Management, Economics and Policy

Onsite Sewage Treatment in California and the Progression Toward Statewide Standards Evaluating Customer Response to Decentralized Wastewater Treatment Options

Publication Date: June 2003
Cooperating Institution: Primen Inc.
Principal Investigator: Shawn McNulty
Project Budget: $27,954
Project Identifier: WU-HT-02-35


This project will explore stakeholder attitudes that serve to shape responses to distributed wastewater treatment technologies and wastewater system management options. The work represents an attempt to leverage an existing data resource that may provide a reasonable set of initial answers to questions about customer response to both distributed wastewater treatment technologies and system management options. Analysis of this existing data resource will provide some insight into "where potential customers are now" on issues of the acceptance of distributed technology options and innovative system management options, but also will provide initial information about how customers might be moved to be more receptive to such options in the future. Prior research and analysis on the subject of market penetration paths for decentralized wastewater treatment systems points to an uncertain future. While technology advances have been made, and customer interest has started to pick up, there is still enough uncertainty in terms of demonstrable technology performance, customer and regulatory acceptance, the impact of other interest group activities and agendas, and other issues, that the rate of increase at which decentralized wastewater treatment technologies (DWTT), cluster systems, and innovative wastewater system management options will be adopted - and the timeline and market segments, along which these options will be implemented - is a very open question. While there are market scenarios that point to the possibility of relatively widespread adoption of DWTT within a reasonable time frame, the confluence of forces necessary to yield this outcome has not yet come together. One of the real unknowns in understanding both the likelihood of this outcome, and understanding how best to intervene in ways that enhance the desired outcome, is the real situation of potential customers. A variety of anecdotal evidence and small scale surveys suggest that customers (except those in special circumstances) tend to oppose the idea of DWTT under most conditions. Whether this view is accurate as a description of potential customers as a whole is an open question, however, as is a clear understanding of how to structure a DWTT product or service, including new system management options, in a way that is most attractive to potential customers, while still offering value to providers.

Associated Documents:

Final Report

Executive Summary