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University of Wollongong (2009)

Water and wastewater systems sustainability in remote Australia

Werner Melanie

Titre : Water and wastewater systems sustainability in remote Australia

Auteur : Werner Melanie

Université de soutenance : University of Wollongong

Grade : Master of Engineering – Research 2009

Résumé partiel
This research examines the sustainability of small water and wastewater systems for remote settlements in Central Australia, and develops a multi-criteria assessment framework to compare the performance of technologies for use in such systems. The sustainability of water and wastewater systems has been the subject of considerable research, for both centralised and decentralised systems in developed and developing countries. The use of Multi Criteria Assessment (MCA) to solve sustainability-oriented water and wastewater problems has also been the subject of prior research in a variety of settings. Both these fields have emphasised the need for locally determined definitions of sustainability and MCA processes which reflect the reality of the stakeholders who will be influenced by project outcomes. Such research has only been carried out to a limited extent in relation to the small, self-managed water and wastewater systems which are typical of remote settlements in Central Australia. The work undertaken as part of this project aims to fill that gap. The research had two aims. The first was to develop a picture of water and wastewater systems sustainability that was relevant and applicable to remote Central Australian settings. The second was to use that vision of sustainable systems to design a multicriteria assessment framework which could be used to compare and evaluate water and wastewater treatment technologies for use in those settings. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used to achieve these aims. Firstly, a qualitative pre-scoping study was carried out to gain an understanding of the conditions and settings at remote Central Australian sites. This involved site visits and discussions with the person responsible for the water system at each site. The outcomes informed the full scoping study into systems sustainability, in which interviews and focus groups with experts and different types of users in Central Australia were undertaken to discuss systems, technologies and the issues faced in water and wastewater provision. Analysis of these results led to the development of the overall sustainability framework for water and wastewater systems. Further analysis relating to what respondents were saying specifically about technologies contributed to the development of the sustainability oriented multi-criteria assessment process for assessment of technologies. A telephone survey of users was then carried out to determine the weightings for different criteria in the MCA process. Technology manufacturers were also surveyed to obtain data on technology performance against the criteria, which was then input to the analysis. Different weighting and scoring methods were used to examine the sensitivity of the model and the analysis itself was carried out in Microsoft Excel. It was found that systems sustainability is made up of five dimensions for remote settlements in Central Australia – economic, social, environmental, technical and institutional. Principles, criteria and indicators of sustainability were developed for each of these dimensions.


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