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Regulating Waste Discharge with Fuzzy Interval Effluent Limitations for Toxic Pollutants

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Many traditional water quality standards are based on extreme percentiles; often, there is the risk of making wrong decisions with these standards because of high estimation uncertainty. Standards expressed as fuzzy intervals in the form of [trigger, enforcement limitation] make it possible to control the risks for the discharger and the consumer simultaneously. With fuzzy interval compliance, corrective action is initiated when the trigger is exceeded; noncompliance is declared when the enforcement limitation is exceeded. Fuzzy intervals would digest the risks that are inherent when a single enforcement limitation is used to determine compliance; the risks can be further lowered when the fuzzy intervals are based on less extreme percentiles. This paper proposes several alternatives to using a single extreme percentile standard for regulating water quality or waste discharge. A case study using municipal effluent water quality data was included that suggests methods to determine compliance with fuzzy interval standards.

Keywords: Type I error; Type II error; compliance; decision-making risk; fuzzy interval; percentile standards; uncertainty; waste discharge; water quality

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 2007

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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