The concept of sustainability involves the integration of economic, environmental, and social aspects and this also applies in the field of wastewater treatment. Economic feasibility studies are a key tool for selecting the most appropriate option from a set of technological proposals. Moreover, these studies are needed to assess the viability of transferring new technologies from pilot-scale to full-scale. In traditional economic feasibility studies, the benefits that have no market price, such as environmental benefits, are not considered and are therefore underestimated. To overcome this limitation, we propose a new methodology to assess the economic viability of wastewater treatment technologies that considers internal and external impacts. The estimation of the costs is based on the use of cost functions. To quantify the environmental benefits from wastewater treatment, the distance function methodology is proposed to estimate the shadow price of each pollutant removed in the wastewater treatment. The application of this methodological approach by decision makers enables the calculation of the true costs and benefits associated with each alternative technology. The proposed methodology is presented as a useful tool to support decision making.
Keywords: directional distance function, economic valuation, environmental benefits, feasibility study, shadow prices, support decision making