Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 22, Issue 21, pp 16434–16440 | Cite as

An obstacle to China’s WWTPs: the COD and BOD standards for discharge into municipal sewers

  • Zhenliang LiaoEmail author
  • Tiantian Hu
  • Scott Albert C. Roker
Review Article


In 2001, a construction campaign regarding wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) occurred in China. Unfortunately, the treatment has not yet achieved anticipated effectiveness. A critical reason for this is that the influent chemical oxygen demand (COD) and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) concentrations in WWTPs are unacceptably low. This paper indicates that a fundamental, but commonly overlooked contributing factor to this problem is that a large portion of easily degradable COD and BOD is degraded prematurely before entering municipal sewers, and this is directly correlated to China’s standards for pollutant discharging into municipal sewers. This perspective is further unfolded through retrospection of the history of Chinese wastewater treatment and the investigation of standards among developed zones and districts. This paper suggests that in China, the standards for pollutant discharging into municipal sewers should be relaxed. Meanwhile, unnecessary pretreatment of COD and BOD should cease for the purpose of ensuring that easily degradable COD and BOD can be transferred to WWTPs to improve treatment efficiency. Moreover, additional alternatives are presented to resolve this problem.


Wastewater treatment plants Influent concentrations Discharge Standards Municipal sewers 



This study was financially supported by Shanghai Science and Technology Committee, China (No. 13231201402).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Yangtze River Water Environment of Ministry of Education, College of Environmental Science and EngineeringTongji UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.United Nations Environment Program-Tongji Institute of Environment for Sustainable DevelopmentTongji UniversityShanghaiChina

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