Engineering sustainable sewage systems

Document type: Conference Papers
Peer reviewed: Yes
Author(s): Birgitta Rydhagen, Carin Dackman, Helena Åberg, Susanne Jonsson
Title: Engineering sustainable sewage systems
Translated title: Att skapa hållbara avloppssystem
Conference name: The sustainable city V. Urban regeneration and sustainability.
Year: 2008
Pagination: 165-174
ISBN: 978-1-84564-128-3
Publisher: WIT Press
City: South Hampton, Boston
Organization: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Department: School of Planning and Media Design (Sektionen för planering och mediedesign)
School of Planning and Media Design S-371 79 Karlskrona
+46 455 38 50 00
Authors e-mail:
Language: English
Abstract: During the past 25 years, the focus of the Swedish sanitation sector has turned from the protection of receiving water bodies from nutrients towars recycling and reuse of nutrients. A recent decision in Sweden to recycle 60 percent of phosphorus in sewage is a sign of this changing attitude. The concept of sustainability has contributed to this development.

In this process, the interest in household use of the sewage systems has increased. In a number of reports and studies, the attitudes of households towards certain technically modified sewage systems are presented. However, there is a lack of knowledge about the attitudes of engineers and other sanitaiton professionals towards their work for sustainable sewage systems.

In two Swedish municipalities, efforts to increase the chemical quality of the sewage have been studied. In one of them, a technical modification of the system in a new built area was tried. In the other, intensified information to a residential area was distributed during several months. Both projects aimed towards increased sustainability on a pilot scale. In this aspect, certain expectations were placed on the households to comply with the intenetions of the project. Sanitary engineers in the municipalities collaborate with other professions within the organisation to develop communication strategies with the households.

Interviews with sanitation professionals have touched upon issues of knowledge needs as well as communication strategies. In the core of the study, the roles and expectations of professionals as well as households have been studied, from the perspective of professionals and households as well as engineering educators within the academy.

The findings relate in interesting ways with theories of how infrastructural systems have developed. Despite a change towards recycling, the characteristics of the infrastructure remains, as do the expectations on the different actors in the system. A request for changes is formulated in order to achieve sustainable sewage systems in the future.
Summary in Swedish: Hanteringen av avloppsvatten i Sverige har svängt från kvittblivning till resurshantering, och de kommunala verksamheterna försöker på olika sätt minska föroreningarna i ett näringsrikt restmaterial. I två kommuner har studier gjorts, i det ena fallet ett försök att samla in toalettvatten separat för att få en ren gödningsprodukt, i det andra fallet försök att med intensiv information till hushållen uppnå renare slam i det konventionella avloppssystemet. I artikeln redogörs för VA-personalens resonemang kring hushållen, deras ansvar för hållbarhet i avloppssystemet, och utformningen av kommunikation för att uppnå ökad hållbarhet.
Subject: Technoscience Studies\General
Spatial Planning\Environmental Management
Keywords: sewage, sanitation, communication, households