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July 2010, Volume 1, No.

International Journal of Chemical and Environmental Engineering

Onsite Greywater Treatment Using Septic Tank

Followed by Intermittent Sand Filter- A Case Study
of Abu Al Farth Village in Jordan
Almoayied K. Assayed*, Sahar S. Dalahmeh, Wael T. Suleiman

Royal Scientific Society-Environmental Research Centre Al-Jubaiha Jordan

* Corresponding Author email: a.assayed@surrey.ac.uk

This paper aims at presenting a case study of onsite greywater treatment in small rural community in Jordan using septic
tank followed by intermittent sand filter. A 1 m3 septic tank followed by 6m2 intermittent sand filter of 1m in depth were
used to treat an average flow of 150L/Day of greywater effluent from single household in Abu Al Farth Village in the
Badia of Jordan. The raw greywater has a total BOD5 of about 1149mg/L, total suspended solids TSS of 606mg/L, COD
of 1952mg/L and E.coli of 9400MPN/100mL. The treatment efficiency of BOD5, COD, total suspended solids and E.coli
were 95%, 93%, 95% and 90% respectively. The treated greywater has average BOD5 of 59 mg/L, TSS of 31 mg/L,
COD of 161 mg/L and E.coli of 227 MPN/100mL. The quality of treated greywater complies with the Jordanian
Standards JS (893/2006) for the Reclaimed Wastewater reuse for restricted irrigation.

1. Introduction agricultural use of freshwater and increased food security

Greywater is commonly defined as wastewater as well as improves public health [6].
without input from toilets and kitchen. Separation of In 1997 reclaimed wastewater was officially
domestic wastewater at source is wide spread practice in approved in the national strategy of Jordan as a non
many of the rural communities in Jordan; blackwater from conventional water source that shall be managed and
toilets discharged to cesspools and septic tanks, while treated to a standard level that allows its use for non
greywater is directly discharged to the environment or domestic use [7].
used for irrigation without treatment [1]. This indigenous Greywater management is a critical issue that not
practice of source separation provides a potential for only depends on the technical feasibility of the treatment
development of sustainable greywater management system, but also depends on human issues such as public
systems [2] based on the principle of ecological sanitation perceptions and health [8]. According to Nolde (1999)
or what so called "Ecosan" [3]. and (2005), greywater reuse after treatment shall satisfy
Greywater can be considered an alternative that four criteria: Hygienic safety, aesthetics, environmental
provides non-potable water for household usage, and thus tolerance and technical and economical feasibility [9, 10].
reduces the per capita water use by 50% [4]. For this Treatment technologies for making greywater safe for
reason it provides an attractive and sustainable low cost indoor use or for irrigation are many and diverse and they
water source especially in the arid and semiarid areas due vary from simple systems in single household to advanced
to the water scarcity and fluctuation in the rainfall patterns systems for large scale reuse. Course filtration with
[5]. disinfection represents the most common technology used
The issue of greywater management is gaining for greywater treatment in many places in the world [8].
importance especially in low and middle income countries Septic tank followed by sand filter is an alternative for
where inadequate wastewater management has greywater treatment [11]. Septic tank, acts as a settling
detrimental impacts on public health and environment. In basin for the wastewater in which heavy materials settle
the recent years, greywater has been linked not only to down to the bottom of the tank whereas water and other
environmental degradation and serious health risks, but materials are found above the sludge, while soap and
has also been increasingly identified as a valuable source grease form a floating scum layer [12]. Intermittent sand
of water that if properly used for irrigation can reduce the filters provide unsaturated downward flow of wastewater
Onsite Greywater Treatment Using Septic Tank Followed by Intermittent Sand Filter-

through mineral sand, so as to provide biodegradation or Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and
decomposition of wastewater constituents by bringing the Wastewater [14].
wastewater into close contact with a well developed
aerobic biological community attached to the surfaces of 2.2Design Calculations
the filter media [12]. a. Septic tank
Intermittent sand filters are proposed as an efficient
and economic treatment technology for domestic-strength Vliq = Q× HRT
wastewater, and can produce an effluent with low organic
and pathogenic content [13]. Q × CTSS × RTSS × 365
Vsl =
1.1 Study area Csl .
Integrated wastewater management policies and
technologies in the marginal communities on Jordan, Vscum = Hscum × AST
2003-2007" is a development research project focuses on VST = (Vliq + Vsl. + Vscum) + 0.2 × (Vliq + Vsl. + Vscum)
greywater management in the rural communities in the Where: Vliq is the volume needed for the liquid (m3);
North-eastern Badia of Jordan. Two pilot scale treatment Q is the flow rate (m3/d); HRT is the hydraulic retention
units were constructed in two villages in the North-eastern time (d); Vsl is the volume needed for the sludge (m3);
Badia of Jordan. Selection of villages where the treatment CTSS is the concentration of TSS (kg/m3); RTSS is the
plants were constructed based on a selection criteria took percentage removal of the TSS; Csl. is the concentration of
into consideration: 1. current wastewater management the sludge (kg/m3); Vscum is the volume needed for the
practices (existing greywater separation and household scum (m3); Hscum is the height of the scum layer (m); AST
agriculture), 2. social acceptance & favourability for is the surface area of the septic tank (m2); VST is the
treatment, operation and maintenance of the treatment volume of the septic tank (m3); OLR is the organic
system and 3. potential for replication in other similar loading rate [15].
communities in terms of environmental conditions,
practices, and building/housing style [11]. Intermittent sand filter
Abu Al Farth village is one of the two villages that Area (A) = Flow (Q) / Organic Application rate
met community selection criteria where septic tank Q × BOD5
followed by intermittent sand filter pilot unit was A=
constructed to serve single household in the village. The 0.024kgBOD5 / m 2 .d
household is inhibited by 9 people with the monthly Table (1) shows the design criteria of the sand filter.
income ranges from US$ 185 to US$420. The blackwater
of the household is diverted to cesspool while the Filter Media
greywater is used to irrigate the olive trees. The average Sieve analysis of the filter media was done to find the
consumptive use of water of this family is about effective size and uniformity coefficient. The sieve
40L/Capita.day [1]. analysis was done According to ASTM procedures C136,
2006 and C117 2004.
2. Materials and Method
2.3 Layout and Effluent Distribution System
2.1Quality and Quantity Measurements
The sand filter was laid out based on the area, length
Greywater quality and quantity was monitored for
and width of the sand filter. Number of lateral pipes was
seven months before the construction of the septic tank-
Intermittent sand filter system, from March 2005 to decided taking into consideration the spacing
requirements based on design criteria in Table (1).
September 2005. 14 greywater samples were collected
Spacing between orifices was designed based on design
and analyzed from three sampling points in the
criteria in Table (1).
household; kitchen sink, washing machine & bath tub and
Flow /dose = Daily Flow/ Dosing Frequency
hand washing basin & moping basin. Composite
Flow /Lateral /Dose = (Flow /Dose) / Number of Laterals
greywater samples were collected over 24 hrs using
barrels that were previously graduated over the height for Number of Orifices = (Flow/Lateral/Dose) / Flow in
the purpose of flow measurement. Contents of the barrels
Flow in Orifice = 2.45 C (D2) (2ghn) 1/2 (Metcalf, 1991)
were mixed thoroughly before sampling. Collected
Where 2.45 is a conversion factor, C is an orifice
samples were transferred to Royal Scientific Society RSS
discharge coefficient, D is diameter of orifice (m), g is
labs and analyzed for pH, Electrical Conductivity (EC),
Total Suspended Solids (TSS), Biological Oxygen gravitation acceleration (m/s2), and hn is the head loss in
Demand (BOD5), Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), orifice (m).
Total Phosphorus (T-P), Ammonia (NH4), Fat, Oil and 2.4 Head Loss in Laterals
Grease (FOG), total and faecal coliform and E.coli. All Hlfp = 10.5 L (Q/C) 1.85 D –4.87 (Metcalf, 1991)
chemical analyses were carried out according to the Where Hlfp is the head loss in pipe through orifice (m), Q

Onsite Greywater Treatment Using Septic Tank Followed by Intermittent Sand Filter-

is the pipe discharge (m3/s), C is Hazen Williams and 797 mg/L respectively. These concentrations are very
discharge coefficient (150 for plastic pipes) and D is the high, and attributed to the low consumptive use of water
diameter of the pipe (m). in the household (<40L/ca.day) as well as to hygienic
behaviours of household inhabitants, types of detergent
2.5 Efficiency & Performance of the Treatment System used by households (locally manufactured), amount of
Efficiency of treatment system was measured by detergent used, food style and meals patterns.
analyzing greywater samples from three locations: Average BOD5/COD ratio was 0.48 and BOD5 Filtered
1. Collection tank: Gives the quality of untreated /BOD5 ratio was about 0.3 which means that most of the
greywater, suspended solid in the greywater was organic. Thus, pre-
2. Outlet of septic tank: Gives the quality of treatment using septic tank is necessary and will
greywater treated in septic tank considerably enhance the quality of the greywater.
3. Outlet of Sand Filter: Gives the quality of In addition, high pathogenic counts at 2.85× 104
greywater treated in the sand filter. MPN/100 ml were found for greywater samples. Faecal
19 samples from the each of the above mentioned three input from hand washing after defecation and babies
sampling points were collected over 14 months from washing in hand washing basin were the key factors for
March 2006 to May 2007. The samples were analyzed for this high numbers of E.coli. Table (2) shows greywater
the physical, chemical and microbiological parameters quality parameters of the household in which septic tank
mentioned earlier according to the Standard Methods for and sand filter treatment unit was constructed.
the Examination of Water and Wastewater [14].
3.2 Size of Septic Tank and Sand Filter
Table 1 Design criteria of sand filter 1 m3 septic tank with retention time of 5 days was
designed and constructed. A sand filter with overall
Treatment Parameters Value/criteria Ref. surface area of 6 m2 (2x3) and 1m depth was designed and
components constructed. The filter media consisted of 3 layers; top
Intermittent BOD loading rate 24 g/m2.d [16]
sand filter Hydraulic loading 44 L/m2.d.
layer of 10 cm of (11 mm) gravel, intermediate layer of
rate 10 cm of (5mm) fine gravel and filtering sand of 60 cm of
BOD removal 90% effective size of (0.32 mm). The sand layer was under laid
efficiency by 10 cm fine gravel and another 10 cm of under drain.
COD removal 80% Greywater was distributed over the sand filter using 5
Dosing rate 12 times/day laterals each of 12 orifices. Fig. 1 shows schematic
Media Filter medium Washed durable [12]
diagram of the septic tank and sand filter units.
Specifications Material granular material
Effective size 0.25-0.75 mm Table .2 Greywater Quality Parameters of greywater
Uniformity <0.4 effluent from household subject of the study
Depth 450-900 mm
Application Rate 80-200 L/m2/day Hand
Pipe size 25- 50 mm Washing washing weighted
Distribution Orifice size 3-6 mm [12] machine basin & Kitchen average
Parameter average
& Bath Moping sink (3) (1), (2) &
system Head on orifice 1-2 m Tub (1) basin
(1) & (2)
Lateral spacing 0.3- 1.2 m (2)
Orifice spacing 0.3- 1.2 m
Dosing Frequency 12- 48 times/day [12] PH 7.30 8.30 5.60 7.41 8.29
EC 1286 2812 1357 1456 1756
Volume/orifice 0.6- 1 TSS 810 698 410 798 797
L/orifice/dose TDS 793 1271 918
TSS 1603 1969 1328 1517
3. Results and discussion TS (g/d.ca) 14.3 2.2 8.8 25.29
BOD5 657 650 1092 656 1030
BOD5Filtered 298 168 551 284 391
3.1Greywater Characteristics
COD 1466 1906 2039 1515 2138
Greywater generation in the targeted household
BOD/COD 0.45 0.34 0.53 0.43 0.48
fluctuates from day to day according to the indoor NO3 2.20 2.10 2.70 2.19 2.97
activities. Hence, it varied from 52L/day to 345L/day, NH3 76 152 82 84 103
with average flow of 150L/day; Average of 60L/day was MBAS 53.0 43.0 36.0 51.9 56.4
generated in the kitchen basin, 80L/day was from washing E.coli 2.30E+04 4.70E+04 1.90E+04 2.57E+04 2.85E+04
machine and bath tub and 10L/day was from hand
washing basin.
The average values of BOD5, COD and TSS of the
total generated greywater were 1149 mg/L, 1952 mg/L,

Onsite Greywater Treatment Using Septic Tank Followed by Intermittent Sand Filter-

MBAS and E.coli were 95%, 93%, 95%, 95%, 53%, 98%,
5% and 90% respectively with concentration of 59mg/L,
161mg/L, 31 mg/L, 8mg/L, 12 mg/L, 1mg/L, 50 mg/L
and 227MPN/100 ml in the same order.
The septic tank followed by intermittent sand filter
has achieved a level of treatment that exceeded the
requirement of Jordanian standards JS (893/2006) for the
reclaimed wastewater reuse for fodder, industrial crops
and vegetable eaten cooked.
The septic tank-sand filter overall removal
efficiencies of BOD5, COD, TSS, FOG, NO3, NH4,
a. Top view MBAS and E.coli were 95%, 93%, 95%, 95%, 53%, 98%,
5% and 90% respectively with concentration of 59mg/L,
161mg/L, 31 mg/L, 8mg/L, 12 mg/L, 1mg/L, 50 mg/L
Fig 1 (a&b). Schematic diagram of septic tank and sand filter
treatment unit and 227MPN/100 ml in the same order.
The septic tank followed by intermittent sand filter
has achieved a level of treatment that exceeded the
requirement of Jordanian standards JS (893/2006) for the
reclaimed wastewater reuse for fodder, industrial crops
and vegetable eaten cooked.

Table.3 Performance of Septic tank/sand filter

treatment unit
Parameter A B C D E F
BOD5 mg/l 1182 438 59 63 87 95
COD mg/l 2248 951 161 58 83 93
b. Sectional view TSS mg/l 609 206 31 66 85 95
FOG mg/l 159 17 8 89 53 95
3.3Performance of Septic Tank and Sand Filter MBAS mg/l 27 39 12 ** 68 53
The performance data of BOD5, COD, TSS, Fat-Oil- NO3-N mg/l 47 2 1 95 58 98
Grease (FOG), NO3, NH4, T-P and E.coli for both septic NH3-N mg/l 53 100 50 ** 50 5
E.coli 5.86
tank and sand filter are shown in Table (3). MPN/100ml 2172 E+05 227
** 90 90
The septic tank allowed solids to separate from
A: Raw greywater
liquid, while encouraged oils and fats to float at the
B: Effluent from septic tank
surface of liquid. The accumulated solids have undergone
C: Effluent from sand filter
into biological degradation that resulted in reducing the
D: Efficiency of septic tank %
BOD5, COD and TSS by 63%, 58% and 66% E: Efficiency of sand filter %
respectively. FOG was reduced 89% by floating on the F: Overall efficiency %
surface of water in septic tank. The anaerobic condition in
the septic tank has resulted in de-nitrification of 95%
Greywater is generated by the use of soap products
NO3-N into (NH4-N); as a result, higher concentrations of
and detergent, and it contains organic materials,
NH4-N were measured at the outlet of the septic tank than suspended solids and pathogens. Organic content of the
in raw greywater. Storage of greywater and presence of raw generated greywater from the household is higher
organic materials in the septic tank has resulted in the
than raw greywater quality mentioned in literature. The
reproduction of E.coli in the septic tank by 2.4 logs.
type of local manufactured detergent used by households,
The partially clarified greywater in septic tank was
amount of detergent used, food style and meals patterns as
vertically distributed into the sand filter on intermittent
well as the low consumptive of water are the key factors
bases. 87% of the BOD5, 83% of the COD and 85% of that lead to the high organic loadings which all reflected
TSS were removed by both physical and biological on the performance of the treatment system used [17]
processes within the filter media. 50% of NH4 entering
Clogging of sand is still a problem in the sand
the sand filter was removed by being assimilated into cell
filtration processes. A risk of clogging was expected and
tissues of the biomass in the top layer of the sand filters.
happened once after one year of operation. The clogging
68% of synthetic detergents (MBAS) were removed by
depth of the sand layer was about 50 cm whereas the sand
biodegradation. 3.4 log reduction in E.coli was estimated
layer depth is 60 cm. Therefore, depth of sand layer of
in the sand filter which was accomplished by physical
less than 60 cm will lead to more frequent clogging
filtration in the sand bed.
The septic tank-sand filter overall removal
efficiencies of BOD5, COD, TSS, FOG, NO3, NH4,

Onsite Greywater Treatment Using Septic Tank Followed by Intermittent Sand Filter-

The high concentration of TSS in greywater entering [5] Al- Jayyousi. OR. 2003. Greywater reuse: towards
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[6] Eawag aquatic research, 2006. Greywater
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4. Conclusion Sandec Department of Water and Sanitation in
Developing Countries.
1. The low consumption rate of water in the
household has resulted in high pollution loads of [7] Al-Jayyousi, O.R. 2002. Focused environmental
the generated greywater, and this pollution analysis for greywater reuse in Jordan.
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3. Septic tank followed by intermittent sand filter No. 2 pp 157 – 164.
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[10] Nolde, E. 1999. Greywater reuse for toilet flushing
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treatment system. Technical reports of integrated Wastewater
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Acknowledgment marginal communities of Jordan. 4th, 5th interim
Authors would like to express their deep thanks for the technical report. Royal Scientific Society.
International Development Research Centre IDRC/
Canada, Ottawa for their financial support for the project [12] Metcalf and Eddy (1991) Wastewater Engineering,
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under which this research has been done by [13] Healy, M.G., Rodgers, M., Mulqueen, J., 2007.
Environmental Research Centre of Royal Scientific Performance of a stratified sand filter in removal of
Society. chemical oxygen demand, total suspended solids, and
ammonia nitrogen from high-strength wastewaters.
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