Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

James R. Mihelcic, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Maya Trotz, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Fenda Akiwumi, Ph.D.


Developing Country, Aquaculture, Water Reuse, Sanitation, Tilapia


Eradicating poverty, malnutrition, and the burden of disease have been included as three of the major issues facing the world. The United Nation member countries, having set forth the Millennium Development Goals, have committed themselves to solving these problems. Two major factors which affect solutions to these problems are increasing water stress and implementing improved sanitation. Integration of tilapia aquaculture and reuse of wastewater has been suggested as a solution which addresses both of these factors. The objective of this study is to examine the feasibility, and explore the benefits and drawbacks, to implementing small community wastewater fed (WWF) aquaculture systems in the developing world.

The water quality characteristics of treated effluent from nine wastewater treatment (WWT) plants were compiled from other studies. The concentration of total nitrogen in the effluent and the flow rate were of most importance, as they were used to calculate the nitrogen loading at each WWT plant. The nitrogen loading was then used to estimate the total pond size which could be supported by each WWT plant, the expected yearly yield for tilapia, and the percentage of the population who would benefit from provision of protein associated with the integration a fish farming system with the WWT plant.

Results show that WWF, semi-intensive tilapia culture can provide 10 grams per day of dietary protein for 11% - 52% of the population of the communities in this study when integrated with a community managed wastewater treatment system. To assess potential risks to human health, associated with WWF aquaculture, the level of fecal coliform (FC) contamination was compared to the standard set by the World Health Organization; less than 105 FC per 100 mL for reuse in fish ponds. The level of FC contamination in the WWT plant effluents ranged from 653 to 1.78 × 105 FC per 100 mL, exceeding this standard.

Given the context, the level of fecal coliforms should not rule out integrated reuse and aquaculture as an option. The nutrients found in wastewater are valuable resources in tilapia culture; therefore, allowing their persistence through treatment for reuse, while optimizing wastewater treatment technologies for pathogen removal is an appropriate solution for small communities in developing countries for reducing poverty, malnutrition, and disease burden of waterborne illnesses.