Life cycle assessment of four potable water treatment plants in northeastern Colombia

  • Ortíz Rodriguez O
  • Villamizar-Gallardo R
  • García R
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There is currently great concern about the processes that directly or indirectly contribute to the potential for global warming, such as stratospheric ozone depletion or acidification. In this context, and provided that treated water is a basic public utility in urban centers around the world as well as in some rural areas, its impact on the environment is of great interest. Therefore, this study applied the environmental methodology of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to evaluate the environmental loads of four potable water treatment plants (PWTPs) located in northeastern Colombia following the international guidelines delineated in ISO 14040. The different stages of the drinking water process were thoroughly assessed, from the catchment point through pumping to the distribution network. The functional unit was defined as 1 m3 of drinking water produced at the plant. The data were analyzed through the database Ecoinvent v.3.01, and modeled and processed in the software LCA-Data Manager. The results showed that in plants PLA-CA and PLA-PO, the flocculation process has the highest environmental load, which is mostly attributable to the coagulant agent, with a range between 47-73% of the total impact. In plants PLA-TON and PLA-BOS, electricity consumption was identified as the greatest impact source, with percentages ranging from 67 to 85%. Treatment processes and techniques, bioclimatic conditions and culturally driven consumption behavior varied from region to region. Furthermore, changes in treatment processes and techniques are likely to affect the environment during all stages of a plant’s operational cycle.




Ortíz Rodriguez, O. O., Villamizar-Gallardo, R. A., & García, R. G. (2016). Life cycle assessment of four potable water treatment plants in northeastern Colombia. Ambiente e Agua - An Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Science, 11(2), 268.

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