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Wastewater Standards

Standards for the sampling, analysis, treatment, processing, and management of wastewater serve to help guide a process that many people rely on for their health and safety. With standards as narrowly focused as the standard test method for the determination of the quantity of a specific element in water, and as broadly concerned as the standards for security practices for an entire utility, wastewater standards address the entire path taken by water on its way to the end consumer. Standards developing organizations such as the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the International Society of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), and NSF International contribute greatly to the field, as do other organizations which do not focus on wastewater and related topics, but still contribute within their specific fields of inquiry.

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Element-Specific Content Testing Standards

Standards for element-specific content testing of wastewater provide standardized test methods for the determination of dissolved and total recoverable element quantities. With standards grouped by those applicable to the testing for a single element, those addressing the testing for multiple elements through a single method, and those which instead test for a compound (or a group of them), these standards provide part of the foundation on which treatment methods are judged upon, and thus must be reliable between labs and technicians.

Toxicity and Bacteria Standards

Standards for testing wastewater for bacteria, toxicity, and biodegradable material specify test and screening methods. Detailing the scenarios in which a particular test is applicable, as well as the sampling and scale elements of a test, these standards address the detection and enumeration of multiple types of bacteria, as well as both the effects of wastewater on bacteria and the effects of the bacteria on larger forms of life.

Management and Planning Standards

Management and planning standards for wastewater utilities and operations address a wide range of overarching considerations such as physical security and security practices, risk and resilience, emergency planning, and fire protection. In addition, guidelines for the assessment of management of wastewater utilities and the assessment of services to users and the improvement thereof are provided.

Systems Standards

Wastewater systems standards address complete systems dealing with wastewater, rather than individual components, procedures, or tests. Systems included range from those used for diversion and irrigation, to closed-loop biological wastewater systems. Used in conjunction with or containing parts detailed in other wastewater standards, wastewater systems provide a bigger picture for wastewater management.

Measurement Standards

Standards for wastewater measurements address the standard test methods, guides, and practices for measuring turbidity, flow, and other properties of wastewater, as well as sampling. Given the focus on testing and measurement, standardization of this field of wastewater management has been greatly contributed to by the efforts of ASTM International, previously known as the American Society for Testing and Materials.

Structure Standards

Standards for wastewater structures deal with physical structural components, such as supports, pipes, pumps, and gates, setting out to promote the use of interoperable and reliable parts within a larger system. While these standards focus on the physical elements that contain and guide the wastewater, rather than the wastewater itself, they nevertheless remain an important part of the standardization effort for wastewater management.


As the voice of the U.S. standards and conformity assessment system, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) empowers its members and constituents to strengthen the U.S. marketplace position in the global economy while helping to assure the safety and health of consumers and the protection of the environment.