Performance of a horizontal roughing filtration system for the pretreatment of greywater
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A large fraction of the world's population, around 1.1 billion people, do not have access to acceptable sources of water. In South Africa there is a growing pressure on the available freshwater resources. New sources of freshwater supply are becoming increasingly scarce, expensive or politically controversial. This has led to large scale interest in the application of water reclamation and reuse of domestic, mining and industrial wastewater as an alternative water supply sources. This is becoming critical to sustain development and economic growth in the Southern African region. This research aims at providing both social and scientific information on the importance of greywater reuse and recycling as an alternate source to aid water demand management under South African conditions. The approach to this research work was divided into two main thrusts: the first was to gain an understanding of the public attitudes towards the idea of reusing greywater that is usually perceived as wastewater which pose health concerns. The second was to provide an understanding of typical greywater quality in a peri-urban community in Durban, South Africa as well as investigate the suitability of a horizontal roughing filtration system in reducing pollutant strength of contaminants found in greywater for non-potable reuse applications. In order to achieve the central aim of this research study, the following objectives were considered: • Investigation of public perception and attitudes towards the reuse of greywater. • Determination of greywater quality in a peri-urban community in Durban South Africa. • Investigation of the performance of a horizontal roughing filtration system for the treatment of greywater collected from a peri-urban community in Durban, South Africa. It was important to have an understanding of public perception and attitudes towards the reuse of greywater because of the fact that the success of any reuse application depends on the acceptance of the public. The methodological approach for this aspect of the research work involved administering of structured questionnaires to residents within the community through field visits. The questionnaire addressed issues related to attitudes towards the reuse of greywater, perceived advantages related to the reuse of greywater and concerns related to public health issues regarding the reuse of greywater. The successful implementation of any greywater treatment process depends largely on its characteristics in terms of the pollutant strength. The methodological approach for this aspect of the research work involved physico- chemical characterization of the greywater collected from different sources within the households in the peri-urban community. Greywater samples were collected from the kitchen, shower and laundry within each of the households. This aspect of the research work was undertaken to gain an understanding of greywater quality from different sources within and between households. In order to achieve the third objective of this research work, a pilot plant horizontal roughing filtration system was designed and fabricated for the treatment of greywater. The system consisted of three compartments containing different sizes of gravel that served as the filter media. This was done in order to investigate the effect of varying filter media size on the performance of the horizontal roughing filtration system in treating greywater. The system had an adjustable manual valve used in varying the filtration rate. The impact of varying filtration rate on the performance of the horizontal roughing filtration system in treating greywater was also investigated. The main findings of this research were: • From the survey conducted, the percentage of the public willing to accept the reuse of greywater within the community was far higher than the percentage opposing its reuse. Concerns have often been expressed by the public that the reuse of greywater could pose possible adverse effects to public health. However, in this pilot study it was found that a higher percentage of respondents (>60%) disagree that the reuse of greywater could negatively impact on public health compared to less than 20% of the respondents that agree. An interesting finding of this study was that a greater percentage of the respondents were willing to have a dual water distribution system installed in their current place of residence. • The physico-chemical characterization of greywater from different sources within the households investigated indicated that, the quality of greywater varies considerably between all sources and from household to household. None of the households investigated produced the same quality of greywater. It was also found that greywater generated from the kitchen contains the most significant pollutants in terms of the physico-chemical parameters considered in this study compared to the other sources within the household. • The pilot plant horizontal roughing filtration system demonstrated its suitability for the treatment of greywater for non-potable reuse applications. It was observed that 90% turbidity and 63% Chemical Oxygen Demand reduction was achieved over the entire duration of operation of the horizontal roughing filter. It was also observed that the removal efficiency was significantly higher in the compartment with the smallest filter media size and the removal efficiency was significantly higher at lower filtration rates. It is therefore concluded from the investigation conducted in this research that the role of the public is a vital component in the development and implementation of any reuse system / application. It was found that there was a relatively high level of acceptance for the reuse of greywater among the respondents within the community where the study was conducted. The greywater characteristics results obtained from this investigation indicated the necessity of treatment prior to disposal in the environment. Also, a low BOD5/COD ratio of 0.24, which is significantly lower than 0.5, is an indication that the greywater generated from the community cannot be easily treated using biological treatment processes and/or technologies. The pilot horizontal roughing filtration system used for the treatment of greywater in this study demonstrated its suitability for the treatment of greywater for non-potable reuse applications such as irrigation, toilet flushing and washing activities.