Cost, energy, global warming, eutrophication and local human health impacts of community water and sanitation service options

Water Res. 2017 Feb 1:109:186-195. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2016.11.044. Epub 2016 Nov 16.


We compared water and sanitation system options for a coastal community across selected sustainability metrics, including environmental impact (i.e., life cycle eutrophication potential, energy consumption, and global warming potential), equivalent annual cost, and local human health impact. We computed normalized metric scores, which we used to discuss the options' strengths and weaknesses, and conducted sensitivity analysis of the scores to changes in variable and uncertain input parameters. The alternative systems, which combined centralized drinking water with sanitation services based on the concepts of energy and nutrient recovery as well as on-site water reuse, had reduced environmental and local human health impacts and costs than the conventional, centralized option. Of the selected sustainability metrics, the greatest advantages of the alternative community water systems (compared to the conventional system) were in terms of local human health impact and eutrophication potential, despite large, outstanding uncertainties. Of the alternative options, the systems with on-site water reuse and energy recovery technologies had the least local human health impact; however, the cost of these options was highly variable and the energy consumption was comparable to on-site alternatives without water reuse or energy recovery, due to on-site reuse treatment. Future work should aim to reduce the uncertainty in the energy recovery process and explore the health risks associated with less costly, on-site water treatment options.

Keywords: LCA; QMRA; Sustainability; Wastewater; Water.

MeSH terms

  • Eutrophication
  • Global Warming*
  • Humans
  • Sanitation*
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid / economics
  • Wastewater
  • Water


  • Waste Water
  • Water