A Spatial Multicriteria Decision Analysis to Manage Sewage Sludge Application on Agricultural Soils

A Spatial Multicriteria Decision Analysis to Manage Sewage Sludge Application on Agricultural Soils

Ana Passuello (Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Spain), Marta Schuhmacher (Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Spain), Montse Mari (Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Spain), Oda Cadiach (Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Spain) and Martí Nadal (Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-156-0.ch011

Abstract

In this chapter, the spatial problem of disposing sewage sludge on agricultural soils is addressed. Sewage sludge application on agricultural soils is recommended by governments in order to recycle nutrients and organic matter. Moreover, a new utility is given to a by-product of wastewater treatment. However, this managing practice may lead to environmental and human health risks. Soil amendment has also several related economic costs. In order to solve this decision problem, a spatial multicriteria decision analysis is presented. This method allows solving the decision problem taking into account the geographical peculiarities of each agricultural site. The purpose of this chapter is to present a methodology to solve the decision problem of managing sewage sludge on agricultural soils. For that, the most used multicriteria decision analysis procedures reported in the literature are reviewed and other novel methods are suggested. By the end of the chapter, a brief example of the method application is presented.
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Sewage Sludge Management

Sewage sludge is the main residue of Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP). It includes the sludge originated in treatment plants of domestic wastewater that is occasionally mixed with industrial wastewater and/or run-off rain water. Sewage sludge properties depend on wastewater pollution load, and technical characteristics of the treatment plant. Due to water treatment, the pollution present in water is concentrated and also some chemicals are transformed during the treatment process (Katsoyiannis & Samara, 2005). Some of these compounds, such as organic matter and nutrients, may be usefully reused. However, sewage sludge also presents some pollutants, as heavy metals (EC, 2001; Metcalf and Eddy, 2003), Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) (Eljarrat et al., 2003; Harrison et al., 2006) and pathogens (EC 2001; Metcalf and Eddy, 2003). Recent studies also point out the presence of pharmaceuticals in this residue (Radjenovic et al., 2009) as a consequence of these substances being extensively used by the population. For this reason, sewage sludge must be properly disposed to avoid risks to humans and ecosystems.

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