The Environmentalist

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 409–420 | Cite as

Sewage treatment by vermifiltration with synchronous treatment of sludge by earthworms: a low-cost sustainable technology over conventional systems with potential for decentralization

  • Rajiv K. Sinha
  • Gokul Bharambe
  • Uday Chaudhari


Earthworms’ body works as a ‘biofilter’ and they have been found to remove the 5 days’ BOD (BOD5) by over 90%, COD by 80–90%, total dissolved solids (TDS) by 90–92%, and the total suspended solids (TSS) by 90–95% from wastewater by the general mechanism of ‘ingestion’ and biodegradation of organic wastes, heavy metals, and solids from wastewater and also by their ‘absorption’ through body walls. Earthworms increase the hydraulic conductivity and natural aeration by granulating the clay particles. They also grind the silt and sand particles, increasing the total specific surface area, which enhances the ability to ‘adsorb’ the organics and inorganic from the wastewater. Intensification of soil processes and aeration by the earthworms enable the soil stabilization and filtration system to become effective and smaller in size. Suspended solids are trapped on top of the vermifilter and processed by earthworms and fed to the soil microbes immobilized in the vermifilter. There is no sludge formation in the process which requires additional expenditure on landfill disposal. This is also an odor-free process and the resulting vermifiltered water is clean and disinfected enough to be reused for farm irrigation and in parks and gardens


Vermifiltration Vermifilter bed Biofilter Stimulate microbial degradation Odor-free process Synchronous sludge treatment Hydraulic retention time Hydraulic loading rate Biological oxygen demand Chemical oxygen demand Total dissolved and suspended solids 



Authors feel grateful to Professor Roger Braddock former Director of CESR at Griffith University and Professor Bofo Yu Dy. HOS and present Director of CESR, for providing the financial support to carry out the research program. We thank Jane Giffkins and Michelle in the PC 2 lab for providing the laboratory support for analytical studies and Ehrsam Werner for providing space in the PC 2 lab for experimental studies with the vermiculture kits. Gokul Bharambe deserves special appreciation for conducting experiments, doing all the calculations and preparing the tables and graphs.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rajiv K. Sinha
    • 1
  • Gokul Bharambe
    • 1
  • Uday Chaudhari
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Engineering (Environment)Griffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia

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