Black water


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Terms & Synonyms

Official WHO Definition

Black water is water that has come into contact with human or animal excreta, and waste from food preparation which is commonly referred to as sewage (World Plumbing Council Working Group 2008).Also, source-separated wastewater from toilets, containing faeces, urine and flushing water (WHO 2006).See blackwater.

Other Definitions


Interpretations and Explanations

Black water contains a high level of microbial pathogen contamination and is a high risk water source. Black water cannot be reused without a high degree of treatment and management control. The most frequent test for contamination is for E. coli (New Zealand Ministry of Health 2007).Black water is a high risk source of water for reuse. It requires a high level of management control to ensure the protection of public health, the environmental health and education material for the plumbing industry, end users and the general public (New Zealand 2007).Pathogenic contamination of foods can be caused by use of black water for irrigation or fertilization on food crops. Contamination of drinking water, washing water, or recreational water by untreated black water will contribute human or animal pathogens (World Plumbing Council 2008).  


New Zealand Ministry of Health (2007) Pathogens and Pathways and Small Drinking Water SuppliesWHO (2006) WHO Guidelines for the safe use of wastewater, excreta and greywater 

Wastewater management for small communities

WHO Lexicon page (translations and examples)

See also

External Resources


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