EME 807
Technologies for Sustainability Systems

Summary & Activities


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. In the end go to "Show results", where you get statistics for your water use. Then 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 information such as capacity and the area they serve.

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

Share your results in the Lesson 6 Discussion Forum.
Course Project

This week, peer reviews on the course project outlines are due. Please email your reviews directly to the authors of the presentations you are assigned and also submit them in the designated dropbox in Canvas for grading.

Revisit Lesson 12 (Page 12.4) for more guidance on the peer review preparation. 

Submission deadline: check Canvas calendar for specific dates.

Canvas - Course Project Module 

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).