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PhD Candidate, University of Washington


Efficient decision practices help reduce adverse environmental impacts in the aftermath of disasters

During disaster response, infrastructure decisions for displaced populations must be made rapidly and often with limited information. For the handling of wastewater, pit toilets and latrines are among the most common recommendations when host community facilities cannot accommodate the extra flow. However, these systems are not designed to treat the wastewater, and therefore have potential to put already vulnerable populations at risk of waterborne diseases and cause irreversible environmental impacts in the hosting communities. The Azraq refugee camp serving the displaced Syrian populations in Jordan is among the first in the world to have advanced wastewater treatment system on site. The new improved approach to sanitation service provision in a refugee camp offers an unprecedented opportunity to investigate the wastewater treatment plant construction and process operation in extreme emergency response conditions. Understanding wastewater treatment delivery to displaced populations at the Azraq refugee camp will have far-reaching implications: As extreme weather events and climate-related natural and humanitarian disasters are predicted to increase in frequency and veracity, research on advanced wastewater treatment plant operation under uncertainty is needed to help create guidelines for preventing increased environmental pollution in the aftermath of future disasters. This research observes how a newly formed expert team worked and made decisions together while bringing the Azraq wastewater treatment system into operation. The mixed research methodology pairs stakeholder mental models, i.e. representations of individual thought processes, with chemical process data, and investigates the relationship between decision process inputs and outcomes. The preliminary findings show that while stakeholders used water quality data and process observations in decision-making, their operational decisions were also heavily guided by a number of non-technical, internal concepts, such as prior professional experiences and ability to share ideas effectively with others. The performance of the Azraq wastewater treatment system was improved, when project stakeholders had a clear role division, shared understanding of the project goals and were personally motivated to solve problems related to environmental protection and humanitarian aid provision.


Study on a comprehensive evaluation method for the assessment of the operational efficiency of wastewater treatment plants

Abstract: A fuzzy matter-element model, combined with the entropy weight of an index, has been used as an evaluation method to achieve a comprehensive assessment and analysis of the operational efficiency of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). The feasibility of the method had been validated based on actual operational data and instance from eight WWTPs located in a city in Northern China. According to the results of the comprehensive evaluation, the operational efficiency of the WWTP using an anaerobic/anoxic/oxic process was generally better than other wastewater treating technologies. And especially, the removal efficiencies of nitrogen and phosphorus pollutants were much higher for the process, which suits well the actual operational situation of Chinese WWTPs. Total nitrogen (TN) removal rate and the productive quantity of the excess sludge cake were identified as important factors in the evaluation of the operational efficiency for a WWTP. So the operation level of WWTP could be improved by increasing the TN removal rate and decreasing the excess sludge cake quantity. The developed method can evaluate and analyze the operational efficiency scientifically and objectively, and the evaluation results can be used to guide the construction, operation and management of WWTPs in The Three Gorge reservoir district of China.

Pub.: 24 Aug '12, Pinned: 04 Jul '17

An Empirical Study on Flexibility: A Critical Success Factor of Construction Projects

Abstract: There are several factors that have been identified as the critical success factors for the performance of construction projects. A lot of research work is available identifying the critical success factors for construction projects. Most of the research findings show similar grouping of the critical success factors. However the research papers showing the role of flexibility in the construction process are very few. This paper is an attempt to identify the role of flexibility for reducing risk and increasing probability of project success. The paper deals with the traditional critical success factors and makes an attempt to find out the role of flexibility for managing construction projects. Flexibility as an alternative approach is emerging in the business world. In a flexible process, project managers and their team work together to evolve, and prioritize functionality. The paper attempts a definition of flexibility for construction process and to identify whether flexibility can be added into the list of critical success factors in managing construction projects. The authors interviewed 60 project managers from construction industries in Nagpur region, India, for indentifying the scope of flexibility as one of the critical success factors of construction projects. The result showed that there exist a high correlation between the project success and flexibility as one of the parameter of project success.

Pub.: 02 Feb '13, Pinned: 22 Jun '17