Decentralized Wastewater Management

by David Venhuizen, Consulting Engr.; Engineering and Planning, Uhland, TX,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1991, Vol. 61, Issue 1, Pg. 69-71

Document Type: Feature article


With the discovery earlier this century that city squalor caused disease, we protected ourselves by piping raw wastes away. Later, when the discharge had transformed rivers into foul, open sewers, we piped the waste away, treated it, then dumped it. Now we reuse the treated effluent. We pay to have the wastewater piped away, and once treated, pay again to have it piped back for reuse. Turning to a decentralized concept of wastewater management, however, could cut costs by treating and reusing reclaimed water as close to the source of generation as is practical. Currently we view wastewater management as a dichotomy�it's wither on-site or centralized. The basic principle of a decentralized system, however, may be applied to low-density developments where individual on-site systems (conventional septic tank/drainfield systems) are cost efficient, but restricted by environmental restraints. It may also apply to higher-density developments where cluster systems might be the best management alternative; and very large developments with fairly high potential density. Basically, a septic tank at the point of flow is the first stage of such a system's treatment train.

Subject Headings: Wastewater management | Water reclamation | Waste management | Pipes | Wastewater treatment | Waste treatment | Benefit cost ratios

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