Decentralised wastewater treatment effluent fertigation: preliminary technical assessment

  • W Musazura
  • AO Odindo
  • EH Tesfamariam
  • JC Hughes
  • CA Buckley
Keywords: banana, intercrop, nitrogen, phosphorus, taro, treated wastewater


The Decentralised Wastewater Treatment System (DEWATS) can provide a potential sanitation solution to residents living in informal settlements with the effluent produced being used on agricultural land. This paper reports on a first step to assess the technical viability of this concept. To do so a pilot DEWATS plant was connected to 83 houses in the eThekwini Municipality. An experiment was conducted in a randomised complete block design with 2 treatments (DEWATS effluent irrigation and tap water irrigation + fertiliser) and 3 blocks. Banana and taro crops were irrigated using an automated drip irrigation system. Data on the weather, crop growth, nitrogen and phosphorus uptake and soil chemical properties were collected. Irrigation with DEWATS effluent was comparable to tap water + fertiliser especially for banana growth and biomass production. Banana and taro required 3 514 mm of irrigation effluent. About 0.0117 ha·household−1 (23.3 m2·person−1) was found to be an adequate area for effluent reuse. Wet-weather storage requirements were calculated to be about 9.2 m3·household−1. DEWATS effluent, after passing through a horizontal flow wetland, was unable to meet banana and taro nitrogen and phosphorus requirements. Nutrient monitoring is required when using anaerobic filter effluent from a DEWATS for irrigating banana and taro.

Keywords: banana, intercrop, nitrogen, phosphorus, taro, treated wastewater


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eISSN: 0378-4738