Development of a geographic information system-based decision support toolset to assess the feasibility of on-site wastewater treatment and disposal options in low permeability subsoils

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Traditional on-site wastewater treatment systems have proven to be unsuitable in areas of low permeability subsoils, representing a risk to human health and the environment. With large areas being covered by low permeability tills, Ireland needs to consider alternative treatment and disposal options to be able to allow further development in these areas and to deal with polluting legacy sites. The paper describes the development and structure of a geographic information system (GIS)-based decision support toolset to evaluate possible alternative strategies for these sites. The programme takes as its initial input the location of an existing house located in an area of low permeability subsoils. Through a series of interconnected GIS geoprocesses the model outputs appropriate solutions for a site, ranking them in terms of environmental sustainability and cost. However, the final decisions are still dependent on on-site constraints so that each solution is accompanied by an alert message that provides additional information for the user to refine the output list according to the available local site-specific information.

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