Wastewater management in small towns - understanding the failure of small treatment plants in Bolivia
Journal article, 2018

Wastewater management in developing countries is a challenge, especially in small towns with rapid population growth. This study aims at assessing the performance and management of five treatment plants (TPs) in rural areas of Cochabamba, Bolivia. Pollutants’ concentrations, wastewater flows, hydraulic and organic loads and hydraulic retention times were determined in three small treatment plants (2000–10,000 population equivalent [p.e.]; flow > 432 m3/d) and two very small treatment plants (<2000 p.e.; flow < 432 m3/d). The performance assessment was based on operational parameters, treatment efficiency and effluent quality. Management data were collected through semi-structured interviews with managers of local water associations. The results support that the poor performance of the TPs is due to lack of operational expertise and financial resources for adequate operation and maintenance (O&M). Additionally, effective treatment was affected by the type of technology used and whether the plant design included plans for O&M with available resources. This study contributes to a better understanding of actual operating conditions of wastewater TPs in small towns, thus providing needed information regarding technology selection, design, implementation and operation.

technical expertise

small town

performance indicators

Operations planning and control

wastewater treatment


Claudia Cossio Grageda

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Water Environment Technology

Jennifer R Mc Conville

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Urban Design and Planning

Sebastien Rauch

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Water Environment Technology

Britt-Marie Wilen

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Water Environment Technology

Dalahmeh S.

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

Mercado. A

University of San Simón

Romero A.M.

University of San Simón

Environmental Technology (United Kingdom)

0959-3330 (ISSN)

Vol. 39 11 1393-1403

Areas of Advance

Building Futures (2010-2018)

Subject Categories

Civil Engineering

Water Treatment

Environmental Sciences

Other Electrical Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Information Engineering





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