainable projects using appropriate technologysediments and water in environmental monitoring, 2nd that can be managed by the community itself.edition. Edited by Deborah Chapman. Published onbehalf of UNESCO, WHO and UNEP. London, E & WELL—Resource Centre Network for Water,FN Spon, 1996. Sanitation and Environmental Health is a resourceThe information used in the discussion regarding water centre network providing access to information andgovernance (Question 4 of the Drinking Water Quality support in water, sanitation and environmental healthAssessment) was adapted from: David B. Brooks, for the Department for International DevelopmentIn_Focus: WATER Local-level Management . IDRC, (DFID) of the British Government.2002. Available online: IDRCID#21857 World Water Council mission is ‘to promote awareness, build political commitment andResources for Chapter Three: Water trigger action on critical water issues at all levels, including the highest decision-making level, to facilitateCapacity Building for Integrated Water Resources the efficient conservation, protection, development,Management Cap-Net is an planning, management and use of water in all itsinternational network for capacity building in dimensions on an environmentally sustainable basis forintegrated water resource management. It is made up of the benefit of all life on earth.’a partnership of autonomous international, regional Young Water Action Teamand national institutions and networks committed to is a global network ofcapacity building in the water sector. young water professionals and students aged 18-30Department of Water and Sanitation in Developing with members in more than 40 countries. InCountries SANDEC’s mandate partnership with international water organisations,is to assist in developing appropriate and sustainable YWAT is creating a network of young people who arewater and sanitation concepts and technologies dedicated to tacking the world’s challenges with water,adapted to the different physical and socio-economic sanitation and hygiene.conditions prevailing in developing countries. International Water and Sanitation Center (IRC):Life Water Canada is a non- P.O. Box 2869; 2601 CW Delft; Theprofit organization training & equipping the rural poor Netherlands. Tel: +31 15 219 2939. News andin Africa to drill wells and build washrooms. information, advice, research and training, on low-cost water supply and sanitation in developing countries.Inter-American Water Resources Network Information available in Spanish, including a large IWRN is a network of networks library of documents.whose purpose is to build and strengthen waterresources partnerships among nations, organizations, World Health Organization Water, Sanitation andand individuals; to promote education and the open Health Division,exchange of information and technical expertise; and to WSHenhance communication, cooperation, collaboration division’s aim is the reduction of water and wasteand financial commitment to integrated water and land related disease and the optimization of the healthresources management within the context of benefits of sustainable water and waste management,environmental and economic sustainability in the with an objective of assisting citizens to understandAmericas. and act on the health impacts of their actions. WHO has hundreds of full text manuals available on-line andUNICEF: United Nations’ Children’s Fund by order. 76
  • 91. Chapter 3: Drinking WaterPan American Health Organization (PAHO) Fundacion Sodis para America Latina, Universidad is the regional division of WHO Mayor de San Simon, Cochabamba, Bolivia, Castillawith contacts and offices present in most countries: 5783 Telefono (+571) 4 454 2259Headquarters (USA): 1-202-974-3000 Fundacion Sodis is a non-Cuba- (53-7) 831-0245 profit organisation whose mission is to promote theNicaragua-(505) 289-4200 low-cost and effective Sodis method of water treatmentArgentina- (54-11) 4312-5301 throughout Latin America.Dom. Rep.- (1-809)562-1519Panama- (507) 212-7800Bahamas- (1-242) 326-7390Ecuador- (593-2) 246-0330 Print ResourcesParaguay- (595-21) 450-495Barbados: (1-246) 426-3860 Cassinath, Natasha; R. Garcia; Trabajando Juntos:El Salvador- (503)298-3491 Un manual de campo para trabajar con proyectos dePeru- (51-1) 421-3030 agua. (2nd Ed.). Red Centroamericana de Manejo deBelize- (501) 224-4885 Recursos Hidricos (CARA), 2002. Available from theGuatemala- (011-502) 332-2032 Universidad NacionalPuerto Rico- (787) 274-7608 Autónoma de Nicaragua: (505) 278-6981, or online atBolivia- (591-2) 241-2303 (592) 225-3000Suriname- (597) 471-676 World Health Organization (WHO). Guidelines forBrazil- (55-61) 426-9595 Drinking-water Quality: 3rd ed. WHO Press, 2004.Haiti- (509) 260-5700 WHO. Health Aspects of Plumbing. Published jointlyTrinidad- (1-868) 624-7524 by WHO, and World Plumbing Council. WHO Press,Chile- (56-2) 264-9300 2006.Honduras- (504) 239-0136Uruguay- (598-2) 707-3590 WHO. Healthy Villages. WHO Press, 2002.Colombia- (57-1) 347-8373Jamaica- (1-876)967-4626Venezuela- (58-212) 267-1622Costa Rica- (506) 258-5810Mexico- (5255) 5089-08-60 77
  • 92. Listening To The Earth 78
  • 93. Chapter 4 Sanitation and Waste HandlingOverview: Sanitation, Municipal section that provides background information on the topic under discussion. The first assessment Waste, and Hazardous Waste deals with your community’s handling of human ince the dawn of humanity, people have not excreta; the second deals with your handling of theS only consumed the gifts of the Earth, but have also left behind things of their owncreation. Important and ubiquitous items left other forms of solid waste that are generated by your community; and finally some attention will be directed to your community’s handling ofbehind include feces and corpses; furthermore, hazardous materials. The intention of the chapterthere are broken tools, clothes, vacated dwelling is for you to assess with what level of respect yourstructures, and a whole host of other things that community regards its waste, and how ecologicallywe broadly refer to as ‘waste’. Many of these sound your waste handling practices are.‘wastes’ pose significant health hazards to humans,but also to other animals, plants, and entireecosystems. In many ways it is unfortunate that we consider Community Excreta Handlingthese ‘wastes’ as undesirable, as things to simply be and Sanitation: Introductiondisposed of, as a burden, etc. As a consequence ofthis attitude, humans have had to contrive ways to Ecological Sanitationdispose of their wastes, and these means havegenerally consisted of concentrating (or Sanitation refers to the supply of good-qualitycollecting/centralizing) the waste into one location drinking water, proper disposal of excreta, hygieneand burying it or piling it up. Landfills (i.e. garbage in the preparation of meals, cleanliness in thedumps), wastewater treatment plants, cemetaries, home, and the collection and final disposal of solidetc. are all examples of this response. waste. Basically, sanitation consists of our means of Unfortunately, as the human family has grown proctecting ourselves from the inherent dangers oftremendously in size, this type of response has our own excrement, and the feces of other animals.created numerous catastophic messes around the Sanitation practices, and sanitary habits areglobe. Sprawling garbage dumps are plaguing the very important for the prevention of many diseaseslandscape, they pollute groundwater and surface and parasitic infections. Parasites are livingwater, and are breeding grounds for many pests. creatures that feed on other living creatures,Sewer systems have been responsible for poisoning causing the host organisms harm in the process.the earth’s waters, making them unfit to drink or The eggs and larvae of parasites are often veryswim in. Hazardous wastes have been small and are easily ingested. Similarly, many typesaccumulating not only in waters and soils, but also of harmful bacteria are present in fecal matter thatin the living tissue of organisms—including us! can cause painful and mortal infections, and which Perhaps the time has come for us to change our can occur quite easily.attitude into one in which we strive to recognize ‘Sanitation,’ for the purposes of thisour ‘wastes’ as the gifts and resources that we assessment, refers specifically to your system ofnaturally produce. A very great percentage of the handling and managing human excreta. A varietywaste we generate can actually be reused in a of styles of latrines, flush toilets, and sewervariety of ways. It is our challenge to find or create networks are all examples of sanitation technologyways to recycle those wastes for which we haven’t that is presently used. Ecological, or sustainablecurrently any use. sanitation means that all elements of sanitation are In this chapter, three specific areas of waste in balance, and that the system poses no threat togeneration and handling will be examined in human health nor to the earth’s health.depth. Each will be preceded with an introductory 79
  • 94. Listening To The EarthSanitation and Population Explosion: A Deadly million children die of diarrhea, deaths that couldMix? have been prevented by good sanitation: millions more suffer the nutritional, educational, andUnfortunately, sanitation is a critical problem in economic loss through diarrheal disease thatmany places around the world because of rapid improvements in sanitation, especially humanpopulation growth and unsuitable technological excreta management, can prevent.responses. Sanitary conditions for much of the Overall, the World Health Organizationworld’s population are not improving despite the estimates that nearly 3.3 million people dieenormous suffering caused by poor sanitation. annually from diarrheal diseases, and that a For as long as the human population was small staggering 1.5 billion suffer, at any one time, fromand dispersed over a large area, sanitation was not parasitic worm infections stemming from humansuch a problem; however, the situation has excreta and solid wastes in the environment.dramatically changed. The human population is Besides the infectious diseases associated withnow 1000 times greater than it was 10 000 years poor sanitation, the wastewater from sewerago. Today 2.5 billion people live in urban areas systems also creates a host of environmental andalone. People are living closer and closer together; health problems. Heavy metals, toxic organic andalternately stated, more and more people are living inorganic substances are also often present inin the same amount of space. wastewater. These pollutants can also pose serious One consequence of this increasing population threats to human health and the environment.density is that we (humans) are putting higher and Industrial wastewater and ‘municipal sludge’ (onehigher pressure on the environment, especially in by-product of sewage treatment which consists ofthe most densely populated regions. The closer the solids settled out of wastewater) may containtogether we live, the more important it is for us to high concentrations of heavy metals such ashave access to, and make use of, good sanitation cadmium, lead, nickel and chromium. Heavyfacilities. metals concentrate in the tissues of many filter- feeding shellfish, fish, and in some cases terrestrialExcreta: Environmental Pollutant and Health plants. For this reason, consumers of theseHazard products face significant health threats. Excessive nutrients (primarily nitrogen andThe failure to properly treat and manage phosphorus) in wastewater, sludge, and excretawastewater and excreta is directly responsible for may contaminate surface waters and causenumerous adverse health and environmental eutrophication. Eutrophication is a processeffects. Poor sanitation gives rise to high rates of whereby water bodies, such as lakes, estuaries, ordiarrheal diseases, to helminth (parasitic worm) slow-moving streams receive excess nutrients thatinfections like ascariasis and hookworm, and to stimulate excessive plant growth (algae, nuisancevector-borne diseases like malaria, dengue fever plants weeds). This enhanced plant growth, oftenand Japanese encephalitis. Human excreta has called an algal bloom, causes other organisms tobeen implicated in the transmission of many other die. The eutrophication of freshwaters sometimesinfectious diseases including cholera, typhoid, also causes the growth of toxin-producinghepatitis, polio, cryptosporidiosis, and cyanobacteria. Toxins produced by cyanobacteriaschistosomiasis. can cause gastroenteritis, liver damage, nervous Besides direct contact or ingestion, one of the system impairment, and skin irritation.main pathways of disease is being spread by Other chemicals such as pharmaceuticalvectors, or other living creatures. Such creatures— residues and potential endocrine disruptinge.g. flies, rats, cockroaches, etc.—are particularly substances have been identified in wastewater anddrawn to human excreta; and thus poor sanitary excreta, but the effects of these pollutants have notfacilities are often the breeding grounds for several yet been fully determined.such creatures. Human excreta-transmitted diseases Sewered Sanitation Technology: Problematicpredominantly affect children and the poor. Most and Unsustainableof the deaths due to diarrhea occur in children(accounting for nearly two million) and especially In an attempt to deal with the critical problems ofoccur in the poorest regions. Every year, 2.5 sanitation, humans have developed and built 80
  • 95. Chapter 4: Sanitation and Wastesewerage systems, or networks of underground The real problem is that in the flush-and-pipes, which are designed to convey human wastes discharge system feces are not handled on theiraway from homes to a central outlet point. In own. They are mixed with urine. This means thattheory, a treatment plant is located at the outlet instead of 50 litres of a heavily polluted substancepoint, ostensibly making the water safe again we have to take care of 550 polluted, dangerousbefore being released into the environment. These and extremely unpleasant litres. One of the reasonssewer networks require the use of ‘flush’ toilets behind the unpleasantness of the mixture of urinewhich are basically machines for mixing human and feces is that feces contain a bacterium,urine, faeces and water. Micrococcus ureae, which when mixed with urine This technology has been considered the safest produces a very unpleasant smell.and most effective means of sanitation, and hasbeen championed by numerous influential Outright shortage of water is often a majororganizations and people around the world. problem for Latin American cities.Unfortunately humans have discovered that this A flush system does not work without water. Totechnology is unsatisfactory, unsustainable, and a flush away the 550 litres of feces and urine in asource of serious environmental damage. sewered toilet each person uses about 15,000 litres Although well-intentioned, flush-and-discharge of pure water every year. In most cities in the worldsystems compound the problems of sanitation. there is nowhere near enough water to provide thatWith these systems a relatively small amount of amount for each of its inhabitants. The typicaldangerous material—human faeces—is allowed to response is to provide flush-and-discharge only topollute a huge amount of water. In spite of this, the rich, which of course means that there is evenflush-and-discharge is almost universally regarded less water available to the the ideal option for urban areas. Almost without Globally, some 80 countries with 40 per cent ofquestion it is promoted in cities and town around the world’s population are already suffering fromthe world, even in the pooreset regions where water shortages at some time during the year.people cannot afford it and in arid areas where Chronic freshwater shortages are expected by thethere is hardly enough water for drinking. end of the decade in much of Africa, the Middle This preference for flush-and-discharge is based East, northern China, parts of India and Mexico,on a number of assumptions: the western United States, northeastern Brazil and 1. that the problem is one of ‘sewage disposal’ in the former Soviet Central Asian republics. 2. that fresh water is an unlimited resource China alone has 300 cities facing serious water 3. that at the end of the pipe the sewage is shortages. treated 4. that the environment can take care of the Only a tiny fraction of all sewage produced in discharge from the treatment plant Latin America is treated. However, none of these assumptions is correct. A very high percentage of all sewage in Latin America is discharged completely untreated intoThe basic problem is the disposal of human surface waters. Many cities do not have any sewagefeces and urine, not ‘sewage’. treatment system at all, and of those that do, mostA human body does not produce ‘sewage’. Sewage serve only a small fraction of the the product of a particular technology. The Estimates suggest that less than 5% of all sewage inhuman body produces urine and feces. These are Latin America receives any treatment before it isoften referred to as ‘human excreta’ but it is discharged into the environment.important to remember that they are in fact two Even where there is treatment, the vast majoritydifferent substances which leave the body through of sewage treatment technologies in use today stillseparate openings and in different directions. Each contribute significant amounts of pollutants to theperson produces about 500 litres of urine and 50 environment. Even modern treatment facilitieslitres of feces per year. Fifty litres of feces should usually do not cope with phosphates and nitrates.not be too difficult to manage. It is not a very Nor are treatment plants designed to detoxifypleasant product and may contain pathogenic chemical wastes. Primary treatment simply filtersorganisms. But the volume is small: when out floating and suspended material; secondarydehydrated it is actually no more than a bucketful treatment facilitates the biological degradation ofper person per year. feces and urine and other similar material; and 81
  • 96. Listening To The Earthdisinfection destroys infectious organisms. Most of and at the same time, closing the nutrient cyclethe industrial and household toxic wastes released and protecting limited fresh water sources and theinto sewers are either discharged into receiving environment.waters, or remain in the sludge. The purpose of the following assessment is to In addition to pathological pollution, other help guide you in evaluating the state of yourpollutants found in sewer effluent are heavy metals community’s sanitation practices, with the view ofand possible toxic household substances. Heavy molding your community’s practices intometals include copper, zinc, cadmium, nickel, sustainable, ecological sanitation. In addition tochromium and lead. The content and this assessment, refer to the ‘Drinking Waterconcentration are dependent on the pipe materials Quality and Source Protection Assessment’ inemployed to convey drinking water, household Chapter 3 to evaluate water supply sanitation, andcleaning agents used, and, for stormwater, the type to the other two assessments in this chapter toof materials used for roofing and guttering. Toxic further evaluate your community’s waste handlingmaterials may also be disposed with household practices.wastewater. In high enough concentrations theseheavy metals are toxic to bacteria, plants andanimals, and to people. Community Excreta HandlingAll over the world we can find examples of and Sanitation: Inventorynatural ecosystems destroyed by the dischargeof untreated or partly treated sewage. 1. Mix or No-MixIn the past it was a common assumption that thepollution which results from conventional Considering your sanitation facilities (latrines, lavatory,sanitation technologies can be safely assimilated by etc), does your community combine or release feces andthe environment. This assumption is not correct. urine into the same receptacle (a ‘no-mix’ facility keepsSome chemicals will decompose and be removed the urine and fecal matter separate)?by natural processes, but most will remain in the Mix / No-Mixenvironment. The inevitable end products of a sewage system 2. Soil conditionsare polluted waters and toxic sludge. The fourconventional sludge disposal methods are ocean One of the most important environmental factorsdumping, landfilling, incineration and application to consider in your choice of excreta disposal is theon agricultural land. From an environmental point depth of the water table in your area. The ‘waterof view all these methods are unacceptable and table’ refers to the underground depth at whichfrom all over the world we have reports of the freshwater is found.degradation of the environment due to sewagedischarge and sludge disposal. 1) Rate the permeability or porosity of the soil in your Thus, conventional sanitation in the form of area:sewered flush-and-discharge offers no solution to 123456789the global sanitation crisis. A different approach to stone or clay / humus / sandsanitation is needed. 2) What is the depth to the water table in your locationSustainable Approach to Sanitation, and this (meters):Assessment (can be estimated by determining the depth of local wells orEnvironmentally sound practices in wastewater boreholes)and stormwater management are practices thatensure that public health and environmental 3. Characteristics of Sanitation System:quality are protected. A range of technologies existthat can achieve this objective. Nevertheless, more Identify which of the following apply to youreffort must be extended towards finding community’s sanitation system, or method of handlingsustainable approaches for reducing health hazards human excreta:associated with wastewater, sludge and excreta, 82
  • 97. Chapter 4: Sanitation and Waste Open air (no sanitation facility) Vacuum truck Overhung Latrine (directly into surface water) How often is emptying performed? Bucket Cartage Shallow Pit/Trench Who does it? Borehole Latrines Other (specify): Pit Latrine (simple covered) If the service requires a fee, how much does it cost ? Pit Latrine (ventilated) Pit Latrine (raised) Aquaprivvy If known, how is the removed excreta disposed of? Pour Flush Full Flush Composting toilet 4. Resource Recovery1) Does your sanitation system include the use of What form(s) of resource recovery does your communityplumbing? use to utilize excreta? Indicate all that apply Yes / No Compost solid waste Excreta-fed fish pondIf Yes then complete the following questions: Use of urine to water plants Biogas digester Is there someone in the community responsible for the Other (specify): maintenance of the community sanitatary plumbing? None Name of person responsible: 5. Sewer Network Inspect the system’s integrity. Is all plumbing free of Does your community release its excreta into a leaks? wastewater sewer network, or other system of plumbing Yes / No that is designed to operate with flush water? Identify the location of any leaks: Yes / No If Yes then complete the following questions: Do all toilets include a vapor lock, or ‘drain trap’ to prevent the backflow of gases? Is your community’s sewer system: Yes / No Conventional (i.e. deep): consists of house Is there a protocol in place for reporting problems? connections routed to main pipes that run along Yes / No streets. System requires pipes, inspection Describe the protocol: manholes, pumps and pumping stations Simplified (i.e. shallow, a.k.a condominium): similar to deep sewering, except2) Identify if your sanitation system includes any of the that houses or individual connections are made tofollowing components: each other, rather than to a the main line. The septic tank shared connector pipes are smaller in diameter soakaway and do not need to be buried as deep drainage field Settled (a.k.a small bore): sewer system vault includes interceptor tanks, which are settlement not applicable tanks, and they require periodic emptying. In them, solids that can potentially sediment in the3) Does your sanitation system require periodic sewerage pipes are removedemptying? Yes / No Rate the quality or reliability of your sewer network What method is used: (i.e. how often does it have major leaks or get clogged): Manual shoveling 0123456789 Pump poor………excellent 83
  • 98. Listening To The EarthWho is the party responsible for the administration, Urban run-off (land drainage)maintenance, and alteration of your community’s sewer Other (specify):network? collective/ cooperative/ neighborhood What treatments (if any) are used at the facility? municipality/ municipal goverment Preliminary: this includes simple processes your religious community (owned/operated such as screening and grit removal to by your religious community itself) remove the gross solid pollution corporate entity, or other business residue from the process: not organized Primary: usually plain sedimentation; simple settlement of the solid material inIf applicable, how do you contact this party? sewage can reduce the polluting load by Name of responsible party: significant amounts residue from the process: Contact person: Secondary: for further treatment and removal of common pollutants, usually by a Contact information: biological process residue from the process: Tertiary: usually for removal of specificDoes your community share in this management pollutants e.g. nitrogen or phosphorous, orresponsibility? specific industrial pollutants Yes / No residue from the process:If so, in what way? How are the residues disposed of? Into what body of water, or onto what land does the6. Waste Water Treatment facility discharge its effluent (or processed wastewater)?Does your community’s sewer system include a waste What pollutant(s) does the effluent contain?water treatment process? Chemical Yes / No (specify):If Yes then complete the following questions: Nutritional (esp. phosphorous and/orWho is responsible for the operational decisions of the nitrogen)waste water treatment plant, if other than the party (specify):responsible for the sewer network, and how are theycontacted? Name of responsible party: Biological (pathogens) (specify): Contact person: Expert Environmental Information Source Contact information: It would be helpful to contact an environmental protection or advocacy group that can provide reliable, expert data on the ecological impacts of your sanitation system. If you don’t know of one, referFrom what source(s) does the waste water treatment to the List of Categorized References in the back offacility receive sewage flow? this manual to help locate one. Purely residential sources Industrial sources Name of organization: Commercial agricultural Mining operations Name of contact person: 84
  • 99. Chapter 4: Sanitation and Waste Contact information: Is the toilet and areas surrounding it regularly sanitized? Yes / NoAccording to these experts, what are the observedenvironmental effects of the sanitation practices of your Is the toilet area kept free of trash ?area? Yes / No Is a handwashing station (with soap) near the toilet? Yes / NoWhat, in their opinion, is the best step that yourcommunity could make to improve the sanitations Are the facilities within a convenient walking distance,problems in your area? and the path well-marked? Yes / No 8. General Sanitation PracticesExpert Public Health Information Source Does your community include expenses related to excretaIt would be helpful to contact a public health handling (sewer fees, operational, maintenance, orprotection or advocacy group that can provide improvement capital) as part of its regular budget?reliable, expert data on the health effects of your Yes / Nosanitation system. If you don’t know of one, referto the List of Categorized References in the back of Does your community educate itself and others in thethis manual to help locate one. larger community about both dangers and best practices pertaining to sanitation? Name of organization: Yes / No Name of contact person: Does your community educate others about the productive and beneficial uses of excreta? Contact information: Yes / NoAccording to these experts, what are the observedenvironmental effects of the sanitation practices of yourarea? Community Excreta Handling and Sanitation: Evaluation At the end of each discussion section, there will be aWhat, in their opinion, is the best step that your statement and a list of numbers from which to could make to improve the sanitation Choose a number from 1-9 to indicate your assessmentproblems in your area? of how well your community represents the statement given. (1 = disagree, community practices unhealthy; 9 = agree completely, no change needed) 1. Mix or No-Mix7. Hygiene Behavior To meet the requirement of ecological sanitationAre the facilities (latrine, toilet, etc) that your we must have ecological toilets. ‘No-mix’ systems,community uses kept clean (i.e. cleaned regularly) and if properly maintained, are ecological. By notfree of fecal matter and other refuse? mixing human excreta and flushing water the Yes / No sanitation problem is limited to managing a comparatively small volume of urine and faeces. AsIf the toilet is located outdoors, is the door kept shut and a result, the problems of bad odours and fly-the inside kept dark when not in use? breeding are reduced or even eliminated, and Yes / No storage, treatment and transport are made easier. A 85
  • 100. Listening To The Earthlot of water can be saved, expenditure on pipe 3. General Characteristics of Sanitation Systemnetworks and treatment plants is reduced, jobs arecreated and the environment is preserved. Evaluation statements for 3-3iii are found on page 101 If your community has ‘mix’ type facilities, youmay consider switching to a ‘no-mix’ system, A. Open Air Defacationespecially if you presently use some type of pit Where there are no latrines people resort tolatrine, or utilize some other on-site treatment. defecation in the open. This may be indiscriminateComposting latrines are perhaps the most or in special places for defecation generallyecologically sound device for handling excreta. accepted by the community, such as defecationThere is a brief discussion of them later, under fields, rubbish and manure heaps, or under trees.question 3 (see ‘J’ in the table below), and more Open defecation encourages flies, which spreadinformation may be obtained about them from feces-related diseases. In moist ground the larvaeresources listed at the end of this chapter. of intestinal worms develop, and feces and larvae If on the other hand your community is may be carried by people and animals. Surfaceconnected to a sewer system, a conversion may not water run-off from places where people havebe immediately feasible nor appropriate. It may be defecated results in water pollution. In view of themore important in such a case to work at a regional health hazards created and the degradation of thelevel to help innovate alternative practices that environment, open defecation should not beboth conserve water and take advantage of the tolerated in villages and other built-up areas. Thereuseful qualities of urine and feces. are better options available that confine excreta in such a way that the cycle of reinfection from2. Soil Conditions excrete-related diseases is broken.The conditions of the land in your community are B. Overhung Latrine (direct entry into surfacethe most important factors to consider in water)evaluating or choosing the method of excreta A latrine built over the sea, a river, or other bodydisposal. For example, if your soil is impermeable of water into which excreta drops directly, is knownor the water table high, then it may be necessary to as an overhung latrine. If there is a strong currentuse a vault or a raised pit latrine rather than any in the water the excreta is carried away. Publicother form of pit latrine or septic system. It is should be warned of the danger to health resultingrecommended that you complete the water supply from contact with or use of water into whichsanitation inventories found in Chapter 3 to excreta has been discharged.determine more about your community’s An overhung latrine usually consists of aprotection of water resources. superstructure and floor built over water. A squat If the conditions of the soil and groundwater of hole in the floor allows excreta to fall into theyour area are unknown, it would be most advisable water. A chute is sometimes provided from theto contact a geological service, organization, or floor to the water. Overhung latrines should neverassociated govern-mental agency to request that be built in places where pit latrines can betesting be performed. Some of the resources at the provided. However, they may be the only possibleend of this chapter may be able to help direct you form of sanitation for people living on land that isto an appropriate agency. In any case, you should verify, with the help ofqualified professionals, that your means ofsanitation does not contaminate the water thatyou or anyone in your larger community uses as asource of drinking water.Our community’s sanitation facilities are anappropriate option for the prevailing soil and waterconditions. 123456789 Overhung latrine 86
  • 101. Chapter 4: Sanitation and Wastecontinuously or seasonally covered with water. Despite the serious dangers inherent to thismethod, overhung latrines might be acceptableprovided all the following conditions are met: 1. The receiving water is of sufficient salinity allyear round to prevent human consumption. 2. The latrine is installed over water that issufficiently deep to ensure that the bed is neverexposed during low tide or the dry season. 3. The walkways, piers, squatting openings, andsuperstructures are made structurally safe foradults and children. Bucket latrine 4. The excreta is not deposited in still water orinto water that will be used for recreation. where they are emptied, washed and disinfectedWhile an overhung latrine may be the only feasible with a phenol or cresol type of disinfectant. Insystem for communities living over water, there are some towns it is the practice to provide twoserious health risks that must be considered buckets painted in different colors for each latrine.whenever this is the current practice. Containers should be kept covered with tight- fitting lids while in transit and the waste handlingC. Bucket Cartage/Latrine personnel should be provided with full protectiveCartage is perhaps the most basic form of excreta clothing. Also, for health reasons, waste handlersdisposal. Here, feces are collected in a container should be educated in and practice proper hygienicand disposed of daily. An example is the bucket behaviors. Defective buckets should be repaired orlatrine, in which household wastes are collected in replaced and transport vehicles should be kept inbuckets under a hole in the floor of a specific room. good order.Each day, the bucket is emptied into a larger It is quite possible with bucket cartage to havecontainer and the contents disposed of. In practice a ‘no-mix’ system. In some cartage systems, urinethis type of disposal may be designed as either a is diverted away from the buckets to reduce the‘mix’type or a ‘no-mix’ type facility. volume to be dealt with. It is usually channelled to Bucket latrines pose health risks to both users soakpits, but may be collected separately and usedand collectors and may spread disease. The directly as fertilizer. However, water that is used fornumber of bucket latrines is declining rapidly in washing latrines and bucket-chambers should befavor of similar facilities which pose fewer health handled with caution. It should pass to or berisks. For example, a vault latrine (a latrine where deposited into soakpits, and should not be allowedwastes are stored in a sealed container) that is to pollute the ground around the latrines.mechanically emptied on a regular basis is often a The practice of dumping nightsoil indiscriminatelymore sanitary yet affordable choice. into streams or onto open land is a very poor practice for both environmental and health reasons.Operation and maintenance:A container made of non-corrosive material is D. Shallow Pit/Trenchplaced beneath a squatting slab or seat in the People working on farms may dig a small hole eachbucket chamber, with rear doors which should be time they defecate and then cover the faeces withkept shut except during removal and replacement soil. This is sometimes known as the ‘cat’ method.of the bucket. The bucket chamber should be Pits about 300 mm deep may be used for severalcleaned whenever the bucket is removed. weeks. Excavated soil is heaped beside the pit and The squat hole should be covered by a flyproof some is put over the faeces after each use.cover when not in use. The cover of the seat should Decomposition in shallow pits is rapid because ofbe hinged and the cover of the squatting slab the large bacterial population in the topsoil, butshould have a long handle. flies breed in large numbers and hookworm larvae At regular intervals (preferably each night) the spread around the holes. Hookworm larvae cancontainer should be removed and replaced by a migrate upwards from excrete buried less than 1 mclean one. Full containers should be taken to deep, to penetrate the soles of the feet ofdepots or transfer stations, or composting facility subsequent users. 87
  • 102. Listening To The EarthE. Borehole Latrine decomposes, thereby producing:Borehole latrines are generally ‘mix’ type facilities • gases such as carbon dioxide and methane,which are most convenient for emergency or short which are either collected, liberated to theterm use. They can be prepared rapidly in great atmosphere, or dispersed into the surrounding soilnumbers, and light portable slabs may be used; • liquids, which percolate into the surroundinghowever, there are several problems inherent to soilborehole latrines. • a decomposed and consolidated residue Borehole latrines have an augered hole which The health benefits and convenience of pit latrinesmay be sunk to a depth of 10m or more, although depend upon the quality of the design,a depth of 4-6m is usual. Augered holes, 300-500 construction and maintenance. At worst, pitmm in diameter, are dug quickly by hand or by latrines that are poorly designed, constructed andmachine in areas where the soil is firm, stable and maintained provide foci for the transmission offree from rocks or large stones. disease and may be no better than indiscriminate While a small diameter may be easy to bore, the defecation. At best, they provide a standard oflife of the pit is very short. Furthermore, the small sanitation that is at least as good as other morediameter of boreholes increases the likelihood of sophisticated methods.blockage, and the depth of an augered hole In most pit latrine systems, fecal matter issignificantly increases the danger of groundwater stored in a pit and left to decompose. If the fecalcontamination. matter is left to decompose in dry conditions for at In addition, the sides of the hole easily become least two years, the contents can be safely emptiedsoiled near the top, making fly infestation manually, and the pit reused. Indeed, some pitprobable. For this reason, holes should be lined for latrines are designed to allow fecal matter toat least the top half-metre or so with an impervious compost and be reused in agriculture. On the othermaterial such as concrete or baked clay. hand, unless specifically designed, pit latrines do Particularly because of the danger to ground not require periodic emptying; once a pit is full itwater, but also because of the difficulties in their can simply be sealed and a new pit dug.operation, boreholes should only be used if no There is an enormous variety of styles of pitother sanitation facilities exist. latrines. Some designs use one pit, others use two alternating pits, reducing the need for new pits.F. Pit Latrines (general) Some pit designs are meant to be completely dry,The basic principle of all types of pit latrine is that while some use small quantities of water.wastes such as excreta, anal cleaning materials, Ventilation to remove odors and flies issullage and refuse are deposited into a hole in the incorporated into certain designs, while others areground. Pit latrines may be either ‘mix’ or ‘no-mix’ very basic and use traditional materials andsystems. The liquids percolate into the approaches. There are three pit designs covered insurrounding soil and the organic material more depth below: Simple Pit, Ventilated Pit, Raised Pit. Operation and Maintenance of a Pit Latrine The operation of pit latrines is quite simple and consists in regularly cleaning the slab with water (and a little disinfectant if available) to remove any excreta and urine. The door must always be closed when not in use so the superstructure can remain dark inside. The drop hole should never be covered as this would impede the airflow (if latrine is ventilated). Appropriate anal cleaning materials should be available in or near the latrine. Stones, glass, plastic, rags, and other non- iodegradable materials should not be thrown in the pit as they reduce the effective volume of the pit and hinder mechanical emptying. Borehole latrine 88
  • 103. Chapter 4: Sanitation and WasteRegular Inspections • Rainwater should drain away from the latrine. Improper drainage should be corrected. • Every month the floor slab has to be checked for cracks and, if applicable, the vent pipe and fly screen must be inspected to ensure they are not corroded or damaged. In addition, the superstructure should be inspected and repair undertaken, especially in the case of light leaks (toilet structure should be dark when door is fully closed). • When the contents of the pit reach the level of 0.5 metre below the slab, a new pit has to be dug and the old pit covered with soil. Another possibility is to empty the pit mechanically. With double-pit systems, the Simple pit second pit is used when the first is full. The full pit can be emptied safely by hand after a and used as soil conditioner. The pit can be used period of a year or longer and is then ready again when the second pit has filled up. This for use again. alternating cycle can be repeated indefinitely. In the case of pit latrines with double pits, each At least one person in your community shouldfacility has two shallow pits, but only one be educated about aspects of pit latrine sanitationsuperstructure. The cover slab has two drop holes, such as the reasons for using only one pit at a time,one over each pit. Only one pit is used at a time. use of excreta as manure, and the need to leave theWhen this becomes full, its drop hole is covered full pit for about two years before emptying. Thisand the second pit is used. After a period of, at the person also needs to know how to switch pits andvery least, one year—but most safely two years— how to empty the pit, even if they do not performthe contents of the first pit can be removed safely these tasks themselves. Operational and Maintenance Requirements and Schedule for Pit LatrinesActivity Frequency Materials and spare parts Tools and equipmentClean drop hole, seat and Daily Water, soap Brush, bucketsuperstructureInspect floor slab. Inspect Monthlyvent pipe and fly screen ifequippedClean fly screen and vent Every one to six months Water Twig or long bendableinside if equipped brushRepair slab, seat, vent pipe, Occasionally Cement, sand, water, nails, Bucket or bowl, saw,fly screen or superstructure local building materials trowel, hammer, knifeDig new pit and transfer Depending on size and Sand, possibly cement, Shovels, picks, sawlatrine slab and super- number of users bricks, nails and other local buckets, hammer, etc.structure (if applicable) building materialsSwitch to other pit when Depending on size and Shovels, buckets,pit is full (if applicable) number of users wheelbarrow, etc. Source: IRC and WHO, 2000 89
  • 104. Listening To The EarthFrequent problems the foul-smelling gases from the pit. As a result,Contamination of groundwater can easily occur if fresh air is drawn into the pit through the dropthe pit is dug either too deep or too close to hole and the superstructure is kept free fromgroundwater sources. Pits should not reach smells. The vent pipe also has an important role togroundwater level and latrines must be 15 to 30 play in fly control. Flies are attracted to light andmeters away from ground and surface water if the latrine is suitably dark inside, they will fly upsources. Poor quality of the floor slab due to the vent pipe to the light. They cannot escapeinappropriate materials or improper curing of because of the fly screen, so they are trapped at theconcrete. Inferior quality fly screens get damaged top of the pipe until they dehydrate and die.easily by the effects of solar radiation and foul Female flies, searching for an egg-laying site, aregases. Improperly sited latrines can get flooded or attracted by the odors from the vent pipe but areundermined. Children may be afraid to use the prevented from flying down the pipe by the flylatrine because of the dark or because of fear of screen at its top.falling into the pit. Leakages between pits can If the superstructure allows too much light tooccur because the dividing wall is not impermeable come in, flies will be attracted by the light comingor the soil is too permeable. through the squat hole and may fly out into the superstructure; this may jeopardize the whole VIPSimple Pit concept. Odor problems may occur during theThis consists of a slab over a pit which may be 2 m night and early morning hours in latrines relyingor more in depth. The slab should be firmly more on solar radiation for the air flow in the ventsupported on all sides and raised above the pipe than on wind speed.surrounding ground so that surface water cannotenter the pit. If the sides of the pit are liable to Raised Pitcollapse they should be lined. A squat hole in the In hard soils it may be impossible to dig a properslab or a seat must be present so that the excrete pit. One way of dealing with this, and otherfall directly into the pit. difficult ground conditions is to construct raised pit latrines. The pit is excavated as deep asVentilated Pit possible, working at the end of the dry season inVentilated improved pit (VIP) latrines are designed areas of high groundwater. The lining is extendedto reduce two problems frequently encountered by above ground level until the desired pit volume istraditional latrine systems—smells and flies or achieved.other insects. A VIP latrine differs from a If the pit extends more than 1.5 m below thetraditional latrine in having a vent pipe covered ground there will probably be sufficient leachingwith a fly screen. Wind blowing across the top of area below ground for a pit latrine having a fullthe vent pipe creates a flow of air which sucks out depth of 3.5 m. In such cases, the lining above ground should be sealed by plastering both sides. The minimum below-ground depth depends on the amount of water used in the pit and the permeability of the soil. Where insufficient infiltration area can be obtained below ground level, the raised portion of the pit can be surrounded by a mound of soil. The section of the lining above ground (excluding the top 0.5 m) can be used for infiltration provided the mound is made of permeable soil, well compacted with a stable side slope, and is thick enough to prevent filtrate seeping out of the sides. Earth mounds are not recommended on clay soils as the filtrate is likely to seep out at the base of the mound rather than infiltrate the ground. Raised pits can be used in combination with any other type of pit latrine (VIP, pour-flush, Ventilated pit double-pit). A common application is where the 90
  • 105. Chapter 4: Sanitation and Wastegroundwater level is close to the surface. A slight system, more ecologically sound sanitation optionsraising of the pit may prevent splashing of the user do exist. Nevertheless, the feasibility andor blockage of the pit inlet pipe by floating scum. importance of changing your sanitation system is for your community to decide.G. Aqua-privyAn aqua-privy is a ‘mix’ type latrine set directly H. Pour-flush latrinesabove or directly adjacent to a septic (collection A pour-flush latrine is a ‘mix’ type of pit latrineand sedimentation) tank and is useful in situations where small volumes of water (commonly 1-3where plumbing is required, but there is a limited litres) are used to flush feces into the pit. Thewater supply. An aqua-privy is similar to a septic operation and maintenance of pit latrines istank; it can be connected to flush toilets and take covered in more depth above under the headingmost household wastewater. It consists of a large ‘Pit latrines (general).’tank with a water seal which is connected to a Pour-flush latrines are most appropriate wheresoakaway to dispose of effluent. Unlike a septic people use water to clean themselves aftertank, the aqua-privy tank is located directly below defecating (e.g. in Muslim cultures) and wherethe house; but like a septic tank, it requires people have access to reliable water supplies closeperiodic emptying and must be accessible to a to the home. However, pour-flush latrines are alsovacuum tanker. Since much of the technology is attractive because the problems of flies, mosquitosthe same or similar, see the discussion below under and odors in simple pit latrines may be overcome3ii regarding septic tanks and leach beds to more simply and cheaply by the installation of a panfully assess the maintenance and operation of your with a water seal in the defecating hole. The pan isaqua-privy system. cleared by pouring (or, better, throwing) a few litres Aqua-privies are expensive and require the use of water into the pan after defecation.of water, making them a rather unattractive option The flushed wastes flow through a section offor communities short of money or water. Since pipe bent into a ‘U’ or ‘J’ shape which maintains awater is required, water conservation principles water seal for reducing fly and odor problems. Theshould be practiced. See the ‘Water Conservation pit of a pour-flush latrine may be located directlyAssessment’ in Chapter 3, for more information beneath the slab or set to one side, but offset pitsregarding water ccnservation. may require more water to prevent blockages. The The tank will produce hazardous and pit is usually connected to a soakaway to allowmalodorous gases that should be vented and liquids to infiltrate the soil, leaving solid waste totrapped in such a way that no gases escape up decompose.through the latrine. Furthermore, the tank can The amount of water used varies between onebecome a breeding ground for flies, mosquitoes, and four litres depending mainly on the pan andand other vector insects if they are not prevented trap geometry. Pans requiring a small amount offrom entering (or exiting) the tank. For thesereasons, a necessary feature of an aqua-privy issome form of water seal. Often this seal is formedby the chute drop-pipe hanging below the squathole or latrine seat and into the water. As long asthe end of the pipe is submerged, this designprevents gases from escaping into the latrinesuperstructure, and it limits (but does noteliminate) the access of flies and mosquitos to thetank. It should be noted that water must be addedeach day to maintain the water seal to compensatefor evaporation and effluent discharge. Alternatively, the toilet may be fitted with a panwith a water seal to prevent the escape of gases. Ifthe latrine is offset from or adjacent to the tank,the water seal can be accomplished with the use ofa drain trap (‘U’ or ‘J’ section of pipe). Since an aqua privy is necessarily a ‘mix’ type Pour-flush latrine 91
  • 106. Listening To The Earthwater for flushing have the added advantage ofreducing the risk of groundwater pollution. The flushing water does not have to be clean.Especially if access to clean water is limited,laundry, bathing or any other similar water shouldbe used. Solid materials should not be disposed of intopour-flush latrines, as this could block the pipe andeven cause it to break. In addition, efforts to clearblockages often result in damage to the water seal.There is a likelihood of blockage if solid materialssuch as hard paper, corncobs, material used bymenstruating women are put in the pan. Suchmaterials should be disposed of separately, butcareful attention must be given to the handling ofthe waste and sterilizing of the container. Since the pour-flush design is necessarily a ‘mix’type facility, more ecologically sound options exist, Composting latrineand may be feasible depending upon priorities ofyour community. Besides providing a reusable resource, the double-vault latrine has the added advantage thatI. Full Flush it can be built anywhere. Since the vault contentsA full flush latrine is a ‘mix’ type system, and it are kept dry, there is no pollution of theimplies the use of a running water system (piped surrounding ground, even if the vault is buried. Inwater distribution). Refer to the ‘Water rocky areas or where the water table is high theConservation Assessment,’ Chapter 3, in this vaults may be built above ground. Double-vaultmanual for water conservation practices. latrines are successfully used in Guatemala, A full flush system also requires either a septic Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and many othersystem with sufficiently large capacity, or a places around the world.connection to a piped sewer network. Refer belowto Section 3i regarding plumbing; Section 3ii is Operation and maintenanceapplicable if your community has a septic system; The double-vault composting latrine consists ofand Section 4 applies if you are connected to a two watertight chambers (vaults) to collect feces.sewer system. Urine is collected separately as the contents of the vault have to be kept relatively dry.J. Composting Toilet The two chambers or vaults are used alternately.A composting latrine is most generally a ‘no-mix’ Initially a layer of about 100 mm of absorbentfacility in which urine is kept separate and organic material such as dry earth is put in theexcriment falls into a watertight tank to which ash bottom of one vault, which is then used foror vegetable matter is added. If the moisture defecation. After each use, the feces are coveredcontent and chemical balance are controlled, the with wood ash or similar material to deodorize themixture will decompose to form a good soil decomposing faeces and soak up excess moisture.conditioner in about four months. Pathogens are When the vault is three-quarters full, thekilled in the dry alkaline compost, which can be contents are levelled with a stick and the vault isremoved for application to the land as a fertilizer. completely filled with dry powdered earth. TheThere are two types of composting latrine: in one, squat hole is then sealed. While the contents of thecompost is produced continuously, and in the first vault are decomposing anaerobically, theother, two containers are used to produce it in second vault is used. When the second tank is full,batches. In general, most instances of composting the first one is emptied through a door near thetoilets are of the double-vault design, and so the bottom and the chamber is reused. The contentsoperational and maintenance requirements for the may be used as a soil conditioner.more common double-vault design are covered in Each vault should be large enough to hold atdepth here. least two years’ accumulation of wastes so that 92
  • 107. Chapter 4: Sanitation and Wastemost pathogenic organisms die off before the final compost.compost is removed. If insects are a problem in the toilet, growing Normally the superstructure is built over both insect-repelling plants like citronella around thevaults, with a squat hole over each vault. A cover latrine may help.sealed with lime mortar or clay should be fitted in It is important that someone (at least one) inthe squat hole above the chamber not in use. A your community knows and understands theflyproof lid should be placed on the other hole process of the composting toilet, as improper usewhen it is not being used for defecation. Fly-proof poses sanitary risks.vent pipes may be provided to avoid odor nuisancein the latrine, although covering the feces with ash 3i. Characteristics of Sanitation System:is reported to be sufficient to eliminate bad smells. Plumbing Control of the moisture content is vital forproper operation of the latrine. Consequently, Several types of ‘wet’ or ‘mix’ sanitation facilitiescomposting latrines are not appropriate where require some type of plumbing, or pipes used towater is used for anal cleaning. It is usual to collect conduct excreta from the toilet to either the sewerurine separately, dilute it with 3-6 parts of water sytem or the collection tank. Flush water is neededand use it as a fertilizer (although this may cause a to help move the excreta through the pipes. Thehealth hazard). amount of water used should be minimized in the Some latrines are constructed with soakpits interests of conserving water, but enough must bebelow the vaults so that excess moisture can drain used to prevent clogging.into the ground. This allows for the disposal of For community safety, all plumbing should beurine into the vaults but with consequent loss of a intact and without leaks. Leaks or clogs should bevaluable fertilizer and possible pollution of the repaired immediately. If there are leaks in thegroundwater. Wood ash, straw, sawdust, grass piping, the contaminated water that leaks shouldcuttings, vegetable wastes and other organic be contained and the area sanitized as soon asmaterial must be put into vaults to control possible. The leaked water should not be allowedmoisture content and improve the quality of the to accumulate, as the water may contain pathogens Operational and Maintenance Tasks for Double Vault Composting Toilet Activity Frequency Materials and spare parts Tools and equipment Clean toilet and super- Daily Water, lime, ashes Brush, water container structure, empty urine collection pot Add ashes or other After each defecation and Wood ashes and organic Pot to contain the organic material whenever available material material, small shovel Inspect floor, super- Monthly structure and vaults Repair floor, super- When necessary Cement, sand, water, Bucket or bowl, trowel, structure or vaults nails, local building saw, hammer, knife materials Close full vault after Depending on size and Water, absorbent organic Shovel and bucket levelling and adding soil, number of users material empty other vault, open its squat hole and add absorbent organic material before starting to use, store humus (or use directly) Use humus as fertilizer When needed Humus Shovel, bucket, wheelbarrow Source: IRC and WHO, 2000 93
  • 108. Listening To The Earthand may attract insects that can spread diseases. It the liquid layer. The seal is formed because theis greatly advantageous if the person doing the pipe is submerged. In this case, then, a minimumrepairs is at least somewhat experienced in liquid level must be, and thus it is recommended that there The amount of liquid in the tank should bebe a person in your community that is charged kept high enough to keep the bottom of the dropwith maintaining the plumbing system. This pipe at least 75 mm below the liquid level. Aperson should responsible for receiving reports of bucket of water should be poured down the dropleaks and executing the repairs necessary. pipe daily in order to clear scum (in which flies All openings in the plumbing (e.g. a toilet, a may breed) from the bottom of the drop pipe andsink, or any drain) should have ‘drain traps,’ that to maintain the water seal.are U-shaped sections of pipe, installed near the In other cases, the tank is located away fromopening. These traps form a water seal in the pipe the latrine, and thus require the use of a ‘U’-trap tothat prevents gases from escaping into the air. prevent gases from backing up.These traps are commonly the location of The tank collects and digests solid waste. Someobstructions, and so should be the first place of the solids float on the surface, where they arechecked if a clog is detected. known as scum, while others sink to the bottom where they are broken down by bacteria to form a3ii. Characteristics of Sanitation System: deposit called sludge. The sludge accumulating inComponents the tank must be removed regularly, usually once every 1–5 years, depending on size, number ofSeptic Tank users and kind of use.A septic tank is a form of on-site sanitation that is Routine inspection is necessary to checkusually linked to flush toilets and can receive whether desludging is needed, and to ensure thatdomestic wastewater (or sullage). It is designed to there are no blockages at the inlet or outlet. A tankhold solids and is linked to a soakaway/leach bed needs to be desludged when the sludge and scumor small-bore sewer to dispose of liquid waste, or occupy the volume specified in the design. Aeffluent. The tank is offset from the dwelling simple rule is to desludge when solids occupystructures and linked to the toilet and domestic between one-half and two-thirds of the total depthwastewater by a short drain. between the water level and the bottom of the If your community has a septic system and tank. Desludging is essential because septic tankspiped water, water conservation principles should will continue to operate even when the tank is almost fullbe practiced (see Chapter 3). of solids—in this situation the in-flow scours a Septic tanks generally require relatively large channel through the sludge and may pass throughamounts of land and periodic emptying by vacuum the tank in a matter of minutes rather thantankers. This makes a septic system expensive, and remaining in the tank for the required retentionfurther requires that trucks are afforded easy access the tank. It is important that your community When a septic tank is desludged it should notinclude these expenses in the regular budget. be fully washed out or disinfected. A small amount of sludge should be left in the tank to ensureOperation and Maintenance continuing rapid digestion. Regular cleaning of theSeptic tanks and aqua-privies have a water-tight toilet with soap in normal amounts is unlikely tosettling tank with one or two compartments, to be harmful, but the use of large amounts ofwhich waste is carried by water flushing down a detergents or chemicals may disturb thepipe connected to the toilet. These systems do not biochemical process in a tank, especially the use ofdispose of wastes; they only help to separate the chlorine bleach.solid matter from the liquid. The systems need a The liquid effluent flowing out of the tank is,means to discharge their liquid effluent, a means to from a health point of view, as dangerous as rawvent gases released, and they also require some sewage and remains to be disposed of, normally byform of seal that prevents gases from backing up soaking into the ground through a soakaway (leachinto the latrines or other drains. bed) or with a connection to small-bore sewers. In the case of an aqua-privy, there is a tank When sullage disposal is also in the tank, a largerimmediately under the latrine and excreta drop capacity is required for both the tank and thedirectly into the tank through a pipe submerged in liquid effluent disposal system. Connection to 94
  • 109. Chapter 4: Sanitation and Wastesmall-bore sewers may then be a necessity—where drainage trenches, into which the liquid effluentshigh groundwater tables or rocky, impermeable coming from a septic tank are led through open-ground exist, this may also be the case. jointed (stoneware) or perforated (PVC) pipes, Many problems are due to inadequate allowing the effluents to infiltrate into the ground.consideration being given to liquid effluent Soakaways and leach beds are similar but are of adisposal. Large surges of flow entering the tank smaller scale, and can handle less effluent.may cause a temporarily high concentration of Due to the hazardous nature of the liquidsuspended solids in the effluent due to disturbance effluent that they handle, these drainage areasof the solids which have already settled out. must be sufficiently deep and must lie within soilLeaking tanks may cause insect and odor problems that is sufficiently absorbent to prevent the liquidsin aqua-privies because the water seal is not from seeping up from the ground. Furthermore, themaintained. risk of contaminating groundwater is high, and this Every tank must have a ventilation system to fact must be taken into consideration, particularlyallow escape (or collection) of explosive methane if wells exist nearby.and malodorous gases (generated when bacteriadecompose some of the sewage constituents) from Operation and Maintenancethe tank. It is important to regularly clean the septic tank outflow and other integral plumbing and check if itLeach bed/Soakaway/Drainage field is still in order. The plumbing must occassionallyMost septic systems drain their effluent into be cleaned to clear accumulated deposits.underground water-absorption channels of various Initially the infiltration into the ground may bedesigns. The most common examples of this high, but after several years the soil clogs and antechnology are called leach beds, soakaways, and equilibrium infiltration rate is reached. If thedrainage fields. Drainage fields consist of gravel- sewage flow exceeds the equilibrium rate of thefilled underground trenches called leachlines or soil, eventually the sewage will surface over the Table: Maintenance Requirements for Septic Systems Activity Frequency Human resources Materials and spare Tools and equipment parts Clean squatting pan or Daily Household Water Brush, water container seat and shelter Unblock U-trap when Occasionally Household Water Flexible brush or other blocked flexible material Inspect if entry pipe is Regularly Household still submerged (for aqua-privies) Inspect floor, squatting Monthly Household pan or seat and U-trap Repair squatting pan Occasionally Household or local Cement, sand, water, Bucket or bowl, trowel, or seat, U-trap or artisan nails, local building saw, hammer, knife shelter materials Control vents Annually Household Rope or wire, screen Scissors or wire-cutting material, pipe parts tool, pliers, saw Empty tank Every 1-5 years Service crew Water, fuel, lubricants, Vacuum tanker (large etc. or mini) or MAPET equipment, if possible Source: IRC and WHO, 2000 95
  • 110. Listening To The Earthdrainage field. As a good practice, then, an area of ability of the soil to absorb liquids and break downland equal to the size of the drainage area should kept in reserve for possible extension orreplacement of the drain field if it becomes Vaultclogged. In areas where the groundwater level is high, the The area over the waste water absorption area use of septic tanks and drainage areas is not suitableshould have a good cover of grass or other shallow- since such systems are likely to contaminate therooted vegetation. Control plant growth to prevent groundwater. In these areas, watertight tanks calledthe roots from entering the pipes or trenches. vaults can be built under or close to latrines to storeDon’t plant trees or shrubs near the leaching bed. excrete until they are removed by hand (usingSuch deeply rooted plants have roots that will buckets or similar receptacles) or by vacuum significant distances to reach water and will Similarly, household sewage may be stored in largerinvade the drainage channels and thus impede or tanks called cesspits, which are usually emptied bysabotage their function. vacuum tankers. Vaults or cesspits must be emptied Good ventilation of the area and adequate when they are nearly full, or on a regular basis.sunlight should also be maintained to promote There must be a water seal between the vaultevaporation. This means that you should avoid and any drains or latrines to prevent the backflowconstructing parking areas, patios, or structures of gases. Generally this is accomplished with a ‘U’-over the area. The weight of such constructions shaped section of plumbing pipe being positionedcould crush the pipe in the leaching bed preventing near each from working properly. Covering the drainage Vaults should be checked on a regular basis (atarea could also prevent oxygen from getting into least each time they are emptied) for structuralthe soil. integrity. There should be no cracks, holes, or The micro-organisms responsible for digesting faulty seams. Vaults must also be regularly checkedthe waste material need oxygen to survive and to determine whether desludging is needed and tofunction. Vehicles and machinery should not be ensure that no blockages exist at the inlet.driven over the bed, as their weight could crush the Regular emptying is required, and thus therepipe or compact the soil. If the soil over the pipes must be space enough for a truck or otherbecomes compacted, it will be less able to absorb equipment to access the vault. This is a regularthe wastewater. expense which should be included in the regular It is also important not to dispose of water onto budget.the ground over the area—it may interfere with the Table: Maintenance Requirements for a Drainage Field Materials and spare Activity Frequency Human resources Tools and equipment parts Control plant Shovel, bucket, panga Regularly Household or caretaker growth etc. Switch to other Once every 6-12 Bricks or other Tools to open diversion Household or caretaker drainage field months material to block pipes box Brush, shovel, long Household, caretaker Water, pieve of pipe, De-block delivery pipe Occasionally stick or flexible brush, or local artisan glue knife, saw Clean diversion boxes Every month Household or caretaker Water Shovel, brush Check, ouflow of tank Brush, tools to open Once a month Household or caretaker Water and clean access hole Source: IRC and WHO, 2000 96
  • 111. Chapter 4: Sanitation and Waste3iii. Characteristics of Sanitation System: Refer to Chapter 2 for more information aboutEmptying outdoor air pollution. • Management and supervision of emptyingThe emptying of single pits containing fresh services is often ineffective, leading to poorexcreta presents problems because of the active work practices which expose the workers andpathogens in the sludge. In rural areas, where land the public to health hazards.availability is not a constraint, it is often advisableto dig another pit for a new latrine. The original pit Evaluation of Sanitation Facilities (3-3iii)may then be left for several years and when thesecond is filled it may be simplest to re-dig the firstpit rather than to excavate a new hole in hard Our community is well-informed about the serviceground. If left for years, the sludge will not cause requirements of our sanitation systems.any health problems and is beneficial as a fertilizer. 123456789 However, in urban areas, where it is not possibleto excavate further holes and where the investment Our community regularly implements all necessaryin pit-lining and superstructure has been operational and maintenance protocols required forsubstantial, the pit must be emptied. Since the sustainable operation of our sanitation system.sludge removed from a pit presents a risk of 123456789transmission of diseases, care must be taken toensure that sludge is not spilled around the tank Our community strives to minimize the amount of waterduring emptying . Thus, the most satisfactory used by our sanitation system (e.g. by choosing not tomethod of sludge removal is by vacuum tanker. mix, fixing leaks, etc.)The sludge is pumped out of the pit or tank 123456789through a flexible hose connected to a vacuumpump, which lifts the sludge into the tanker. If the Our community takes every necessary precaution tobottom layers of sludge have cemented together prevent contamination of ground and/or surface watersthey can be jetted with a water hose or broken up by our sanitation system.with a long-handled spade before being pumped 123456789out. There are also high-powered vacuum trucksthat can handle solidified sludge; however, their 4. Resource Recoveryuse is considerably more expensive. Although from the public health point of view, Human excrete and urine can be regarded asmanual removal should be avoided, if a vacuum natural resources to be conserved and reusedtanker is not available, the sludge must be bailed provided they are handled with respect, ratherout manually using buckets or shovels. This is than being discarded. Especially if your sanitationunpleasant work which exposes the workers and facilities are of the ‘no-mix’ type, the ‘wastes’ canthe community to health hazards. Careful work be transformed into very nutritious food for theand disposal is therefore necessary. earth, for plants, and for particular types of Emptying pits may also pose these problems: fisheries; in addition, the decomposition process• The machinery may be too large to get to the can release gas that is useful as fuel. latrines. Conventional vacuum trucks are too Urine and feces are both quite beneficial to big to be driven into the centre of many ancient plants. Urine contains nitrogen and phosphates in cities or urban/periurban unplanned or squatter forms that are easily absorbed by plants; as well, settlements where pedestrian routes human excrete, or ‘nightsoil’ contains nitrogen, predominate. phosphorus and potassium, all of which are• Maintenance of vacuum tankers is often poor. valuable plant nutrients. Human excreta can also Their engines must be kept running all day, be used in an aquatic environment to stimulate the either to move the truck or to operate the pump growth of particular fish for consumption. when stationary. This causes rapid wear and On the other hand, handling raw excreta is not makes them particularly susceptible to only very unpleasant because of odors, but also it breakdown if preventive maintenance is is considerably hazardous to human health. The neglected. In addition, these vehicles add pathogens that live within the excreta pose serious considerable amounts of pollution to the air. dangers to us as humans. The main risk is 97
  • 112. Listening To The Earthinfection, and this can be by any number of time is longer if the pit has been wet. However, thisbacteria, parasites, viruses, or other pathogenic time interval can be decreased if theorganisms that are present in excreta. Fortunately, decomposition of the feces is accelerated, and thethe knowledge and techniques exist which allow us temperature of the pile increased—which is what isto transform raw excreta into safer, more pleasant, accomplished by composting.and useful substances. Composting consists of the biological Caution should be taken, and good hygiene breakdown of solid organic matter into a soil-likepracticed, when handling nightsoil—processed, substance called compost or humus. Compost isdecomposed or otherwise—from any source. quite valuable as a fertilizer and soil conditioner. Before your community reuses sludge, health Composting has been practiced by farmers andofficials should be consulted about the minimum gardeners throughout the world for manytime for sludge decomposition. If possible, the centuries. Besides nitrogen, phosphorous, andquality of the sludge should occasionally be tested. potassium, the humus formed by decomposedHowever, testing for microorganisms such as feces also contains trace elements which reduce theprotozoa and helminths is expensive, and it may be susceptibility of plants to parasites and diseases.more effective to use retention time to judge The humus improves the soil structure, enhanceswhether the sludge will be safe to use. its water-retaining qualities and encourages better When organic material sits and ages, nature root structure of plants. Soil containing humus isdecomposes the material, or breaks it down into less subject to erosion by wind and water and ismore elemental substances. The process of easier to cultivate. In China, the practice ofdecomposition may be aerobic (requiring oxygen) composting human wastes with crop residues hasor anaerobic (not requiring oxygen). enabled the soil to support high population Depending upon the product desired, you can densities without loss of fertility for more thancontrol the conditions to encourage one form of 4000 years. Composting is a beneficial way ofdecomposition over the other. In either case, giving back to the Earth what we have taken in thenightsoil or sludge is generally first combined with form of food.other organic wastes. The mixture is then placed Composting can accelerate the decay processinto controlled conditions either: by ventilating and sterilize the excreta, but to do so requiresthe mixture to stimulate aerobic digestion careful attention and the process must be(composting); or by placing the mixture into an controlled by someone who understands it. Ifairtight chamber to stimulate anaerobic digestion. performed correctly, however, the process generatesAerobic digestion produces compost, or humus, enough heat to eradicate most and sometimes alland is discussed below under the heading pathogens, and simultaneously eliminates‘Composting.’ Anaerobic decomposition processes disagreeable odors.produce a significant amount of methane, ornatural gas, making it useful as a renewable source Composting Processof fuel. This process is discussed below under Aerobic bacteria combine some of the carbon in‘Biogas Production.’ organic matter (excreta mixed with plant Successful composting will completely sterilize materials) with oxygen from the air to producethe mixture; however, while anaerobic digestion carbon dioxide and energy. Some energy is used bydoes kill most pathogens, it will not necessarily kill the bacteria to reproduce; the rest, however, ishookworm and roundworm eggs. converted to heat, often raising the temperature to The use of excreta as an aquatic fertilizer is also more than 70°C. No objectionable odor shoulddiscussed below under ‘Aqua-culture.’ given off if the material is not saturated with water and is frequently turned.Composting For optimum value to plants, the ratio ofSolid waste (sludge) from pit latrines and sewage- available carbon to nitrogen in compost should betreatment plants can be a valuable resource for about 20:1. In the composting process carbon isfarmers as an organic fertilizer and soil conditioner, used by the bacteria, so the best raw material forprovided that it has been allowed to properly composting has a higher carbon:nitrogen ratio, saydecompose and contains no pathogens. Solids about 30:1. The carbon: nitrogen ratio of nightsoilfrom a pit latrine should be innocuous if the latrine is about 6:1, of fresh vegetable waste around 20:1,has not been used for two years or so; although this and of dry straw over 100:1. Thus, by 98
  • 113. Chapter 4: Sanitation and Wasteappropriately adjusting the mixture, the most pour-flush latrine serves several thousand peopleoptimum balance can be achieved. It is rarely and generates sufficient energy to light a 4-kmpractical to determine the carbon:nitrogen ratio by length of road. However, most plants, of whichchemical analysis; a good operator learns to judge there are more than 7 million in China (Li, 1984),what mix of materials will produce the best are dependent on animal excreta with whichcompost. human excreta are processed. A medium-sized Absence of an unpleasant smell and absence of buffalo or cow provides about twenty times asflies also indicate satisfactory aerobic composting. much gas as a person. The minimum feed is thatAn experienced operator can check that all is well from one cow and a family of people, although it isfrom the appearance of the composting material. It more usual to add excreta from at least four cows.should look moist, but not so wet that liquid seeps In China it is customary to produce biogas fromout. While aerobic stabilization is progressing the the excreta of pigs.appearance will change from day to day. During Excreta are often mixed with straw or othercomposting the volume is reduced by 40-80% and vegetable waste, such as that used for animalthe weight by 20-50%. bedding, and equal quantities of water added to The key to successful sterilization is to raise the make a slurry. This is fed to the inlet side of thetemperature of the mixture sufficiently high to kill chamber. Effluent slurry is removed after aany pathogens. At high temperatures there is rapid retention time of 30-50 days. Biogas production isdestruction of pathogenic bacteria and protozoa, greater at higher temperatures; for example, atworm eggs and weed seeds. All fecal 30°C the rate of gas generation is about twice thatmicroorganisms, including enteric viruses and at 25°C, and little gas is produced if theroundworm eggs, will die if the temperature temperature is below 15°C.exceeds 46 °C for one week. Fly eggs, larvae and After processing, the effluent slurry can bepupae are also killed at these temperature. dried in the open and used as a fertilizer. Tests of compost during and after stabilization Retention of excreta in biogas tanks results inshow whether the process is going well and the death of many pathogens, includingwhether the finished product is suitable for Schistosoma eggs. A few hookworm eggs survive,agricultural use. Except in a large mechanical and there is high survival of roundworm eggs.composting plant, the condition of the compost is Thus, proper care must be taken when handlinggauged by simple methods. It is reasonable to the effluent from the process.assume that pathogenic organisms will be killed ifthe temperature rises above 65°C. This can be Use in Aquacultureconfirmed by poking an iron bar or wooden stick The practice of depositing excreta into fish pondsinto the heap and pulling it out after about ten or tanks is also a common practice in some areas.minutes. It should then be too hot to hold. The In some places, latrines are placed immediatelytemperature falls when stabilization is complete. over or alongside ponds (not used for drinking Once stable, the mixture has been aerobically water); elsewhere nightsoil is tipped from carts,digested and has become humus and poses far tankers or buckets. Nutrients in excreta result in aslighter health risks. rich algal growth, which encourages aerobic conditions and provides food for certain fish.Biogas Production Carp and tilapia are especially suitable for suchThe search for alternative sources of energy has led ponds, but a variety of fish species may coexist,to widespread use of organic waste to produce a some feeding on large algae, some on small algae,combustible fuel which can be used for domestic some on zooplankton; some prefer the bottomcooking. Basically, biogas production requires an layer, some the top. Fish are usually netted forair-tight chamber in which excreta are fermented. human consumption, but in some places they areThe gas produced contains about 60% methane, dried and ground up for feed for poultry oralso known as natural gas. The ‘biogas’ is collected animals. Ducks may also be kept on the the top of the chamber, from which a pipe leads There are three health risks associated with fishto domestic appliances or to flexible storage farming in ponds that receive excreta:containers. • Pathogens may be transmitted on the body A few biogas plants operate entirely on human surfaces or in the intestines of the fish withoutexcreta. For example, in Patna, India a 24-seat causing overt disease in the fish; the pathogens 99
  • 114. Listening To The Earth may then be passed to people handling the fish. not be disposed with household wastewater. Refer• Helminths, particularly flukes, may be to the last assessment in this chapter to evaluate transmitted to people who eat infected fish that your community’s handling of hazardous has not been properly cooked. chemicals and wastes.• Helminths with intermediate hosts (such as Schistosoma with water snails) may continue Conventional Deep and Shallow their life cycle in ponds. (Condominium) Sewerage (The WHO publication, ‘Guidelines for the Safe Use of These systems require a great deal of capital toWastewater and Excreta in Agriculture and Aquaculture,’ gives build and maintain. Similarly, they require that afurther useful information about utilizing this natural resource. large, relatively continuous volume of water flowFurther information may be found about using excreta as a through the system to function properly. Shallowresource at the end of this chapter. In addition, several of the sewerage is a bit less capital intensive, but stillgeneral resources found in the back of this manual contain requires ‘full flush’ toilets to keep the system fromtechnical and educational material regarding biogas digestion, clogging.composting, and aquaculture.) If your community has such a sewer connection, it is important to ascertain that eachOur community strives to recover the useful value of our drain is protected from receiving dry waste (i.e.excreta. screens and drain covers) and that all toilets are 123456789 functioning correctly. No sewer gas or odors should be present near any drain. All pipes should have5. Sewer Network sealed threads and should not have any holes, cracks, or other leaks. If your community isSewerage systems are designed to collect excreta responsible for underground sewer pipes that areand domestic wastewater and transport them away on the property, these should be checked for leaksfrom homes to a treatment and/or disposal point. or stoppages on a regular basis.Sewer systems are an attractive option becausethey can greatly improve the sanitary conditions of Small Bore/Settled Seweragea household while requiring little maintenance for Small-bore (or ‘settled’) sewerage is a system thatproper operation. Nevertheless, such flush-and- is designed to receive only the liquid fraction ofdischarge systems make the problems of sanitation household wastewater. The small-bore sewermuch worse, as they allow relatively small amounts system consists of a house connection, anof material to pollute large amounts of water. interceptor tank, sewers, cleanouts/manholes, All sewerage systems require water for flushing vents, sewage treatment plant, and lift stations (ifwaste away. Conventional sewerage requires the there is no gravity flow). The system is mostmost. It is also a high-cost sanitation option; it is appropriate in areas that already have septic tanksusually deep-laid and must be maintained by but where the soil cannot (or can no longer) absorbprofessional staff. A small bore sewer works on the effluent, or where land-use is so great that theredifferent principles from conventional sewerage is no room for, and does not require high-volume flush The solid components of the waste, whichtoilets to operatre. Nevertheless, these still require settle, are kept in an interceptor tank (basically awater for proper function. single-compartment septic tank) which needs All sewerage systems should end in a treatment periodic desludging. Because the sewers onlyprocess or plant, as the raw faeces they carry receive the liquid sewage, they are designedrepresent a significant public health risk. differently from conventional sewers and have the In any sewerage system, care should especially following advantages:be taken to not dispose of hazardous or toxic • the system needs less water because solids arechemicals into the sewer drains. Such chemicals not transported;could be medicines, pesticides and herbicides • excavation costs are reduced because the pipeswhich are no longer used, excess solvents, paints can be laid at shallow depths and do not needand other household chemicals. These substances to maintain self-cleansing velocity;can corrode sewer pipes and seriously affect • material costs are reduced because the diameteroperation of treatment plants. They will also limit of the pipes can be small (peak flow isthe potential of water reuse, and therefore should attenuated by the interceptor tanks) and there 100
  • 115. Chapter 4: Sanitation and Waste is no need for large manholes; untreated sewage. Unfortunately, this is not always• treatment requirements are reduced because the the case, and far too often the raw sewage ends up solids are kept in the interceptor tanks. being dumped straight into waterways. This The main operational requirement for the practice wreaks havoc on both the wildlife andcommunity is to ensure that no solids can enter the human populations that depend upon thesystem and that the interceptor tank functions downstream water. Thus, it would helpful toproperly. Maintenance of the system requires determine if your local sewage is treated beforeregular removal of the sludge from the interceptor being released back into the environment.tank; this regular expense should be included in It is common practice in many areas to releaseyour community’s main budget. sewage into the environment, untreated, as a Systemic maintenance tasks may also include means of agriculture irrigation. Unfortunately, thisthe removal of blockages, regular control of sewage practice is quite unacceptable. The use of untreatedpipes, and periodic flushing. The performance of wastewater in agriculture or aquaculture poses highaccessories in the pipeline system such as health risks to farmers and consumers alike. In thecleanouts, manholes, (possible) lift stations, and interests of public health, only treated wastewater shouldventilation points should be regularly checked and ever be reused. Poor irrigation practices withmaintained (although these tasks are generally the untreated or partially treated wastewater severelyresponsibility of the body in the larger community impact the quality and safety of groundwater inwhich is responsible for the operation of the shallow aquifers and surface waters that maysystem). supply drinking water. If your community’s sewage is treated beforeParty Responsible for Sewerage being released, this process may be overseen by theIf your community does not process its own same party that is responsible for the seweragewastewater, it is important that you be aware of the system, but it need not be. Thus, begin bygroup who is responsible for the maintenance and determining who the party responsible foradministration of your sewer network. Since wastewater treatment is. By contacting them, yousewage is both an environmental and health should be able to determine the strengths andhazard, it would be helpful to assess the integrity limitations of the treatment process.of your local sewerage system by contacting the Treated wastes should not contain pathogensparty responsible for its operation. (bacteria, viruses, helminths or protozoa). Properly You should also be prepared to contact them if operated sewage-treatment plants should produceyour community discovers a leak or a blockage in treated effluent of good enough quality for use inthe system. Furthermore, your community can irrigation or fish-breeding ponds. The operator ofserve the larger community by being involved in the sewage-treatment plant or the local healththe workings of the sewerage system: as body should carry out regular monitoring to ensureadministrative help, as a source of ideas for that the quality of the treated effluent is safe. Youimprovement, or in a variety of other ways. should be able to obtain the results of such tests, if they are performed.Our community regularly implements all necessary Of primary importance is the microbial qualityoperational and maintenance protocols required for of any sewage effluent. That is, the microscopicsustainable operation of our sewer system. pathogenic organisms pose the greatest danger to 123456789 public health. Nutrient pollution is also a major concern; thatOur sewer system is managed with good governance is, the organic content of the wastewater greatlyprinciples, that reflect our community values. increases the nutrients available to aquatic plants. 123456789 This causes overgrowth conditions which choke other life from the water. This process is called6. Wastewater Treatment eutrophication and is signified by an explosion of algae populations, often called an ‘algae bloom.’All sewerage systems should end at a wastewater Chemical contamination is also a consideration.treatment facility so that surface water and Industrial effluent may contain chemicals harmfulgroundwater sources are not contaminated and to health or the environment, such as heavycommunities are not exposed to health risks from metals. If industrial sewage is mixed with domestic 101
  • 116. Listening To The Earthsewage, the resultant effluent is a highly toxic mix, technologies can achieve protection of publicand is considerably more difficult to treat. health and the environment, and can recycle waterIndustrial discharges should be pretreated by the and nutrients, which are beneficial to sustainingindustry itself to prevent toxic chemicals from ecosystems and life.entering any treatment facility—or worse, from There are a variety of such treatment processes,being released untreated into the environment. and the selection of them depends on the types ofSometimes untreated sewage is used to irrigate pollutants found in the wastewater. Sewagefields. Although this is quite a hazardous practice treatment options may be classified into groups ofin itself, the inclusion of hazardous chemicals in processes according to the function they performthe effluent poses additional health risks to and their complexity:consumers, and the repeated application of solid or • Preliminary treatment: this includes simpleliquid wastes to fields will cause chemical build-up processes such as screening (usually by barin soils, leading to long-term problems for water screens) and grit removal. (throughresources. constant velocity channels) to remove the Wastewater treatment can be accomplished gross solid pollution.either through high-cost ‘conventional’ treatment • Primary treatment: usually plainsystems, through a series of waste stabilization sedimentation; simple settlement of theponds (or lagoons), or a combination of methods. solid material in sewage can reduce theIn addition, there are some other rather polluting load by significant amounts.experimental methods of treatment, like deep well • Secondary treatment: for further treatmentinjection, but they are unrefined and won’t be and removal of common pollutants, usuallydiscussed further. (There is little that is by a biological process.‘conventional’ about the highly technical and • Tertiary treatment: usually for removal ofexpensive means of sewage treatment labeled as specific pollutants e.g. nitrogen orsuch, aside from the fact these processes have been phosphorous. In lakes and sensitive waterthe favored responses of scientists and engineers in environments the removal of nutrientsplaces like the United States and Europe for should be undertaken with a tertiaryseveral decades now.) treatment process to prevent algae blooms and eutrophication.Below, conventional and stabilization pondmethods are each briefly reviewed. Stabilization Ponds Waste stabilization ponds require more land, but‘Conventional’ Sewage Treatment are cheaper, easier to operate and maintain, andWhile the Earth has a natural purification process, need fewer trained staff than other treatmentthe natural purification capacity of the systems. The final water from waste stabilizationenvironment is limited. For example, even when ponds can be very good if the ponds are properlywastewater is disposed into the ocean, the area maintained, as wetlands are nature’s time-testedsurrounding the outfall can be sufficiently polluted and preferred method of purifying wastes andand the pollutants (including pathogens) can be recycling nutrients.washed towards the beaches. Thus, technical Without proper maintenance, however, theprocesses have been developed to theoretically quality of the final effluent may be poor and stillaugment and accelerate the natural purification pose considerable risks to health if it is used forprocess. irrigation. Thus, it is most important that the Conventional water treatment technologies operators of the ponds are well educated as to theinclude physical, chemical and biological processes proper operation of the ponds and the biologicalwhich fuction to remove pathogens and pollutants processing occuring within them.from the water. These processes are somewhat akin In usual configurations, sewage flows through ato the purification and recycling processes taking series of ponds where the solid and liquid wastesplace in nature, although they generally produce undergo natural breakdown processes, includingconcentrated hazardous residues that are not microbial activity.produced by nature (at least in concentrated Usually, at least two ponds are used, and moreform). Nevertheless, properly designed, commonly three. The ponds must be constructedconstructed, maintained and operated, these to a size that can handle the volume of wastewater 102
  • 117. Chapter 4: Sanitation and Wastebrought in by the sewer system by retaining it long location and may breed there, causing a healthenough for purification. hazard. Wastewater in stabilization ponds tends to have Facilities should be located within a reasonablea high organic content and can serve as breeding walking distance from common areas, and shouldsites for Culex mosquitoes that transmit lymphatic be well marked so that their use is encouraged.filariasis and other infections. The ponds shouldtherefore be sited well away from human Our community models hygienic behaviors byhabitation, at least beyond the flying distance of incorporating proper practices into our standardthe mosquitoes (over a kilometre with wind protocols.assistance). 123456789Health and Environmental Impacts of Wastewater 8. General Sanitation PracticesPollutants • Pathogens (bacteria, viruses, protozoa) can Diseases from poor sanitation and hygiene are very cause life-threatening infections in humans common in Latin America, as they are elsewhere— and other wildlife, both directly and especially in economically disadvantaged areas that indirectly through insects. have no infrastructure for handling wastewater. • Toxic compounds and elements (organic Fortunately, most of the danger can be alleviated compounds from pesticides and industrial by changing people’s behaviors where they relate processes, heavy metals from metal to sanitation and hygiene. Simply incorporating finishing, tanning, etc.) may cause cancers, the use of toilets and handwashing has repeatedly birth defects, miscarriages, and damage to reduced disease burdens by significant amounts in various organs. many areas. If your larger community is not well • Suspended solids may increase the cost of educated about hygienic behaviors, perhaps it water treatment, reduce the attractiveness would be possible for your religious community to of water bodies, and inhibit the growth of conduct educational campaigns. Further aquatic plant and animal life. information regarding hygiene education can be • Nitrogen at high concentrations may cause obtained from the Pan American Health methemoglobinemia. Organization, and other organizations working for • Nitrogen, phosphorus, and high BOD public health. Consult the resources listed at the (biological oxygen demand) wastes may end of this chapter for more information. cause oxygen depletion in water bodies and The most important thing your community can consequent damage to aquatic life. do is to model sustainable sanitation practices. This means first adequately maintaining theOur sewage is treated sufficiently to release zero sanitation system that you have, which includespollution into the environment. ensuring that financial requirements of the system 123456789 are met. Beyond that, your community should strive to have the least environmental impact as7. Hygienic Behaviors possible, by conserving water and by not mixing and reusing excrete.While having sanitation facilities is the most But, perhaps the most important thing thatimportant element of safely dealing with human your community can do towards increasing theexcreta, it is not the only requirement. Your sustainability of sanitation practices is to getcommunity should also keep the facilities hygenic informed, stay informed, and to educate othersby regularly cleaning and sanitizing them, so that about sanitation. This means getting to know therefuse and fecal matter are not able to collect local sanitation situation, what the currentwithin them. Furthermore, behavioral protocols practices are, what dangers are inherent to thelike keeping the door shut (if an outdoor facility), current practices, what other options exist, whatand washing hands after each use are both alternatives have proven successful elsewhere, andimportant to ensure safe sanitation practices. how changes can be effected locally. Performing If the toilet is allowed to collect waste or the this assessment is a great first step, but your effortsdoor is left open, pests such as flies and other should not end here. As mentioned in thedisease-spreading insects are attracted to the Introduction to this chapter, current sanitation 103
  • 118. Listening To The Earthpractices are tantamount to a global crisis, and If you found that problems exist, list them below:alternatives must be created and implemented for Category (I-III)a sustainable and healthy human and animal Problem 1population. In the best case, many communitieswill engage in this challenge and will create severaldiverse and creative ways of overcoming thisproblem.In general, our community strives to make oursanitation systems ecological and sustainable. Problem 2 123456789ConclusionsNow enter the scores from each section in the column at Problem 3right score2 Soil and ground conditions3 Community operative knowledge Problem 4 of system3 Operation and maintenance of system3 Water conservation3 Ground and surface water protection Problem 54 Resource recovery5 Sewer: maintenance & operation requirements5 Sewer management Now categorize each problem listed above into one6 Waste water treatment of the following three categories: I = Critically important. Currently dangerous,7 Hygenic behaviors must be addressed immediately II = Important, but not immediately dangerous.8 Ecological and sustainable sanitation Must be addressed III = Current practice should be improved, but is not immediately neededNow that you have comprehensively examined yourexcreta handling and sanitation measures, how wouldyou rate, overall, your community’s practices in theseregards? Excellent / Satisfactory / Poor / Critically deficient 104
  • 119. Chapter 4: Sanitation and Waste Community Solid Waste As a consequence, the mixed wastes usually end up Management: Assessment in dumps which are hazards both to the health of local populations, and to nature’s ecology. Once in dumps, the poorest of society risk their health byPreserving the Gifts of Garbage separating, sorting, and selling the ‘waste’ products of value.In general, ‘waste’ is defined as materials or objects It is in this context that the need to seekthat have no use, or that have become dangerous effective solutions for waste management and finalto the humans that own or produce it. ‘Solid waste disposal is an imperative’ refers to the system of practices thateither recycles, treats, destroys, or otherwise The Inherent Dangers of Solid Waste‘disposes’ of waste products, specifically thoseother than excreta and wastewater. Basically, the The most obvious environmental effect of‘solid waste’ referred to in this section pertains to inadequate solid waste management is thethose items generally considered ‘refuse,’ ‘trash,’ aesthetic deterioration of both urban and rural‘garbage;’ and includes food scraps, textiles, tools, landscapes. The degradation of the naturalappliances, packaging, etc. Refer to the last section landscape caused by uncontrolled waste disposal isof this chapter for a closer look at handling increasing. Open dumps and other piles of garbagehazardous materials. have become an increasingly common sight Below is a chart that briefly describes the throughout Latin America.different types of solid waste typically produced by On the other hand, the most serious impact ona Latin American population. (‘MSW= municipal the environment, although perhaps less apparent,solid waste’ in column three) is the pollution of surface and ground waters. Sustainable solid waste management consists of Water pollution results from solid wastes throwna series of activities linked with the control of into surface waters like rivers and seas and alsowaste generation, segregation, presentation, from the leachate produced by the decompositionstorage, collection, hauling, sweeping, treatment, of solid wastes in open dumps. The pollution ofand final disposal that are carried out in such a way groundwater (also known as the water table oras to harmonize with the best principles of public aquifer) calls for special attention sincehealth, economy, engineering, and aesthetics and groundwater is often the water source for largealso to meet public expectations. Put simply, populations. Contamination of groundwatersustainable waste management means that we should be avoided as it may cause adverse healthneed to produce less waste, recycle as much as we impacts and/or high treatment costs forcan, and, we must safeguard our environment from restoration.damage resulting from waste disposal. The disposal of solid waste in surface waters, An important aspect to consider about the like rivers and streams causes the death of fish,concept of waste is that it consists of items that produces bad odors, and detracts from the naturalhave lost their value to one person or group of beauty of the aquatic environment. Suchpeople. While certainly not always the case, often consequences have discouraged the use of surfaceenough, something that is ‘trash’ to one person is waters as sources of drinking water, sites for(or can become) a useful product to another. Since bathing, or for recreation in many regions of Latinthe preservation of God’s gifts (i.e. our natural America and the Caribbean.resources) is preferable to wasting them, the heart Another important albeit indirect risk is theof a sustainable waste management system should proliferation of animals that are carriers of micro-include a network of connections between people organisms, and that transmit diseases to people.and industries that produce ‘waste’ materials and These animals, known as vectors, include flies,those that can utilize them. mosquitoes, rats, and cockroaches. As well as Unfortunately, most managment efforts are not feeding on the solid wastes, the vectors find in thepresently able to cope with the tremendous volume garbage a favorable environment for reproductionof waste produced by humanity today. and it becomes a breeding ground for theCompounding this problem is the fact that when transmission of diseases, from a simple diarrhea todifferent types of wastes are mixed, they lose much severe cases of typhoid or other more seriousof their potential commercial, or recyclable, value. illnesses. 105
  • 120. Listening To The EarthFlies RatsTheir reproductive cycle varies according to the Rats have accompanied the human species over thetemperature. A fly can reach adulthood in 8-20 centuries, and have always been regarded as one ofdays and it can fly up to 10 km in 24 hours. It the world’s worst pests. In addition to transmittingreproduces in moist human and animal excreta serious diseases—eptospirosis, salmonellosis,(farms, badly built latrines, open defecation, typhus, bubonic plague, and parasitism—they alsotreatment sludge, garbage, etc.). It is estimated attack and bite human beings. Rats may seriouslythat one kilogram of organic matter serves for the damage the electric and telephone urbanreproduction of some 70,000 flies. infrastructure by peeling and eating the network Refuse is the main source of reproduction of the cables, thereby causing fires. They also contributehousefly, which transmits diseases and is to the deterioration and contamination of food.responsible for millions of deaths worldwide. The They reproduce quickly; they have from six tokey to protection against the housefly is, therefore, twelve pups per litter and a couple of rats maythe proper storage, collection, and final sanitary have up to 10 thousand offspring per year.disposal of garbage in sanitary landfills.Cockroaches The Waste Crisis: A Burden Borne by the PoorThese insects have existed for 350 million years.Given their extraordinary resistance to most The poor management of solid waste is a probleminsecticides and ability to adapt to any in most cities and small urban communities, but itenvironment, they are believed to be the only is a growing problem throughout rural regions asliving beings capable of surviving a nuclear war. well. The serious problems caused by inadequateThey live around garbage bins, on kitchen shelves, solid waste management are common, to a greaternear the dining room table, and in bathrooms. or lesser degree, throughout most of Latin AmericaThey feed on wastes and at night they walk on and the Caribbean. Among the many factorsfood, and sleeping animals or human beings aggravating these problems are: rapid populationcontaminating them with their vomit and growth and high concentration of the populationexcrement. They transmit more than 70 diseases. in urban areas, industrial development, changes inNearly 8% of the human population are allergic to eating habits, and the increased use of packagingcockroaches and develop serious respiratory materials.diseases when exposed to places frequented by The growth of human settlement and urbanthese vermin. Although the cockroach is one of the density has resulted in increased waste production,oldest and most repulsive insects, health and such that today greater than 300,000 tons per dayhygiene problems associated with this pest are generated by the urban populations of Latincontinue to affect us and are even on the increase. America and the Caribbean. Activities producing solid waste in Latin America and the Caribbean Generating activities Components % of total MSW Residential Kitchen waste, paper and cardboard, plastics, glass, metals, 50-75 textiles, garden trimmings, soil, etc. Commercial: warehouses, offices, Paper, cardboard, plastics, wood, food wastes, glass, metals, 10-20 markets, restaurants, hotels, and others special and hazardous wastes Institutional: public ofices, schools, Similar to commercial 5-15 universities, public services, and others Industrial (small and cottage industries): Industrial waste, scrap iron, etc. This heading also includes 5-30 manufacturing, clothing and shoe inustries, food wastes, ashes, rubble from building and demolition tailor’s shops, carpenter’s workshops, etc. work, and special and hazardous waste Street sweeping Waste left in public areas by pedestrians, dirt, leaves, excreta, 10-20 etc. 106
  • 121. Chapter 4: Sanitation and Waste The economic crises and institutional generally located in these areas where the poorestweaknesses experienced by many governments in members of the community live, compounding thethe region have also had a negative influence upon deterioration of all conditions, and in consequencewaste management. Governments are pressured by causing property prices to drop, and jeopardizingtheir debt obligations to reduce spending on the development of the town or city.domestic services, while at the same time they are Of particular note regarding solid waste and thepressured to maintain low tariffs for public poor, is the case of waste pickers (or informalcleaning services by the population. In addition, recyclers) and their families that live in, on, andinsufficient education on hygiene and sanitation, around the garbage heaps found near urban areas.and a lack of community involvement contribute Because of hard economic conditions andto a great reluctance on the part of the population accelerated rural migration, many families struggleto pay for waste management and disposal to cope by harvesting, utilizing, and selling theservices. The often poor quality of these services resources contained in the waste. These familiesfurther aggravates the problem. This whole often live in extremely unsafe and degradingsituation places public health at risk, increases the conditions. Aside from the serious risks to theirpollution of natural resources, and leads to a health from the hazardous and medical wastes todeterioration in the life quality of the population. which they are exposed, such environments are Unlike the affluent areas wherein regular pick- particularly rife with violence, including fights withup services routinely collect household refuse, knives and guns, as well as traffic accidents.there are still many neighbourhoods where garbage Despite these grave risks, the recycling that theyis not collected. In poor neighborhoods it rots in do provides a valuable service to the economy andthe streets, thereby providing a breeding site for the environment. Thus, an improvement of theirflies, mosquitoes, rats and other disease-carrying conditions is in the interests of both environmentalpests, blocks street drains and causes flooding, or it and social burned and increases urban air pollution levels.Many of the affected households are located in Final Disposalpoor peri-urban communities where municipal The state of final disposal services at the presenttrucks cannot enter because streets are too narrow. time in Latin America provides perhaps the mostThese populations that have settled on the convincing evidence of the inadequacy of theoutskirts of large cities are usually affected by both current solid waste management situation in thesethe absence of a refuse collection service, and the countries. Only about 60% of the solid wastepresence of garbage dumps. Open dumps are collected from the principal cities of Latin America Vector-borne diseases associated with municipal waste Vectors Transmission routes Main diseases Bubonic plague Bites, urine, feces Rats Murine typhus Fleas Leptospirosis Typhoid fever Salmonellosis Flies Mechanical route (wings, feet and body) Cholera Amebiasis Dysentery Giardasis Malaria Lishmaniasis Mosquitoes Female mosquito bites Yellow fever Dengue Filariasis Typhoid fever Feces Cockroaches Mechanical route (wings, feet and body) Cholera Giardasis Cysticercosis Toxoplasmosis Pigs Ingestion of contaminated meat Trichinosis Taeniasis Birds Feces Toxoplasmosis Source: Departamento de Engenharia Sanitaria e Ambiental, DESA/UPMG 107
  • 122. Listening To The Earthis treated and/or disposed of in accordance with this case, the recycling bins were placed by amodern technical and public health standards. specific glass manufacturer, which also carried outThis corresponds to only about 35% of the total a public education program. The other experienceswaste generated in the region. The rest normally have not been as successful, mostly because of theends up in unregulated open dumps which fail to lack of public education on the benefits of thismeet even the minimum criteria for environmental, and which are permanent sources of Only a few organisations, usually NGOs orcontamination and health risk. The situation in development aid organisations, act to supportsmall and medium-sized cities is worse: rough those involved in informal recovery or recycling.estimates are that no more than 20% of the waste The municipalities usually take no responsibilityproduced in these municipalities is being treated. for these activities despite the role which theyAgain, it is usually the waste generated by the could be playing to stimulate source separation, topoorest people which is handled improperly. reduce the volume of waste requiring disposal, and Even where controlled landfills do exist, to conserve natural resources.leachates from these landfills are generally allowed Nevertheless, in some cases the conditions ofto seep unrestricted into the ground, or to flow waste pickers have been improved through theirdirectly into irrigation ditches or surface streams organization and training. The most notablewithout any treatment. experiences are found in Colombia, but a number of other countries (Argentina, Brazil, Panama,Recovery and Recycling Peru, and Venezuela) have followed suit. RecyclingRecovery and recycling are usually not considered organizations have led to the formation ofto be part of the formal waste management system cooperatives or small-scale enterprises. In all cases,in Latin America, as they have come to be in some the organizations have been promoted by outsidecountries, and as such they are still perceived as institutions such as NGOs or the local solid wastebeing completely outside of public or municipal authority (the best cases for this can be observedresponsibility. In many cases, in an ostensible in Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre, Brazil, and ineffort to protect the public’s health, these activities Mexico City). In the Brazilian cases, the wastehave been forbidden and the violators punished, authority has provided a site where those in chargedespite the fact that waste picking allows vast of recycling can carry out their work. This is alsosectors of the urban population to generate the case for Mexico City, where a recycling plantsubsistence income. Between 50,000-100,000 that processes more than 3,200 tons per year haspeople, often assisted by their families, are been installed. In both cases, all revenues go toestimated to be involved in largely informal those who separate the material, while therecovery and recycling activities in the principal municipal authority benefits by increasing thecities alone. lifetime of the landfill and reducing the Nevertheless, there is a growing trend toward transportation time to the landfill.resource recovery and recycling, particularly withinlarger industries. Large scale recycling programs of Public Educationnon-hazardous industrial solid wastes have been In spite of the general deficiencies in urbanestablished in Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela. services, there are few existing educationalWastes (mostly paper, cardboard, bottles, plastics programmes which seek to reduce, prevent, orand ferrous metals) are separated in the industrial minimise the generation of solid waste at source.premises and sold to specialized private recyclers. Unfortunately, product advertising activelyIn Colombia, this program resulted from a promotes a shift to less recyclable products andcooperative effort to find jobs for former landfill packages. Many supermarkets and commercialwaste pickers. Generally, except for plastics, this establishments seem to confuse the term ‘modern’type of recycling is profitable and environmentally with ‘disposable packaging.’ Only a fewadequate. organisations have attempted to address this trend In some large Argentine, Brazilian, Colombian, and to increase public understanding of andand Mexican cities, recycling bins have been set up conduct towards a more environmentally soundoutside supermarkets, where glass and paper approach to ‘modernization.’products can be deposited. The most successful Nevertheless, there is a trend toward theexperience is that of glass recycling in Colombia. In development of environmental awareness in 108
  • 123. Chapter 4: Sanitation and Wastechildren. The underlying concept here is that the inability to invest in and operate basic sanitarymost important target group in public education is landfills. Municipalities in Latin America generallychildren, and that schools can be the avenue to lack the managerial, technical, and financialteach them. Thus, environmental awareness, capacities necessary to adequately administer solidincluding proper handling of solid waste, is waste services. Departments in charge of solidincreasingly incorporated as part of the elementary waste management are generally of lower rank inschool curriculum. The programs include the administrative hierachy, and staff lack thedevelopment of textbooks, teacher training, and appropriate technical background, while resourceshands-on activities. The latter mainly concentrate for capacity enhancement (such as training) areon recycling, but also deal with environmental slim. In addition, high staff turnover following thehealth education. These activities also aim to be local elections contributes to these difficulties.financially self-sustaining; income from the sale of Moreover, solid waste management generally ranksrecycled products is used to improve the sanitation as a lower priority than, for example, water supplysystems in the schools and, in some cases, to and sanitation services, and therefore receives evenpurchase teaching materials. less attention and budget. In general, one can say that far too manyContributions to the Mismanagement of Waste municipalities have failed to reach minimum levels of institutional, administrative and economicConsidered broadly, there are a number of root capacities, and are far behind in attainingcauses for the solid waste management crisis in technically adequate waste handling procedures.general, and its acuteness in poor communities in Most municipal waste management or publicparticular. The most important are: works organizations are severely limited in their• accelerated urban growth, which outstrips the ability to offer service. It is not exaggerating to capacity of the state (as represented by characterise as deficient virtually all the services municipal government) to meet the needs of related to waste management in many Latin the steadily increasing population for basic American countries. urban services;• the growing quantity of waste generated each What’s Being Done? day;• the economic crises of Latin America, which Solid waste management is a growing result in the reduction of public expenditure, environmental and social problem in the urban which in turn has a negative effect on municipal areas of Latin America, despite many well- budgets; motivated attempts at solutions in recent decades.• the structural inability of municipal There are only a few municipalities in the region corporations to adequately offer this and other which have been able to adequately manage the services, due in part to the obsolescence of the accelerated production of urban waste. political systems which support them; Although a series of formal, largely imported• the generally high cost of solid waste services, as solutions ostensibly aimed at technology transfer they are normally conceived, compounded by and institutional capacity-building have been inadequate or non-existent systems for tested in Latin America in the last fifteen years, the collection of service fees, and the lack of products of these efforts—sewers, wastewater willingness of the population to pay for solid plants, landfills, and etc.—have yielded little waste management services. progress in spite of the large investments made,• the population’s indifference to the problem, and debt incurred. which is exacerbated by a lack of public health Despite these failures, or perhaps because of education or access to civic or political them, significant sectors of the Latin American participation. population are seeking to invent effectiveThe structural difficulties of the municipalities alternatives to waste management problemsstand out among these causes. While the through their own direct and active participationmunicipalities theoretically fulfill the principal in solving the problems. They are opting to takefunctions of operating, regulating, and supervising responsibility for urban waste managementthe range of activities related to urban waste services into their own hands. This has led to anmanagement, shrinking budgets have led to an increase in the efforts of collectives, cooperatives, 109
  • 124. Listening To The Earthnon-governmental organizations and the private opportunities for stakeholders to activelysector businesses—both small and large—to take participate in waste management operations.on in increasing measure of what is, theoretically,municipal work and responsibility, despite a Community Actiongeneralized lack of municipal support oracknowledgment. Why do the solid waste problems in Latin America In many ways, this arrangement is preferable resist solution? Why do the negative effects of thebecause it requires that a community take situation fall so heavily on the poor? In any case, itownership of, and responsibility for its own waste is indispensable for municipalities, otherproduction and disposal. However, any serious institutions, and citizens to tackle the issue of solidanalysis of the solid waste problem in Latin waste management decisively and pragmatically.America must look past the deficiencies in service The population must be educated about theto the persistent marginalisation of the poor, who significance of properly handling waste, and thererepeatedly are brought to suffer the most. One can must be an environment within which creativesay without exaggerating that the lowest income solutions to the waste management problems aresectors bear the brunt of the solid waste problem, encouraged.even though the other sectors generate far more To be effective, implementing best practices inwaste. solid waste management requires action within both your religious and larger community levels.Legislative Efforts Community members should decide howNorms and regulations applying to solid waste important solid waste management is andmanagement are often unclear, contested among determine the best ways to achieve waste-various entities, and woefully inadequate. In management goals.addition, current legislation often lacks adequate The following assessment is meant to help yourorganisation and/or clear jurisdictional authority community identify aspects of your present solidfor formulating and enforcing legal requirements. waste management practices that could beA variety of government entities tend to be improved. Furthermore, it will hopefully guide youinvolved in establishing and managing the legal in the development and implementation of betterframework surrounding and affecting solid waste Nevertheless, in the last several years, thelegislative and constitutional context for urbanservices has changed significantly in some areas,including Bolivia and Colombia. In Bolivia,legislation has been altered in recent years tofacilitate the participation of community basedorganisations in the provision of public services. Community Solid WasteHere, the Public Participation Law (Ley de Management: InventoryParticipación Popular) anticipates improvementsin the system of oversight, control and evaluationthrough assigning neighborhood and regional The following assessment pertains to the solid wastes thatorganisations and community committees the your community produces with the exception of humanpower to monitor, document, and budget the excreta, as this subject was covered in the previousquality of the public services, including those assessment. Similarly, further attention to specificoffered by the small enterprises and cooperatives. hazardous wastes is given in the next assessment.In Colombia the newly formed constitutionstrongly promotes decentralisation and citizen 1. Community Waste Generation Surveyparticipation, while a separate law regulating theparticipation of the private sector also permits In the space provided below, create a list of solid wasterecycling cooperatives to compete for public generating sources, i.e. ‘waste streams’ (excludingcontracts for the implementation of waste excreta) within your community. (For example,management operations. ‘Kitchen/food preparation,’ ‘residents’ trash,’ These new laws have created enhanced ‘housekeeping,’ etc.) 110
  • 125. Chapter 4: Sanitation and Waste Now, for each waste stream (source of waste) listed 1. above, using the table below as an example,___________________________________________ perform an extensive waste inventory for the duration of one week, as follows: 2. 1. Notify the affected members of your___________________________________________ community that a waste audit will be conducted throughout the week. Request them not to dispose 3. of their waste before you (or your team) has a___________________________________________ chance to inventory and record the contents. 2. Plan your method of collecting, sorting, 4. inventorying, and recording the waste contents.___________________________________________ Make sure to keep the waste streams separate until inventoried. 5. 3. Record, into a table similar to the one below,___________________________________________ the contents of the waste each day, being as specific as you find to be reasonable. However, try 6. your best not to combine wastes of different___________________________________________ material composition (e.g. metal and plastic) into (Partial) Waste Inventory Table (example only) (revise the list of waste components in this table according to the waste components present in your waste stream) Waste Stream #1 (Kitchen) Waste Stream #2 (Residential)Waste Component M T W Th F Sa Su Sum M T W Th F Sa Su Sum TotalsCardboardOrganicStyrofoamPaperRubberRopePlastic Bottles (PET)GlassIron/ SteelPlastic container (PP)BatterieAlum. CansFabricWoodCigarrette buttsEtc. total total 111
  • 126. Listening To The Earththe same category. If possible, record the weight of Waste component:the contents. If you are not able to directlymeasure weight, it may be helpful to create some Waste sources containing this component:form(s) of standardized measuring unit(s) (e.g. a2cm. ball of plastic wrap; a 2cm. square of Quantity community produces per week (kg):cardboard, etc) for each type of waste. 4. At the end of the week, total the categories How is this waste product generated?you used for each waste stream; if you did notrecord weights, make your best estimate of theweekend total weight, basing the estimate on Is the waste hazardous?whatever standardized measure(s) you used. Then, Yes / Nocalculate the total amount of waste generated by (If unsure, refer to page 138 for definition of ‘hazardouseach stream by summing the weights of all the waste’)components found in each waste stream. 5. As a final step, once all waste sources Describe the present disposal method for thisidentified above have been inventoried, sum the component:weights of each category of waste components(horizontal rows on the below table) to find thetotal amount of each particular form of waste that Is this component ‘recyclable’?your community generates in a week. Yes / No 6. Create a final list that ranks, in order of (If unsure, refer to page 130)greatest to least amounts, the most prevalentcomponents of waste that you identified. Is a recycling program for this material available in your region?Solid Waste Analysis Yes / NoFrom the inventory above, identify the three wastestreams that generated the most waste. For each source, Can this waste be re-used by your religious (oranswer the following questions: greater) community for another purpose, including composting? Waste stream/source of waste: Yes / No Total waste generated weekly (kg): Has your community implemented a plan to minimize the generation of this particular waste Name of supervisor for this community unit: component? Yes / No Why is so much waste generated? Describe plan: Has your community implemented a plan to minimize the waste generated by this particular waste stream? Yes / No 2. Community Waste Collection and Disposal Describe the plan: How does your community rid itself of the solid waste that it generates? Check all that apply: Disposal into open pit/pile/dump on community grounds Disposal into open pit/pile/dump sharedAgain, from the inventory above, identify the five largest with larger communitycategories of waste. For each category (waste Incineration/burningcomponent), answer the following questions: Dumping into ocean or other nearby waterway 112
  • 127. Chapter 4: Sanitation and Waste Discarding on side of highway (without If so, who is the party responsible for this service? It regular collection service) would be helpful to record this information below, and to Periodic collection (either communal or contact them for help in answering the following individual property collection points) questions: Direct disposal into a managed landfill/controlled community dump Name of collection service:About how often does your community rid itself of its Contact information:accumulated solid waste? Daily Weekly Contact person: Monthly Quarterly According to the Collection Service, what policies (if Longer any) does the Service have regarding what will and will not be collected?About how much weight is disposed at each interval(kg)?Is there a community member in charge of solid waste According to the Collection Service, what is expected ofdisposal? residents; i.e. how are residents expected to cooperate Yes / No with the Service (including payments)?Name of individual: Does your community make an effort to cooperate with the Service? Yes / NoBased on information from this person in charge, has Why/why not?there been any injury or infection as a result of handlingthe community’s solid waste? Yes / No What is the final destination, or end disposal practiceIf yes, how frequently have these injuries/infections for the waste that the Collection Service collects? (e.g.occurred? landfill, incinerator, etc.)Does your community pay a fee for the 4. Recyclingcollection/disposal of solid waste? Yes / No Does community recycle materials, or participate in a recycling program with your larger community?If yes, to whom is this fee paid? Yes / No (e.g. municipality, private company, individual, etc.) If the recycling program is a service of your larger community, who is the party responsible for this service?Does your community include this expense in its regular It would be helpful to record this information below, andbudget? to contact them for help in answering the following Yes / No questions:3. Solid Waste Collection Name of recycling service: Contact information:Is there a collection service in your greater communitythat collects rubbish from residences on a regular basis? Contact person: Yes / No 113
  • 128. Listening To The EarthWhat waste components are recycled? 5. Land Disposal Plastics Is a landfill or controlled dumping location the final Polypropylene (PP) destination of your community’s waste? Polystyrene (PS) Yes / No Polyethylene (HDPE or LDPE) Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) If so, who is the party responsible for the operation of Other (specify): the landfill? It would be helpful to record this information below, and to contact them for help in Paper products answering the following questions: Cardboard / corrugated white paper Name of Agency/Company: Other (specify): Organic waste for compost Contact information: Automotive parts Other (specify): Contact Person: Metals Steel / Iron Aluminum Considering the landfill location, what is the Copper approximate distance to the nearest: Tin Other (specify): Human dwelling? <100m 100-500m 500m-1km >1km Glass Clear Hospital? Brown <100m 100-500m 500m-1km >1km Green Other (specify): School? <100m 100-500m 500m-1km >1km Electronic components/ devices Textiles Playground? Batteries <100m 100-500m 500m-1km >1kmAre these waste components separated: Have the managers/supervisers of the landfill been directly by your community trained in operating practices for sanitary landfills? by others in your larger community Yes / No by the staff at the recycling center What policies (if any) does the landfill service haveWhat limitations do(es) the recycling service(s) face regarding what wastes will or will not be accepted?that restrict the materials that can be accepted forrecycling?To what extent does your community participate in therecycling of solid waste componenets? Does the landfill protect surface and ground waters from 0123456789 contamination? (0= not at all, 9= recycling is genuine Yes / No policy and practice in our community) 114
  • 129. Chapter 4: Sanitation and WasteIf Yes, what design and/or operating features are in If not, has the landfill management doneplace (e.g. use of impermeable layers at the base and anything to improve the situation? Pleasesides of landfill, leachate collection and treatment, daily describe:soil cover, etc.)? By what means or avenue may the public provide their Is the final wastewater discharge from the landfill input into landfill operation and management decisions? monitored for environmental pollutants? Yes / No Are the surrounding ground and surface waters (those which accept wastewater discharge from the landfill) monitored for contamination? 6A. Waste Handling Workers or Workers’ Yes / No Association What pollutants, if any, have been found in the It will be helpful to contact the workers who are wastewater discharged by the landfill? involved in waste handling. Such employees include but are not limited to: collection workers, landfill employees, recycling service employees, or an association or union of such employees. Name of association: Has a regulatory agency found the landfill to have been in violation of applicable environmental Contact information: regulations in the past three years? Yes / No Contact person:What measures are in place to manage and/ or utilizethe gases produced by the decomposing wastes? Have these workers been provided personal health and safety training to be able to perform their duties safely? Yes / No Besides training, what other measures are in place toAre waste-pickers/ informal recyclers often present in the ensure worker safety ? (e.g. personal safety equipment,landfill? limitations to work-hours, equipment inspections, etc.) Yes / No What is the landfill management policy regarding waste pickers, informal recycling services, and/ or squatter settlements within the landfill? According to the workers, how frequently are injuries or infections experienced by workers as a direct result of their occupation? 123456789 (infrequently…occasionally…frequently) Do waste pickers at the landfill use any personal What is the average wage that workers are paid for protective equipment (e.g. gloves, aprons, etc.) their labor? Yes / No 115
  • 130. Listening To The EarthWhat avenues exist for workers to influence the policies Name of organization:that govern their working conditions? Contact information: Contact person:6B. Governmental Regulatory Agency According to these experts, what threats to theYour government should have an agency/ministry surrounding environment does the landfill or dumpthat is responsible for enforcing any environmental pose?regulations that apply to the operation of thelandfill or dump in your area, as well asadministering other environmental regulations.Consult such agency to answer the following If the present measures being taken to safeguard thequestions. environment are inadequate, what do these experts recommend for improvement? Name of agency: Contact information: Of the other laws and/or regulations regarding solid Contact person: waste in your country and region (e.g. recycling laws, disposal restrictions, etc.), do these experts consider themWhat environmental regulations are applicable to the to be adequate? If so, are they adequately enforced?operation of solid waste handling facilities in your area?How can citizens report violations that they observe? According to these experts, what actions might your religious community take to work toward improving the sustainability of local solid waste handling?Has the landfill/ dump been cited for any violations inthe past three years? Yes / No If yes, describe: 6D. Expert Public Health/Safety Information It will also be helpful to contact a publicAre there any other environmental laws or initiatives health/safety advocacy group that can provideregarding solid waste that apply to citizens in your reliable, expert data about the health hazardscounty? (e.g. recycling laws, import bans, etc...) resulting from your municipality’s current waste handling practices. If you don’t know of one, refer to the List of Categorized References in the back of this manual to help locate one.6C. Environmental Information Source Name of organization:It will also be helpful to contact an environmentalprotection or advocacy group that can provide Contact information:reliable, expert data on the ecological impacts ofthe landfill or dump in your area. If you don’tknow of one, refer to the List of Categorized Contact person:References in the back of this manual to helplocate one. According to these experts, what threats to public health 116
  • 131. Chapter 4: Sanitation and Wastedo your municipality’s present waste management Does there exist a public cleaning service that is chargedpractices pose? with removing solid waste from such places as roads and sidewalks, etc.? Yes / No How is this service funded?If the present measures being taken to safeguard thepublic health are inadequate, what do these expertsreccommend for improvement? How does the service dispose of the waste collected?According to these experts, what actions might your If the cleaning service does not satisfactorily maintainreligious community take to work toward public safety in clean public areas, what impediments or limitations arethese regards? affecting their service? (It would be most helpful to contact the service or employees thereof to answer this)7. Cleaning of Public Areas 8. EducationConsider the amount of litter (scattered solidwaste and debris) observed in the surrounding area Awareness and Education of Larger Communityof your larger community. You may conduct aninventory of the litter found within a area Is the general population of your larger community wellrepresentative of the general condition with a form informed about safe and ecological waste handlingsimilar to the one used in question one. practices? Yes / NoRate the amount of litter found: 0123456789 Is the general population well informed about the none…scattered…everywhere environmental dangers inherent to present waste handling practices?What are the most prevalent waste components found? Yes / No Religious Community Awareness, Education and Action Are any of these waste components from a common source(s) ? If so, what is/are the common source(s)? Are the members of your religious community well informed about safe and ecological waste handling practices? Yes / NoAre there easily visible trash receptacles present in public Are the members of your religious community wellareas for people to dispose of their incidental trash? informed about the environmental dangers inherent to Yes / No present waste handling practices? Who is responsible for emptying or carting the Yes / No accumulated trash away from the site? Is your religious community engaged in any action to change the present waste handling practices of your Are the trash receptacles generally emptied before larger community? they are overfilled? Yes / No Yes / No 117
  • 132. Listening To The Earth Community Solid Waste place. Waste reduction can be promoted by Management: Evaluation education campaigns and by rewarding those who cooperate. Although in many areas conserving materials,At the end of each discussion section, there will be a reusing products, and minimizing waste arestatement and a list of numbers from which to choose. imposed by economic necessity, these are generalChoose a number from 1-9 to indicate your assessment principals that should be practised by all theof how well your community represents the statement population.given. (1 = disagree, community practices unhealthy; 9 A waste reduction assessment (or inventory) is= agree completely, no change needed) a tool used to identify opportunities for waste reduction and prevention. It can form a strongIn general, the formula used to guide best waste foundation for a successful waste minimizationmanagement practices can be represented as this program. The assessment can be as simple or ashiercharical decision tree: extensive as resources, time, and commitment allow. The point is to use a systematic approach toThe waste management hierarchy: ensure that the sources of waste are thoroughly examined so that several opportunities for1 Prevent or reduce waste generation reduction and prevention can be identified and2 Reduce the toxicity or negative impact of the assessed. waste The following steps are part of the waste3 Recycle waste in its current form reduction assessment process:4 Reuse waste after further processing 1. Perform a preliminary review of current5 Treat waste before disposal waste generation patterns and management6 Dispose of waste in an environmentally sound practices, and determine which waste way streams to monitor. 2. Perform waste inventory for chosen waste1. Community Waste Generation Survey streams. 3. Identify waste reduction and preventionWaste prevention and, if this is not possible, waste possibilities.reduction should be considered the first option in 4. Evaluate and prioritize waste reduction andwaste management because it is less expensive and prevention alternatives.less resource intensive than the other options such 5. Recommend and/or implement the mostas recycling, treatment, and disposal. Thus, waste appropriate waste reduction schemes.prevention and reduction should be the basic goal The preliminary review will help you to identifyof your community’s solid waste management. people you need to contact for information, whatMinimizing waste generation will save resources type of working space will be necessary for sorting(energy, materials, and labor) and costs; as well it and tallying the collected waste, and, if resourcesreduces the associated adverse environmental are limited, which waste streams are the mostimpacts during the entire cycle of raw materials significant to examine.extraction, product manufacturing, and waste The actual inventorying process should help tomanagement. identify various waste reduction and prevention Waste can be reduced by products requiring less opportunities by quantifying the amounts ofmaterial per unit (smaller cars, thinner containers); wastes generated, providing concrete data uponproducts with longer lives (more durable tires and which to focus improvement efforts.appliances); reusable products (refillable ‘Brainstorming’ sessions can then be used as ancontainers) that replace single-use disposable effective means to identify opportunities for wasteproducts; limiting the number of units in your prevention and reduction. To ‘brainstorm’—community (fewer cars, bicycles, etc); and individually or as a group—simply list all perceivedadopting standards to reduce the amount of opportunities, regardless of technical or economicpackaging (buying dry goods from bulk storage feasibility, and encourage innovative ideas. Therather than by package). Emphasizing good following suggestions can be used to facilitateoperating and ‘housekeeping’ practices also help to identification of waste prevention and reductionprevent waste from being generated in the first possibilities. The first one is to identify which 118
  • 133. Chapter 4: Sanitation and Wastewaste stream produces the largest volume of waste. disposed of separately in a manner specific to theReduction efforts can then be directed toward type of waste. Refer to the next sectionimprovements in that specific area. The second (‘Hazardous Waste’) for more informationsuggestion is to focus on the types of waste that are regarding hazardous waste management.most frequently discarded. Here waste reduction Your community should keep track of wasteefforts can be applied more generally throughout disposal expenses, and include them in the regularyour entire community. budget. Furthermore, the staff that is involved in The most challenging phase of assessment handling community waste should be interviewedinvolves evaluating and prioritizing waste for information regarding any problems that theyreduction alternatives for immediate, short-term, encounter with present practices.and long-term attention. The number of Community staff that handles waste should bealternatives selected and their order of priority will well-informed about the hazards of being exposeddepend on the resources available and other to and working with waste. Heavy gloves, aprons,priorities of your community. A clear boots, and other protective gear may beunderstanding of the time and money that can be appropriate. See the information contained belowallocated for implementation of alternatives is under Seeking Expert Advice—Labor, page 134.needed in order to make appropriate To keep your community and village/municipalrecommendations. environment clean, and to reduce health risks, You must set some initial priorities. Some waste solid waste must be disposed of properly.reduction options are obviously easier and less Untreated refuse is unsightly and smelly andexpensive to implement than others. For example, degrades both the quality of life in the communityplanning to eliminate waste before it enters your and the quality of the environment. It alsocommunity and other measures that require little, provides a breeding ground for disease vectors,if any, capital expenditure, technical resources, or such as mosquitoes, flies and rats. If waste is notdisruption of operations should be readily properly disposed, animals can bring it close toapproved and implemented as soon as practical. homes and children especially can come into If you or your team are not directly responsible contact with disease vectors and pathogens. Below,for the implementation of new community policies the various methods of ultimately removing solidand practices, and must instead present your ideas waste from your community are discussed with theto another committee or community member, be intention of highlighting the most frequentsure to spend adequate time preparing your problems with each method.presentation. From the data collected in theinventory it should be possible to generate visual A. Open pit/pile/dump located on communityaids such as charts and graphs, which may be grounds or in larger communityvaluable additions to your presentation. The garbage ‘dump’ is one of humanity’s oldest methods for getting rid of the waste matterOur community is continually identifying and resulting from different activities. A place whereimplementing new ways to reduce the amount of waste solid waste is thrown without any attempt atwe produce. sorting or treatment, that operates without 123456789 technical criteria—having no sanitary control, nor measures to prevent environmental2. Community’s Practice for Solid Waste contamination—is called a dump. Such sitesCollection and/or End-Disposal severely impact the air, water and soil with released gases, leached liquids, smoke, dust, and nauseatingBefore referring below to the specific method of odors; in addition they pose serious health hazardsrubbish removal, it should be stressed that the as they are breeding grounds for a number ofamount of, and types of waste discarded should be vectors, diseases, and if unguarded, they poseminimized. Preferably nothing besides serious risks for physical injury.unrecyclable waste should be discarded to a Because of these problems and their severity, ifdump/landfill. Waste minimization efforts should open dumping is your community’s practice, itinclude composting of organic materials or should be discontinued—or at the very least,recycling of items that can be reused or improved if possible.remanufactured. Hazardous waste should be If a dump is being operated nearby, it is most 119
  • 134. Listening To The Earthimportant to ensure that the dump is not be D. Discarding on side of highway (withoutlocated close to a water source, because toxic regular collection service)chemicals and pathogens can leach into the water. In many areas, especially near cities, it is aThe dump absolutely should be fenced off to common practice to place small piles of refuseprevent access by scavenging animals and children. alongside a highway or other well-traveledAt the end of each day, any new waste should be roadway. This practice certainly increases thecovered with a layer of clean soil 0.1 metre deep to visibility of items that may be reused or recycled toprevent flies from breeding. While these measures citizens who are in that market; however, for themay help to reduce some of the most immediate most part, the practice is a nuisance andrisks, it is most important that your community potentially dangerous. Aesthetically, it is verywork to change this prevailing practice. Refer to unappealing and contributes to increased vectorthe List of Categorized References for information populations. Furthermore, the waste often scattersregarding sanitary solid waste disposal practices. and becomes an injury hazard especially for children. Thus, if this is the practice of yourB.Incineration /burning community, more suitable options should beDisposal of household waste by burning outdoors, discovered and implemented.commonly in 55-gallon barrels or sometimesdirectly on the ground, occurs in urban, as well as E. Periodic collection (communal orrural or agricultural areas, where feed bags and individual property collection points)other commercial packaging are burned. Many In some communities where a periodic collectionview open burning as a low-cost, convenient service exists, there are a series of sharedsolution to deal with household waste, especially in communal collection points that are emptied orrural areas where waste management infrastructure cleared at regular intervals, usually by paidis limited. Unfortunately, this practice is a employees; in others there is a regular (e.g. weeklysignificant source of air pollution and has been or bi-weekly) collection service that picks up refuseshown to be highly toxic to animals and humans. from individual properties. In either case, theHence, if this is your community’s practice, collected refuse is then taken (usually trucked) toalternatives should be sought and implemented as its final disposal site, which is often a municipalsoon as possible. landfill, incinerator, or other facility. If either service is available in your area, youC.Dumping into ocean or other nearby may want to assess the efficacy and safety of thewaterway service. It is also important to discover the finalDumping refuse into waterways is a very poor disposal site that the service utilizes. Continue topractice and should be avoided at all costs. This number 3 for further discussion of these practices.practice contaminates both fresh waters andoceans with a variety of toxins, some of which are F. Direct disposal into a managed landfill/difficult or impossible to remove. This is an community dumpespecially critical problem where the contaminated If your community disposes of its refuse directlywater is used for drinking. Refuse disposed in into a dump or landfill without the assistance of awater also causes more direct health hazards to collection service, it is important that thepeople who use the water for bathing and/or community members involved in this work berecreation, like punctures, cuts, and infections. afforded means of protecting themselves from theAquatic wildlife are also negatively impacted by hazards of working with waste. Similarlywastes of many sorts. Thus, in the interests of important is the maintenance of whateverpreserving waterways and water sources for this equipment is used to transport the waste from yourgeneration and the next, refuse should not be community to the disposal site. The site of enddisposed of in waterways. disposal should preferably be a sanitary landfill. Unfortunately, a significant number of entities This topic is discussed more fully in number 4(including industries, municipalities, and below.individuals) use this as an end disposal method forsolid waste and sludge residues from incineration Our community strives to dispose of its waste in thefacilities. If this practice occurs in your area, you most environmentally benign manner possibleshould help to work to find new alternatives. 123456789 120
  • 135. Chapter 4: Sanitation and Waste3. Solid Waste Collection waste collection services in any number of the following ways:In some areas, residents may need to transport 1. Placing your community’s solid wastetheir solid waste to a disposal site themselves; outside for collection in a manner desiredhowever, in others a collection service exists that by the serviceperforms this function for them. Such a service 2. Paying for the serviceoffers many benefits to a community, most 3. Monitoring and the collection service’sparticularly by saving them the effort of work, offering suggestions for improvementtransporting rubbish to a disposal site (including when necessarythe associated vehicle costs), as well as reducing 4. Managing the work of the collectionthe associated risks of such labor and those service, particularly if it is a local orassociated with accumulated rubbish. Having solid neighborhood enterprisewaste collected and disposed of by well-trained 5. Pressuring municipal authorities to ensureprofessionals may be the safest way to guarantee that the service continue or be modified asthat your community’s solid waste is handled in a necessary to make it both available andmanner that is environmentally safe and does not affordable for all residentspose risks to public health, especially if the final While collection services offer both environmentaldisposal site is operated according to sustainable and health benefits to a community, it also meansenvironmental standards. employment to those citizens who work for them. In most areas where a collection service exists, Nevertheless, the nature of this work is ratherit is related in some way to the municipal hazardous, especially if proper precautions are notgovernment. Municipal governments may own taken, and if the employees are not adequatelytrucks and employ collection workers themselves, trained for personal safety. Ensuring that the healthor they may contract a private business to provide and dignity of collection service employees arethe service to residents. Other arrangements exist, respected is important, as they are taking personalhowever, which make a collection service available risks in order to provide benefits to the public.without direct involvement of local government; Speaking with present or past employees of yourfor example, neighborhood or regional cooperatives collection service is recommended to discover themay exist, or can be organized, that offer this type prevailing working conditions, and if problems areof service. In some areas, collection services might discovered, your community may find some way toexist, but are unavailable to particular help remedy the situation (refer to 6(A) below).neighborhoods because of very steep or narrow One of the biggest sources of tension betweenstreet conditions. the collection services and the communities is A collection service may be easily organized in delayed payment. Regardless of whether theareas without one, as long as there is an collection service has been contracted by theappropriate transport vehicle available. While municipality or whether it deals directly withpushcarts or animal carts may be the only vehicles residents, serious problems can arise for thethat can negotiate very narrow or steep urban enterprise if it does not receive its payment onstreets, such vehicles can generally be constructed time, especially if the service is a relatively small orlocally to meet neighborhood needs. Transporting local operation. Delayed payment maywaste to its final destination, on the other hand, significantly affect the quality of the service and itusually requires the use of a truck, which may be may also harm the service’s relationship with theowned by a local resident, a cooperative, or one community. In some cases, to be sure, the servicemay be contracted or leased from an area business. may simply be unaffordable for local residents. InYour own community can organize waste such a case, you could serve your larger communitycollection, for example, by purchasing a suitable by campaigning for increased government support,vehicle, and offering the service for a small fee. If educating local citizens about reducing wastethis is done, it is essential that the community (reducing waste can have significant financialmembers who perform the service are provided implications, since some municipalities spend aswith protective equipment and are trained to much as half their budget on solid waste collectionhandle waste safely. and transport) and handling it safely, or by helping As responsible citizens, the members of your to create a practical and sustainble means of solidcommunity may participate in or cooperate with waste collection yourself. 121
  • 136. Listening To The EarthOur community works to increase (or sustain) the Thus, any recycling effort will generally involvebenefits of our waste collection service. both the collection and sorting of materials, as well 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 / not applicable as finding markets for the recyclable materials. The most efficient means of separation is at the4. Recycling source: i.e. by not mixing recyclable materials together with other solid waste components in the‘Recycling’ is a term that means returning products first place. However, even if recyclable materialsor materials back into productive use after they are separated from other solid waste components,have lost their original value (to their original they are often collected as a mixture includingowner). In other words, ‘recycling’ means turning different types of material. Thus, some amount ofsolid waste components into products with a sorting and separation is often required, whichvalue—financial or otherwise. Recycling may or adds expense to the recovery process. At a recyclingmay not require a treatment or remanufacturing plant, either manual or mechanical means may beprocesses; however there are considerable benefits employed for separating recyclable components;in either case. (Often, the term ‘recycle’ is used to nevertheless, public cooperation in separating atdenote the use of solid waste components after a the source is critical for the optimum collection oftreatment or remanufacturing process, whereas materials for recovery.‘reuse’ is used to denote their use without any Markets for recovered products often consist ofspecial processing.) the products’ original manufacturers. For example, Compared to reducing the amount of solid aluminum manufacturers are generally interestedwaste generated, recycling and/or reusing solid in purchasing recovered aluminum; similarly forwaste components is the next most important steel, plastic, and paper products. Nevertheless,element for the sustainable management of solid diverse markets may exist for recovered materials;waste. There are three primary reasons for this. for example, paper wastes can be compacted intoFirst, recycling is essential for the conservation of dense fuel briquettes and used for cooking tonatural resources, since it reduces the demand for supplement firewood. Municipal governments andraw materials. Second, recycling has the potential local cooperatives may be involved in theto significantly reduce the total volume of solid collection and composting of organic wastes for usewaste needing treatment and disposal, which by residents or farmers as valuable soil. Inpreserves the land required for landfilling, reduces addition, public policy and laws may be institutedcosts, and reduces the associated discharges (gases that require product manufacturers to reclaim theand leachates). Third, the use of recycled materials waste components that their products generate,and products greatly reduces the amount of energy particularly if those waste components arerequired in manufacturing processes, a topic which covered in more detail in Chapter 5 of this An important aspect of recovery and recyclingmanual. Consequently, recycling and productively activities in Latin America especially is the roleusing ‘wastes’ are important activities for the that ‘scavengers’ play. Since many areas either havesustainable management of solid waste no collection and separation program, or lack the There are several solid waste components that resources for one with an adequate capacity, severalhave the potential to be recycled. These include people earn their living by picking materials frombut are not limited to plastic, glass, metals, paper, the waste stream, (either from the roadside or fromand corrugated packaging; as well, organic wastes garbage dumps), and them finding the markets for(which form a large percentage of the solid waste in the products themselves. The informal recovery ofLatin America), can be collected and composted recyclable materials represents a significantrather than dumped. Fruit and vegetable waste, contribution to the amount of material recovered,animal dung and even leaves from trees can break and as well they help to relieve the financialdown to form the valuable soil conditioner and burden of a municipalities and recycling centersfertilizer called ‘compost.’ that must pay workers to separate materials. At least two components are necessary for a Unfortunately, scavengers (or ‘waste-pickers’)recycling program: 1) the material to be recycled often work under very poor conditions. They aremust be separate (or separated from) other solid often not well trained in personal safety whichwaste components, and 2) there must be a useful makes their work particularly hazardous, and theydestination or a market for the recyclable material. are often public denigrated for the work, especially 122
  • 137. Chapter 4: Sanitation and Wastein regions where their activities are considered 5. Land Disposalillegal. In some countries and regions, however, thevalue of informal recovery has been recognized and The final destination of your community’s solidefforts are made to improve the conditions. This is waste may likely be a land-disposal site, especiallyespecially the case in Brazil, where special efforts if you live in an urban area. A land-disposal site isare made to organize scavengers into cooperatives, a location where wastes from a large number ofwhich help to increase the efficiency of the sources are acculumated and left to decomposeactivities, while also increasing the scavenger’s over time. Despite the prevalance of the practicemarket exposure. (or exactly because of its prevalance), land-disposal Although coordinated and successful recycling can not be considered a sustainable solution to ourefforts are not yet widespread in Latin America, solid waste problems, simply because the earthconsiderable progress has been made in the past does not provide us enough land to copedecade. At least six countries in the region have adequately with the rising population and thenational laws regarding solid waste, and some amount of waste we produce. This is anothercountries have quite successful programs. For reason why the goal of a sustainable solid wasteexample, again Brazil ranks among the most management program is to eliminate wastesuccessful, as it leads the world in recycling steel generation, and, failing that, to minimize theand aluminum cans (85% of those consumed are amount generated, while reusing and recycling asrecycled), on a par with European countries in much as possible. (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!)recycling plastics, and comes close to the U.S.A in Nevertheless, since land disposal is arecycling cardboard. widespread practice at this time, it is important In regions where recycling efforts have been that it be done with high regard to bothsuccessful, public education has been one of the environmental and public safety. Identifying andmost important elements. People appreciate evaluating the prevailing conditions of the land-knowing why recycling is important, what can be disposal site which receives your solid waste is anrecycled, and how they can help to protect the important step in assessing the effects of yourenvironment by recycling. Thus, along with community’s solid waste management practices.separation and marketing, education can be When solid waste is dumped or buried, theconsidered a third necessary element to a organic components of the waste begin to undergosuccessful recycling program. the natural process of decomposition. Besides the Recycling efforts can be coordinated on any natural elements of air and water, microorganismslevel, from your own religious community to the and other fauna are involved in this process. Themunicipality at large, while national networks can rate at which decomposition occurs depends upongreatly aid in the dissemination of educational a large number of factors; however, the mostinformation, technological developments, success important factor is the material composition of thestories, and potential markets necessary for waste. For example, while plant matter, paper andsuccessful recycling efforts on local levels. cardboard decompose rather quickly, plasticsGovernments also can play a significant role by require hundreds—and sometimes thousands ofestablishing public policies that, for e