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Best Books

Updated: Oct 14, 2023

I get asked every now and then about books I think are best for learning more about wastewater treatment. There are many, many excellent technical references available but for now I want to highlight some those books I find myself coming back to most often. My work brings me into both industrial and municipal wastewater treatment plants so many of the books you find listed here will be particularly helpful for those of you who also work in an industrial wastewater environment.

I think in my case I have four book categories that accurately captures the contents of my technical library.

  1. Wastewater (of course!),

  2. Drinking water and pure water (for industrial manufacturing/production needs),

  3. Statistics (both my hobby and a fantastic tool for evaluating data), and

  4. Chemistry, (my favorite subject these days and one I wish I had studied more when I was younger).

In the photograph below you can see my library, lining the wall in my office, behind where I sit at my computer, readily available just several feet away. These are books I have steadily collected (purchased) and updated over the last 40+ years. I consider everything you see here to be absolutely critical to me in order to do my job properly. There is always so much to read, to research, and to learn about. (If you are interested you can get a more detailed view of the books in my library at the end of this post.)

My Technical Library
My Technical Library

Chemistry Textbook Recommendations

There are so many outstanding chemistry textbooks to choose from. I suggest you download a sample of any textbook you want to evaluate, to your Amazon account if you have one, and then you can get a good sense of it's the right choice for you. These textbooks won't work on a Kindle but they are great on an iPad or computer.

Take note here as to why I have the publishers Pearson and Cengage shown in red, bold text. I want to specifically bring your attention to these publishers because I find their technical books to be the very best for the self-learner. For every subject I want to buy a textbook for, I always try to get it from either of these two publishers.

  1. Brown, Theodore L., H. Eugene LeMay, Jr., Bruce E. Bursten, Catherine J. Murphy, Patrick M. Woodward, Matthew W. Stoltzfus, and Michael W. Lufaso. Chemistry: The Central Science. New York, NY: Pearson, 2018. Fourteenth Editon.

  2. Ebbing, Darrell D. and Steven D. Gammon. General Chemistry. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2017. Eleventh Edition.

  3. Hein, Morris, Susan Arena, and Cary Willar. Foundations of College Chemistry. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2022. Sixteenth Edition.

  4. Kotz, John C., Paul M. Treichel, John R. Townsed, and David A. Treichel. Chemistry & Chemical Reactivity. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2019. Tenth Edition.

  5. Skoog, Douglas A., Donald M. West, F. James Holler, and Stanley R. Crouch. Fundamentals of Analytical Chemistry. Boston, MA: Cengage, 2022. Tenth Edition.

  6. Stoker, H. Stephen. General, Organic & Biological Chemistry. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2016. Seventh Edition.

  7. Timberlake, Karen. General, Organic, and Biological Chemistry. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Education, 2019. Sixth Edition.

  8. Timberlake, Karen and William Timberlake. Basic Chemistry. Hoboken, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc., 2021. Sixth Edition.

  9. Zumdahl, Steven S., Susan A. Zumdahl, and Donald J. DeCoste. Chemistry: An Atoms First Approach. Boston, MA: Cengage, 2021. Third Edition.



I really enjoy studying statistics and doing statistical analysis. The daily data generated by operators and lab staff at every wastewater treatment plant provide an incredibly rich source of information yearning to be formally evaluated through statistical analysis. Let me give you just three book recommendations that will do such a good job of getting you started, all by the same author, all very easy to read, understand, and put to use. I have these three books in two formats: 1) As paperbacks purchased from Amazon and 2) On my Kindle (purchased from Amazon). The author, Jim Frost, is being quite accurate using the phrase "An Intuitive Guide..." in his titles. I can't think of a better way to get started learning statistics than with these books.

Frost, Jim. Introduction to Statistics: An Intuitive Guide for Analyzing Data and Unlocking Discoveries. State College, Pennsylvania: Statistics By Jim Publishing, 2019.

---. Hypothesis Testing: An Intuitive Guide for Making Data Driven Decisions. State College, Pennsylvania: Statistics By Jim Publishing, 2020.

---. Regression Analysis: An Intuitive Guide for Using and Interpreting Linear Models. State College, Pennsylvania: Statistics By Jim Publishing, 2019.


For Wastewater Treatment

Berne, F. and J. Cordonnier. Industrial Water Treatment: Refining, Petrochemicals and Gas Processing Techniques. Houston: Gulf Publishing Company, 1995.

Bratby, John. Coagulation and Flocculation in Water and Wastewater Treatment. 2nd ed. London, UK: IWA Publishing, 2006.


The following is a series of books from Michael H. Gerardi. I encourage you to get all of these. I refer to them over and over again. For the practicing operator you won't find a better source of information you can use in your daily wastewater activities.

Gerardi, Michael H. Nitrification and Denitrification in the Activated Sludge Process. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2002.

---. Settleability Problems and Loss of Solids in the Activated Sludge Process. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2002.

---. The Microbiology of Anaerobic Digesters. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2003.

---. Wastewater Bacteria. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2006.

---. Microscopic Examination of the Activated Sludge Process. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2008.

---. Troubleshooting the Sequencing Batch Reactor. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2010.


Grady, C. P. Leslie Jr., Glen T. Daigger, and Henry C. Lim. Biological Wastewater Treatment. 2nd ed. New York: Marcel Dekker, Inc. 1999.

Henze, Mogens, Mark C.M. Loosdrecht, George A. Ekama, and Damir Brdjanovic. Biological Wastewater Treatment: Principles, Modelling and Design. London: IWA Publishing, 2008.

IWA Task Group. Respirometry in Control of the Activated Sludge Process: Benchmarking Control Strategies. Scientific and Technical Report No. 11. London, UK: IWA Publishing, 2002.

---. Activated Sludge Separation Problems: Theory, Control Measures, Practical Experience. Scientific and Technical Report No. 16. London, UK: IWA Publishing, 2008.

Jenkins, David, Michael G. Richard, and Glen T. Daigger. Manual on the Causes and Control of Activated Sludge Bulking, Foaming, and Other Solids Separation Problems. 3rd ed. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2004.

Kim, Yong H. Coagulants and Flocculants. Littleton, CO: Tall Oaks Publishing, 1995.

Lee, C. C. and Shun Dar Lin. Handbook of Environmental Engineering Calculations. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000.

Metcalf & Eddy. Wastewater Engineering: Treatment and Reuse. 4th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2003.

Nalco Company. The Nalco Water Handbook. 3rd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009.

Sanin, F. Dilek, William W. Clarkson, and P. Aarne Vesilind. Sludge Engineering: The Treatment and Disposal of Wastewater Sludges. Lancaster, Pennsylvania: 2011.

Spellman, Frank R. and Joanne E. Drinan. Wastewater Stabilization Ponds. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2014.

Turovskiy, Izrail S. and P. K. Mathai. Wastewater Sludge Processing. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2006.

United States Environmental Protection Agency. Design Manual for Municipal Wastewater Stabilization Ponds. 1983.

Wahlberg, Eric J. Activated Sludge Wastewater Treatment: Process Control & Optimization for the Operations Professional. Lancaster, PA: DEStech Publications, Inc., 2019.

Young, James C. and Robert M. Cowan. Respirometry for Environmental Science and Engineering. Springdale, AR: SJ Enterprises, 2004


IWA Publishing - Biological Wastewater Treatment Series - Six Book Collection

Andreoli, Cleverson Vitorio and Carlos Augusto de Lemos Chernicharo. Sludge Treatment and Disposal. Volume 6. London: IWA Publishing, 2007.

de Lemos Chernicharo, Carlos Augusto. Anaerobic Reactors. Volume 4. London: IWA Publishing, 2007.

von Sperling, Marcos. Wastewater Characteristics, Treatment and Disposal. Volume 1. London: IWA Publishing, 2007.

---. Basic Principles of Wastewater Treatment. Volume 2. London: IWA Publishing, 2007.

---. Waste Stabilisation Ponds. Volume 3. London: IWA Publishing, 2007.

---. Activated Sludge and Aerobic Biofilm Reactors. Volume 5. London: IWA Publishing, 2007.

The books listed above from IWA Publishing are free to download as PDF files below. This is very generous on the part of IWA to make these excellent references available to everyone at no charge. I actually bought all of these textbooks before they became freely available. Now I keep a copy of these on my computer. You should do the same.

International Water Association

You can download the IWA series of six wastewater reference books as PDF files by clicking on each image below.

Vol. 1: Wastewater Characteristics
Vol. 1

Download PDF • 5.24MB

Vol. 2: Basic Principles of Wastewater Treatment
Vol. 2

Download PDF • 3.42MB

Vol. 3: Waste Stabilization Ponds
Vol. 3

Download PDF • 2.87MB

Vol. 4: Anaerobic Reactors
Vol. 4

Download PDF • 2.12MB

Vol. 5: Activated Sludge and Aerobic Biofilm Reactors
Vol. 5

Download PDF • 4.10MB

Vol. 6: Sludge Treatment and Disposal
Vol. 6

Download PDF • 1.64MB


A Closeup of My Technical Library

Just click anywhere below and you'll get a closer view.


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