EME 807
Technologies for Sustainability Systems

Summary & Activities

This lesson drew some connections between the global water resources and human needs for water. With the fast-growing population and fresh water needs, the balance in the hydrologic cycle and pollution of water resources become critical issues. While there are technologies in place to adapt natural water for human use and to adapt the human-used water for environmental use, their capacity and effectiveness are not always sufficient. Water conservation and reuse are other important strategies to complement the combined water cycle. Sustainable water management implies the systematic approach to the water resources and considers anthropogenic water flows and storages as parts of the universal water cycle. Because there is no substitute for water (like, for example, substitutes for fossil fuels), societies will continue demanding water in great amounts. Therefore, water management and treatment technologies will continue being top priority, and innovation in this area will play a key role in sustainability.

While there are many hot topics to review in this area (we did it to some extent and you should feel free to explore more background on your own), our main focus in this lesson is to learn how to evaluate prospective technologies based on the available information. This may be not a simple exercise, but rather a quite complex practical task. That is why it is important to tap into real-world studies and learn from them. Activities in this lesson give you some scenarios to work with and will hopefully provide you with some practice of evaluatory thinking.

Assignments for Lesson 6:
Type Assignment Directions Submit To
Reading Complete all necessary reading assigned in this lesson. Do not forget to open the links in the text. Although many linked materials are considered supplemental (unless it is marked as "reading assignment"), you will benefit from including those materials in your learning - they give you a more complete story on the topic and contain great examples.
Forum Discussion

Use this online calculator to determine the waste water generation rate at your household. You will need to check all question marks on the house model to supply specific information. It takes about 10 min. In the end go to "Show results", where you get statistics for your water use. Take a look at your annual water bill (if available) - how does your actual water use compare to the number output by the calculator? (Calculator uses averaged data and assumptions for appliances but does not take into account individual conservation measures, so the results may differ)

If you take your water use as an average (per household) in your area, can you estimate the total domestic wastewater generation in your home town or area? How does that compare to the capacity of your local wastewater treatment facility? You may need to check your municipality websites for some information.

Please post your report by Sunday night / comments to other posts - by Wednesday night

Share your results in the Lesson 6 Discussion Forum.
Activity Watch these two videos comparing biological and chemical methods of water treatment.

Chemical vs. Biological Wastewater Treatment - Part 1

Chemical vs. Biological Wastewater Treatment - Part 2

In a brief (2 page max) report, express your opinion on the three questions: (1) Which type of water treatment seems to be preferable – indicate specific advantages; (2) What holds off the universal application of this preferable technology - indicate specific disadvantages or obstacles; (3) If you are asked to issue a recommendation on which type of treatment to use at your location, what key questions would you investigate as part of your decision making? Feel free to search more information on the methods discussed in the videos and those used at your local area treatment plants.

Submission deadline: Wednesday (before midnight) - check Canvas calendar for specific dates.
Upload assignment in docx or pdf format to Lesson 6 Activity Dropbox.

Course Project Revisit the Course Project Instructions on Canvas
Unless you have already started, this is the time to work on the technical review for your course project. This interim report should summarize important operational data on your technology of choice. It should cover the status of the technology, technical promise, readiness for implementation (TRL), areas of impact, technical obstacles (e.g., efficiency, design flaws, etc.), and examples of application (if any).

This is not the final submission, but more like work in progress. Based on the feedback from instructor, this part of the project would be further modified and included in the final report paper. Recommended length of this report: 3-4 pages, including figures and references.

Submission deadline: check Canvas calendar for specific dates.

References for Lesson 6:

Bonton, A., Bouchard, C., Barbeau, B., Jedrzejak, Comparative life cycle assessment of water treatment plants, Desalination 283, 42-54 (2012).

CSR, Rules of Department of Natural Resources, Chapter 7: Water Quality, Code of State Regulations, 2014.

Dhinadhayalan, M., Nema, A., Decentralised wastewater management - New concepts and innovative technological feasibility for developing countries, Sustain. Environ. Res., 22(1), 39-44 (2012).

Girard, J.E., Principle of Environmental Chemistry, 3rd Ed., Jones & Bartlett Learning (2013).

US EPA Water Conservation Plan Guidelines, Appendix A: Water Conservation Measures, pp. 143-155, EPA (1998).

USDA, Conservation and the Water Cycle, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 2001.

USGS, Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2005, Circular 1344, 2009.

Vorosmarty, C.J., Sahagian, D., Anthropogenic Disturbance of the Terrestrial Water Cycle, BioScience, vol. 50, pp.753-763 (2000).