GAO Finds Massive Failure of Wastewater Treatment Plants

by Allen Morrison, Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1981, Vol. 51, Issue 4, Pg. 74-76

Document Type: Feature article


A year-long study by the General Accounting Office of 242 wastewater treatment plants in 10 states concluded that discharge permit violations are the norm, not the exception. The failures, GAO wrote, may represent the potential waste of tens of millions of dollars in Federal, state, and local moneys. The agency identified five basic reasons for such widespread noncompliance: design deficiencies, operation and maintenance deficiencies, industrial waste overloads, infiltration/inflow problems, and equipment problems. These causes of plant malfunction and GAO's recommendations on how to improve compliance are reviewed.

Subject Headings: Wastewater treatment plants | Failure analysis | Waste management | Financial management | Water discharge | Permits | Federal government | Maintenance

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