From its very inception, BMT has always taken social responsibility seriously. As one of the world’s leading engineering and consulting businesses, we know we have the power to drive genuine, positive change in those parts of the world that need a helping hand. That’s why we launched a unique initiative called “BMT Giveback” which invited our employees to submit ideas for innovative engineering solutions to global problems. From flooding, drought and housing to sanitation, energy supply and food production, our teams were challenged to deliver ideas that reflected our values and built on our reputation for delivering world-class projects that make a difference.
After receiving over a hundred entries for projects ranging from sustainable power barges and disaster relief ships to rainwater traps and rice planting machines, the competition found a winner – a low-cost, innovative, scalable drainage and sewage treatment system to reduce the risk of water borne disease, submitted by our expert teams in India.
The small agricultural village of Khintla in India’s Gujarat region was a community in desperate need of just such a system. Before a project to install a system of bore wells and storage tanks in 2009, villagers had to walk a minimum of 2.5km each way to collect clean water. But even after the project, few households had toilets and the village had no paved roads, storm water drainage, or safe sewerage or sewage treatment facilities, meaning that each household was forced to dispose their waste water directly into the street. This raised the risk of deadly water-borne diseases such as dysentery, typhoid and jaundice, so it was essential to help Khintla as quickly as possible.
The challenge facing our engineers was thus a considerable one - to design and install a low-cost, scalable sewerage and sewage treatment system that could be constructed from locally available materials, could be maintained cheaply, worked with low water flows and suited the topography of the village.
Working in partnership with the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) we designed and delivered a new network of main trunk sewers and secondary lines to manage the collection of sewage from residential areas and convey it to a sewage treatment plant in the southeast of the village. From there, it was then treated and used to irrigate land that had been earmarked for cultivation. The design of the network was an innovative one that:
The system also had to keep the initial capital investment and subsequent operating costs as low as possible and needed to be designed so that it could be operated, monitored and maintained by local people who would need to manage the system with little external help. It was a tall order, but our engineers were up to the task and proposed a Decentralised Wastewater Treatment System (DEWATS) that used minimal energy to help the village.
After breaking ground in 2010, our engineers and volunteers conducted numerous surveys and endured a monsoon to put the designs into practice and deliver the village’s first ever drainage and sewage treatment system to help tackle their sanitation problems once and for all.
Village leader Babu Kavad said:
“Now our village will be clean throughout the year as every household has been connected with the sewerage network.''