The rapid urbanization of Cuenca, Ecuador, since about 1990 has led to efforts to build and operate decentralized domestic wastewater treatment systems in periurban and rural areas. The treatment efficiency of some of these is falling, however, and others are no longer working. ETAPA, the municipal institution in charge of water supply and sanitation, is evaluating them fully to identify common operating and maintenance difficulties, as well as deficiencies in design and/or construction. This paper presents an evaluation of the physical infrastructure and characterization of the treatment processes performed historically. The objective is to overcome the technical deficiencies and adopt a long-term, sustainable O&M plan.

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