In this paper we estimate at what cost decentralised wastewater treatment can be competitive compared with conventional centralised technologies. For the current wastewater infrastructure in Western Europe and North America, typical replacement costs are 2,600 US$/cap for large countries and 4,800 US$/cap for small ones. In the same literature, average annual operating costs are reported to be 3.8% of replacement costs. However, if a long-term interest rate of 3% is consistently applied, this value increases to 4.7% for small countries and 5.5% for large ones. Assuming that alternative wastewater systems will only be accepted if their costs are similar to existing ones, the possible investments for alternative wastewater treatment technologies are calculated. Between 640 and 2,170 US$/cap can be invested in new technologies for scenarios without a sewer system. The corresponding figures for scenarios with sewer systems are between 260 and 680 US$/cap. Acceptable maintenance requirements are calculated on the basis of unit size. Transition periods are not accounted for.

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