Recycling gray waters

Year Execution: 
Organization in Charge: 
Servicio Pais (SP)

In the rural area of Colmenares, Empedrado Municipality, extensive use of pit latrines without further sanitary treatment causes a major pollution of underground water. This affects quality of drinking water, especially during the dry season it has to be collected from the contaminated wells. To correct this situation, SP implemented a pilot project to differentiate water coming from domestic use. "Gray" water used for watering plants and orchards, while "black" water is conducted to proper septic tanks with their respective drainage pits that are distant to the drinking water wells. 11 septic tanks were installed by a joint effort of SP, the Municipality and the neighborhood committee. SP professionals conducted fieldwork to motivate selected families to participate and supervise the whole process from a social perspective. The municipality was responsible for technically monitoring all works and providing training so the families could use the new facilities in an efficient manner. The neighborhood council took over construction, encouraging families to cooperate.

SP reports that families especially appreciate that now they can reuse grey water for watering their home gardens. The municipality and the community have agreed to disseminate the technology used by the project to other rural areas of the municipality, as an effective way to address a problem of high impact on health of rural families.

SELAVIP visited the project in July and could see that following this intervention many families had built or renovated bathrooms inside their homes, to replace the old latrines. This will allow more comfort and safety especially for women, children and elderly members. We could also note that the project had generated friendship and closeness among families, city officials and young SP professionals. For the latter, the experience has allowed gaining awareness of the critical problems that prevail in poor rural areas, and hopefully strengthened their will to address them in the future.