INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308 International Journal of Civil Engineering and OF CIVIL ENGINEERING (Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 3, Issue 1, January- June (2012), © IAEME AND TECHNOLOGY (IJCIET) ISSN 0976 – 6308 (Print) ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 3, Issue 1, January- June (2012), pp. 45-61 IJCIET © IAEME: www.iaeme.com/ijciet.html Journal Impact Factor (2011): 1.2000 (Calculated by GISI) ©IAEME www.jifactor.com SUSTAINABILITY PERCEPTIONS ON WASTEWATER TREATMENT OPERATIONS IN URBAN AREAS OF DEVELOPING WORLD R Radhakrishanan1, A Praveen2 1 Research scholar, Department of Civil Engineering, Karpagam University, Coimbatore - 641 021 India Email: email@example.com 2 Faculty of Civil Engineering, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Technology, Kottayam , Kerala, 686 501, India Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ABSTRACT Implementation of the sustainability concepts in water use and management have received considerable attention all over the world. These efforts have led to the initiation of well-coordinated attempts to ensure reliable wastewater management systems across wide range of industrial or commercial operations. The choice of wastewater treatment technology in a particular organizational setting is often influenced by large number of factors. In the case of rapidly expanding developing state like Kerala, the decision on the choice of wastewater treatment unit in an organization is often based on the acceptability of the pollution control agencies than through any rigorous evaluation for the process sustainability. The research initiatives undertaken elsewhere have emphasized the need for evaluation of three broad aspects of sustainability - economic, environment and social - in the planning and design of wastewater treatment units. This paper examines the degree of acceptability of the sustainability concepts in the wastewater treatment operations for Indian scenario. The assessment is made based on the information collected on the wastewater treatment operations carried out at a few selected cases. The research outputs bring to light the areas that need strengthening of organizational capability in taking environmentally, economically and socially conscious decision- making relating to wastewater treatment operations. Key words: Sustainability, Perceptions, Waste water treatment, Energy efficiency aerobic / anaerobic treatment. 45 International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308 (Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 3, Issue 1, January- June (2012), © IAEME INTRODUCTION Water has been the focus of all sustainable development initiatives due to the universal importance it hold to support all types of life forms on earth. The water policies proposed have often tried to achieve unrealistic social and environmental targets and hence the methods to achieve sustainability are often seen with lot of skeptism (Iglesias and Buono, 2009). The earlier definition of sustainable development, proposed by the Brundland Commission, emphasized both the inter-generational and developmental problems along with the identification of environmental and social linkages (United Nations General Assembly, 1987). Later, World Bank evolved an approach incorporating economic, social and environmental aspects to evaluate the sustainability aspect in the development process (Munasinghe, 1993). The global level initiatives in this direction were started with the framework proposed through world conservation strategy in the year 1987. Later in the year 1992, at the Rio Earth Summit, the need for country level governmental intervention was highlighted. In continuation to this, World Strategy for Sustainable Development appealed to all the governments to evolve their own approaches to plan and implement steps for sustainable development in 2002. The efficiency and effectiveness of these interventions need to be assessed methodologically to understand the impact and utility of sustainability initiatives. Though different type of frameworks have been established to evaluate the sustainability initiatives, the indicator approach is often adopted for sustainability assessment of wastewater treatment units (Spangenberg, et al, 2002; Iglesias and Buono, 2009). The techniques adopted to assess the sustainability of wastewater treatment need to consider large number of factors like the type of community, demographic pattern, geography, culture and the population served. Based on the aforementioned factors various methods like, life cycle cost assessment (LCA) method, exergy analysis and economic evaluation method are proposed for sustainability evaluation (Nilsson and Bergstrom, 1995; Hellstorm, 1997; Horvath and Hendrickson, 1998; Lundin et al, 1999; Hunkeler and Biswas, 2000; Balkema et al, 2002; Lundin and Morrison, 2002; Rebitzer, 2002; Rebitzer et al, 2003; Muga and Mihelic, 2008). In addition to these methods, computer model based evaluation of the system incorporating all the associated costs and the benefits obtained through recovery/reuse is also proposed to provide better perception on the sustainability (Woods et al, 1999, Hunag and Xia, 2001). Most of the above approaches have tried to focus on either quantitative or qualitative description of environmental, economical and social aspects with relatively less attention paid to the public opinion in the decision-making. The objective of all sustainable development approaches was to redefine the decision making process with incorporation of social, economic and environmental aspects capable of generating public confidence in the development proposals. The wastewater treatment operations implemented all over the world are mostly technology driven treatment processes capable of generating clean water for ensuring ecological sustainability (Gujer, 1996). The life cycle of water in a water supply system usually begin with the withdrawal of water from any surface or subsurface source. It is then made to pass through a set of water treatment operations before entering the distribution network. From the distribution system, the treated water is used for various activities and is finally regenerated as wastewater. This wastewater is treated to remove the contaminants and is either disposed or reused as per the water quality norms (Metcalf 46 International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308 (Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 3, Issue 1, January- June (2012), © IAEME and Eddy, 2003; Lundin and Morrison, 2002). Contrary to the expectations, the wastewater treatment units installed to ensure better environmental health and hygiene, tend to cause small disturbance to the existing local hydrological and ecological balance. The treated wastewater containing low concentration of dissolved impurities could lead to objectionable level of pollutant mass concentration in the receiving water bodies when the volume of disposed wastewater become very high (Muga and Mihelic, 2008). Further, more stringent water quality standards often culminated in more sophisticated treatment technologies resulting in higher operational energy, accumulation of more sludge and finally higher cost of treatment (DETR, 1998). And, setting up of huge centrally managed facilities to treat the wastewater also resulted in systems having high level of embodied energy (Muga and Mihelic, 2008). Thus, an effective research intervention to understand the decisions taken with the objective of setting up sustainable wastewater treatment units to reduce the ecological disturbance besides ensuring cost effectiveness have become a necessity. Various researchers have emphasized the need for the local level information to ensure reliability in the evaluation of any specific projects for sustainable development (Fraser et al, 2006). And thus, the existing information gap regarding the key elements needed to establish economic, environmental and social sustainability of wastewater treatment facilities need to be addressed effectively. In the developing regions of the world, the major problem demanding urgent attention is the rapid population growth resulting in the scarcity of water and the large- scale contamination of rivers and other water bodies. Considering the successful performance of wastewater treatment technologies in the advanced economies, large numbers of such solutions or products are directly transferred from the developed nations to the developing countries. But most of them have failed to deliver either due to the high operational and maintenance cost or poor compatibility with the prevailing local situations (van Leir et. al., 1998). Majority of developing nations are not successful in evolving effective policies on wastewater treatment practices due to higher priority attributed towards other issues being faced by them. And due to these reasons, it is believed that these countries most often select simple and cost-effective appropriate solutions over more mechanized treatment technologies (Sperling, 1996). This calls for increased need for appropriate and energy efficient wastewater treatment solutions compatible to the local conditions (Sperling, 1996; Helmer and Hespanbol, 1997; Varis and Somlyody, 1997). Thus in the context of rising concern about the strategies being followed all over the world for the effective management of the environment it has become inevitable to install more efficient and effective wastewater treatment solutions capable of ensuring environmental, economic and social sustainability in these regions (Zakkour et al, 2002, Muga and Mihelic, 2008). In a country like India, which experiences rapid expansion of business operations, ample opportunities for easy transfer of mechanized and highly sophisticated environmental treatment technologies exist (Sato et al, 2007). Thus it is necessary to understand the prevailing perception in the organizations about the sustainability aspect in wastewater treatment process and strategies being adopted by them for their long-term operations management. This paper tries to bring out the prevailing opinion at organizational level (both within and across) on the sustainability aspect of wastewater treatment in India based on the detailed analysis of a few cases chosen for the study. Some of the key issues included in the detailed introspection are identification of key 47 International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308 (Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 3, Issue 1, January- June (2012), © IAEME drivers of action for sustainability, approach each organization preferred to adopt and the methods or processes that they have followed to attain sustainability in their operations. In addition, the significance of a set of factors proposed by De Vries and Petersen (2009) like the merit of the technology chosen, resource and energy consumption pattern, regulatory demands, public intervention etc is also considered by the researchers for the evaluation of chosen cases. METHODOLOGY ADOPTED Evaluation of the policies and practices adopted by the organizations towards the management of environmental technologies is the approach adopted by the authors for obtaining valid information on their decision making process. The major challenge in these types of exercises is to frame the questions for their evaluation and proposing a fool proof criteria for making a effective judgment, specifically relating to the operational aspects of the wastewater treatment units. Most of the assessment progrmmes, undertaken in the past, are found to have serious limitations like absence of a generic tool for the evaluation process, lack of flexibility in the effective implementation of the evaluation methods and the need for inter-disciplinary and participatory based programmes (Rothmans, 2009). Also, a coherent approach could be chosen as general guidelines that take into account of identification of worldviews, defining the scenarios and also evaluation of risks and opportunities (De Vries and Peterson, 2009). Thus the study would aim to bring out the interrelationships of three attributes economic, environmental and social factors with respect to time, process and tradeoff by generating the qualitative aspects involved in them. Large numbers of techniques have been used by various researchers to understand and evaluate the sustainability aspect in the wastewater treatment operations (UNCSD, 1996 ; OECD, 1998 ; Singh et al, 2009). The study presented in this paper explains the prevailing viewpoints in the organization towards the selection and management of wastewater treatment facilities. The opinion expressed by the earlier researchers have emphasized the need for geographical uniformity, data availability and consensus in the interpretation on sustainability across different target groups or experts for drawing unbiased inferences about sustainability (Bell and Morse, 2004; Mitchell, 1996; Spangenberg, 2002; Fraser et al, 2006). Thus six different cases are chosen that have similar exposure conditions in wastewater treatment operations, like access to natural resources, demographic distribution and statutory controls (details given in Table 1). The state of Kerala had unique characteristics like high human development index, better access to educational and heath care facilities and people with high awareness level on pollution (KSPB, 2009). 48 International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308 (Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 3, Issue 1, January- June (2012), © IAEME Table 1 Descriptions on the cases chosen for the study Type of Type of Organization Year of installation and treatment Specific remarks on waste (with case technique treatment water reference) Health care • Installed in the year 2000 Spends 1 percent of the Sewage institution (Org • Uses Attached aerobic. Treatment. capital investment as treatment 1) • Sludge used as farmyard manure. energy charges. . Diary • Started operation in 2002 Milk waste • Uses activated Sludge Process processing unit water (ASP). (Org 2) treatment • Sludge used as farmyard manure. • Started operation in the year 2003 Diary Milk • Uses upflow anaerobic sludge Absence of data to waste processing unit blanket (UASB) reactor combined understand the water (Org 3) with aerobic filter. operational details. treatment • Sludge used as farmyard manure. Diary • Started operation in the year 2004. Milk waste • Both aerobic and anaerobic processing unit water components in use. (Org 4) treatment • Sludge used as farmyard manure. Tannery • Started operation in the year 1998 Spends 1.5 to 2 percent Tannery unit effluent • Uses anaerobic reactor. of the capital investment (Org 5) treatment • Sludge collected by private agents. as energy charges. Provision in the Budget for environmental management. • The industry started operations Initiated several during early 1982. Newpaper Pulp methods for pollution • Aerobic lagoons for the treatment manufactur-ing waste reduction like (i) operations. (Org 6) water complete discoloration • Uses large drying beds for sludge of paper pulp effluent. and later used as landfill (ii) Substituted 90 percent of chlorine in bleaching process. The operational phase of a wastewater treatment unit is found to cause highest impact on the environment than its construction or implementation phase (Emmerson et al, 1995). Hence, the long-term impact of wastewater treatment units can be reduced only when the equipment and machinery chosen for them is less energy intensive and operationally efficient. The investigations have focussed on environmental, economic and societal factors relating to the design and operation of wastewater treatment units as they are considered as the indicators for the assessment of sustainability (Muga and Mihelic, 2008). And hence, the data collection programme, tailored based on these aspects, 49 International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308 (Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 3, Issue 1, January- June (2012), © IAEME consists of interviews/discussions with the key decision makers in the organizations and other technical personnel connected with the management of the wastewater unit. A framework for this exercise was prepared that incorporated all the information required for the evaluation for organizational perception towards sustainability (Figure 1 and Table 2). The prejudices and biased opinions in the discussions during the data collection were eliminated by making the exercise highly informal and unstructured. Figure 1 Framework for the data collection process Policies Programmes Future (i) Design, plan Business maintenance & C monitoring Social E (ii) Awareness Pollution programmes & public control O Human relations management. Resource (iii) Employee training and capability Other issues Table 2 The data requirement and the source description Parameter for Description of Technical data collection assessment parameter The basic design The source document is the design reports and philosophy for the the minutes of the meetings related to the of key Design concept treatment process decisions taken related to waste water treatment employed in the operations. organizations Discussions with the engineers / managers To assess the /technicians /operators would give the required commitment of the information on the operations as well as the Technology organization towards interventions initiated in the organizations in the management effective management periodic manner. Also, the discussions are of the treatment directed to understand the organizational process. viewpoint on sustainability. 50 International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308 (Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 3, Issue 1, January- June (2012), © IAEME To assess the The details of activities undertaken by the sensitivity of organization on the modification of waste Environmental organization to various treatment process, routine maintenance schedule responsiveness environmental aspects etc would give a comprehensive idea on the of the operations. environmental responsiveness. Discussions with local civic representatives To evaluate the extend about the organization and collecting past of public acceptability information on any incidence about public Evaluation and of the environmental agitation against the poor environmental public disclosure technologies management by the organization would be able implemented in the give required data to assess the extend of public organizations. confidence of organizational operation. ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION Detailed analysis on the perceptions about the wastewater treatment facilities are undertaken based on the opinion received from the discussions held with the plant owners/ managers. Involvement in the design and technology selection, energy demand in the treatment units, capability building or training of manpower and existing mechanisms for ensuring public confidence are the factors considered as very vital in the interview/discussion sessions. The primary approach in the analysis was to explore and interpret the reported paradigm in the environmental sustainability perceptions like the preferences for more affordable and appropriate technology in the developing countries against more reliable, efficient and better sludge management facilities exiting in developed nations (Sperling, 1996). The infrastructural development in India has been skewed with a few regions experiencing rapid economic progress necessitating better facilitates in wastewater management (Sato et al, 2006). Also, the significant portion of the wastewater generated in these countries is from the individual establishments and hence to opt for highly sophisticated technological solutions cannot be an ideal solution due to high financial commitment. In addition, planning, design and implementation of wastewater treatment technologies too is filled with high level of ambiguity, which will have to be eliminated for ensuring the sustainability of the treatment units. Thus, with majority of developing countries undergoing rapid economic growth, it is necessary to understand their attitude and requirements through effective research interventions with the objective of creating a strategic framework in wastewater management to support their long-term development (Roberts, 2006). The observations made from data collection process shows the presence of three specific stake holders in the process of technology selection and implementation of wastewater treatment facilities. The organization owning the treatment facility, consultants or the agencies involved in providing the wastewater treatment solution and 51 International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308 (Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 3, Issue 1, January- June (2012), © IAEME the government regulatory body established for the pollution control are the three independent groups influencing the decision making process (Figure 2). The organizations requiring wastewater treatment facility often expresses their requirement for a solution that satisfies the twin objectives of meeting pollution control norms and ensuring public confidence on environmental safety. Such an approach seldom results in the cost effective or energy efficient technologies. Further, as the in-house capability for the planning and design of wastewater treatment facility among majority of organizations is very low, most of them rely on externally hired consultant or technology solution provider to decide on the final choice. These situations forces the technology provider or the consultant to work very closely with the regulatory bodies and to promote the treatment solutions that are conventional and often not able to meet the changing need of both the industry and the region. An attempt is made here to identify the key strengths existing in the organizations and what intervention would help them to enhance their capability. The organizational capabilities presented in the Table 3 classify the ability of each organization in this domain into three general groups: low, medium and high based on the organizational attitude towards wastewater treatment operations. Figure 2 Role players in the technology selection process ORGANIZATION Consultant / Technology Regula Solution tory Provider Body Table 3 Existing organizational capabilities in wastewater treatment operations Energy Ensuring Strength in Meeting efficiency operational Energy cost Case technology regulatory in efficiency on awareness reference evaluation requirements. operation expansion L M H L M H L M H L M H L M H Org 1 Org 2 Org 3 Org 4 52 International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308 (Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 3, Issue 1, January- June (2012), © IAEME Org 5 Org 6 Note : L- Low ; M - Medium ; H - High The organizations having in-house capability for design, evaluation and implementation of wastewater treatment operations are placed in the high capability group. These organizations have the adequate technical competence for continued monitoring of their wastewater treatment process and proposing the right intervention for eliminating the deficiencies identified and implementing technological upgradations. Further, they consider the environmental interventions an inevitable component to ensure sustainability of the business operations itself. The medium competence organizations have access to appropriate manpower and resources for identifying the issues related to the wastewater treatment operations but don't pay much needed attention for their effective functioning. Thus these organizations are aware of the issues and problems but express their inability for taking the right decision in connection with the repair or improvement of their treatment unit. On the other hand, the organizational capability is considered very low when they don't have any system to understand the current operation of wastewater treatment unit or don't give adequate importance to the proper maintenance of the treatment system. These organizations consider the role of the treatment unit as a regulatory requirement rather than a unit for effective environmental management. Also, it is considered by this class of establishments that the environmental management is an additional overhead and any investment or expenditure towards the better management of these systems would deteriorate their financial strength and is less convinced on the long- term gains they would enjoy in their business operations. The broad classification is made to assess the degree of organizational sensitivity to the environmental concern along with their business priorities. It is understood that unless the organization gives adequate importance to integrate the environmental care in their business operations the overall effectiveness on the wastewater treatment efficiency cannot be attained. This is evident in the case of a public sector enterprise (Org 6) but the other organizations haven’t realized the need for such a view point as they didn’t perceive any immediate gain from paying adequate attention for environmental planning. In addition, analysis was also undertaken to compare the business attitude of the chosen cases and the importance each one of them have attached for the proper functioning of their effluent treatment unit. The details presented in the Table 4 reflect the organizational perception towards the effective management of wastewater treatment facility. All the organizations pay maximum attention to ensure smooth business operations and customer satisfaction. The regular upgradation in the process technology, benchmarking the business process are some of the key initiatives that most of the organizations undertake to maintain their business performance. But it is surprising that such commitment in the environmental management initiatives is seldom observed in the chosen organizations. Majority of them consider this as an additional overhead to their expenditure rather than their social responsibility. Though they are meticulous to operate the plant with the help of technicians, they are totally unaware of the inherent advantages of improving the existing practices through various environmental and resource recovery exercises. The high operational expenditure incurred by them due to the dependence on 53 International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308 (Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 3, Issue 1, January- June (2012), © IAEME the inefficient process is hardly realized by them. Also, is the high investment made for the environmental management activities, which during the later years have resulted in higher operational cost is not subject to any deeper introspection. Unlike, the privately managed organizations, the investment support given for public sector enterprises by the government, have helped them to undertake a few important process replacements and improvements. Still, the wastewater treatment operations in the public sector organizations are far away from a unified plan for achieving sustainability. Thus, the dependance on the external consultants for the selection of the treatment technology has resulted in the poor organization strength to address various issues related to their own waste management. The minor modifications and expansions undertaken in most of the cases considered in the study had reflected the incomplete organizational learning on environmental management initiatives. The cases chosen for the analysis have helped to understand how organizations in Indian scenario incorporate the factors influencing of sustainability in the wastewater treatment system design. And these perceptions related to the economic, environmental and societal factors. Table 4 Comparison of business interests and environmental attention across organizations Capability in Case Organizational wastewater Attitude towards operations of reference Strength facility the treatment facility. management. . Poor in house strength for Believes installation of necessary Enjoys high level design, equipment should be able to ensure of reputation. installation and environmental management. Org 1 management. People have high Very meticulous in running the confidence level Operations plant but poor in its effective in the service. undertaken by the management. technicians. Expects mere running of plant Designs for Org 2 would result in better effluent. different units are inconsistent Committed in Lacks awareness on monitoring and though decided by maintaining the performance evaluation. Org 3 the same team of production management. facility to meet Focuses on operation with very low the desired attention for monitoring the In-house market demand. treatment efficiency of the plant. engineers lacks Org 4 training on Modification and augmentation wastewater undertaken in unplanned manner treatment. Org 5 Highly conscious Rely on the Meticulously operate the treatment 54 International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308 (Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 3, Issue 1, January- June (2012), © IAEME about the opinion from the plant rather than ensuring the processing pollution control efficiency in treatment. technology and authorities. undertakes Unaware of facility operational upgradation. efficiency or viability. In-house Owns modernized competence in production Monitoring on the environmental planning and systems technologies is carried out. design. Org 6 Constantly Understands the need for effective Incorporated improves towards monitoring and initiatives for cleaner meeting the ISO sustainability. production standards. systems. . PERCEPTION ON ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY The long-term financial implications of judicious investments in the planning, design and implementation of environmental systems is not well understood by the key decision making personals in the organizations. The implementation of wastewater treatment facility is often treated as a "regulatory requirement" and hence they hardly undertake a thorough assessment of the operational efficiency of the chosen process and its effectiveness in meeting the broad environmental quality objectives. This takes away the motivation for adopting cost effective, environmentally benign and energy efficient wastewater treatment solutions. In spite of the well-structured business processes in the selected organizations, long term gains from adopting a sustainable wastewater treatment system is not considered as very significant. This attitudinal factor can be easily understood from decision taken at three independent milk processing units under a single administrative apex body (Org2, 3, & 4). All the three milk-processing units have adopted similar operations and hence the characteristic of wastewater generated at these three places is identical even if the volume of wastewater could vary based on the quantity of the milk processed at these units. Still, a consistent method for wastewater treatment couldn’t be evolved, which otherwise would have certainly resulted in lowering the treatment expenditure in their long term. The results reported earlier have established that the diary wastewater treatment can be handled very efficiently and considerable potential and government level support for generation of bioenegy from the wastewater exist (MNRE, n.d). These organizations have failed to consider these aspects in a comprehensive manner for the decision evaluation process and this have led to inconsistent solutions across the milk processing units considered in the study. Due to the limitations being experienced for the availability of adequate land for installation and erection of equipment or related infrastructure, most of the emerging establishments prefers sophisticated wastewater treatment technologies as done by their counterparts in the advanced and industrial economies. This approach often led to high cost of operations and culminated in the irregular wastewater treatment plant operation causing serious harm to environment. 55 International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308 (Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 3, Issue 1, January- June (2012), © IAEME PERCEPTIONS ON ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY The environmental impacts from wastewater treatment facility are grouped into two broad classes: direct impact and the indirect impact. The direct impact emerges from the effluent disposed after the treatment and the indirect environmental impacts are assessed based on the impacts of materials used in the construction or installation of the facility or high energy requirement for their operation. A typical activated sludge plant is estimated to emit 1400 tonne of carbon di oxide into the atmosphere and 50 tonnes of carbon-di-oxide for its maintenance considering a life span of 15 years (Emmerson et al, 1995). Though various option for ensuring the environmental sustainability and reduction of the combined effect of both direct and indirect impacts like use of cost-effective technologies like natural wetland system is available, the industrial owners are not willing to exercise their confidence in these methods. Studies undertaken earlier have also reported that the success of these approaches were limited to some specific cases (Shutes, 2001). Most of the organizations considered in this study needed solutions that required less space for installation and high rate of treatment besides the reliability in its working (Table 5). Majority of them had potentiality for installation of anaerobic digestion based technologies, which was considered as most appropriate in Indian condition considering the energy recovery potential (Sato et al, 2007, MNRE, n.d.). Adoption of energy efficient construction, increased use of recycled materials, using equipment that have higher energy rating, better configuration of the plant and using right combination of anaerobic or aerobic technologies are some of the ways that these organizations could have tried to bring in both economic and environmental gains. Inspite of generating large volume of organic rich wastewater, they didn't consider any of the aforementioned approaches even though the promotional supports by the government for energy recovery initiatives are available (MNRE, n.d.). All of them relied on aerated treatment solutions, which resulted in both financial as well as environmental stress. In addition, most of the organizations work under the belief that water is for all and an interest to protect the water resource was assumed to wrest in common than their own initiative. Even though isolated efforts have been observed to minimize the resource consumption, like use for garden irrigation, more concrete interventions are necessary in the form of viable technology proposals for long-term environmental sustainability of wastewater treatment units. 56 International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308 (Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 3, Issue 1, January- June (2012), © IAEME Table 5 Perceptions on sustainability Sustainability Influencing Observed organizational perceptions. factor parameters • Low emphasis on clean technology and Clean process inconsistency in design. and energy • Poor learning on technology and less concerned in efficient energy efficiency operations. • Often prefers conventional systems accepted by pollution control agency. • Poor mechanism of quality assurance and periodic Quality of monitoring undertaken only in large organization. water before • Common belief is : effective treatment of disposal. wastewater can be assured even by running the Environmental. plant. • No significant modification is undertaken for the Upgradation facility after its installation. and maintenance • The modernization of the treatment system is not of the facility given any priority even when the production facility is expanded. Environmental • Considers technicians or other support persons are awareness and enough to manage the wastewater treatment. manpower • Need for manpower training in wastewater training treatment is not considered very relevant. • Poor evaluation on life cycle costs before the Equipment selection process. selection. • In capable to evaluate the impact of the opinion given by external consultants on critical issues. Economic • Unaware of the significance on the energy cost in Energy cost the treatment options. consciousness. • Poor awareness on the use of renewable energy. Technology • Mostly favors proven and convention solutions compatibility. with less problems in compatibility Public • The environmental information related o the disclosure of organizations are not released to public. information Proactive • The approach is often reactive and the issues are Social interventions attended only when reported. Public involvement • Low public involvement and considers this aspect in technology as unnecessary in decision-making. decisions. PERCEPTIONS ON SOCIAL SUSTAINABILITY 57 International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308 (Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 3, Issue 1, January- June (2012), © IAEME The perceptions on social sustainability among the organizations considered in the study is reported based on the importance they have demonstrated in accepting the public viewpoint either in the selection of technologies or in the public disclosure of information related to the effectiveness of their environmental management system. The social dimension necessary for ensuring sustainability of wastewater treatment units could be attained only through effective participation from the public in the form of open discussions and consultations (Iglesias and Buono, 2009). Further, the objectives included in the Agenda 21 also emphasized the need for strengthening the participation of public at various stages of decision making if the goal of sustainable development need to be achieved (Spangenberg, 2002). It is observed that the prevailing practices in the organizations don't give adequate importance for any public disclosure of information regarding their wastewater management or pollution control activities (Table 5). The organizations believe that the excessive association with the neighborhood society could create issues that disrupt the smooth run of the enterprise. Thus, they often try to adopt a defensive approach under the presumption that more generous attitude towards society could lead to more harm than good to them, as society at large is regarded as an agent who always tries to explore options to create obstacles for their smooth functioning. This attitude is obvious that they have given significant attention to organize large number of general confidence building measures among the neighborhood community. These are mostly related to the general awareness creation on the issues that don’t have direct bearing on wastewater management like cataract testing programmes, HIV awareness programmes etc. The prime objective of these programmes is to create goodwill about the organization among the neighborhood community rather than establishing coherence in environmental decision-making. Further, the environmental awareness level of the public is found to be high considering the high level of safe sanitation practices among the population around the industries chosen. Further, the organizations often preferred reactive interventions like managing a public unrest following a environmental mishap from the side of organizations. And in such situations the extended litigation process often disturbs both the social life as well as the industrial performance creating only heavy losses to the parties involved. The study have helped to expose the absence of appropriate techno-managerial support in the planning of wastewater treatment units for the organizations in this region. Thus availability of a framework for wastewater treatment technology evaluation for organizations could eliminate the inconsistency in the environmental decision-making. CONCLUSIONS The paper has exposed the information gaps prevailing at the organizational level on the sustainability of wastewater treatment especially in a developing country scenario. The observations made in this study clearly highlight the need for government level intervention for improving organizational competence to design a sustainable wastewater treatment and disposal operations. The research work have identified that the most influencing factor in the selection of the technology for a wastewater treatment facility in Kerala is the opinion of the concerned regulatory official. Further, it is also observed that the business competence existing in the organizations are often not reflected in the decision making process related to the selection and implementation of a sustainable 58 International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET), ISSN 0976 – 6308 (Print), ISSN 0976 – 6316(Online) Volume 3, Issue 1, January- June (2012), © IAEME wastewater treatment technology. Thus treating the environmental related decisions totally separate from organizational business objectives have resulted in the dependence on conventional technologies that are energy intensive with higher operational overhead expenses. 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"SUSTAINABILITY PERCEPTIONS ON WASTEWATER"