Why Urban India has to rethink Waste-water treatment! – The Case Study of St. Martha’s Hospital

In the recent issue of the magazine’ Down to Earth’ a research study points out instances where even pre-school children had developed resistance to antibiotics. Indiscriminate use of antibiotics is certainly making bacteria change its structure and making them resistant to common antibiotics. However, if one thinks that the key to avoid antibiotic resistance is just judicious in the usage of antibiotics, think again!

The answer to this wide spread phenomenon of antibiotic resistance can be found surprisingly outside the domain of medicine and in managing our environment. To be more specific, the solution is in managing our rivers, water bodies and soil.

Scientists have found disturbing amounts of antibiotics and antibiotic resistant bacteria in both freshwater and waste water in the last decade. In an article in the Horizon magazine (The EU Research and Innovation magazine),Professor Willem van Schaik, of the University of Birmingham is quoted to say that one way in which antibiotic residues reach the environment is when people excrete them in their faeces and urine. In many poor and developing nations 80% of the sewage is discharged untreated. This also makes its way into city canals whose water is used to irrigate urban farms. Hence, urban farming that is supposed to be a boon can also become a bane.

The load in wastewater that comes out of a hospital sewerage is another potent source of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance bacteria. Just how big the problem is, is currently being quantified. But why wait till disaster strikes? Solutions exist as can be seen in the following case-study.

What can be done- a Case Study: In the city of Bengaluru, the St. Martha’s hospitalwith a count of 534 beds is amongst the leading hospital in the city. Founded in 1886, the hospital had its challenges in running a conventional STPs (sewage treatment plant) that were high in maintenance cost. Even after treatment the treated water had difficulty in meeting Biomedical PCB standards. This meant low usage of treated water. Having a conventional STP also meant requirement of a large amount of space.

Upon approaching Ecoparadigm, a unique DTS (Decentralised Wastewater Treatment System) system was designed and executed. This DTS treated 310 ML of hospital wastewater per annum that was safe for reuse for flushing and gardening. The series of fluidized anaerobic bed reactors (FBRs) and fixed film reactors (FFR) makes sure that the treated water free of antibiotics or pathogen that may cause disease.This has saved the hospital a whopping Rs. 2.70 crores in water savings too.
In the sanitation narrative, treatment of wastewater is a key component. For installation of a safe, efficient and inexpensive Decentralised Wastewater Treatment System, please write to info@ecoparadigm.com.

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