Wastewater collection and treatment is quite important for sustainable management. It would be uneconomical and impractical to provide sewer systems and separate wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) for small communities. The decision process in wastewater planning is rather important in terms of comparing the alternatives considered. The two important points in the management of wastewater at rural areas not connected to a sewer system are to develop an optimized operation strategy and to make sure that the complete system is environmentally and economically sustainable. In some regions, package treatment could be an alternative solution. However, in cases where there is an existing large WWTP, a cluster system, where sewage generated by small communities could be transported via conveyors to a centralized WWTP, could be employed. In this study, the wastewater treatment and disposal problems in small communities were addressed and an alternative wastewater handling scenario was proposed. Additionally, three wastewater handling scenarios were compared. As a case study, Gebze villages were selected. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.