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Shanahan, Peter, 1.85 Water and Wastewater Treatment Engineering, Spring 2006. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 08 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Water and Wastewater Treatment Engineering

Spring 2006

Water beading on a waxed surface.

This class deals with methods of purifying water. (Photo courtesy of Editor B.)

Course Highlights

This course features handwritten lecture notes by Dr. Peter Shanahan, as well as student design projects.

Course Description

This course is an overview of engineering approaches to protecting water quality with an emphasis on fundamental principals. Theory and conceptual design of systems for treating municipal wastewater and drinking water are discussed, as well as reactor theory, process kinetics, and models. Physical, chemical, and biological processes are presented, including sedimentation, filtration, biological treatment, disinfection, and sludge processing. Finally, there is discussion of engineered and natural processes for wastewater treatment.



Dr. Peter Shanahan


The course examines the needs for water quality and how to achieve it by drinking water treatment, wastewater treatment, and other water-quality control strategies. The emphasis of the course is on principles and theory.


Homework 30%
Take-home Midterm Exam 25%
Final Exam 25%
Design Problem 20%

Regular attendance and class participation will be considered in assigning final grades.

Collaboration on homework is permitted - please list your collaborators. Homework solutions will be posted one week after graded homework is returned - you can submit corrected homework for re-grading prior to posting of solutions.


Readings are intended as a supplement to lectures and are probably most beneficial if completed before each lecture.

Reynolds, T. D., and P. A. Richards. Unit Operations and Processes in Environmental Engineering. 2nd ed. Boston, MA: PWS Publishing Company, 1996. ISBN: 0534948847.


Mara, D. Domestic Wastewater Treatment in Developing Countries. London, UK: Earthscan, 2003. ISBN: 1844070190.
Far more general than the title implies, this reference provides very clear descriptions of the characteristics of wastewater and the fundamentals of treatment.

Viessman, W., Jr., and M. J. Hammer. Water Supply and Pollution Control. 7th ed. Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005. ISBN: 0131409700.

Tchobanoglous, G., F. L. Burton, and H. D. Stensel. Wastewater Engineering: Treatment and Reuse. 4th ed. Metcalf and Eddy Inc., New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2003. ISBN: 0070418780.

MWH Staff. Water Treatment: Principles and Design. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Wiley, 2005. ISBN: 0471110183.


1 Introduction to Water Supply and Wastewater  
2 Why Treat Water and Wastewater? Water Quality Parameters and Standards  
3 Reactor Tanks - Mixed Tanks, First-order Kinetics, Plug Flow  
4 Reactor Tanks - Dispersed Flow, Tanks-In-Series, Residence Time Distribution Homework 1 due
5 Sedimentation-Flocculation - Part 1  
6 Sedimentation-Flocculation - Part 2 Homework 2 due
7 Filtration  
8 Chemical Treatment - Softening - Part 1 Homework 3 due
9 Chemical Treatment - Softening - Part 2  
10 Chemical Treatment - Adsorption and Ion Exchange Homework 4 due
  Field Trip to City of Cambridge Water Treatment Plant  
11 Gas Transfer and Air Stripping  
12 Disinfection Homework 5 due

Take-home midterm assigned
13 Wastewater Screening, Primary Treatment  
  Field Trip to Deer Island Wastewater Treatment Plant Take-home midterm due
14 Biological Reaction Kinetics - Part 1  
15 Biological Reaction Kinetics - Part 2 Homework 6 due

Design project topic due
16 Stabilization Ponds  
17 Activated Sludge Treatment - Part 1 Homework 7 due
18 Activated Sludge Treatment - Part 2  
19 Trickling Filters, Biological Contactors Homework 8 due
20 Nutrient Removal  
21 Sludge Handling Design problem due
22 Sludge Digestion   Tell A Friend