Sustainable decentralised wastewater treatment schemes in the context of Lobitos, Peru

12 Feb 2018

The implementation of decentralised wastewater treatment systems, such as biodigesters, septic tanks and treatment ponds, provides opportunities for rural or remote communities to be self-reliant and avoid infrastructural connections to faraway urban areas. However, the effectiveness, sustainability and success of such systems is heavily tied to understanding the overall context (geographical, social, cultural, political and economic) in which they are installed, as well as the ease of their operation and maintenance in the long term. Shortcomings to addressing these aspects can lead to the failure of a project. Using the town of Lobitos, located in the Piura District on the northern coast of Peru, as the case study for this research, this paper is discussing and analysing the use of biodigesters as a more sustainable solution over larger municipal wastewater systems in the context of Lobitos. It explains reasons, such as community engagement, behind past failures of such systems and outlines lessons learned from a practitioner’s perspective. It concludes that addressing the local context as well as considering its impact throughout the project cycle, such as installation and future operation and maintenance, helps to ensure continued delivery of safe and sustainable wastewater treatment.