Approved by the Energy, Environment, and Water Policy Committee on November 6, 2018
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on April 28, 2019
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 13, 2019
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recommends that national, state, and local policies and plans for pollution control at all levels of government be developed and implemented from a comprehensive, multimedia, (e.g. air, soil, water, and biotic) and holistic perspective consistent with the principles of sustainable development.
ASCE recognizes that control methods directed at pollution originating in a single air, land, water, or biotic medium may inadvertently be responsible for residuals or other aspects of that pollution being directed into another medium. Pollution control must be viewed from a broad multimedia perspective, with control strategies implemented to minimize adverse effects to any and all of the media through which pollutants may move or react.
The optimum solution is to eliminate the source of pollution. If that is not possible, the next best approach is to neutralize, reduce, or destroy the pollutant. Where that is not possible, the next best approach is to move the pollutant from one medium to another where it would have less impact or be easier to control.
Single medium environmental management strategies that have been traditionally used are based on the practice of solving a single medium problem (e.g., reducing water pollution) with solutions that may protect that medium at the expense of another (e.g. increasing air pollution). A multimedia management philosophy recognizes that environmental impacts arising from pollution problems are not confined to a single medium and that trade offs exist between the uses of the various media.
Pollutants cannot be effectively controlled unless one knows how they are transported, accumulated among media, and transformed. Multimedia management integrates control of air, water, land, and biotic pollution by implementing more holistic solutions that better reflect the underlying nature of a complex environment.
Multimedia management emphasizes the development and use of regulations, processes and methods which result in the least adverse impact on the environment, and often cross existing regulatory agency and departmental boundaries. This policy statement is therefore directed at seeking the broadest possible viewpoint, agency cooperation, and appropriate management perspective to deal effectively with problems of environmental pollution.
ASCE Policy Statement 362
First Approved in 1990