Development of an impact assessment methodology and decision making tool to assist in the evaluation of site suitability for on-site sanitation systems
Viviers, Johanna Christina
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Groundwater plays an important role in water supply to rural communities. This statement is supported by the survey conducted at clinics within the Limpopo Province where the majority of aquifers in the area can be classified as Sole Source aquifers, supplying 50 % or more of domestic water in the absence of any reasonable alternative. The water quality study also concluded that the impact from on site sanitation on the groundwater system is significant given that 44 % of water samples of clinics with their own water supply classified as either poor or dangerous quality according to DWAF criteria and poses a significant health risk to susceptible individuals. Groundwater quality should therefore be protected with an emphasis on prevention as in most cases groundwater pollution is difficult to reverse and remediation is often a lengthy and expensive exercise. Although South Africa has all the legal tools to promote sustainable development, financial considerations are usually the driving force behind technology selection and not social or environmental aspects. The aim of this research is to develop an environmental impact assessment methodology and decision support framework that will aid in the selection of the most appropriate on site sanitation technology for a given area integrating environmental, economical and social criteria. The decision support framework developed in this study had a strong stakeholder component, involving stakeholders in the decision making process from the conception of the project through to the resolution of actions. Providing objective information about the performance of options, coupled with an opportunity to participate in the decision-making process, increases the awareness and commitment of the community. Field testing of the decision support framework produced good results and sensible recommendations were made with regard to alternative selection.