For over a century, wastewater treatment has followed a centralized model to meet economies of scale. However, today this model faces increasing pressure to meet the needs of growing populations, reduce energy use, and shrinking land availability. Adding new collection and treatment infrastructure is a financial and operational burden for tightly budgeted municipalities. Meeting these needs drives a shift to decentralized infrastructure. This model reduces the need for capital expense (CAPEX)-heavy infrastructure, optimizes land and energy use, and drives down wastewater treatment and sewer maintenance costs. Key emerging markets are uniquely positioned to leapfrog the drawbacks of a centralized model and adopt new, cost-effective secondary wastewater technologies that promise lower CAPEX and OPEX requirements. Whereas, opportunities for growth in the developed world are focused on upgrading small-scale wastewater plants, improving community-scale greywater systems, and bolt-on tertiary treatment to enable reuse closer to the source of wastewater generation.
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