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Wastewater treatment in Latin America: old and new options by Emanuel Idelovitch

By Emanuel Idelovitch

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There is little doubt that in Latin America and the Caribbean wastewater treatment has lagged far behind the other three components. Although the share of the urban population connected to public water supplies and sewerage systems in Latin America and the Caribbean is about 80 and 50 percent, respectively, less than 5 percent of municipal wastewater is treated at any level whatsoever. Many large cities in the region, such as Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Lima, Mexico City, and Santiago, discharge almost all their wastewater into the environment virtually untreated.

The exception would be where land is so scarce and costly that land-intensive but capital-extensive technologies can be ruled out early on. Step One: Determine the Flow of Wastewater Determining the correct flow of wastewater to be treated is fundamental to estimating the scale of investments required. For this reason, the projections of wastewater flow should be based on adequate field measurements and should be linked explicitly to the city's investment program in expanding its water supply and sewerage collection systems.

Introduction 1 2. Economic Aspects of Wastewater Treatment 3 The Constituency of Wastewater Treatment 4 The Public Health Costs of Water-Related Diseases 4 Good Environmental Management and the Global Marketplace 6 Growing Domestic Environmental Concerns 6 The Municipalization of Water and Wastewater Services 7 Levels of Urbanization, Water Supply, and Sewerage 9 Access to Safe Water and Sanitation Services for the Poor 10 Past and Needed Investments in the Sanitation Sector 11 3. Technological Options 13 Ten Steps for Selecting the Most Appropriate Treatment Scheme 13 Wastewater Treatment Methods 20 Natural Wastewater Treatment Processes 23 Sludge Treatment 25 Wastewater Reuse 28 Wastewater Treatment Aimed at Reuse 29 Sludge Reuse 33 4.

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