CHARLOTTEVILLE HOUSEHOLD SURVEY REPORT
Tobago Wastewater Disposal System Improvement Program Pilot Project: Charlotteville,
July 25th 2007
Hema Singh: Environment Tobago
Ria Sooknanan- Maharaj: Environment Tobago
Table of Contents
PROJECT AREA 5
ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION 21
List of Figures
Figure 1.0 Map of Tobago showing the Location of Charlotteville _________________ 6
Figure 1.1 Showing the Water in the Collette River Basin________________________ 7
Figure 1.2 Showing the Contours of the Project Area ___________________________ 8
Figure 1.3 Shows the Source of Water in the Dry Season _______________________ 11
Figure 1.4 Shows the Source of Water in the Wet Season _______________________ 11
Figure 1.5 Showing How Households Receive Water __________________________ 12
Figure 1.6 Shows Type & Quantity of Pets Kept ______________________________ 13
Figure 1.7 Showing Methods of Sewage Treatment ____________________________ 14
Figure 1.8 Showing the Age of Septic Tanks _________________________________ 15
Figure 1.9 Showing Tabular Record of Frequency of Septage Pumping ____________ 15
Figure 1.10 Showing Treatment of Grey Water _______________________________ 16
Figure 1.11 Showing Vehicle Washing Areas_________________________________ 17
Figure 1.12 Showing Frequency of Vehicle Washing___________________________ 17
Figure 1.13 Showing the Opinion on Sewage Waste Disposal____________________ 18
Figure 1.14 Showing the Level of Education _________________________________ 20
List of Appendices
Appendix 1: Charlotteville Household Survey Questionnaire…….....28-31
Appendix 2: Terms of Reference…………………………………………32-33
Appendix 3:Map Data…………………………………………………….34-38
In Small Island Developing States human settlement tend to gravitate and expand along
coastal areas. People are inclined to live in these areas because of the various
opportunities that exist such as viable fishing and tourist hotspots. However, settlements
bring with them a myriad of issues, one of which is the management of domestic waste
from land based activities. Where there is unplanned development the challenge is
usually linked to social, economic and environmental issues. Waste disposal
infrastructure has been proven to be inefficient and unable to deal with human waste.
Sewage disposal has been recognized as a major environmental concern in Tobago, the
resulting pollution negatively impacts human health, tourism, coastal fisheries and coral
reefs. In a report produced by Environment Tobago in 1999, it was found that samples
obtained from the mouth of the Collette river contained faecal coliform (FC) -high of
3,100 per 100 ml). United States Environmental Protection Agency (recreational waters)
states that the Logarithmic Mean of FC bacteria counts should not exceed 200 per 100ml,
nor should 10% of total samples exceed 400 per 100ml. The conclusions drawn from this
survey suggested that such high levels of FC found in the storm drains and street gutters,
which all empty into the Collette river indicated that sewage is coming from residential
pit latrines and septic tank/soakaways and, at that time, an operational pig farm. 1
In 2000 Environment Tobago with the support of the Water and Sewerage Authority
(WASA), the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Health Division and other agencies
conducted the initial part of the Tobago Waste Water Disposal System Improvement
Program (TWWDSIP): Pilot Project Charlotteville, Collette River and produced a survey
report with their findings. The goal of this program is to “improve sanitation and
environmental quality in a rural coastal area by developing and implementing a
sustainable waste water disposal system (WWDS) that considers community, economic
Tobago Community Water Watch Network: Final Water Quality Survey Report July 1999.
and technical factors”.2 Trinidad and Tobago is bound by our international obligation to
protect marine ecosystems when the Government of Trinidad and Tobago signed and
ratified the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment
of the Wider Caribbean (Cartagena, 1983).3
The survey was again conducted by Environment Tobago with the support of the Pan
American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Proposal: Tobago Wastewater Disposal Improvement Program. Environment Tobago: February 2000.
National Policy and Programmes on Wetland Conservation for Trinidad and Tobago, National Wetlands
Committee, January 2002.
In 2000, the project steering committee chose Charlotteville as the location of the pilot
project for the TWWDSIP. Consultations with various stakeholders which included a
community consultation in Charlotteville and a volunteer recruiting meeting, the Collette
river was selected as the specific site to carry out the project. The household survey was
again carried out in this area in 2007 between June 4th and June 25th. This will provide an
update to the last survey conducted and will now inform the other phases of the project.
Charlotteville is a coastal village which lies on the northeastern tip of Tobago on Man-o-
War Bay. The tourists visiting Charlotteville are mainly of two varieties, those interested
in its pristine, rural setting and those who come to snorkel, sea bathe, fish and dive. An
ecological survey conducted by the IMA in 1985 identified that the Man-o-War Bay
contained one of the main reef systems in Northeast Tobago. The species diversity of
coral and fish was also the highest in this area.4
Laydoo, R.S. 1985. Executive Summary. Ecological Survey of Reefs around Tobago. Institute of Marine
Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago. 47 p.
Figure 1.0 Map of Tobago showing the Location of Charlotteville
The topography of the area is hilly and in most instances characterized by a sharp descent
to the coast. The Collette River begins approximately 500 ft above sea level. It descends
gradually on a fairly straight course where it runs parallel between two prominent streets,
Spring Street and Belle Aire Street. Where it nears the coastline it runs under Bay Street
and out into Man-o-War Bay. See Figure 1.0
The primary economic activities are fishing and tourism.
The household survey was conducted at establishments that drain into the Collette River.
Figure 1.1 below shows the water flow on land.5
Figure 1.1 Showing the Water Flow in the Collette River Basin
Environment Tobago- Tobago Community Water Watch Network
Figure 1.2 Showing the Contours of the Project Area
Flyers were placed in strategic locations in the Charlotteville village to advise residents
of the survey.
The survey was conducted by Ms. Hema Singh and Mrs. Ria Sooknanan-Maharaj. Data
was collected over a three week period. The questions in the survey were both closed
and open ended to permit a degree of flexibility and take into consideration perceptions
The purpose of the survey is to:
determine the sources of household water
find out the household uses for water
identify the existing systems which treat both gray and black water in households
reasonably quantify the volume of effluent leaving each household and entering
identify other possible sources of contamination
record income and education levels of the residents
produce a map showing the location of each home and the method of sewage
Surveys were conducted seven days a week to ensure that the maximum number of
households was covered. This method facilitated both working and non-working
A Global Positioning System (GPS) device was used to plot the location of the
households surveyed. This information can later be used to estimate the proximity of
households to the river. See Appendix 3.
The number of establishments which drain into the Collette River were identified as one
hundred and twenty nine.
No. of establishments interviewed - 95
This includes- 1 grocery, 4 shops, 4 restaurant/guest house
No. of not interviewed due to absence - 34
Summary of the Built Environment in the Project Area
No. of abandoned households – 9
No. of vacation homes – 5
No. of households under construction - 6
No. of guesthouses - 6
No. of groceries- 1
No. of shops - 4
An estimation of the size of housing plot was done and this revealed that:
53% of the households interviewed lived on less than 5000 square feet of land
39% lived on approximately 5000 square feet and
8% lived on more than 5000 square feet of land
Class of Dwelling
86.3% of the establishments interviewed lived in single family cottage
9.5% lived in a tenement
4.2% owned and lived in a guesthouse
The average number of persons under the age of 18 per household is 1.4.
The average number of persons 18 and older per household is 2.8.
The number of establishments which rent to visitors numbered 4, which on average can
accommodate 11.25 persons per establishment and are in use 9.5 months of the year.
Figure 1.3 1.4 illustrate the results to the question “What is the source of your water in
the dry season and the wet season?
Figure 1.3 Shows the Source of Water in the Dry Season
Source of Water- Dry Season
Spring Other Rain
8% 1% 10%
Figure 1.4 Shows the Source of Water in the Wet Season
Source of Water- Wet Season
Figure 1.5 illustrates the results obtained for the following question “How do you receive
water at your home?”
Figure 1.5 Showing How Households Receive Water
How Households Receive Water
Go to the
fetch it from
Spring □ or
Water is piped
holding tank Pipes
When asked the question “Other than cooking, bathing, washing and flushing toilets,
what do you use the water for?” 63% of the households indicated that they do not use
water for anything else and 37% indicated that the only other use is to wet plants and
27% use water for their pets and 2% use water for domestic animals.
In response to “Do you keep any animals?” 98% of the households do not. 2% rear
chickens and sheep.
Question 5 (e):
91% of the households indicated that chickens live/roam near their home. The average
number of chickens living/roaming per household per day was found to be 12.3.
Question 5 (f):
None of the households interviewed use water for gardening.
Question 5 (g):
27% of the households have pets.
Figure 1.6 shows the quantity and types of pets kept.
Figure 1.6 Shows Type & Quantity of Pets Kept
Types/Quantity of Pets Kept
Figure 1.7 illustrates the responses received when asked “How is sewage waste (from
toilet or latrine) from your home treated?
Figure 1.7 Showing Methods of Sewage Treatment
0% Don't know
Septic tank and
“If septic tanks, how long has it been in use?”
For those households with septic tanks 80% were able to give an estimate of the number
of years their tanks were in use. See Figure 1.8 below.
Figure 1.8 Showing the Age of Septic Tanks
Age of Septic Tank
Years in Use
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
For the households which has septic tanks, when asked if it was ever pumped out, 56%
said “No”, 32% said “Yes” and 11% said they “Did not know”.
For the households who answered “yes” the frequency of pumping was then asked; the
results are shown below:
Figure 1.9 Showing Tabular Record of Frequency of Septage Pumping
Frequency No. of Households
Once in 6 months 1
Once per year 1
Once in 2 years 5
Once in 3 years 2
Once in 4 years 1
Once in 7 years 1
Once in 8 years 1
Once in 10 years 5
Once in 12 years 2
Once in 14 years 2
Once in 20 years 1
Once in 35 years 1
The household which answered “no” they have never have their septic tanks pumped, the
reasons are given below:
54% said that their septic tanks were NOT FULL.
25% said that their tanks were NEW and therefore did not require pumping.
21% indicated that they DID NOT KNOW why their tanks were never pumped.
Is there space available in your yard for a septic tank AND soakaway?
95% of the households said that there was space available for a septic tank and soakaway.
2% said there was not and 3%: Did not know”.
How is other wastewater (bathing, laundry, kitchen etc.) treated?
In response to this question, 97% of households said that grey water entered the roadside
canals, 2% drained into a soakage pit and 1% went directly into the Collette river. See
Figure 1.10 below,
Figure 1.10 Showing Treatment of Grey Water
Treatment of Grey Water
Percentage of Households
Pit Latrine Septic Soakage Roadside Don't Other
tank pit/ Canal Know
Do you or anyone else in this household keep vehicle/s on property?
29% of the households keep a vehicle on their property.
For those who kept vehicles, Figure documents their response to the question, “where
is/are the vehicles washed?”
25% of the households wash their vehicles near the river, 21% at the roadside next to
their home, 18% wash it at the fisheries building on the waterfront of Man-o-War bay,
18% wash it at the standpipe, 11% at the spring and 7% “did not know”.
See Figure 1.11 and 1.12
Figure 1.11 Showing Vehicle Washing Areas
Vehicle Washing Areas
No. of 4
r ge g ad
ve ipe ri n ro no
Ri il la dp Sp 't K
an the n
rie On Do
Figure 1.12 Showing Frequency of Vehicle Washing
Frequency of Vehicle Washing
every two weeks
No. of vehicles
0 10 20 30 40
Do you believe that sewage/waste water disposal in this area is carried out properly and
safe for human health?
Figure 1.13 illustrates the response of the households’ opinion on sewage disposal.
Figure 1.13 Showing the Opinion on Sewage Waste Disposal
Opinion On Sewage Waste Disposal
If No, what do you think would help to improve sewage/waste water disposal in this
area? See Figure for the responses give. It must be noted that 14% households gave
suggestions and thoughts while 86% said they “did not know” what could be done
improve sewage/waste water disposal in the area.
1 "If there is anything to be done, it should be done"
"Authorities should have stricter laws, more pumping of
3 “Provide finances to get toilet cleaned"
4 "Install more sewage tanks"
5 "Inform proper authorities"
6 "proper facilities put in place"
"People have to get more serious about what is thrown in the
8 "Use the best thing to prevent pollution"
9 "use cesspit and soakaway"
10 "Underground canal"
11 "Clean septic tank more often"
12 "More septic tanks and soakaways"
13 "survey the land, better sewage plant"
How is the garbage from your household disposed of?
100% of households use garbage truck collection to dispose of solid waste. 4 out of the
95 households interviewed burned garbage.
Does your garbage that is put out for collection contain disposable diapers?
23% of the households said that their garbage contained disposable diapers and 77% did
What was the last school you attended, including any trade school or university?
Figure 1.14 depicts the responses received for the above question.
Figure 1.14 Showing the Level of Education
Level of Education
What is your household's monthly income level?
59% of households earn less than TT$3000.00
37% earn more than TT$3000.00
4% did not disclose their monthly income
Analysis and Discussion
Human settlement in coastal areas is an inevitable occurrence in small island states.
Coastal zone management has always been a challenge especially where the propensity
for pollution of the coastal waters is higher through improperly managed land based
activities. Harmonizing the social and economic needs of the communities with the
natural resources available to support these very needs without overuse or abuse can be a
difficult equilibrium point to reach.
Limitations of the Survey
Every attempt has been made to learn and improve on the last survey administered in this
pilot project however, below are some of the limitations during this updated survey:
Question 3: The question “How do you receive your water at your home?” should have
included another option : fetching water from standpipes.
Question 16: This question in addition to asking the household’s monthly income should
have also asked what was the estimated household expenditure as well. This would give
an indication of how much income was left for any other expense/s.
Another question should have been included in question 7 for those households with pit
latrines to ask whether there were any intentions in the close future (year) to build a
septic tank and soakaway. This is important for future planning.
Survey Analysis and Discussion
The residents of the Collette river region lived in low income houses with 53% living on
less than 5000 square feet of land; however a large percentage (86%) owned the houses
in which they lived. The majority of the residents have access to pipe born water,
received via pipes connected to a dam or well in the village, in both the wet and dry
season. At higher elevations there is still a problem of accessibility to a regular supply of
water via pipes and some residents are still dependant on water from the rain which they
store in tanks or collect water from the nearest standpipe or the river itself. Generally, the
uses of water are largely confined to flushing toilets and other household uses. There are
no gardens and only 2% of households keep a few animals.
The number of chickens observed roaming in the area is a possible source of pollution by
the sheer quantity.
Solid Waste Disposal
100% of the population bag their garbage and utilize the services of garbage collection
either at covered bins placed in strategic locations (for areas where garbage truck cannot
access) or at their homes. This significantly reduces the chance that significant pollution
is a result of leachate produced when garbage is left open to rainfall.
Black Water Disposal
It is encouraging to note that 75% of households dispose of sewage waste using a septic
tank and that the majority (71%) also have soakaways. The age of septic tanks ranged
from under five years to over twenty years. 56 % of the households indicated that their
septic tanks were indeed pumped, however, the frequency of pumping was limited to, in
many cases, one time in 15 to 20 years. For those who had never had their septic tanks
pumped there was the overriding belief that the tanks were not full. This is a source of
1) because the contours of the land being so steep runoff in heavy rainfall would not have
the time to attenuate and percolate in the soil but would accelerate toward the nearest
drains and then eventually drain into the river
2) there is no certainty that the septic tanks and soakaway system were built soundly in
the first place and will function properly to degrade and purify sewage
3) the residents do not recognize that there is a sewage problem and therefore
maintenance of the systems, as evidenced by their response to having the tanks pumped,
is not a priority
25% of the households use pit latrines which are located in very close proximity to either
drains or the Collette river itself. The source of pollution arises in cases where the
filtration systems have not been correctly built and therefore untreated sewage finds its
way either into underground water or terrestrial drainage systems.
Grey Water Disposal
Treatment of grey water in the area surveyed is cause for concern. 98% of the households
indicated that their water from laundry, kitchen and bathing flow into roadside canals,
Grey water is most likely the largest source of waste water contamination of the Collette
River and the Man-o-War Bay. The crucial consequence of this is the potential damage to
the reef ecosystem from nutrient overload. Other areas of concern are the effects on the
tourism industry and the vibrant fishing industry, Charlotteville is, after all a fishing
The number of vehicles in the area and the washing of these in rivers and the roadside
coupled with the frequency of washing is another source of grey water contamination
which must be monitored. Further, whether the vehicles are washed near or in the river, at
the roadside next to their home or at the fisheries building opposite the bay, the water
which will inevitably contain oil residue beside the detergent composition, will be
deposited in the bay.
It is interesting to note that 70% of the households remain oblivious to the threat of
sewage contamination. When asked what can be done to improve the sewage disposal in
the area, only 14% offered suggestions, 86% indicated that they “did not know”.
56% of the households surveyed had a primary school level of education.
It is evident that more education is necessary to raise awareness.
59% of the households earn less than $3000.00 per month. This consideration is
necessary to determine the affordability of any recommended system.
Domestic wastewater management is a key element for the protection of marine and
coastal resources which support communities and can have a number of benefits which
include the following:
• Public Health Protection;
• Food Security;
• Biodiversity and Conservation;
• Recreational Value;
• Economic Development
Since domestic wastewater impacts so many areas, it shows that its management cannot
be isolated. It must be done within a larger context of Integrated Coastal Zone
Management which suggests that the management of human activities must also
simultaneously be done.
Based on the analysis and discussion given in the previous section the following are our
1. The individual assessment of existing sewage treatment facilities at every
household must be undertaken. This is necessary to determine whether systems
are fully functional or not. If necessary malfunctioning systems must be repaired,
rebuilt or relocated.
2. New treatment systems must be assessed and approved before construction and
3. Yearly inspection and monitoring of treatment systems must be put in place.
4. It is recommended that a geological survey be conducted to determine ground
water levels and soil composition, permeability, factors affecting groundwater
flow and if in fact pathogens, consistent with sewage contamination, exist in the
5. Grey water disposal is the major challenge and therefore these should be treated
using the septic tanks and soakaways with grease trap systems in place.
6. The sewage treatment system chosen for this area must be one that is affordable to
the residents and also the best practicable environmental option.
7. Finally and probably the most important part of this assessment is the need for an
education programme which will raise awareness in this community. There is a
blatant need to encourage a behavioural change so that residents can find the link
between the protection and conservation of their environment and their social and
economic well being.
This study has confirmed the need for an effective sewage pollution management plan in
the project area. There is an urgent need to address pollution caused by untreated grey
water being discharged into the Collette river and entering the Man-o-War Bay. This bay
supports Charlotteville’s two main economic activities, fishing and tourism. It is also an
area of high biological diversity, the loss of which the village can scarce afford.
It is hoped that the successful implementation of this pilot project will later incorporate
the entire Charlotteville area.
Charlotteville Household Survey Questionnaire
Tobago Waste Water Disposal System Improvement Programme
My name is ………………. I am a member of a team currently working on a pilot project
to reduce sewage pollution from households in Tobago. This is an up-date of a survey
Environment Tobago conducted in 2000 in Charlotteville.
This survey is again being carried out by Environment Tobago with the support of the
Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Several studies of coastal areas in Tobago show that sewage is causing pollution by
dirtying our rivers and beaches. Sewage pollution can cause human health problems such
as infections of the eyes, skin and also gastrointestinal problems. It can also harm tourism
We therefore need to develop solutions for reducing sewage pollution in coastal
communities. To do this we require information on how we dispose of our wastes. This
information will be used towards designing suitable and affordable sewage disposal
Your assistance in answering some questions about your household will be sincerely
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GIVE YOUR NAME. ALL THE INFORMATION COLLECTED
WILL BE TREATED CONFIDENTIALLY.
Name of Street: ____________
Building Number: ____________
Estimated Size of Housing Plot: _____________ (<5000sq.ft., 5000sq. ft., >5000 sq.ft)
Class of Dwelling: Tenement Single family cottage
1. a) How many people under the age of 18 live in this house? _______
b) How many people age 18 and older? _______
c) Is your property ever rented to visitors Yes No
If Yes, approximately how many people can it accommodate? ______
Approximately how many months of the year is it in use? ______
2. What is the source of your water (i.e. where does it come from?).
In the dry season
a) Rain b) River c) Dam d) Well e) Spring
f) Other (please specify) ____________
In the wet season
a) Rain b) River c) Dam d) Well e) Spring
f) Other (please specify) ____________
3. How do you receive water at your home?
a) Go to the source and fetch it from Spring or River
c) Water is piped into an outdoor holding tank
4. Other than cooking, bathing, washing and flushing toilets, what do you use
your water for? ______________________________________________
5. Do you keep any animals? Yes No
If “Yes”, then answer the following:
If Yes, how many? ________
If Yes, how many? ________
If Yes, how many? ________
If Yes, how many? ________
e) Do chickens live/roam near your home? Yes No
If Yes, how many ________
f) Do you use water for gardening? Yes No
If Yes, what is the size of the garden plot? _________
g) Do you have pets? Yes No
Dogs, how many? _______ Cats, how many? ________
h) Other and how many(Please specify) _________
6. How is sewage waste (from toilet or latrine) from your home treated?
a) Pit latrine
b) Septic tank
d) Septic tank and soakaway
e) Not treated
f) Don’t know
7. If septic tank, then how long has it been in use? _____________
Has it ever been pumped out? Yes No Don’t Know
If Yes, how often is it pumped out? ____________
If No, why hasn’t it been pumped out?
8. Is there space available in your yard for a septic tank AND soakaway?
Yes No Don’t Know
9. How is other wastewater (bathing, laundry, kitchen, etc.?) treated?
a) Pit latrine b) Septic tank c) Soakage pit/cesspit
d) Roadside canal e) Don’t Know f) Other
(Please specify) ______________
10. Do you or anyone else in this household keep vehicle/s on property?
Yes How many? ______ No
If Yes, where is/are the vehicle/s washed? ____________
How often? ______________
11. Do you believe that sewage/waste water disposal in this area is carried out
properly and safe for human health?
Yes No Don’t Know
12. If No, what do you think would help to improve sewage/waste water disposal
in this area?
13. How is the garbage from your household disposed of?
a) Burning b) Composting c) Burying
d) Garbage truck collection
14. Does your garbage that is put out for collection contain disposable diapers?
Finally, we would like to ask you a few questions about your income and
education. Although you may choose not to answer them, they would be helpful
in deciding what solutions would be most suitable to improve sewage treatment
and disposal in your village.
15. What was the last school you attended, including any trade school or
a) Primary b) Secondary c) University/College
16. What is your household’s monthly income level?
Under $3000 per month
Above $3000 per month
Thank you for taking the time to assist with this project.