It is a challenge for developing countries to realize socio-economical development without impairing water resources in an unacceptable way. A possible means for controlling water pollution is through defining, applying and enforcing effluent standards for wastewater discharges. However, in many developing countries the definition of effluent standards is still poor. They are either too stringent because they are based on standards from developed countries, or too relaxed and therefore they do not guarantee the safe intended uses of water. In order to define an approach for setting effluent standards that suits the needs and means of developing counties, water quality management practices in the USA, the EU, the New Independent States (NIS) and the Philippines were analyzed and compared. Four criteria (protection of the environment, technical viability, economic feasibility and institutional capacity requirements) were used to assess the suitability of these practices for developing countries. It is concluded that a combined approach that is based on best available technology not entailing excessive costs and environmental quality standards is the best way to define effluent standards that restrict water pollution against affordable costs.

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