Report No FR0243
CATCHMENT PLANNING FOR WASTEWATER DISPOSAL -
To produce guidelines for the application of the Best Practicable
Environmental Option (BPEO) approach to wastewater planning on a catchment wide scale.
In recent years the UK Water Industry has funded the development
of tools and procedures for an integrated approach to wastewater disposal based on
Environmental Quality Objectives and Standards (EQO/EQSs). The approach has come under
threat in recent years as a result of European legislation and the activities of
environmental pressure groups. To meet this challenge, current planning procedures need to
be complemented by a more wide ranging environmental impact assessment. A possible
framework for such a planning procedure was seen to be the BPEO approach.
- It is feasible to use the BPEO methodology for the strategic planning of
wastewater disposal at a catchment-wide level. This has been demonstrated by a detailed
case study, from which guidelines have been developed.
- There are a number of benefits associated with using this approach:
- General acceptance of the procedure itself, as it is recognised as a
sound planning discipline;
- Issues are not likely to be fudged or forgotten because of the systematic
approach and emphasis on auditing;
- Incremental costs for specific environmental improvements can be
- Emphasis on presentation can help to educate the public on waste disposal
- There are also potential difficulties with the BPEO approach but these
are common to any method for strategic planning.
- Implementation of the approach is likely to be hindered because there is
no current requirement for utilities to adopt what is identified as the BPEO in preference
to the lowest cost option, if these are different.
- Although not examined in detail in this report, the BPEO approach is
likely to be particularly helpful in studies aimed at setting appropriate environmental
objectives (e.g. Statutory Water Quality Objectives) and control strategies (e.g.
reductions in emissions). The wide-ranging nature of the approach should help to identify
the net environmental benefits and costs associated with different standards.
- The water utilities and regulatory authorities should consider whether
the BPEO approach, as described here, should be promoted as a model for more widespread
use for strategic planning of wastewater disposal.
- The regulatory authorities, and in particular the NRA, should consider
whether the BPEO approach could be used effectively in helping to set Statutory Water
- Further research should be commissioned into ways of assessing the
relative economic benefits/disbenefits of different environmental impacts. This is seen to
be of prime importance. The current inability to provide any objective quantification of
the value of environmental improvements can result in excessive expenditure for, possibly,
little environmental benefit.
V RESUME OF REPORT
After introducing (Section 1) the background and scope of the study, the report goes on
the describe what is meant by BPEO (Section 2) and to set down guidelines (Section 3) for
its application to wastewater planning at a strategic level. This is the core of the
report and is heavily based on, and illustrated by, a worked example (Appendix A). The
final main section of the report (Section 4) considers how the BPEO approach could be
integrated within the current regulatory framework. Such integration is seen as essential
for the effective application of this approach.
Copies of the report are available from FWR, price £35.00, less 20% to FWR Members.