Glenn Gordon

Development of Sustainable Optimisation Indicators for Activated Sludge Wastewater Treatment Plants

Supervisor: Dr. Brian McCann

Funded By: Irish Research Council ‘EMBARK Initiative’

This independent research, funded by the Irish Research Council ‘EMBARK Initiative’, is part of a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) project being undertaken by Glenn Gordon in the Department of Civil Engineering & Construction and the Centre for Environmental Research Innovation & Sustainability (CERIS) at Institute of Technology Sligo, Ireland. Glenn is working under the supervision of Dr. Brian McCann who is a Lecturer in the Department of Civil Engineering and Construction and a Principal Investigator in CERIS.

The first phase of this research study consisted of the formulation and implementation of comprehensive optimisation studies and consultation with plant operation/management personnel at existing activated sludge wastewater treatment plants in Ireland with a view to cost effectively improving performance. Applied plant optimisation research findings provided a comprehensive insight into the unique factors affecting the performance of these plants and key performance monitoring parameters and performance limiting factors were identified.

This independent PhD research project involves the development of a system to evaluate the operating performance of urban activated sludge type wastewater treatment plants in Ireland using indicators. Collectively, these indicators will be known as Sustainable Optimisation Indicators (SOI). This system will assist the operators/owners of urban wastewater treatment plants to actively monitor plant performance, make comparisons with similar plants, identify performance improvement measures and provide a system of relevant indicators that can be reported to a range of stakeholders including interested and affected representatives of stakeholder groups. At a plant operation/management level, this SOI system allows the implications of current operational practices to be evaluated, assists with future planning of resources/funding to plants and provides a rationale for sustainable decisions and strategies. It is a first step towards benchmarking of AS WwTP operations in Ireland and reporting of plant performance to a range of stakeholders.

As part of the SOI development process, stakeholders of urban WwTPs are being consulted using an online survey questionnaire to identify the importance that they place on a range of potential issues associated with the operating performance of urban wastewater treatment plants. In conjunction with the findings from comprehensive applied treatment plant optimisation studies and operator/manager consultation, the results obtained through this questionnaire will contribute to the development of relevant indicators for Irish urban wastewater treatment plants. Key stakeholders include members of the public with an environmental awareness, Regulators, Policymakers, Plant Operators/Managers, Wastewater Engineers/Scientists, Consultants, Academics/Researchers, Senior Local Authority/Utility Managers, Sludge/Biosolids Management Organisations/Experts, Public Health personnel, Recreational Water Users, Public Representatives, etc.

If you would like to participate in this stakeholder consultation survey please email or


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