Environmental life cycle impacts of small wastewater treatment plants: Design recommendations for impact mitigation

Andrew Pham, Sussan Moussavi, Matthew Thompson, Bruce Dvorak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The objective of this study was to quantify potential mitigation of environmental impacts from the operation and construction of wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) from implementing specific design recommendations. The study investigated small WWTPs, many of which are serving slow growing or declining populations. Life Cycle Assessment methodology was used to evaluate and compare the inventory and environmental impacts of nine small WWTP case studies. Detailed inventory data was collected from the facilities’ engineering design plans and utility bills. One recommended practice was to avoid significant overdesign by planning for no lower than a 75% capacity utilization by the facilities’ end-of-life. A theoretical correction to a 75% capacity utilization was estimated to mitigate 0.4% of lifetime electricity usage and 1% of secondary process concrete for every 1% reduction in design average flow rate. Relatedly, a 0.4% mitigation in the Carcinogenic and Global Warming impacts could be achieved for every 1% reduction in design average flow toward a 75% capacity utilization. Other suggested practices were focused on conveyance, namely, to minimize non-process facility area and to use polyvinyl chloride pipe instead of ductile iron pipe where possible. The latter practice was estimated to mitigate between 1.1 and 4.8% of the Carcinogenic impact in the nine case studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number117758
JournalWater Research
Volume207
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

Keywords

  • Civil works
  • Construction materials
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Overdesign
  • Small communities
  • Wastewater treatment plant design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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