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high water table sanitation and well cleaning


I would like some advice on sanitation in flooded areas/ areas with high water table and on cleaning out wells and shock dosing.

I also have some specific technical concerns about sanitation in areas where the water table is high (say 1m below surface or higher) To what extent has above ground sanitation been proven using materials that can be aptly fashioned and erected and how well would these be accepted in the culture?

3 Answers


I can't offer much help on the cleaning and chlorination of wells front, but there are a number of options regarding toilets for areas with high water tables.

firstly, let me recommend Duncan Mara's website which has an enormous amount of information, including stuff about urine diversion toilets: See eThekwini latrines and arborloo

The simplest option is by far the arborloo (AKA fosas migratorias) very small pits that are used for a short period, the slab and superstructure are then moved and a fruit tree planted in the back filled pit. There is a good book by Peter Morgan that you can download: which should give lots of ideas. This covers both arborloos and urine diversion options. Composting toilets that do not have urine diversion tend to have a bad reputation. The only justification for going this route is where there is a proven demand for reuse of urine in agriculture and where people are prepared to deal with the compost.

The key factor in all of this is collaboration with the users in deciding on the strategy to be tried and then in the selection of materials and development of the designs.

Jeff Broome


At risk of stating the obvious (and assuming we are talking about wells in unconsolidated sediments), prior to undertaking shock dosing of wells, it is important to be sure that there is no further risk of well contamination (e.g. no flooded latrine pits in the vicinity and low risk of contaminants remaining resident in the sediments surrounding the wells), otherwise the shock dosing will be a waste of time and money in addition to providing the dangerous illusion that the wells have been cleaned up post dosing.

In terms of shock treatment of wells there is this

Also included are some draft docs from the cluster in water supply and sanitation in floods

Lucy Litton


You may like to look at the WELL factsheet on on-site sanitation in areas with high groundwater:

I also attach a final (but yet to be approved) DRAFT of three WHO factsheets on rehabilitating wells and boreholes that WEDC has helped to produce. I'll give you a web-link to these when we put them up on our website.

Brian Skinner