Grey water characterisation and pollutant loads in an urban slum

  • A. Y. KatukizaEmail author
  • M. Ronteltap
  • C. B. Niwagaba
  • F. Kansiime
  • P. N. L. Lens
Original Paper


On-site sanitation provisions in urban slums rarely prioritise grey water management, yet it forms the largest fraction of wastewater. This study was carried out to characterise grey water and quantify its pollutant loads in Bwaise III (Uganda) and to provide data for grey water management in urban slums of developing countries. Samples were collected for analysis from ten representative households as well as from four tertiary drains and the main drainage channel for 7 months in two dry seasons. Grey water production was found to comprise 85 % of the domestic water consumption. The chemical oxygen demand (COD) concentration in the grey water generated by laundry, in the kitchen and in the bathroom was 9,225 ± 1,200 mg L−1, 71,250 ± 1,011 mg L−1 and 4,675 ± 750 mg L−1, while the BOD5 (biochemical oxygen demand) to COD ratio was 0.24 ± 0.05, 0.33 ± 0.08 and 0.31 ± 0.07, respectively. The maximum concentration of Escherichia coli and total coliforms was 2.05 × 107 cfu (100 mL)−1 and 1.75 × 108 cfu (100 mL)−1, respectively, in grey water from the bathroom, while that of Salmonella spp. was 7.32 × 106 cfu (100 mL)−1 from laundry. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed a significant difference in the concentration of COD, total suspended solids (TSS), total organic carbon (TOC), dissolved organic carbon (DOC), total phosphorus (TP), sodium adsorption ratio (SAR), oil and grease, and Salmonella spp. in grey water from laundry, bathroom and kitchen (p < 0.05). The high loads of COD (>500 kg day−1), TSS (>200 kg day−1), nutrients (8.3 kg TKN day−1 and 1.4 kg TP day−1) and microorganisms (106 to 109 cfu c−1 day−1) originating from grey water in Bwaise III show that grey water poses a threat to the environment and a risk to human health in urban slums. Therefore, there is a need to prioritise grey water treatment in urban slums of developing countries to achieve adequate sanitation.


Grey water Environmental pollution Sanitation Slums 



This research was carried out as part of the research that was funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Development Cooperation (DGIS) through the UNESCO-IHE Partnership Research Fund. It was carried out in the framework of the research project ‘Addressing the Sanitation Crisis in Unsewered Slum Areas of African Mega-cities’ (SCUSA).


  1. Abu Ghunmi L, Zeeman G, van Lier J, Fayyed M (2008) Quantitative and qualitative characteristics of grey water for reuse requirements and treatment alternatives: the case of Jordan. Water Sci Technol 58(7):1385–1396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abu Ghunmi LA, Zeeman G, Fayyad M, Van Lier JB (2011) Grey water treatment systems: a review. Crit Rev Environ Sci Techno 41:657–698CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Abu-Zreig M, Rudra RP, Dickinson WT (2003) Effect of application of surfactants on hydraulic properties of soils. Biosyst Eng 84:363–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Alderlieste MC, Langeveld JG (2005) Wastewater planning in Djenné, Mali. A pilot project for the local infiltration of domestic wastewater. Water Sci Technol 51(2):57–64Google Scholar
  5. Al-Jayyousi OR (2003) Greywater reuse: towards sustainable water management. Desalination 156(1):181–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. APHA, AWWA and WEF (2005) Standard Methods for the examination of water and wastewater. American Public Health Association, American Water Works Association and Water Environment Federation publication, 21st edition. Washington DC, USAGoogle Scholar
  7. Arjoon A, Olaniran AO, Pillay B (2013) Co-contamination of water with chlorinated hydrocarbons and heavy metals: challenges and current bioremediation strategies. Int J Environ Sci Technol 10(2):395–412CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Armitage NP, Winter K, Spiegel A, Kruger E (2009) Community-focused greywater management in two informal settlements in South Africa. Water Sci Technol 59(12):2341–2350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Birks R, Hills S (2007) Characterisation of indicator organisms and pathogens in domestic greywater for recycling. Environ Monit Assess 129:61–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Busser S (2006) Studies on domestic wastewater flows in urban and peri-urban Hanoi.; Accessed 7 Feb
  11. Carden K, Armitage N, Winter K, Sichone O, Rivett U, Kahonde J (2007a) The use and disposal of grey water in the non-sewered areas of South Africa: Part 1–Quantifying the grey water generated and assessing its quality. Water SA 33(4):425–432Google Scholar
  12. Carden K, Armitage N, Sichone O, Winter K (2007b) The use and disposal of grey water in the non-sewered areas of South Africa: Part 2–Grey water management options. Water SA 33(4):433–442Google Scholar
  13. Christova-Boal D, Eden RE, McFarlane S (1996) An investigation into greywater reuse for urban residential properties. Desalination 106:391–397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chuai X, Chen X, Yang L, Zeng J, Miao A, Zhao H (2013) Effects of climatic changes and anthropogenic activities on Lake Eutrophication in different ecoregions. Int J Environ Sci Techno 9(3):503–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Crites RW, Tchobanoglous G (1998) Small and decentralized wastewater management systems. McGraw-Hill Companies, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  16. Eddy M (2003) Wastewater engineering: treatment and reuse, 4th edn. McGraw-Hill Companies, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  17. Eriksson E, Auffarth K, Henz M, Ledi A (2002) Characteristics of grey wastewater. Urban Water 4(1):85–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Escher BI, Fenner K (2011) Recent advances in environmental risk assessment of transformation products. Environ Sci Technol 45:3835–3847CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Friedler E (2004) Quality of individual domestic greywater streams and its implication for onsite treatment and reuse possibilities. Environ Technol 25(9):997–1008CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ganjegunte GK, Vance GF (2006) Deviations from the empirical sodium adsorption ratio (SAR) and exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP) relationship. Soil Sci 171(5):364–373Google Scholar
  21. Garland JL, Levine LH, Yorio NC, Adams JL, Cook KL (2000) Graywater processing in recirculating hydroponic systems: phytotoxicity, surfactant degradation, and bacterial dynamics. Water Res 34:3075–3086CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. González-Naranjo V, Boltes K (2013) Toxicity of ibuprofen and perfluorooctanoic acid for risk assessment of mixtures in aquatic and terrestrial environments. Int J Environ Sci Technol. doi: 10.1007/s13762-013-0379-9 Google Scholar
  23. Gross A, Azulai N, Oron G, Ronen Z, Arnold M, Nejidat A (2005) Environmental impact and health risks associated with greywater irrigation: a case study. Water Sci Technol 52(8):161–169Google Scholar
  24. Haas CN, Rose JB, Gerba CP (1999) Quantitative microbial risk assessment. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  25. Harremoës P (1998) Stochastic models for estimation of extreme pollution from urban runoff. Water Res 22(8):1017–1026CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hernández L, Zeeman G, Temmink H, Buisman C (2007) Characterization and biological treatment of greywater. Water Sci Technol 56(5):193–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jamrah A, Al-Futaisi A, Prathapar S, Harrasi AA (2008) Evaluating greywater reuse potential for sustainable water resources management in Oman. Environ Monit Assess 137(1–3):315–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jefferson B, Burgess JE, Pichon A, Harkness J, Judd SJ (2001) Nutrient addition to enhance biological treatment of greywater. Water Res 35(11):2702–2710CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jefferson B, Palmer A, Jeffrey P, Stuetz R, Judd S (2004) Grey water characterisation and its impact on the selection and operation of technologies for urban reuse. Water Sci Technol 50(2):157–164Google Scholar
  30. Kansiime F, van Bruggen JJA (2001) Distribution and retention of faecal coliforms in the Nakivubo wetland in Kampala, Uganda. Water Sci Technol 44(11–12):19–26Google Scholar
  31. Kariuki FW, Ngángá VG, Kotut K (2012) Hydrochemical characteristics, plant nutrients and metals in household greywater and soils in Homa Bay Town. Open Environ Eng J 5:103–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Katukiza AY, Ronteltap M, Niwagaba C, Kansiime F, Lens PNL (2010) Selection of sustainable sanitation technologies for urban slums—A case of Bwaise III in Kampala, Uganda. Sci Total Environ 409(1):52–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Katukiza AY, Ronteltap M, Niwagaba CB, Foppen JWA, Kansiime F, Lens PNL (2012) Sustainable sanitation technology options for urban slums. Biotechnol Adv 30:964–978CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Katukiza AY, Temanu H, Chung JW, Foppen JWA, Lens PNL (2013) Genomic copy concentrations of selected waterborne viruses in a slum environment in Kampala, Uganda. J Water Health 11(2):358–369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Köhler J (2006) Detergent phosphates: an EU policy assessment. J Bus Chem 3(2):15–30Google Scholar
  36. Krishnan V, Ahmad D, Jeru JB (2008) Influence of COD:N: P ratio on dark greywater treatment using a sequencing batch reactor. J Chem Technol Biotechnol 83:756–762CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kulabako NR, Ssonko NKM, Kinobe J (2011) Greywater characteristics and reuse in tower gardens in Peri-Urban Areas- experiences of Kawaala, Kampala, Uganda. Open Environ Eng J 4:147–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Li F, Wichmann K, Otterpohl R (2009) Review of technological approaches for grey water treatment and reuses. Sci Total Environ 407(11):3439–3449CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lüthi C, McConville J, Kvarnström E (2009) Community-based approaches for addressing the urban sanitation challenges. Int J Urban Sustain Dev 1(1):49–63Google Scholar
  40. Mohawesh O, Mahmoud M, Janssen M, Lennartz B (2013) Effect of irrigation with olive mill wastewater on soil hydraulic and solute transport properties. Int J Environ Sci Technol. doi: 10.1007/s13762-013-0285-1 Google Scholar
  41. Morel A, Diener S. Greywater Management in Low and Middle-Income Countries. Review of different treatment systems for households or neighbourhoods.; 2006. Accessed 03 Jan 2013
  42. Mwiganga M, Kansiime F (2005) The impact of Mpererwe landfill in Kampala–Uganda, on the surrounding environment. Phys Chem Earth 30:744–750CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Nsubuga FB, Kansiime F, Okot-Okumu J (2004) Pollution of protected springs in relation to high and low density settlements in Kampala-Uganda. Phys Chem Earth 29:1153–1159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Nyenje PM, Foppen JW, Uhlenbrook S, Kulabako R, Muwanga A (2010) Eutrophication and nutrient release in urban areas of sub-Saharan Africa: a review. Sci Total Environ 408(3):447–455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ottoson J, Stenström TA (2003) Faecal contamination of grey water and associated microbial risks. Water Res 37(3):645–655CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Paliwal KV, Gandhi AP (1974) Effect of salinity, SAR, Ca:Mg ratio in irrigation water, and soil texture on the predictability of exchangeable Sodium percentage. Soil Sci 122(2):85–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Palmquist H, Hanaeus J (2005) Hazardous substances in separately collected grey-and blackwater from ordinary Swedish households. Sci Total Environ 348:151–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Patterson RA (2001) Wastewater quality relationships with reuse options. Water Sci Technol 43(10):147–154Google Scholar
  49. Prathapar SA, Jamrah A, Ahmed M, Al Adawi S, Al Sidairi S, Al Harassi A (2005) Overcoming constraints in treated greywater reuse in Oman. Desalination 186(1–3):177–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Redwood M (2008) The application of pilot research on greywater in the Middle East North Africa region (MENA). Int J Environ Stud 65(1):109–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Schwarzenbach RP, Escher BI, Fenner K, Hofstetter TB, Johnson CA, von Gunten U, Wehrli B (2006) The challenge of micropollutants in aquatic systems. Science 313:1072–1077CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Scott MJ, Jones MN (2000) The biodegradation of surfactants in the environment. Biochim Biophys Acta Biomembr 1508(1–2):235–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sharma NK, Bhardwaj S, Srivastava PK, Thanki YJ, Gadhia PK, Gadhia M (2012) Soil chemical changes resulting from irrigating with petrochemical effluents. Int J Environ Sci Technol 9(2):361–370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Snyder SA, Westerhoff P, Yoon Y, Sedlak DL (2003) Pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and endocrine disruptors in water: implications for the water industry. EnvironEng Sci 20(5):449–469Google Scholar
  55. Suarez DL (1981) Relation between pH and sodium adsorption ratio (SAR) and an alternative method of estimating SAR of Soil or drainage waters. Soil Sci Soc Am J 45(3):469–475CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Taghipour H, Mosaferi M, Armanfar F, Gaemmagami SJ (2013) Heavy metals pollution in the soils of suburban areas in big cities: a case study. Int J Environ Sci Technol 10(2):243–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Ternes T, Joss A (2006) Human pharmaceuticals, hormones andfragrances: the challenge of micropollutants in urban water management. IWA publishing, LondonGoogle Scholar
  58. Thye YP, Templeton MR, Ali M (2011) A critical review of technologies for pit latrine emptying in developing countries. Crit Rev Environ Sci Technol 41(20):1793–1819CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Tilley E, Zurbrüg C, Lüthi C (2010) A flowstream approach for sustainable sanitation systems. In: van Vliet B, Spaargaren G, Oosterveer P (eds) Social perspectives on the sanitation challenge. Dordrecht, Springer, pp 69–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Travis MJ, Weisbrod N, Gross A (2008) Accumulation of oil and grease in soils irrigated with greywater and their potential role in soil water repellency. Sci Total Environ 394(68):74Google Scholar
  61. USEPA (2009) Method 1664 revision A: N-hexane extractable material (HEM; oil and grease) and silica gel treated N-hexane extractable material (SGT-HEM; non-polar material) by extraction and gravimetry. United States Environmental Protection Agency, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  62. Westrell T, Schönning C, Stenström TA, Ashbolt NJ (2004) QMRA (quantitative microbial risk assessment) and HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control points) for management of pathogens in wastewater and sewage sludge treatment and reuse. Water Sci Technol 50(2):23–30Google Scholar
  63. WHO, UNICEF (2012) Progress on drinking water and sanitation. Joint Monitoring Programme for water supply and sanitation (JMP)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Islamic Azad University (IAU) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Y. Katukiza
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • M. Ronteltap
    • 1
  • C. B. Niwagaba
    • 2
  • F. Kansiime
    • 3
  • P. N. L. Lens
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Engineering and Water TechnologyUNESCO-IHE Institute for Water EducationDelftThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringMakerere UniversityKampalaUganda
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Management, College of Agricultural and Environmental SciencesMakerere UniversityKampalaUganda

Personalised recommendations