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An Assessment of the Similarities and Differences in the Values Held by Various Groups Involved in Wastewater Treatment Plant Design

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

What Else do Environmental Engineers Need to Know

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.164.1 - 22.164.13



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Paper Authors


Brett Borup Brigham Young University

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B.S., Humboldt State University.
M.S., Utah State University.
Ph.D., Clemson University.

Currently Associate Professor, Brigham Young University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

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An Assessment of the Similarities and Differences in the Values Held by Various Groups Involved in Wastewater Treatment Plant DesignAbstractSurveys of five groups involved with wastewater treatment plant design; wastewater treatmentplant owners, consulting environmental engineers, governmental regulating agency engineerscharged with wastewater treatment regulation, environmental engineering educators, andenvironmental engineering students were designed and conducted to evaluate the values that areheld by these groups and that are used in making decision about wastewater treatment plantdesign. The 15 values mentioned most frequently as being important in the design process were;capital cost operating cost, maintenance cost, energy usage, flexibility of operation, ease ofoperation, dependability of the process, ability to meet effluent standards, potential forexpansion, aesthetics, innovation, odor potential, ease of maintenance, worker and public safety,and recycle/reuse potential.After the 15 most frequently mentioned values were identified, each individual surveyed wasasked to weight the importance of each value. Participants were also asked to weight the valuesas they believed individuals in each of the other four groups would weight them. The data werethen statistically analyzed.Statistical comparison of the weights showed that there were significant differences in two orthree of the 15 values when comparing any two groups’ mean weights of the values. In otherwords, student’s values were found to be significantly different than the educators who teachthem and educator’s values were significantly different than consulting engineers and owners oftreatment plants. Statistical comparison also showed that a group’s ideas of their own valueswere significantly different than the four other groups’ ideas of that group’s values in over 40percent of the cases.Results of the surveys also showed that groups perceive more differences in each others’ valuesystems than is apparent by comparing the mean weights of the values assigned by each groupfor themselves with each other. Comparing individuals’ weights of the values with how thoseindividuals believed the other groups would weight the values show that there were differencesin approximately two-thirds of the cases.Information obtained from the survey showed that it is likely that there will be conflicts in thevalue systems used in the design process when two or more of these groups are involved in thedecision making process, as they always are. These conflicts should be acknowledged andaccounted for using by proper decision making techniques.

Borup, B. (2011, June), An Assessment of the Similarities and Differences in the Values Held by Various Groups Involved in Wastewater Treatment Plant Design Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17445

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