A Cheap, Easy Fix to Rio’s Sewage Problem

A Cheap, Easy Fix to Rio’s Sewage Problem | Source: The Atlantic, Aug 4 2016 |

The reason so much sewage is flushed directly into Rio’s Guanabara Bay, city officials have argued, is that it’s too difficult to lay pipes in much of the city. The favelas are crowded and carved into steep mountainsides.

biodigest

Barros uses cups to demonstrate how the biodigester works. (Olga Khazan / The Atlantic)

They can be dangerous. Environmental activists, meanwhile, contend there’s not enough government will behind sanitation projects.

But there is one solution that gets around these issues: A cheap, seven-foot, cement dome that treats sewage with little more than some rocks, plants, and, well, coprophagic bacteria.

I learned about this contraption, called a biodigester, on a December reporting trip to Rio. On a scorching hot day, I took a cab up a mountain in the city’s northern zone, where I met Otavio Barros, the leader of the Vale Encantado community.

Read the complete article.

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