EME 807
Technologies for Sustainability Systems

6.0 Overview



When we examine the sustainability profile of a particular community, we always have to look at the water system that sustains that community. Historically, people dwellings were associated with the sources of water: rivers, springs, or lakes. In modern times, the issue of water remains primary. We have more advanced technologies to extract and distribute water resources, and we have other technologies to utilize and treat water. Those technologies become key links in the universal water cycle, which involves both ecological and anthropogenic spheres. This lesson specifically focuses on the technological methods to provide efficiency for water supply and further to provide sustainability of water resources. Such technologies target the two growing problems - water resource depletion and water pollution. After touching on the background of water management systems, this lesson will direct you to the examples of lifecycle analysis, which helps identify the technologies with the higher promise for sustainability.

Learning objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • understand the water cycle, identify the main processes, and explain connections between natural and anthropogenic water paths;
  • name and explain the key sustainable technologies in water management and wastewater treatment;
  • estimate water use of anthropogenic systems;
  • compare different water treatment technologies against environmental metrics and identify pros and cons of new alternatives.


  • EPA Document: USEPA Water Conservation Plan Guidelines, EPA 1998, Appendix A: Water Conservation Measures, pp. 143-155.
  • Journal article: Vorosmarty, C.J., Sahagian, D., Anthropogenic Disturbance of the Terrestrial Water Cycle, BioScience, vol. 50, pp.753-763.
  • Journal article: Dhinadhayalan, M., Nema, A., Decentralized wastewater management - New concepts and innovative technological feasibility for developing countries, Sustain. Environ. Res., 22(1), 39-44 (2012).\
  • Journal article: Bonton, A., Bouchard, C., Barbeau, B., Jedrzejak, Comparative life cycle assessment of water treatment plants, Desalination 283, 42-54 (2012).

These articles are available online through PSU Library system - See the "Library Resources" / E-Reserves link in Canvas.


If you have any questions while working through this Lesson, please post them to our Message Board forum in Canvas. You can use that space any time to chat about course topics or to ask questions. While you are there, please feel free to post your own responses if you are able to help out a classmate.