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bridges vol. 21, April 2009 / Feature Articles

The influent is pretreated with screens, including the world's largest fine screen installation. Large inerts are held back, before grit is removed in an air-bubbled tank: the heavy particles settle due to gravity, the air bubbles enhance the sedimentation. After this pretreatment, the primary treatment follows: settleable organic particles are removed as primary sludge in a clarifier with low flow velocity. Fats, oils, and grease are skimmed off the surface as scum. Pretreatment and primary treatment are both physical purification methods, while the following secondary treatment is a biological process. Microbes are suspended in basins, actively degrading contaminants - therefore called "activated sludge." Oxygen required for this aerobic process is provided by air diffusers, which keep the dissolved oxygen in the water above 2 mg/l. Microbes oxidize half of the carbon compounds into CO2, the other half are used for buildup of biomass - producing even more activated sludge, even more microbes. This secondary sludge settles in the secondary clarifier and is mostly recycled into the aerated basin - to continue degrading pollutants. Part of the sludge is withdrawn and, along with primary sludge, is dewatered for further treatment. 

liquid_process_flow_diagram_small.jpg

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bridges vol. 21, April 2009 / Feature Articles

Wastewater can be separated according to its sources: domestic, municipal, and industrial wastewater. Pollutants from fertilizer use account for a major part of the nutrient load. These agricultural runoffs go straight into the waterbodies, without any treatment. An additional source can be storm water runoff from streets, roofs, and any other sealed surfaces. Old cities often have a combined sewer system - one pipe for both sewage and storm water. This is the case for large parts of Washington, DC., where the wastewater derives from domestic and municipal sources (toilets, baths, showers, kitchens, sinks) and from storm water; industrial and agricultural sources are negligible in the DC wastewater.

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bridges vol. 21, April 2009 / Feature Articles

Sixteen million people live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, 6 million of them in the DC-Baltimore area. This concentration of human
chesapeake_watershed_small.jpg
Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
population in a coastal watershed is a major source of increased nutrient loading. Therefore, the wastewater treatment plants have to meet particularly strict regulations before the sewage can be discharged. Sediment investigations show that the impact of anthropogenic nutrients - nitrogen and phosphorus - have changed the ecology of the mainly shallow, and therefore sensitive, Chesapeake Bay over the past 200 years. 

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"Ethiopia's Violations of International Law Arising From Its Attacks on and Occupation of the Central Zone of Eritrea"
http://shr.aaas.org/geotech/eritrea/eritrea.shtml

"Fatally Flawed: Cluster Bombs and Their use by the United State in Afghanistan"
http://hrw.org/reports/2002/us-afghanistan/index.htm#TopOfPage

"Off Target: The Conduct of the War and Civilian Casualties in Iraq"
http://www.hrw.org/reports/2003/usa1203/index.htm

 "The Hidden Gulag: Exposing North Korea's Prison Camps"
http://shr.aaas.org/geotech/nkorea/northkorea.shtml
http://www.hrnk.org/hiddengulag/toc.html

"Sudan: A the mercy of killers - destruction of villages in Darfur"
http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AFR54/072/2004/en/dom-AFR540722004en.html

"Razing Rafah: Mass Home Demolitions in the Gaza Strip"
http://hrw.org/reports/2004/rafah1004/

"Zimbabwe: Shattered Lives - the case of Porta Farm"
http://archive.amnesty.org/library/pdf/AFR460142006ENGLISH/$File/AFR4601406.pdf

"Lebanon: Deliberate Destruction or "Collateral Damage"?  Israeli Attacks on Civilian Infrastructure"
http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE18/007/2006/en/dom-MDE180072006en.pdf
http://shr.aaas.org/geotech/Lebanon/lebanon.shtml

Human Rights Violations in the Karen State
http://shr.aaas.org/geotech/burma/burma.shtml

Eyes on Darfur
http://www.eyesondarfur.org/

UNHCR and Google Earth
http://www.unhcr.org/events/47f48dc92.html

UNOSAT
http://unosat.web.cern.ch/unosat/

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Genocide Prevention Mapping Initiative
http://www.ushmm.org/maps/

Post-election violence in Kenya
http://www.ushahidi.com/

"Collective Punishment: War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in the Ogaden area of Ethiopia's Somali Region"
http://hrw.org/features/ethiopia/maps.html


  1. Dr. Alan Hecht is Director for Sustainability in the Office of Research and Development at the U.S. EPA. He is Adjunct Professor of Government, College of William and Mary; faculty member, Prince of Wales Business and Environment Program, Cambridge University; and External Advisor at the Erb Institute, University of Michigan, and at the Center for Resilience, Ohio State University.
  2. I thank Gordon Binder, Dave Clark, John Wise, Marcus Peacock, Terry Davies, and Edward Fallon for their helpful reviews and comments. Opinions expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect official EPA policies.  
  3. Joseph Fiksel, "Sustainability and Resilience: Toward a Systems Approach." Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy 2(2006), 14-21.
  4. Millennium Development Goals Report 2006. New York: United Nations, 2006. http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Resources/Static/Products/Progress2006/MDGReport2006.pdf.
  5. United nations Population Division, World Population Trends, http://www.un.org/popin/wdtrends.htm; http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Resources/Static/Products/Progress2006/MDGReport2006.pdf, 2nd United Nations World Water Development Report: 'Water, a shared responsibility', 2006 (http://www.unesco.org/water/wwap/wwdr2/); State of the World Cities Report 2006-2007, 2006; ILO Global Unemployment Trends for Women 2004; Nimrod Raphaeli, "Unemployment in the Middle East - Causes and Consequences," Middle East Media Research Institute Inquiry and Analysis Series. No. 265, 2006; http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=ia&ID=IA26506. 
  6. Michael E. Porter and Mark Kramer, "Strategy and Society: The Link between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility." Harvard Business Review (December 2006) 78-92. 
  7. Business Week, January 29, 2007 (calling the world Unilever's laboratory because in Brazil it operates a free community laundry, provides financing for drip irrigation, and recycles seventeen tons of waste, in Bangladesh it funds a floating hospital, in Ghana it teaches sustainable practices to deprived communities, in India it helps women start micro-enterprises, and lastly it discloses how much carbon dioxide and hazardous waste its factories produce).
  8. Allen L. Hammond, William J. Kramer, Robert S. Katz, Julia T. Tran, and Courtland Walker, The Next 4 Billion: Market Size and Business Strategy at the Base of the Pyramid. Washington, D.C: World Resources Institute and International Finance Corporation, 2007.
  9. C.K. Prahalad, Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through Profits. Philadelphia: Wharton School Publishing, 2004.
  10. http://www.maweb.org/en/Condition.aspx
  11. http://www.ipcc.ch
  12. CNA Corporation, 2007. http://securityandclimate.cna.org/report
  13. S. 1018. 110th Congress (2007): Global Climate Change Security Oversight Act, http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s110-1018 
  14. EPA has long known of the power of public access to information. A classic example is public access to data on chemical releases, available through EPA's Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Explorer and the Environmental Defense Fund's Scorecard enables communities to identify companies whose facilities are polluting their neighborhoods. 
  15. Emily Matthews et al., The Weight of Nations: Material Outflow from Industrial Economies. Washington, D.C.: World Resources Institute, 2000.
  16. Insuring for Sustainability. Report of the Insurance Working Group of the United National Environment Program Finance Initiative May 2007. http://www.unepfi.org
  17. http://www.swissre.com. Swiss Re has built an extensive research program around detection and assessment of risks. Its SONAR (Systematic Observations of Notions Associated with Risk) research project is an extensive data analysis and systems study that can detect risk signals too weak to show up on the radar screen of a wider audience. See Swiss Re Sustainability Report 2004, pg. 9. 
  18. http://www.munichre-foundation.org/StiftungsWebsite
  19. http://www.greenbiz.com/news/news_third.cfm?NewsID=35067
  20. http://www.epa.gov/ord/newsreleases/newsrelease-041107.html
  21. Richard Lazarus, The Making of Environmental Law. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004. 
  22. Dow Chemical is an example of a company that has adopted sustainable goals, as it aims to "innovate to improve confidence that our products are managed safely throughout their lifecycle and develop products that will make a lasting, positive improvement on the world." [Emphasis added.] See http://www.dow.com/commitments/goals
  23. http://www.epa.gov/osw/vision.htm
  24. U.S. EPA, Everyday Choices: Opportunities for Environmental Stewardship: A Report to the Administrator. Washington, D.C.: EPA, 2005. http://epa.gov/innovation/pdf/rpt2admin.pdf
  25. http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/01/20070124-2.html
  26. http://www.ecos.org/content/innovations 
  27. Paul Hagan, "Beverage and Diamond." Summary notes from American Law Institute-American Bar Association Course of Study on International Environmental Law, April 2007.
  28. http://www.usmayors.org/uscm/resolutions/73rd_conference/env_04.asp
  29. Anne Underwood, "Mayors Take the Lead," Newsweek, April 16, 2007. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17996836/site/newsweek
  30. http://www.globalreporting.org/AboutGRI/WhatWeDo
  31. RoHS and WEEE are designed to tackle the rapidly increasing waste stream of electrical and electronic equipment and complement EU action on landfill and incineration of waste. The REACH regulation gives industries greater responsibility to manage risks from chemicals and to provide related safety information. Manufacturers and importers will be required to gather information on the properties of their substances, which will help them manage them safely, and to register the information in a central database.
  32. See http://www.equator-princples.com 
  33. U.S. EPA. "Financial Incentives for Environmental Management Systems (EMS): Project Findings for Phase 1." Report prepared by EPA Financial Market Incentives for EMS Steering Group. December 2006. http://www.epa.gov/ems/docs/resources/FinalFinancialIncentivesforEMS%203-07.pdf
  34. Beyond the Green Corporation, BUSINESS WEEK, January 29, 2007 (stating that assets of mutual funds designed to invest in companies meeting social responsibility criteria have increased by $ 166 billion between 1995 to 2005, additionally, institutions, such as charitable trusts and government pension funds, with four trillion dollars in assets pledge to weight sustainability factors in investment decisions).
  35. Jane Ambachtsheer, Jonas Kron, Richard A. Liroff, Tim Little, and Rachel Massey, Fiduciary Guide to Toxic Chemical Risk. Arlington, Va. and Oakland, Cal.: Investor Environmental Health Network and the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, 2007. http://www.iehn.org/filesalt/Fiduciary.pdf
  36. Ibid. 
  37. Fresfields Bruckhaus Deringer, "A Legal Framework for the Integration of Environmental, Social and Governance Issues into Institutional Investment." Prepared for the Assets Management Working Group of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI). http://www.unepfi.org/fileadmin/documents/freshfields_legal_resp_20051123.pdf 
  38. S. Jacob Scherr and R. Juge Gregg, "Johannesburg and Beyond: The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development and the Rise of Partnerships," Georgetown International Environmental Law Review 18 (2006), 425-463. 
  39. http://www.globalforestwatch.org
  40. Pete Engardio, "Beyond the Green Corporation," Business Week, January 29, 2007
  41. Dan Esty and Andrew Winston, Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage, pg. 67 ff. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.
  42. Many EPA program offices and regions are independently addressing these questions.. For example, the Pollution Prevention program is examining how best to maximize its efforts to contribute to sustainability. Water programs are talking about sustainable water use and connecting the dots with potential impacts from climate change. Air programs have historically shown that conservation and efficiency are undervalued in national energy strategies. Recognizing the need for management efficiency and the air-water-land interface, regulatory programs are moving beyond single-media permitting to explore integrated permitting (a practice being advanced in the UK.). Assessing, integrating, and maximizing these diverse activities around sustainability greatly enhance all of them. 
  43. J Gray, T. James, J. Dickson, "Integrated regulation - Experiences of IPPC in England and Wales," Water and Environment Journal 21/1 (2007), 69-73.
  44. Government Accountability Office, Globalization: Numerous Federal Activities Complement U.S. Business Global Corporate Social Responsibility Efforts. GAO-05-744. Washington, D.C.: GAO, August 2005. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05744.pdf 
  45. See Eric Lipton and Gardner Harris, "In Turnaround, Industries Seek U.S. Regulations." New York Times (September 16, 2007), pg. 1 ff. 
  46. These include Supply Chain and Manufacturing Programs, such as the Green Suppliers Network (http://www.greensuppliers.gov/gsn/page.gsn?id=about), Lean Manufacturing (http://www.epa.gov/innovation/lean/index.htm), Design for the Environment (http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/projects/index.htm), Clean Processing (http://www.epa.gov/ORD/NRMRL/std/cppb/index.html), Green Chemistry Program (http://www.epa.gov/greenchemistry), Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program (http://www.epa.gov/oppt/nano), Nanotech Research (http://es.epa.gov/ncer/nano/publications/index.html), and the National Partnership for Environmental Priorities Program (http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/minimize/partnership.htm).  Management and Performance Programs include the Sector Strategies Program (http://www.epa.gov/sectors/program.html), Performance Track (http://www.epa.gov/performancetrack), Sustainable Futures (http://www.epa.gov/oppt/newchems/pubs/sustainablefutures.htm), SmartWay ® Transport Partnership (http://www.epa.gov/smartway), and Environmental Technology Verification Program (http://www.epa.gov/etv).  Additionally, Prefential Purchasing Programs such as EnergyStar (http://www.energystar.gov) and WaterSense (http://www.epa.gov/watersense) are available.
  47. Lee Scott, "Sustainability 360: Doing Good, Better, Together." Lecture to Prince of Wales Business and Environment Program, London, February 1, 2007. 
  48. Deanna J. Richards, ed., The Industrial Green Game: Implications for Environmental Design and Management. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1997.
  49. The draft Sustainability Research Strategy is available at http://www.epa.gov/sustainability.
  50. U.S. EPA, Draft Report on the Environment. Washington, D.C.: EPA, 2003. http://www.epa.gov/indicate/roe/index.htm. For list of all 2007 indicators, see EPA's Report on the Environment (ROE): Science Report. http://cfpub.epa.gov/eroe/index.cfm?fuseaction=list.listByAlpha 
  51. U.S. EPA, 2008 Annual Performance Plan and Congressional Justification. http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/budget/2008/overview.pdf

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