Wastewater management in urban Bhutan: Assessing the current practices and challenges

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Process Safety and Environmental Protection, 2019, 132 pp. 82 - 93
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
© 2019 Institution of Chemical Engineers This study reviews the current wastewater management practices and their challenges in urban Bhutan. The study data was collected from the local authorities of 35 classified towns, and the field survey was conducted for the two representative towns of Thimphu City and Khuruthang town. The study observed that only eight of the 35 classified towns (22.8%) have public sewerage systems, with an average coverage of 19.7% of Bhutan's total urban population, or 7.4% of Bhutan's entire population. The imported modular wastewater treatment technology was significantly more expensive than alternative options; however, approximately six towns have already adopted this technology, due to a lack of space for a much cheaper waste stabilisation ponds. Currently, over 80% of Bhutan's urban population depends on the on-site sanitation system for their domestic wastewater disposal; however, over 40% of these properties lacked a soak-pit system for the safe disposal of septic tank effluent. Therefore, this study indicates that urban settlements in Bhutan are potentially subjected to overflow of significant amount of hazardous septic tank effluents directly into the environment posing significant risk to public and the environment. A critical urban plot space analysis indicates that the current system of on-site sanitation is inadequate and unsuitable for the current urban settings. Since it is impractical for the government to provide public sewerage system to all the towns, a low-cost public sewerage system, or an alternative and improved on-site treatment system, needs to be explored and promoted to achieve long-term environmental objectives.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: