March 2007, Vol. 19, No.3

From the Editors

WE&T Prelude

Starting Small

Melissa Jackson

“To the man who only has a hammer in the toolkit, every problem looks like a nail.”

Our new series on small communities prompted a WE&T reader to send me a variation of this Abraham Maslow quote. The implication was clear: We need to think beyond the proverbial toolkit when planning wastewater systems. A few readers reiterated that one central sewer does not fit all. “A timely topic,” wrote one reader. “Thank you for including it on a regular basis.”

We will continue to provide a variety of viewpoints on decentralized wastewater treatment, and, as always, we welcome your feedback. Read this month’s column here.


Melissa Jackson, editor

Operations Forum Editor's Note

The Ends of the Earth

Steve Spicer

In Antarctica, sneezes can freeze in midair, the wind chill routinely dips into negative double digits, and the only requirement for wastewater discharge is maceration. But when evidence showed the effluent from the McMurdo Research Station could be detrimental to the Ross Sea, the National Science Foundation (Arlington, Va.), the organization that operates McMurdo, decided to build a wastewater treatment facility to meet Clean Water Act standards.

This article details the decision and challenges that the designers and builders faced to get this treatment plant operational. This dedication to environmental stewardship is indicative of the type of actions that we must maintain closer to home to protect our environment and ourselves.

While most treatment plants don’t need to worry about heat transfer to the ground melting the permafrost and causing a mudslide, unique challenges abound. Whether it is finding an odor solution to appease neighbors, removing phosphorus to meet a new nutrient limit, or devising a new aeration pattern to reduce energy costs, the solutions to these problems can lead to real results. The payoff comes in the form of reduced instances of waterborne illness, cleaner waters for recreation and commerce, and the chance at a cleaner future for generations to come.

Water is water. Whether it’s flowing from the local treatment plant’s outfall or circling the South Pole, we need to protect it.

— Steve Spicer, editor

What Do You Think?
WE&T welcomes your observations on topics that are covered in the magazine or are otherwise relevant to the wastewater treatment industry. Letters that are chosen for publication may be edited for factual accuracy, clarity, style, and length.

Please send your letters intended for publication to, or mail to Melissa Jackson, WE&T, c/o Water Environment Federation, 601 Wythe St., Alexandria, VA 22314-1994 USA. Please include your full name, professional title, organization name, daytime phone number, and city, state, and country of residence.

Steve Spicer, editor