Wastewater Treatment at a Crossroad

中国环境学会  2011年 06月21日

  Anmin Liu, MSCE, P.E.  President, AML Environmental Engineering Consultants
  10 Mela Lane, Rancho Palos Verdes, Ca. 90275 USA
  With respect to a macroscopic view of water pollution control, wastewater treatment is one of the most important and basic measures in all. The impacts of mismanagement and ill-application of wastewater treatment can affect the entire environmental elements, simply; water, air and soil, which in turn would create imbalance of human lives in the areas of public health, disease control, acute and chronic illnesses, economic development and growth of a community, as well as life styles of general public of a community, a city and a country.  
  In general, the existing wastewater treatment laws and regulations do include the master plans, the treated effluent discharge standards, the receiving water body water quality standards, the monitoring and control regulations, the industrial wastewater management regulations. It is extremely necessary that all the above issues be working in a coordinated effort in order to achieve the required accord of the environmental goals and objectives of the States. 
  However, questions arise that is there a common goals and objectives of all these complicated issues? Does the wastewater treatment policy direction encompass the goals and objectives? Who is responsible for creating this policy?  How to begin to create this policy?
  Examinations of the present situation

  Here is where we are:  
  We have Master Plans on wastewater treatment
  We have wastewater treatment plants in operation
  We have wastewater collection systems in place
  We have discharge standards and receiving water standards
  We have regulatory agency to control and monitor the wastewater treatment plant’s performances
  We have laboratories to analyze the water qualities
  We have industrial wastewater management policies and regulations  
  We know we have other elements related to wastewater treatment, but for now, are all above elements performing its function satisfactorily and coordinated with each other smoothly? Are the practical field conditions reflects the established regulations and local government ordinances? If not, Why? Our experience was that science and technology were not the only reasons of the in-effectiveness, our failures were mainly from the impacts of civil and social factors of the community, such as general citizen’s buy-in of the wastewater treatment system, the financial support from the community, the community’s recognition of the importance of the wastewater treatment and accepts the negative impacts to the individual as well as the community due to construction and installation of the wastewater equipment and construction activities, the community needs also have an understanding that the infrastructure projects will create economic growth and job opportunities for local people, the operational staff’s qualification and capability of performing the wastewater treatment tasks.  
  By studying the above wastewater treatment functional elements, it is very much evident that wastewater treatment is not only the responsibilities of the scientific profession; it profoundly involves every walk of life in the local community.
  Therefore, when drafting the “wastewater treatment plan”, the contents in the “PLAN” will include the following categories:  
  Water Conservation
  Wastewater Collection System
  Wastewater Treatment and Disposal System
  Water Reuse
  Storm Water Management   
  It should be noted that each of the above category has social, economic, financial, and environmental impact to the local community. In the past, when managing the subject of wastewater treatment, the cost-effective construction and operational alternatives were the primary focuses to meet the future needs. The process did not always adequately consider adverse impacts on communities due to the disruptive effects of construction, nor did it always have the support of environmental, business and advocate groups with regard to induced growth, infrastructure maintenance costs, regulatory compliance, potential community impacts, or other related demographic factors.  
  For the future challenges of wastewater treatment, we are indeed at a crossroad. A “wastewater treatment plan” is imperatively needed for making the future challenges on a right track.
  The “Plan” Making and Developing Process
  I strongly believe that to bring the local community together to formulate the “policy” is the first thing to do; the word is “integration”. This integrated policy will not only encompass the collection, treatment and disposal of the community’s wastewater, but will also consider ways to improve and protect the use of all precious natural resources with the minimum impacts and the least inconvenience to the individual and the community. The spirit of this “policy” is to provide a stakeholder process and technical framework to assist decision-makers in developing supportable policies for wastewater services that integrate water quality and water supply on a community-wide basis.  
  There are three (3) parties involved in the Plan making and developing process:   
  The stakeholders: An organization representing certain view points toward the wastewater treatment policy making and developing process
  The decision-makers: Government departments who are in charge of establishing the wastewater treatment policy
  The wastewater treatment system customers: General citizens of the community who are the financial supporters as well as the users  
  This process includes two separate tracks: The data management track and the stakeholder track.  
  The data management (technical and regulatory) track 
  The data management track is to identify the following:
  The demands that must be met by a future time line
  The system are in place to address the demands
  The options available to address shortfalls between demands and system delivery capabilities  
  The stakeholder track
  The stakeholder track is to develop evaluation criteria, individual satisfaction levels and methods of measuring performance of technical options against criteria.
  Table 1-1 shows the steps of the process of creating an “Integrated Wastewater Plan”.  
  The scope of work for the integrated wastewater policy entails two concurrent efforts of tasks, the data management (technical and regulatory) effort and the stakeholder process. In the data management aspect, the technical team is charged with gathering and analyzing existing technical data pertaining to the community’s wastewater program and related service functions. The regulatory team is researching and documenting current, emerging, proposed and “crystal ball” regulations as they influence the way the community operates and maintains its wastewater program infrastructure and its related service functions. The stakeholder process will involve a series of workshops, meetings and presentations to the community and interested agencies.  
  A number of technical memorandums will be developed as the results of the data management tasks. These technical memorandums present the “tools” available to the community to meet existing and future needs. The information presented in the technical memorandums will be used as the primary source of technical information for the “wastewater treatment policy” stakeholder process, and for the development of policy alternatives for the wastewater treatment master plan.   
  The “tools” can include, but not limited, the following:
  Potable water system
  Wastewater collection system
  Wastewater treatment and effluent discharge facilities
  Biosolids management options
  Local regulations pertaining to effluent discharge and biosolids disposal
  Recycled water system
  Low flow management
  Wastewater flow reduction
  Financial and funding mechanism
  IV.   Conclusions
  As the data management track and the stakeholder track complete their individual tasks that is when the frame of the “Integrated Wastewater Plan” formed and the implementation plan of the “Integrated Wastewater Plan” begin to execute.   
  The very basic responsibilities of the community government is to recognize that the community’s infrastructures, wastewater treatment facilities, the wastewater collection systems, the storm water conveying system, the water reuse facilities, are subject to local, state, and federal legislation and regulation intended to protect public health and fulfill environmental goals and objectives. The legislation and regulatory framework is extensive and is in a continuous state of development, new standards and regulatory requirements could require the community to invest in new and/or modify existing facilities and to create new ordinances for monitor and control of the performances of the facilities. In planning for the future, it is important for the community to participate in, all aspects of the development of the regulatory process. It is also imperative that the community maintains a mechanism to assess the future legislation or regulations and to develop appropriate response policies and positions in a timely manner. As the community government’s responsibilities are clear, then this “Integrated Wastewater Plan” can then be used to identify guide lines to assist the community government in formulating and recommending policies to respond appropriately to regulatory changes or to influence the development of the regulatory policies related to wastewater treatment programs and storm water management programs.
  Table 1-1 Steps of Creating an Integrated Wastewater Policy    


























Evaluating contents




Evaluating what

Introducing the

and projected


participants to the


is already available

concept of

requirements, issues




to meet needs

evaluation criteria

and needs







and stakeholder



































Establishing the


Identifying the


Establishing the


broad range of


range of criteria


baseline thematic

individual views

individual options


and means of



of importance and

for each service


























Searching for those alternatives that are most  


Searching for the "desirable," acceptable," and

successful in addressing community concerns


"unacceptable" policy features of any program

and achieving Stakeholder Goals



Identified by the community.

















Securing the common ground and identifying






remaining conflicts



















Guaranteeing agreement on the thorough,






accurate and fair representation of all view.











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  astewater Treatment at a Cross Road

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