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Water Financing Partnership Facility

RETA 6498: Knowledge and Innovation Support for ADB’s Water Financing Program


Application Form

Activity Title: Field testing of innovative onsite sanitation system - Solar Septic Tank
Proposer (Name, Organization): Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand
Request Date: 10 December 2016
Country: Thailand Region: Southeast Asia
Activity Proposed Start Date: 1 July 2017 Activity Proposed Duration: 12 months

Cost Estimate: $124,200 (ADB PDA Grant is $75,000 and $49,200 is AIT counterpart)
Implementing Organization Contact: Dr. Thammarat Koottatep
ADB Activity Officer – name, Michael White
position, division, telephone Urban Development Specialist, SEUW
and e-mail:

A. Background and Rationale:

1. Solar septic tank (SST) - an innovative onsite sanitation technology that harvests free
solar energy to increase temperature inside the septic tanks (Figure 1). The elevated
temperature inactivates pathogens, converts organic wastes into methane (biogas), and
alleviates the environmental problems associated with fecal sludge handling in conventional
septic tank system. This will overcome the need of frequent desludging, fecal sludge treatment
and secondary treatment of septic tank effluents. As a result, implementation of SST as the
onsite sanitation system, will reduce the associated burden for fecal sludge management
through the efficient biodegradation in SST units. Demonstration of the innovative SST units will
provide promising technology alternative for ADB sanitation initiatives on fecal sludge

2. SST has successfully gone through laboratory, pilot-scale field testing which is ready as
Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Additional field testing of MVP is required to demonstrate its
practical applicability in different local settings and to consider other relevant factors in the fields
such as user types (private houses i.e. 4-5 users, and community level ranging 15-20 users),
diverse weather (availability of solar energy) and ground conditions (surrounding water table-
flooded, high water level), etc.

a) b) c)

Figure 1: a, b) schematic of solar septic tanks; and c) photo of solar septic tanks installed for field testing

B. Goals & Objectives:

3. The overall goal is to demonstrate the operational feasibility of SST as an additional

option for sustainable onsite sanitation systems. It further aims to validate the treatment
performance of SST operating in actual conditions with fluctuating operational parameters such
as: solar radiation, ambient temperature, black water characteristics, and water use.

4. The specific objectives are to:

 examine the effluents quality in terms of organic matters, solids and pathogen (E.
coli) removal
 monitor the changes in groundwater and river water quality in nearby area
 measure the bio-gas production
 determine the technical feasibility of solar energy to heat up the system
 evaluate the user perception on the use of SST (physical use) and its by-products
(reusable water or biogas)
 identify the most likely problems in the operation of SST

C. Scope and location of Work / Description of Activities:

5. The proposed scope of the PDA comprises installation, monitoring and evaluation of
SST towards the demonstration of operational feasibility. In this regard, out of 8 SST, 3 will be
installed in Thailand and 5 in Cambodia. The monitoring of SST will be carried out for six

Location of the project

6. The field testing will be carried out in Thailand and Cambodia. In Thailand, 3 SST will be
installed in Klong Song municipality, Pathumthani province, which is characterized as a flood
prone area. In Cambodia, 5 units will be installed in areas where innovative sanitation is
proposed to be demonstrated as part of Second Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project
Additional Financing.

Descriptions of activities

7. The detailed activities of the PDA are listed below:

 Organization of stakeholder (such as: local authority, householders, concerned

governed officers) engagement workshops
 Site selection considering the availability of solar radiation and number of users
(individual house or community scale)
 Toilet construction (Appendix, Figure 1). Since households from selected areas of
Thailand likely to have their own toilets, in this case the existing toilet unit will be
modified/ or retrofitted with SST system. In case of Cambodia if selected households
do not have their improved toilet units, then complete toilets unit which includes
super structure and SST system will be installed
 Land preparation (i.e. clearing and levelling): Digging a soil profile hole, which will
be used to place the septic tanks. The bottom of pit should be filled with sand
and concrete so that it could hold the septic tank firmly
 Erection of super-structure of toilet and other supporting structure (In case of
area with new super-structure construction area). The toilet structure should be
strong enough to withstand the weight of solar water heating device to be kept in
the top of roof. Similarly, in case of utilizing the existing structure, necessary
adjustment will be done to hold the water heating device
 Installation of toilet (commode) and other associated plumping and sanitary units
( as per required)
 Installation of pre-fabricated septic tanks
 Installation of solar water heating system. This includes placing of solar collector,
connecting hot water storage tank to heat exchanger device ( placed inside septic
tank) ( Figure 3 in Appendix)
 Installation of water circulation pump and temperature control device to adjusting hot-
water flow, and temperature inside the septic tank
 Installation water flow meter, user counter device, septic tanks temperature
measuring devices
 Identification and preparation of sample collection locations/points of wastewater
 Addition of inoculum sludge (seed microbes) from the used solar septic tank to kick
off the anaerobic process
 Commencement of the test run
 Handover of the toilets to local communities or households for its regular use
 Collection of septic tank influent, effluent samples on a biweekly basis
 Collection of groundwater (within periphery of 500 m from SST installation) and
surface water (in a close proximity depending on the availability of water source )
samples on a biweekly basis
 Laboratory analysis of the biweekly collected samples
 Synthesis of observation data and laboratory results and performance evaluation
 Interview of users about their perception in use and operation of SST following the
technical evaluation of SST

D. Implementation Schedule, Institutional Management Arrangements, and
Proponent Qualifications:


8. The PDA will be implemented over a period of 12 months as shown in the detailed
implementation schedule below.

No Activities 2017 2018

Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
1 Installation of toilet
1.1 Site selection and land
1.2 Construction or
adjustments of toilet
(as per required)
2 Fabrication of SST
3 Installation of solar
water heating device
4 Installation of SST
5 Sampling and
6 Data analysis and
report preparation
7 Final Report

Institutional management

9. The PDA will be implemented by engaging two experts (FSM Design Specialist and
Research and Laboratory Specialist) from the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT). AIT is among
the eight partners of UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, which has been awarded a
US$8 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BGMF). Spread over five years,
the grant is targeted at education and research in postgraduate programs with a focus on
solutions for the urban poor in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.
10. Through this grant program, AIT is helping reinvent a new generation of sanitation
technologies with affordable cost to the poor without compromising the health and
environmental risks.
11. Research themes include smart sanitation provision for slums and informal settlements,
emergency sanitation following natural and anthropological disasters, resource recovery
oriented decentralized sanitation, low‐cost wastewater collection and treatment and faecal
sludge management.
E. Expected Results (outputs/outcomes/effects/impacts):

12. The expected results are as follows:


Installation of 8 units of SST in peri-urban area of Cambodia and Thailand is considered

as major outputs


SST will be demonstrated as an option of FSM chain. This will exhibit the effectiveness
of SST to improve the water quality of nearby groundwater and surface water.


 Overcome the risks of indiscriminate fecal sludge disposal, and contamination of

local groundwater and surface water
 Groundwater and surface water qualities of nearby area will be improved
 User perception towards use of new technology will be enhanced

F. Measurable Performance Indicators

13. Performance indicators are set follows:

 Testing of water quality of nearby groundwater and river water

 Measuring of user perception and satisfaction level in use of SST and its by-product
 Assessing of treatment performance of SST, in-which, removal organic matter (COD
and BOD), solids (TSS and TVS) is set about 80% and 1-3 Log reduction of
pathogen (E. coli indicator)
 Measuring the temperature distribution inside the septic tank in reference to 35-

G. Stakeholders Participation

14. Prior to implementing SST units, stakeholder analysis will be undertaken in order to
ensure the engagement of key stakeholders such as local authority, householders, etc.
including related governmental officers in implementation, operation and maintenance of the
systems. Stakeholder engagement workshops will be arranged so that linkages with local
communities and national authorities can be established.

15. Main outputs of the project are scientific evidences ensuring the technical and operation
feasibility of newly invented toilet technology. The improvement of environmental pollution and
others impacts demonstrated by the field test will acts as a platform to create policy brief in
consultation with key responsible agencies such as Pollution Control Department, Ministry of
Natural Resources and Environment; and Department of Local Administration, Ministry of
Interior of the respective countries.

H. Scope for Replication/Use in Other DMCs

16. This PDA aims to demonstrate the operational feasibility of SST in local community.
During the project periods, performance of SST will be observed by different stakeholders,
which is supposed to draw interest of concerned group and the project will be likely to be
replicated in other parts of the pilot countries and other parts of the region where innovative
FSM solutions are being implemented by ADB and where SST would be applicable.

The solar septic tanks are equipped with data loggers and temperature sensors (located at the tank’s inside, solar
water heating devices and heat exchanger devices) which will collect data about the temperatures of solar septic tank
system (recording the data in every 15- 30 minutes). This data can be used as a preliminary indicator for comparing
technical performance of septic tanks technology in each site.

I. Cost Estimates

17. The total cost of the PDA is estimated at $124,200 with PDA grant amounting to $75,000
to cover the cost of expert inputs and the balance of $49,200 as AIT counterpart to cover civil
works and equipment as shown below.

Cost ( US$)
Activities Unit
Per unit Total
1. Expert Inputs
1.1 Remuneration
- FSM Design Specialist 60 person-days 600 36,000
- Research and Laboratory Specialist 66 person-days 400 26,400
1.2 Out-of-pocket expenses (international and Lump-sum 12,600
domestic travel and per diem)
Total Expert Inputs (ADB Share) 75,000
2. Civil Works and Equipment
2.1 Solar heating system 8 units 2,200 14,700
2.2 Fabrication 8 units 1,000 6,000
2.3 Earthworks and Installation solar septic 8 units 500 3,000
2.4 Purchase and installation of water flow 8 units 200 1,600
meter, user counter device, temperature
2.5 In-situ temperature data logger 8 units 1600 10,000
2.6 Air bag ( bio-gas collection device) 20 units 100 2,000
2.7 Bio-gas volume measuring apparatus (gas 2 units 200 400
2.8 Toilet construction
- Cambodia (new toilet) 5 units 2000 10,000
- Thailand (modification) 3 units 500 1,500
Total Civil Works and Equipment (AIT Share) 49,200
Total 124,200


Figure 1: Major activities of SST installations (Photos were taken previously installed SST in
Thailand by AIT)