Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine


Saturday, February 24th, 2001

New staff at Essentia
James Tonkin has been promoted CEO of Essentia Water Inc. of Phoenix. He has over 26 years of experience in the food and beverage industry. Tonkin has a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Oregon. Also, Joyce Hansen was hired as accounting manager for the company. Diane Micola is the new customer service/office manager, and  Bonnie Morgan was hired as customer service/marketing coordinator.

Mulloy elected president
The Association of Water Technologies (AWT) announced the election of James Mulloy as the group’s president. Mulloy began his career in the water treatment industry in 1983 after receiving a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Middle Tennessee State University. The AWT also elected to serve on the 2001 Executive committee are: Anthony McNamara, CWT, president-elect; William Pearson II, CWT, secretary; Cynthia Davidson, CWT, treasurer; and Alfred Nickels, immediate past president.

Grounds for president
John Grounds, III, PE, has been elected to serve as president of the American Water Resources Association for 2001. He is a senior engineer with Halff Associates Inc. of Houston. He is responsible for the management, design and analysis of hydraulic and hydrologic engineering projects. Grounds received a bachelor’s of science degree in civil engineering from Southern Methodist University, and both his master’s degree in civil engineering and doctor of philosophy in civil engineering at the University of Houston.

CET board chooses Hendrick
Englewood, Colo.-based CET Environmental Services Inc. has elected John D. Hendrick, Ph.D., P.E., to its board of directors. He received his doctorate in hydrology and water resources from Colorado State University and also holds a master’s degree and bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering. Hendrick has been involved in water resources planning and engineering for over 30 years.

Goober picked new director
Weston & Sampson Engineers Inc. has announced that Robert Goober, P.E., has been promoted to the position of director of marketing. He has been with Weston since 1985, most recently as an associate/team leader for the Wastewater Group. He has earned master’s of business administration and bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering.

NGWA assigns new duties
The National Ground Water Association has announced a couple of staff title changes. Jill Ross, previously publishing manager, has been promoted to the position of director of publishing services. She is now in charge of daily publishing operations, overseeing the production of NGWA’s publications: Water Well Journal®, Ground Water Monitoring & Remediation™, the journal Ground Water® and Drilling Marketplace™. This change allows Anita Stanley, vice president of member services programming, to focus on NGWA’s marketing efforts and the oversight of all programs.

Pentair adds & cuts
Pentair announced in December that Frank Feraco, formerly president of Textron’s Industrial Products Segment, will become president and COO of the company’s tools group, effective Dec. 20. Feraco succeeds James White, who resigned as executive vice president and president of the tools business on Sept. 13. Feraco earned his bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Rhode Island and a master’s degree in business from Syracuse University. In other company news, Pentair has discontinued its equipment segment and will implement a restructuring and downsizing to improve near-term financial performance. Century/Lincoln and Lincoln Industrial equipment businesses with combined annual sales of approximately $250 million, are being sold.

Ionics names new CFO
Daniel Kuzmak has been named chief financial officer and vice president at Ionics Inc. of Watertown, Mass. Kuzmak replaces former CFO Robert Halliday, who left the company in September. Kuzmak was previously CFO of ABB Inc. Ionics also named Gary Groom as vice president of project finance, and treasurer. Groom was most recently a vice president at Raytheon Co.

Three moving at Trojan
Trojan Technologies Inc. has appointed three new employees. Linda Gowman has been selected as vice president of science and technology. She brings over 12 years of industrial and research experience in production, product and research engineering. Gowman earned a bachelor’s degree and doctorate degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Toronto. She also earned a master’s degree in biophysics from the University of Western Ontario. David Harburn was selected as vice president of manufacturing operations. He earned both a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and management and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from McMaster University. Peter McBain was appointed vice president of human resources. He has a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from the University of Western Ontario.


Ask the Expert

Saturday, February 24th, 2001

Tracking softener sales

Question: How many water softeners were sold in the U.S.A. last year?

Joe Wakefield

Answer: There are no hard and fast numbers available on this as much of the equipment used to make softeners is also used in other products such as iron filters, etc., and may be used for commercial/industrial systems for demineralization rather than residential softening. The Water Quality Association tracks a few products via manufacturers as indicators for the industry, among those related to softeners are tanks and valves.
WQA technical director Joe Harrison said that through October 2000, there were reported 849,000 valves of size 1-inch and under produced. For 13-inch and under pressure tanks, 1,008,000 were produced. Both of these sizes are typically used in home softeners. In 1999, there were 951,000 valves and 1,096,000 tanks produced for the year.
In general, Harrison said, he tells people when they ask that there are about 1 million softeners sold a year.
“This year, it looks like we’re a little ahead,” he added. “These numbers aren’t perfect, of course, because—like I said—some of these tanks aren’t used for softeners. There also are some people who aren’t reporting, but the major producers such as Fleck, Autotrol, Culligan and Erie are all in there.”

Concerning water recycling
Question: I’d like to ask you whether your company has a water recycling product for use in a dyeing factory. I mean that NaOH is used for reducing weight of polyester, then the wastewater mixing the polyester molecule and NaOH can be produced. So, is there equipment for extracting NaOH from that wastewater and to make the water reusable? Please let me know the relevant information or where I can find it.

Do Hye Kim
South Korea

Answer: We are a company that publishes a technical trade journal and does not manufacture any water treatment products. However, membrane technology will remove dissolved ionic and organic contaminants from wastewater supplies. A pilot test will be required, though, before a total system design can be developed. To do this, you would need to be able to provide a complete wastewater analysis along with flow rates and an idea of what can be done with the concentrated wastewater, i.e., how it can be disposed of afterward. You should look for a company that can provide such testing as well as design engineering services for applications such as this.

Softeners & the environment
Question: Does the discharge of salt or potassium used in water softeners have a degrading effect on the effluent discharge from a sewage treatment plant into our local stream?

Frank Reed

Answer: Water softener effluent has no deleterious effect on sewage treatment plant operation. If sewage is to be discharged into a local stream, there are very specific regulations that need to be studied. Keep in mind that the primary contaminant from a water softener is sodium chloride or possibly potassium chloride—and in very miniscule amounts. There are many other contributors of such brine additives to the municipal waste stream, not least of them other household products such as soaps, detergents and other cleaners or solvents. In addition, industrial facilities, restaurants, hospitals, schools and so forth contribute to this as well. And, in colder climates, you also have the additive effect of road salt to de-ice streets and highways. In combination, some believe there is a negative effect on the environment (of the sodium or chloride, not the potassium, which is believed to be beneficial to plant growth). Frequently, softeners have been singled out for bans or restrictions. The point-of-use/point-of-entry water treatment industry’s position on this is that—out of fairness—a comprehensive look needs to be taken as to all the contributors of sodium or chlorides to the waste stream and each should be required to make efforts to reduce their overall contribution before singling out softeners as an easy target. Keep in mind, the industry in compromise legislation in 1999 agreed to improve the salt efficiency of softeners significantly in a good faith effort to do its part to reduce the brine load on wastewater systems in California where water supplies are more critical and reuse more common. Currently, in Los Angeles, a campaign has been launched to encourage homeowners to not use softeners. This again focuses on symptoms rather than looking at a total cure. It will only prolong the need to look at the overall contributors and find a more comprehensive approach to the issue, one that is not restrictive of the consumer’s right to choose to improve the quality of water in their home. With outbreaks of Cryptosporidium and E. coli in municipal supplies and higher maximum contaminant levels set for everything from arsenic to radon in drinking water, this equipment offers the consumer not only the ability to improve taste, color and odor but offers them an added sense of assurance as to the safety of their drinking water. Unless all the brine factors are approached, an individual choosing not to use a softener isn’t going to have much impact on the environment. 

Global Spotlight

Saturday, February 24th, 2001

Osmonics Inc. of Minnetonka, Minn., said growth in the third quarter somewhat offset revenue lost from discontinued product lines and foreign currency devaluations. Sales of $47.6 million for the quarter ending Sept. 30 increased 1.5 percent from the same period in 1999. 💧

Aqua Solutions Inc. of Jasper, Ga., is the new corporate identity for Solution Consultants Inc., a manufacturer of reagent grade, laboratory water purification systems. The company will continue to manufacture and sell Type I and Type II reagent DI systems and reverse osmosis pretreatment systems. 💧

The Perrier Group of America agreed in December to acquire Black Mountain Spring Water Inc., a Northern California bottled spring water company. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 💧

E-watertest.com has introduced a package called Priority 100—a comprehensive water test for people who want their water checked for 100 commonly requested chemical and bacteriological contaminants. 💧

Effective Jan. 1, 2001, Rohm and Haas has announced a price increase of 10 to 15 percent for its vinyl acetate based homopolymer and copolymer emulsions. This increase is a result of rapidly escalating raw material prices. 💧

Houston-based Azurix reported revenues of $183.7 million for the quarter ending Sept. 30, and a net loss of $3.6 million. In other news, Azurix entered an agreement of a merger with Enron Corp. It requires the approval of the company’s shareholders voting on the matter. 💧

In December, the NEX Partners and Messe Frankfurt Inc.—producers of the famed ISH water industry trade show in Frankfurt, Germany—agreed to produce ISH North America, beginning in Fall, 2002. The debut is tentatively scheduled for Orlando, Fla. 💧

Calgon Carbon Corp. announced that effective Feb. 1, it will increase the price of its activated carbon by 6 percent, or as contract terms permit. 💧

Heather Willson, a Central Ohio resident, was presented in December with Hague Quality Water International’s national sweepstakes grand prize of $4,000. She chose the cash over a rider mower and personal watercraft. 💧

Danaher Corp. announced in December that it has purchased the Zellweger Analytics water analysis business from Zellweger Luwa, AG for approximately $40 million. 💧

In November, R&D Magazine selected four technologies from Nalco Chemical Co. as among the top 100 innovations for 2000. Products cited were ACT™, Trasar® 3000 Fluorometer Feed Controller with Dose & Diagnose service, High Stress Polymer Program, and Nalco® 98DF063 flocculant. 💧

Dow Chemical Co. of Midland, Mich., has launched www.hamposyl.com, a product website for Hampshire Chemical Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of Dow. Customers and potential customers will find the site a one-stop source for comprehensive information on anionic surfactants. 💧

CUNO Inc. reported record results for the fiscal year ending Oct. 31, 2000, with worldwide sales of $243.1 million, up 10 percent from $220.6 million in 1999. 💧

In November, Pro Products LLC of Fort Wayne, Ind., acquired Merit Labs of Grafton, Wis. Merit Labs is one of the leading chemical packagers in the water treatment industry. Merit’s operation has moved to Fort Wayne. 💧

Essentia Water Inc. of Phoenix has signed an agreement with Macy’s West, division of Federated Department Stores, to produce a premium, private label water. It was available in early December at over 100 stores. 💧

California takes stand on chlorine;WQA questions state’s standards
In a formal letter to Water Quality Association (WQA) Executive Director Peter Censky, the chief of the division of drinking water and environmental management at the Department of Health Service (DHS) in California cleared up any ambiguity regarding the state’s chlorine standards. David Spath, Ph.D., P.E., notified WQA in December that a proposed maximum residual disinfection level (MRDL) for chlorine, chloramines and chlorine dioxide constitutes a primary drinking water standard. Now, all products making any type of chlorine reduction claims are subject to California’s product certification program.

The overwhelming number of chlorine claims are made for taste and odor. To redefine all chlorine claims as health-related would require rigorous new testing protocols. NSF Standard 42 would be rendered useless within the state. Like other states, California issues an MRDL for chlorine to comply with the USEPA Disinfectant/Disinfection By-Product Rule. But California differs from other states in having a certification program linked to primary drinking water standards, a categorization previously limited to maximum contaminant level (MCL). WQA has told the state’s DHS aesthetic claims made under Standard 42 shouldn’t be covered by its product certification laws. The WQA and DHS met in January and further discussions were planned on the topic.

Arsenic fervor runs high
The USEPA’s recommended standard for arsenic was raised to 10 micrograms per liter of water (mg/L) from an initial 5 mg/L amid a flurry of critical comments during the 90-day public review period following the initial proposal. “Money is the real driver here, not health protection,” said Bruce Macler of the USEPA’s San Francisco office. “It’s going to squeeze a lot of folks (financially) that were never squeezed before for regulations.”

The risk assessment on the cancer-causing contaminant was used in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, he said. If passed, the proposal could make the point-of-entry (POE) industry a winner. “POE could go really far on this one by upscaling their treatment,” Macler said. Granular ferric hydroxide, he added, stands to benefit most from the proposal since it’s almost maintenance-free. The proposal was sent to the Office of Management and Budget for approval. Macler expects a decision by late February or March.             

Pentair forges Asia market
Pentair has announced its Pentair Water Treatment (PWT) business will bolster its growing presence in the Asia/Pacific region by establishing a distribution center in Taiwan. Opened on Jan. 1, the distribution center will initially focus on supplying PWT’s core product lines: Fleck Control valves, CodeLine membrane housings, STRUCTURAL pressure vessels, WellMate hydropneumatic vessels and SIATA control valves.

Radionuclide rule set
The USEPA updated its standards for radionuclides in drinking water including combined radium 226/228, gross alpha, beta particle and photon radioactivity, and uranium. Water Quality Association technical director Joe Harrison said small water treatment dealers may be affected if the standard (5 picocuries per liter for radium) is stringently followed and treated for centrally. One less expensive option, he added, would be to centrally treat only for radium 226/228 with water softeners while other contaminants be monitored by the point-of-use/point-of-entry industry. Community water systems, which are water systems that serve at least 15 service connections or 25 residents regularly year round, are required to meet the final maximum contaminant levels and requirements for monitoring and reporting. The rule will become effective Dec. 8, 2003—three years after the publication date.

Haliant kicks off RO line
Haliant Technologies has an-nounced the introduction of its complete line of water purification equipment, including reverse osmosis, nanofiltration and electro-deionization products. Haliant is headed by Edward Closuit, former president of Environmental Products USA Inc., and operates from its 20,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Sarasota, Fla.

CPC teams with USFilter
Chester Paul Co. of Glendale, Calif., has announced it has become an authorized stocking distributor for USFilter and the former U.S. Water Products of San Diego. Established in 1948, Chester Paul specializes in residential point-of-use reverse osmosis components.

Merger in California
Clear Creek Systems Inc. of Bakersfield, Calif., and Flow Tech Industries Inc. of Ventura, Calif., have agreed to share industrial and ultrapure water treatment technology through the formation of Flow Tech Systems Inc.—a wholly owned subsidiary of Clear Creek Systems Inc. Clear Creek is an industry leader in mobile, trailer-mounted oil/water and sediment removal processes.

UV sessions create buzz
Seminars regarding ultraviolet (UV) disinfection attracted standing-room-only attendance at the annual American Water Works Association Water Quality and Technology Conference held in Salt Lake City on Nov. 4-9. Water professionals from around the world weighed the pros and cons of UV technology to rid their waters of Cryptosporidium, Giardia and other contaminants. The USEPA is due to publish the Long-Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule, which will include regulations addressing UV disinfection, this month.

Water strategy at USEPA
The USEPA’s Drinking Water Research Working Group of the National Drinking Water Advisory Council is considering a broad range of research needs to support the agency’s water regulatory activities. Included is an assessment of research needs for microbes and disinfection by-products, arsenic, Contaminant Candidate List items and other issues. The committee is made up of private-sector experts, government officials and scientists from academia. Completion date for the strategy document is expected to be late September. The group will meet again on March 1.

NORIT spreads wings
Atlanta-based NORIT Americas Inc. announced a merger with Nuon N.V. Norit, the largest producer of activated carbon in the world, and expects major gains in access to markets for its activated carbon, membrane technology, components and engineering services. In turn, Nuon expects access to NORIT’s extensive knowledge and involvement in the drinking water and wastewater markets.

UL unveils new EPH Mark
Drinking water treatment additives certified by Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) have a new look as the organization implemented worldwide a dedicated environmental and public health (EPH) Mark. The new Mark took effect Oct. 30. Other industries’ equipment certified by UL with the Mark include commercial food service, and meat and poultry plants. It was developed so products may be identified denoting compliance with EPH considerations. The UL EPH Mark incorporates the “UL in a circle” inside a green triangle logo to help distinguish it from UL’s traditional Marks.  

Apyron doubles work space
Apyron Technologies Inc., a materials innovation firm, has leased 38,000 additional square feet of space at its Atlanta headquarters. The expansion—which occurred in late December—more than doubled capacity (previously at 30,000 square feet) and allows for new offices, laboratories and manufacturing space. Currently privately financed, Apyron also anticipates an initial public offering during the first half of this year.

Calif. tackles chromium 6
The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) released a fact sheet in November on hexavalent chromium in drinking water after a series of media reports in the Los Angeles area about historical chromium 6 releases and emerging occurrence data. ACWA’s information complemented data from the state Department of Health Services, which is considering setting a separate drinking water standard for chromium 6 based on a public health goal of 2.5 µg/L set in 1999 by the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. The USEPA currently regulates total chromium at 100 µg/L, and California’s total chromium standard is 50 µg/L.

Softener campaign planned
At the urging of the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts will begin a major campaign against self-regenerating water softeners sometime this month or early Spring, according to the Water Quality Association (WQA). The campaign will urge consumers to switch from automatic water softeners to portable exchange service. The sanitation district plans to use bill stuffers and local consumer confidence reports to tell customers that their sewer bill may triple if water districts are obliged to use expensive treatment technologies under water board rules. Water treatment dealers should contact the WQA for further


Chinese lake drying up
The largest natural lake in northern China faces extinction soon, parched by lack of rainfall and reckless use of water by factories and farmers, water resources officials said in December. The threat to the Baiyangdian Lake in Hebei province has highlighted a water crisis in the country so severe it threatens the country’s economic development and social stability. Hundreds of thousands of people have grown dependent on its water for drinking, fishing and agriculture.

Disease strikes in Spain
Investigators were scouring ventilation and water systems for the source of bacteria that has infected at least 40 people with Legionnaires’ disease near Barcelona, Spain, health officials said in November. Ages of the victims range between 38 and 92. Symptoms of the disease include high fever, cough and shortness of breath. The elderly and people with weak health conditions are most at risk.

Scanning for Crypto
Portland, Maine-based ImmuCell Corp.’s Crypto-Scan®—a product that’s used in laboratory testing of water supplies for the presence of Cryptosporidium parvum—received approval in November as an official product under the recently enacted Water Supply Regulations by the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) in the United Kingdom. Three hundred water sources in England and Wales will be monitored. After a water sample is collected and concentrated, the technology will prepare the sample for the detection of the parasite.

Ontario’s wells, testing
Ontario’s drinking water is threatened by more than 100,000 abandoned wells that allow manure, chemicals and other surface contaminants to rapidly poison groundwater, according to the Ontario Groundwater Association. Since it costs up to $10,000 to plug a well, many owners simply walk away and the province has no way of knowing whether old wells are sealed unless they receive a complaint from the public. In other news, the Quebec Environment Minister an-nounced a $600 million package that includes stern measures and more frequent testing to ensure the quality of drinking water. His main recommendation is the adoption of the norm for water turbidity now enforced in the United States. Drinking water in Quebec must now meet the standard of 5 nepholometric turbidity units. He wanted a new standard of 0.5 NTUs by October 2000.

Mexican exhibit on water
Concerned with serious water issues facing humanity in the very near future, the museum Papalote, Museo del Niño (Children’s Museum), located in México City, has opened a 7,000 square foot highly interactive exhibit, designed to promote public awareness in children, their families and their teachers. Themes address basic issues with emphasis on the importance of water management and distribution; problems of sanitation, pollution and human rights; sharing of burdens, and benefits and responsibilities. Beginning this year, the exhibit will tour the Mexican states in an effort to reach as many visitors as possible.

Safe water worldwide
Experts from around the world began discussing in November the need to increase the supply of safe drinking water, and expand the availability of basic sanitation services—measures that could save millions of lives each year. The program, called Vision 21, was launched last March by the Geneva-based Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, which is co-sponsored by the World Health Organization and the U.N. Children’s Fund.

Water shortage in Africa
Leaks from aging water systems, massive waste and water theft contribute to a shortage of fresh drinking water in Africa’s rapidly urbanizing cities, a U.N. report said in December. Those using groundwater are extracting water from aquifers at a rate much faster than they can be recharged by nature. Africa, the fastest urbanizing region in the world, is growing in population by 5 percent every year. 

Thames buys Chilean utility
Thames Water plc. of London, and a member of RWE Group, purchased a controlling stake in Empressa de Servicios Sanitarios del Bio-Bio S.A. (ESSBIO) of Concépción. The stake is being bought for US$336 million from the Chilean government, the previous majority owner. Thames holds 50.9 percent of ESSBIO. It supplies approximately 1.5 million people in Concépción, Chile’s second largest city, with water and wastewater services. Thames plans to invest more than US$100 million in ESSBIO within the next five years.

WHO promises billions
The World Health Organization hopes to halve the number of people without access to water supply and sanitation by 2015 and drastically cut the planet’s annual death toll from waterborne diseases. In a global report launched in Brazil in late November, WHO said it also aimed to provide universal access to water supply, sanitation and hygiene within the next 25 years—all at an estimated extra cost of some $7 billion a year globally. The report said 1.1 billion people worldwide had no improved water supply and 2.4 billion had no improved sanitation. Most of them lived in Asia and Africa.


Saturday, February 24th, 2001

Sourcing a proper UV chart and other controversies

Dear Editor:
We are attaching here a copy of table of contents page from your October 1998 issue. We point your kind attention to page 74: “Water Stores: The UV Disinfection Question” by Gerald B. Davis.

We have approached Mr. Davis, president of Ultraviolet Systems & Equipment (UVSE) Inc., several times to get his response about from what actual sources all figures (or UV doses) on the table are compiled. However, we did not hear anything from him about this matter.

Such being the situation, we’re sorry to be of trouble but it would be highly appreciative and obliged if you could arrange with him so that we could receive his response, as the information required is so important to us.
We thank you in anticipation of your assistance in this matter and look forward to hearing from you shortly with much interest.

T. Nishiyama
Funatech Co. Ltd.
Tokyo, Japan

WC&P responds: The table that you refer to was compiled by editors here from three industry charts provided in previous articles run by the magazine and approved by Gerald Davis for inclusion in his article. Davis has since sold UVSE Inc.

In backtracking through WC&P’s archives, there have been seven articles since 1991 that include some form of inactivation chart with similar information. Authors include in chronological order, present to past: Davis; Roger Grant of Aquanetics; Jesse Rodriguez (2) of Ideal Horizons, now WEDECO Ideal Horizons; Bak Srikanth of Aquafine; Myron Lupal of R-Can Environmental, and Phil Carrigan and Bill Cairns of Trojan Technologies.

Jim Bolton, executive director of the International UV Association, head of Bolton Photosciences and formerly senior research chemist for Calgon Carbon Corp., said the likely source for the majority of the data was company trade literature from Trojan Technologies. However, he also points to an article by Olaf Hoyer, as the best literature in his view on the topic (“Testing Performance and Monitoring of UV Systems for Drinking Water Disinfection,” Water Supply, Vol. 16, 1998, pp. 424-429). Bolton said Hoyer runs the UV test lab for the German ultraviolet standard certification board. Germany and Austria are the only countries that have adopted a uniform UV standard and all equipment has to be tested to this standard, he added. The article is cited in a free pamphlet Bolton published in 1999, “The Ultraviolet Application Handbook,” which can be ordered at no charge from his website: www.boltonuv.com

On a related topic, Bolton said he was not sure what Calgon Carbon Corp. was likely to do with respect to a U.S. patent it was issued last fall for inactivating Cryptosporidium using medium pressure UV light, which may be expanded to include low pressure UV applications:

“As far as I know, Calgon’s still considering what to do. The company has stated publicly it has no interest in restricting competition. I think the situation may be such that whenever a UV company either takes a license, they pay a fee, or the utility company itself… pays on a per gallon treated basis possibly.

(With Calgon Carbon’s expanded patent application under consideration now), it’s simply a continuation in part that also claims low pressure is the same as medium pressure in UV inactivation of Cryptosporidium. That means it’s a continuation of the patent and, if accepted, it becomes part of the original patent.

I have no idea (if the patent will be challenged). I wouldn’t be surprised because it’s a very broad patent. It essentially says nobody can inactivate Cryptosporidium within that intensity range without violating their patent—10-150 millijoules per square centimeter. In that range, every claim by a company that their product inactivates Cryptosporidium would apply. It’s not an equipment patent. It’s a process patent.

It’s ironic because I’m no longer with Calgon Carbon and my name is on the patent. I wrote it in 1998.

I was involved in the original research and there’s no doubt about Calgon funding the critical research that really opened the door on inactivation of Cryptosporidium with UV. I gave the paper on it in a presentation in June 1998 in Dallas at the AWWA convention. I remember very well the room was very packed. People were out in the hallway. It caused quite a stir.

They funded research that at the time people thought was crazy because everyone thought UV was no good for Cryptosporidium. All they’re asking for is a reasonable return on their investment. They’re not going to say nobody can go out and use anything but Calgon Carbon equipment. They’re simply saying we’d like a little royalty … on it. I think that’s at least a little reasonable.”

Guest Viewpoint

Saturday, February 24th, 2001

By Patrick J. Dalee

A state, regional & national approach to industry fellowship

This past year as Water Quality Association (WQA) president, I was invited to speak at many state and regional conferences. My company displayed at many of these events in the past. With such a good year for our industry, I was surprised and disappointed to see state associations having a tough time, both with show attendance and membership. It’s vital our industry supports both national and state associations. Many important issues are dealt with at the state level. Texas and Florida had to battle to maintain a dealers’ right to install POU/POE water treatment equipment. The national WQA cannot fight all local issues nor respond as fast as is often needed. On larger issues, it takes two organizations working together, as demonstrated so successfully by WQA and the Pacific WQA in dealing with California brine discharge issues. We’re developing a task force to address new membership marketing efforts, revitalize regional and state shows, enhance educational programs and promote WQA professional certification.

I’m happy to report the WQA lab is now recognized by all states that require third party certification for product performance. WQA executive director Peter Censky, technical director Joe Harrison and lab director Tom Palkon have worked together to turn our lab into a first-class facility. WQA and NSF International signed an agreement last year allowing “reciprocal acceptance” of test results generated by either side. We’re currently completing the same type of agreement with Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Manufacturers will be able to earn the NSF and WQA Gold Seal or the UL and Gold Seal with one set of lab results.

The Materials Safety Task Force is working to revise NSF Standard 61 to include POU and POE products. We need to reduce the material safety cost burden on our testing protocol, which will greatly enhance the certification process. It’s still a goal of WQA to have all of our industry’s products tested and certified to manufacturers’ performance claims. Reducing costs will encourage both small and large manufacturers to get products certified.

Our Public Relations Program this year was a great success. We plan to build on last year’s news blitz with an emphasis on integrating local members into the campaign. A new WQA National Consumer Attitude Survey will be initiated in our Satellite Media Tour during National Drinking Water Week (NDWW) in May. We’ll continue to use physical trainer Bob Greene as our national spokesperson and produce a five-minute video for dealers to use at their office, home shows and fairs.

We also plan on taking a proactive approach to heterotrophic plate count (HPC) bacteria and arsenic issues. HPC informational material—whether literature or videotape—will be made available to members as a preventative measure in case this breaks out as a public issue. The new arsenic rule will generate media attention. WQA will put together a media/public educational packet on arsenic and POU/POE technology. We’ll let influential news outlets know we have experts on the subject available for interviews for news or feature stories, including Harrison during our NDWW promotion.

It’s a privilege to be WQA president, especially considering how important our industry and WQA have been to my family through several generations. WQA does so many things to promote and serve its members. I want to encourage you all to support our association with your time and money. I look forward to seeing you at this year’s convention in Orlando, Fla., in March.

The Bottled Water Industry in India: Living with the New Standards

Saturday, February 24th, 2001

By H. Subramaniam

Summary: Buoyed by the increased importance placed on water quality following outbreaks of waterborne diseases, the Indian bottled water market is in the midst of a critical transition. With an influx of outside companies attempting to capitalize on the market, regulations will become more imperative. The role of government may dictate who survives the impending battle.

The Indian consumer never had so much choice. In a country where 20 percent of the population has no access to safe drinking water, the bottled water industry is booming like never before. The contrast couldn’t be more ironic and everyone seems to want a part of the action.

In 1990, a person drinking bottled water in India was an oddity. Only foreign tourists and recuperating patients could be seen drinking from a bottle. The thought that people would pay money for drinking water was questioned. Yet things have undergone a significant change in 10 years and the bottled water industry has become one of the fastest growing segments, attracting a host of big multinational corporations.

Growing market
Increased cases of cholera and other waterborne diseases caused urban India to become seriously aware of water quality issues. Urbanization left water quality and availability declining, heightening need for clean water. Also, in the early ’90s, economic liberalization in India prompted a wave of consumerism and more foreign brands. These two factors created the basis for astounding market growth, jumping at a rate of over 100 percent per year initially. Today, the bottled water market has grown to around US$250 million.

While reliable figures are difficult to come by, the branded bottled water market is believed to be about US$160 million. The rest is taken up by a number of unorganized players spread all over the country. Bisleri is the undisputed market leader with a market share of about 45 percent. It has won the bottled water battle on the strength of its distribution muscle, so much that the Bisleri name is almost synonymous with bottled water in India. Bailey is second with a market share of about 15 percent. There are over 200 other regional and local players crowding this market. Still growing at over 80 percent per year, it’s full of opportunities.

Bisleri is owned by the Parle Group, and has developed and enhanced the market by educating people about water quality. The company is headed by Ramesh Chauhan, the previous owner of leading soft drink brands Thums Up and Limca. When Coca-Cola was sent packing in 1977 by the Indian government, which had ordered it to dilute its stake in an Indian unit and turn over its secret formula, Chauhan consolidated his business and made it the undisputed leader in the soft drink market. When Coke came back to India in the early ’90s, Chauhan sold his brands to them at a very attractive rate. His focus has then gradually shifted to the bottled water market, which he wants to rule similarly.

Big-time involvement
The promise of a big market has attracted all major multinationals in the business. Three have jumped into the fray in the last four months. The first to challenge Bisleri’s leadership was Pepsi’s Aquafina. It adopted the advertising positioning of “Purest part of Body,” and directly targeted the youth and fitness-conscious consumer. Next came Coke with the launch of its Kinley brand. Promoting its endorsement by the Federation of Family Physicians Association of India (FFPAI), the launch raised a few eyebrows about the ethics and legalities of the move. But Coke stuck to its guns and continued with the same advertising.

The world’s No. 1 water bottler, Nestle also entered with a series of brands. After launching its premium Perrier earlier in the year, it has now introduced San Pellegrino, which is primarily targeted to the institutional market (see below for definition). Nestle also has plans to bring its Pure Life brand to India soon. Danone is also in the market with its Evian brand that goes to the premium segments of the market. The Nestle and Danone brands are currently being imported and have no manufacturing base in India.

Segments of water
The market is divided into the retail and institutional segments. While multinationals like Nestle are focusing on the institutional segment including hotels, restaurants, clubs and premium eateries, others like Pepsi want to ride on the distribution network of their soft drink business. They’re targeting the retail trade for pushing their products to tourists and roadside drinking.

Product packaging and sizing has also been played upon. Pepsi tried to build a premium positioning by coming out with a 750 milliliter (ml) bottle at the rate of 10 rupees (Rs.)—US$1 = Rs. 45—to compete against Bisleri’s one liter bottle at the same rate. Bisleri tried to counteract with a 1.2 liter bottle at Rs. 12 to target the regular mineral water consumer who’s accompanied by a friend. To create newer consumer segments, they’ve also scaled down sizes to come up with a 300 ml cup (roughly the size of a 12-ounce beer can). This is targeted for large public gatherings like seminars and marriages.

All players also would like to get into the bulk market of 5- and 20-liter packs. Targeted at homes and offices, this is the fastest growing sub-segment. As consumers get more used to drinking bottled water on special occasions, they’re expected to increase their regular consumption. So the bulk packaging is expected to become 80 percent of the total market as compared to the current 20 percent.

All-inclusive market
A natural outcome of this boom was the entry of unscrupulous fly-by-night players in the market. A number of local players began selling plain tap water or filtered water as “mineral water.” With a number of consumers falling sick after drinking this “mineral water,” the credibility of the whole industry was at stake. In this backdrop, the Indian government stepped in to regulate the market.

The Health Ministry came out with new mineral water quality standards in line with international norms. Minimum standards for color, odor, taste, turbidity, total dissolved solids and microbial content have been established in line with international standards. All packaged water bottles need to carry an ISI certification from Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), effective March 2001. The new notification also seeks to differentiate between “natural mineral water” and “packaged drinking water.”

The new standards ensure manufacturers that “natural mineral water” must maintain the purity of the source, surroundings of the plant and packaging material—to the highest standards of hygiene—so that the quality of the end product is assured. The standards are in alignment with the Codex standard on natural mineral water. However, certain additional parameters like magnesium, calcium, sodium, sulphide and some microbiological aspects are included, which are either not covered or only partially covered in the Codex standard.

The notification also regulates the labeling of these products and sets guidelines for health claims. This has created doubts on the viability of continuing Kinley’s current advertising and packaging. The government is clearly hoping the bottled water industry plays a more responsible role in ensuring the quality of its products. It wants to safeguard consumer interests and the industry. The move has been largely welcomed by all players in the industry, though they’re privately apprehensive of the repercussions.

This involvement of the government is the result of the failure of the industry to regulate itself and provide some kind of voluntary guidelines. This may be due to the unorganized nature of the industry, but the big players also need to take some responsibility for their lack of leadership. The question everyone’s asking is how will this impact this burgeoning market.

The shakeout
When the standards come into effect, there should be a shakeout in the industry. While the quality of implementation is clearly a question, it’s expected most small-time, unscrupulous players will be driven out of the market. There should be some consolidation and all the majors are hoping to take advantage of this.

Many smaller players are expected to sell off their operations and leave the market as things get hot. Markets were abuzz with rumors that Bisleri was holding talks with Nestle and Coke to sell its business. But nothing has come out of it so far. Also hoped is the new standards will make consumers more aware and conscious of what they’re drinking. But industry leaders might need to step in with more awareness campaigns.

The new standards should also lead to a lot of business for the water treatment systems industry. With bottled water companies getting more conscious of the quality of their product, a number of quality mineral water plants will be built and many existing plants will need servicing or updating. So it should be a boom time for a number of water treatment system manufacturers in India. Naturally, component suppliers aren’t complaining either. The reverse osmosis (RO) membrane and pump suppliers are particularly happy as most of the new bottled water plants are based on RO.

With all this interest in the bottled water industry and all the multinationals coming in, the water industry has suddenly become an attractive industry for new competition. Different companies are trying to occupy varied market positions from general retail, institutional and residential as they try to differentiate themselves and build brand loyalty.

Even as top marketing professionals rush in to understand and capture the bottled water industry, a new breed of chemists, engineers and systems designers is sure to be attracted to water purification technology. And that surely has to be good news for the industry.
This is one growing bubble that shows no sign of getting bottled!

About the author
H. Subramaniam is head of content at www.EverythingAboutWater.com, a leading comprehensive portal on water. It provides a wide range of information, products and services to both businesses and home users. He is also editor of a newly launched water magazine, EverythingAboutWater. Previously, he had marketing experience with a leading water treatment and pump company in India. He can be reached at +91 11 6800622, +91 11 6800923 (fax) or email: subrah@eawater.com

Technological Advances in RO Systems: Bringing It Home with You

Saturday, February 24th, 2001

By Niklas Pahlman and Dr. Tibor Nemeth

Tankless? Yes! Technological advances have made it possible to produce convenient reverse osmosis (RO) point-of-use (POU) equipment that delivers a continuous flow of pure water on demand—without a storage tank. Let’s call them “tankless” RO systems.

Such systems are currently in production, contrary to claims in the article, “RO: An Overview on Advances in POU Technology” (WC&P, July 2000). “Undersink RO designs currently all have a storage tank,” the article states. This is incorrect due to the latest technological advances, and thus the way a tankless domestic RO system can be designed. This article also demonstrates how higher than normal recovery rates can be achieved, which saves customers from large amounts of wasted feed water. Finally, the article explains why a tankless RO system produces purer water than a conventional RO system for home use.

Tankless option
Why strive to get rid of tank storage? The advantages are both numerous and important.

Better capacity: A direct flow of water on demand ensures delivery of a desired amount of pure water for drinking, cooking and rinsing purposes—without much wait.

More convenient: You’ll always obtain water on demand. Moreover, since water isn’t stored in a tank but flowing directly from the top, it will be cooler.

Purer: A direct flow, tankless RO system should require a pressurized pump that squeezes as much water as possible through the membrane, in order to maximize production capacity of permeate (purified water) flow. The RO process is thus optimized (see Figure 1). This will result in the highest possible rejection, because achieving the fastest possible flow through the membrane would only allow a minimized amount of impurities to have time to pass through the membrane and mix with permeate water.  

Furthermore, a tankless solution avoids the first amount of permeate water from a tank that’s never fully purified. It’s a phenomenon referred to as “TDS creep,” where during standby periods there’s ongoing mass flow across the membrane until the concentration equalizes on both sides of the membrane—known as diffusion. Since there’s no escaping this, the quality of water collected in a tank is inevitably affected. If a tankless system is equipped with a quality monitoring system, however, it will signal when water coming out of the faucet has reached high levels of purity and, thus, you can let the first amount run to the drain.

The tankless system described here rejects more than 99 percent of most impurities. It has high refection rates for many substances including arsenic, lead, Cryptosporidium and specific families of bacteria such as E. coli, Heterotrophic bacteria, coliforms, Enterococcus fecalis and Pseudonomas auruginosa.

Safer: There would be no risk of bacteria build-up via biofilm, which is associated with storing water in a tank. Bacteria colonization on bladders is a well known and common problem in even larger systems. To ensure water quality after it’s been stored for some time, one should flush the tank until fresh water can be used for drinking purposes. Low performing systems cannot handle this without causing some major inconvenience for the customer, because it would be a while for purified water to fill up the tank.

Taste: There’s no risk of water obtaining unwanted taste from the inside of a pressure tank. The bladder may leach contaminants into water resulting in bad taste. To improve taste, a post-carbon filter is utilized in many cases. In a non-backwashable post-carbon filter there will be a risk of bacteria growth and, in some countries, a post-ultraviolet or other disinfection treatment is required. This results in added costs as well as unreliable solutions.

Once you’ve decided tankless is the best alternative, the next question becomes, how to get rid of the tank?

The determining factor
Membrane size is a key determinant in the feasibility of tankless RO. The spigot-flow, or capacity, is determined by the performance of the membrane surface. It’s referred to as “flux,” which is the amount of water produced on a surface spot of the membrane over a given time. Advances in membrane technologies and refinements in control systems increase the capacity, but this increase—even if doubled—is limited.

It’s the size of the membrane surface area that determines the quantity of pure water produced within a given time. Of course, the quality and characteristics of membranes as well as the design of RO systems are significant factors, but when it comes to permeate flow capacity, choosing membrane size is what really matters.

The tankless system described in this article delivers as much as four liters (one gallon) per minute. One model now available delivers as much as four liters per minute. In order to provide such a capacity, a spiral wound thin film composite (TFC) membrane was chosen with a surface area of 8 square meters. Such a membrane is much larger than most, but it’s still been possible to include it in a compact RO system that fits under the sink.

Is that all that’s required? Well, some other components need to be considered and some engineering skill is required to make it come to life.

Since the membrane is large, relying on the pressure that comes from the tap won’t be enough. In order to squeeze water effectively through such a large membrane, the unit must be equipped with a pressurizing pump to carry out the work.

Membrane cleaning
It’s very important to provide a system that keeps the membrane surface clean in order to prevent scaling and fouling of the membrane. This is essential for maintaining membrane performance and allowing for a longer lasting life. In particular, this is very important when using a large membrane, since replacing it will cost a considerable amount of money. A membrane that’s effectively cleaned should last five to seven years under normal conditions and use. This is possible by using a system that automatically flushes the membrane after operation.   

When pure water has been tapped from the faucet and shut off, a two minute long flushing of the membrane will start automatically. Moreover, at regular intervals of twice a day, an automatic flushing is carried out in order to combat diffusion and keep the membrane clean. Using a pump for this purpose isn’t essential, but it would allow for a very effective flushing of the membrane. The importance of using a pump increases with the size of the membrane, in order to guarantee enough pressure to flush the entire surface.

Lastly, in order to guard the membrane from strain and impurities, it’s essential to have prefilters that take care of particles of sediment as well as chlorine, because TFC spiral wound membranes are sensitive to chlorine.
Recovery rate
Installing a pump can play another very important role. On the system described here, a “loop system” has been designed to effectively recover intake water. The pump is the driving force and ensures there’s intense circulation of water in the vessel where the membrane sits while supporting mechanisms limit the escape of reject water. This “loop system” allows it to reach a uniquely high recovery rate of 80 percent, which makes it more economically and environmentally sound.

Managing tough intake
Using a considerably sized membrane in combination with an effective method of membrane cleaning not only brings advantages for tankless applications, but such a product will also manage tougher water conditions, i.e. higher contents of impurities. The tankless system discussed here will take care of brackish water with a salinity of up to 7,500 parts per million (ppm)—measuring the amount of total dissolved solids (TDS).

Price vs. performance
As described, technological advances allow a tankless system to fit under the kitchen sink. But will it cost a fortune? No! For an obvious reason, membranes represent the lion’s share of an RO unit’s expense. Thus, a direct flow RO purifier will cost more—but the added value outperforms the conventional RO unit by far.

Furthermore, it shouldn’t be forgotten that a very effective membrane saves you from the cost of a tank and a number of filter stages as well as other mechanisms included in a conventional system with tank storage. This includes an automatic shutoff valve, air gap and post-treatment filters. These and other shortcomings are comprehensively described in the article cited earlier.

The article argues that product development will be toward lower cost and smaller sized membranes. Still, many people believe customers will demand better performance and convenience. This requires membranes of considerable sizes. Customers must be convinced the benefits of a tankless system are affordable.

Many are hesitant about the tankless RO system because of the price gap between it and a conventional RO unit. As a result, a new tankless model will be produced later this year. The lighter and more compact version will have a smaller membrane with a surface area of 5 square meters. It delivers a continuous supply of 2.5 liters (0.7 gallons) per minute.

The tankless RO purifier is what the modern household demands. Technological advances have made it possible to produce tankless RO purifiers that are attractive in terms of design and capability as well as affordability. 

About the authors
Niklas Pahlman is sales manager at Electrolux Water Purification, a product line of the Electrolux Group based in Stockholm, Sweden. Electrolux is a leading manufacturer of kitchen, indoor and outdoor appliances with brand names that include Frigidaire, Westinghouse, Eureka and Electrolux. Pahlman holds a master’s degree in business administration. He can be reached at +46 31 738 77 82 or email: niklas.pahlman@electrolux.se

Dr. Tibor Nemeth is a water chemistry specialist at the Water Purification Centre, located at the Electrolux factory in Torsvik, Sweden. He holds a doctorate and a master’s degree in chemical engineering. He can be reached at +46 8 318 006 or email: tibor.nemeth@electrolux.se

Solid Carbon Block Filters—The Performance Says it All

Saturday, February 24th, 2001

By Paula I. Rice

Summary: It’s clear not all carbons are alike in terms of contaminant reduction performance when it comes to drinking water filtration. Rigorous product development, quality control and experimentation have shown compressed carbon block products to be far more efficient at removing contaminants of aesthetic and health concern.

Drinking water pollution comes from many sources. Surface water becomes contaminated from agricultural runoff, community landfills, polluted runoff (the nation’s leading cause of water pollution), and hazardous wastes produced as byproducts of manufacturing. Groundwater is contaminated by leaks of pollutants such as gasoline and MTBE from leaking underground storage tanks and injection of hazardous waste into deep wells—which is being phased out. The drinking water treatment industry is experiencing significant growth due to consumer demand for products protecting them from these potentially harmful contaminants found in drinking water supplies as well as aesthetic improvements.

Highly regarded
The effectiveness of any drinking water treatment device is measured by the performance of its filter. A close review of NSF certification listings shows that solid carbon block filters are the most effective for reducing a wide range of contaminants including those that may be found in groundwater. Certain drinking water treatment units (DWTU) that use solid carbon block filters have been tested and certified to reduce as many as 65 contaminants (see Table 1).

In the early 1970s, solid carbon block filter technology was developed for the purpose of treating contaminants for health reasons as well as aesthetically improving water quality. The technology combines mechanical filtration, chemical reaction and physical adsorption into a single device to reduce a broad spectrum of harmful contaminants.

Importance of raw materials
Activated carbon is the primary raw material used in solid carbon block filters. Once a customer’s objectives are identified, the manufacturer can then determine the characterization of activated carbons and specialized media to use for their specific filters. Carbons specified are especially effective in reducing inorganics such as lead and mercury as well as organic compoundsdisinfection by-products (DBPs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), PCBs, MTBE, etc. By using specialized media along with the carbon, filters can be produced for specific applications and/or to achieve greater capacity ratings for certain contaminants, such as lead.

Many carbons are selected with a high surface area and high retentivity characteristics. Years of research, development and manufacturing experience have helped some companies develop specifications for carbon and other media that give their compacted carbon block filters distinctive performance advantages over other treatment alternatives. Quality assurance procedures are carefully developed and maintained to assure that raw materials meet carbon block filter manufacturers’ high standards.

Technological advantages
As evidenced by the NSF certification of solid carbon block filters, companies have been successful in developing the technology to produce filters that provide greater chemical adsorption and mechanical filtration. Materials are formed into a carbon block, which is densely compacted. Compression enhances the kinetics of the filter and provides performance that cannot be achieved with extruded or granular activated carbon (GAC) filters.

Compacted solid carbon block filters have a large surface area for chemical/physical adsorption to take place. With a solid carbon block, the water contact time is longer and provides for greater adsorption of many different chemicals, pesticides, herbicides and certain heavy metals. A close review of NSF listings confirms that only compacted carbon block filters have been certified to reduce PCBs—a difficult contaminant to treat—and only a handful of products have been tested and certified to reduce a wide range of contaminants that are more difficult to reduce (see Table 2).

In addition, the densely compacted carbon block mechanically filters particles down to 0.5 micron (µm), including oocysts and cysts (Giardia and Cryptosporidium), asbestos, turbidity and particulates. Most filter designs incorporate an outer prefiltration medium to remove large particles and prevent premature clogging of the filter.Compacted filters are exceptionally uniform and don’t channel or allow bypass. Some companies are able to offer a diverse product line because their solid carbon block filters are molded and compacted individually.

Filter capacity
Filter capacity varies depending on the density and size of the filter. The characterization of activated carbons and/or specialized media will also determine the capacity of the filter. Capacity ratings apply to the chemical adsorption capabilities of the carbon and specialized media—carbons with a high surface area allow for long life and high adsorption capacity. Capacity ratings for solid carbon block filters range from 35 gallons to more than 1,000 gallons.

Claims of capacity aren’t applicable to contaminants reduced by mechanical filtration because of broad variations in the quality and quantity of physical matter in the drinking water. The solid carbon block filter is engineered so that contaminants removed by mechanical filtration will cause the flow rate to decrease and the filter to clog, thus offering protection to the consumer from Giardia, Cryptosporidium and other contaminants with a specific physical size. Premature clogging can be prevented with use of a prefiltration medium, which will remove large particles.

Solid carbon block filters are used in point-of-use drinking water treatment devices designed for end-of-tap, pour-through, countertop, undersink and inline applications. In addition, carbon block filters may also be used as pre-filters and/or post-filters with other technologies such as reverse osmosis, ultraviolet and ceramic filters, allowing distributors of those devices to expand health claims for their products and extend their useful life before servicing or replacement.

Solid carbon block filters effectively treat the age-old contaminants of yesteryear, such as lead, TCE, chlorine, benzene and “new” contaminants found in the nation’s drinking water supplies today like MTBE, chloramines and PCBs. They’ll also likely be proven capable of significantly reducing contaminants that may be found in drinking water supplies in the future such as antibiotics and other pharmaceutical drugs. The effectiveness of solid carbon block filters in treating a broad spectrum of contaminants of aesthetic as well as health concern makes it the technology of choice by original equipment manufacturers, dealers, distributors and—more importantly—consumers.

About the author
Paula I. Rice is vice president of administration at Las Vegas-based Multi-Pure Corp.—a contract manufacturer of solid carbon block filters with production facilities in Chatsworth, Calif., and Las Vegas. Applying technological experience from its 30-year history, Multi-Pure successfully develops innovative solutions to new contamination problems. Its filters were the first to be NSF tested and/or certified for reduction of PCBs, MTBE and chloramines. Before joining Multi-Pure, Rice served as associate vice president of business affairs at the University of Southern California. A member of the Water Quality Association, she serves on WQA and NSF committees. For more information, she can be contacted at (702) 360-8880, email: headquarters@multipureco.com or website: www.multipure.com

Groundwater: Treating Brackish Water in California—A Case Study

Saturday, February 24th, 2001

By Jeff Crider

Rapid population growth is making water an increasingly precious commodity across California, which faces a recent federal mandate limiting its consumption of Colorado River water to 4.4 million acre feet per year.

The federal mandate poses a significant challenge for state water agencies, which in the past have imported as much as 5.3 million acre feet of water from the Colorado River for their growing numbers of consumers.

As a result, many water districts in California are looking at other ways to make better use of their groundwater supplies in an effort to reduce their dependence on imported water.

Improving groundwater
Eastern Municipal Water District is one of several California water districts that’s using desalination—or brackish water treatment technology—to improve the quality of groundwater supplies, not only to generate additional sources of drinking water but to improve its ability to use existing aquifers for water storage purposes during wet years. The desalted water is pumped into a domestic water distribution system for sale to water customers.

Eastern serves 440,000 customers in a 555-square mile area of western Riverside County, about 70 miles east of Los Angeles. Eastern’s service area stretches from Temecula north to Moreno Valley, following the Interstate 215 corridor.

The district overlies extensive aquifers containing large quantities of marginally usable brackish groundwater. Total dissolved solids (TDS) in these basins range from 1,500-to-3,000 milligrams per liter (mg/L). Estimates of potential production from these basins range as high as 15,000 acre feet per year—an acre foot being the volume of water required to cover one acre of land one foot deep or about 325,900 gallons.

Tracking the terrain
The salinity problem stems in part from the fact that Eastern’s service area is trapped in a bowl, bordered by the 10,000-foot San Jacinto Mountains on the east and bands of rolling hills on the north, west and south. While the district receives freshwater runoff from the San Jacinto Mountains, much of that water becomes unusable as it seeps into Eastern’s underground aquifers.

The high quality basins to the east have water with TDS concentrations as low as 250 mg/L. As you travel west, you encounter basins with water with TDS levels of 500, 600, 1,000, 1,200, 1,500 and 2,000 mg/L. In the worst of these basins, TDS routinely exceeds 3,000 mg/L. Most of the water served by Eastern contains TDS concentrations below 700 mg/L—the same level as water imported from the Colorado River—but once TDS exceeds 1,000 mg/L, it rapidly loses its value as a source of irrigation supply.

“Underground water flowing west from the San Jacinto Mountains historically has picked up salts from the soil that have made the water less desirable the further west you go,” said Mike Garner, Eastern’s resource development administrator.

Growth equals salinity
The district’s service area has also been transformed during the past four decades from an agricultural area to a bedroom community for people working jobs in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and western Riverside counties.

“When you add the mix of human activity that has occurred in the area during the past hundred years with the reduction of agricultural pumping in the 1960s and ’70s, you wind up with increased salts trapped in a rising pool of unusable water that also threatens better quality water in other parts of the district,” Garner said. Indeed, the salinity of groundwater in some parts of Eastern’s service area has become so high that, again, it’s often unusable for agriculture.

Strategy over time
For 10 years, however, Eastern has been closely monitoring the flows and salinity content of waters going through its aquifers and has developed a strategy to make this water usable not just for agriculture but for the district’s growing population.

The strategy calls for construction of three desalination plants during the next five years that could eventually enable the district to remove 13 million or more gallons per day (gpd) of unusable water from local aquifers while adding over 10 million gpd of drinking water to its domestic water system.

The remaining three million gallons would consist of high salinity waste material that will be transported out of the area via a brine disposal pipeline. The brine is transported about 20 miles through a newly built pipeline and joins an existing brine disposal line. It continues to a special treatment plant in Orange County, where it’s further treated and disposed of into the Pacific Ocean.

Plant in the making
Eastern is currently constructing its first plant, a 4 million gallons per day (mgd) reverse osmosis (RO) plant in the community of Menifee. The plant is expected to be operational in the summer.

RO produces highly purified water by pumping brackish water at high pressures through a semi-permeable membrane, which allows water molecules to pass through but rejects salts and other contaminants that are flushed away for disposal.

Efficient use of the Menifee facility requires the district to operate wells where the unusable groundwater is located and to move the brackish water by pipelines to the desalination plant. Four wells have been established to supply the Menifee plant.

Another 4-mgd desalination plant is tentatively planned for the northeastern part of the city of Perris, while a third 4-mgd facility would be built in the Winchester area or as an expansion of the Menifee facility.

Leaving the door open
It’s likely that RO membranes will be used for all of the facilities. Desalination technologies continue to advance, however, and the district will evaluate the best available technology for each phase of the program.

“Construction of the desalination plants will enable us to increase our local supplies of drinking water, thereby reducing the need for Eastern to import additional water to satisfy our growing population,” Garner said. “It will also enable us to improve the integrity of our aquifers so that we can use them for storage purposes during wet years when surplus surface water is available at lower cost.”

When the bill comes due
While few can argue the merits of desalinating Eastern’s groundwater aquifer, the technology requires a significant upfront investment—not only in the technology but in the finished cost of desalinated water. Indeed, desalinated water will cost about $900 per acre foot compared to $430 for imported water.

Eastern was able to offset the higher costs of desalinated water by obtaining low interest construction loans from California’s Agricultural Drainage Loan Program and operating cost subsidiaries from Metropolitan Water District’s Recovery Program. These programs have been developed to encourage agencies to invest in the development of local water resources that reduce demand for imported water.

“As the cost of imported water increases and with improvements in desalination technology, the utilization of brackish groundwater will become increasingly cost effective,” Garner said.

Additional benefits
The desalination program will yield benefits other than expanded water supplies, including: protection of adjacent high quality basins from the spread of rising brackish groundwater; salinity management; improved water recycling, and long-term improvements in local groundwater quality as salt is removed from the basin. “In the long run, desalination technology will prove to be a prudent investment,” said John B. Brudin, Eastern’s general manager. “Not only will this technology help us better utilize our existing aquifers, but it will help us minimize our need for rate increases as the population continues to grow within our service area.”

Eastern hasn’t raised its water rates since 1996 and no increases are projected for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2001. The average “retail” rate charged to customers is $653 per acre foot.

Economic upside
Eastern’s investments in desalination technology also lay the foundation for a more vibrant economy in the district’s service area.

“Due to the inland location of our district, it is necessary to construct pipelines to dispose of the brine waste generated by the desalination process,” said Charles J. Bachmann, Eastern’s assistant general manager for engineering.

“These are the same kinds of pipelines needed by semiconductor manufacturers and other high-tech businesses to dispose of their wastes. So, by laying the foundation for desalination plants in western Riverside County, we are signaling high-tech businesses that we have the ability to accommodate them.”

Eastern believes its construction of desalination plants—using RO membrane technology—and their related brine disposal lines will help the district minimize its water imports and make better use of its existing groundwater resources during a time of rapid population growth. The construction of brine lines to dispose of waste from the desalination plants will also strengthen the region’s economic base by creating an important component of the waste disposal infrastructure needed by high-tech businesses.

About the author
Jeff Crider, formerly public relations manager for USFilter Corp., is a Temecula, Calif.-based writer specializing in water issues. He can be reached at (909) 781-2240 or email: jcrider@stoorza.com

Keeping it Clean—Resin Bed Cleaners: An Important Component of Good Softener Operation

Saturday, February 24th, 2001

By Troy Ethen

Summary: As an effective complement to water softeners, resin bed cleaners are gaining wider use in the industry. With different types of cleaners available, it’s important to know when to use them. The following outlines some advantages resin bed cleaners may offer your business.

When you start talking about chemistry to most people, including friends and family, their eyes begin to glaze over and they look in the opposite direction. If you press them for their attention, you may get some story about how they got a “D+” in high school chemistry and don’t want to talk about it.

When you start talking to a water treatment dealer about ion exchange, grains of hardness and total dissolved solids, you have a pretty attentive audience. But when you venture into the realm of chelating agents, redox reactions and atomic valence, your reception isn’t much warmer than most people’s response.

Still, more often than not, discussions about resin bed cleaners are about the chemistry and not about their usefulness in business. Simply put, here’s the chemistry: Resin bed cleaners work as a reducing agent that change atomic valence of oxidized metals, putting them back into solution and removing them from the resin bed. But you don’t need to know exactly how that occurs any more than you need to know how Shout removes a grass stain. What you really need to know is how resin bed cleaners can benefit your business.

Using resin bed cleaners isn’t just good science; it’s good business. The customer gets reliable performance from a major household appliance and the water treatment dealer gets a recurring source of revenue.

When to use resin bed cleaners
Resin bed cleaners are designed to remove metallic foulants from the resin bed. They can be effective for a variety of metals, but iron is the predominant metal of concern. Basically, if you plan to soften and you have even a trace of dissolved iron, you should use a resin bed cleaner or the water softener will lose capacity.

Certainly, you can use iron filters or chlorination to remove iron. If you don’t need to soften the water, iron filters and chlorination are the best options. But if you are softening, why would you add chlorine if you don’t have a bacteria problem? And why would you use an iron filter if your softener can handle the iron levels?

Types of resin bed cleaners
Resin bed cleaners can be applied using drip feeders (continuous feed systems) or manually mixed and poured into the brine well before regeneration.

Continuous feed systems drip a viscous liquid into the brine well from a reservoir that attaches to the inside of your brine tank (see Figure 1). The resin is cleaned with each regeneration. Continuous systems generally use weak acids that dissolve iron by lowering the pH. These cleaners aren’t effective in removing iron fouling; rather, they are effective in preventing it. Therefore, if you know iron is present, continuous feed systems should be applied at the time of installation.

Manual application typically requires a powdered cleaner. Application involves pouring a solution made with the powder and softened water into the brine well and initiating regeneration. The manual cleaning should occur when capacity drops below desired levels or (preferably) on a routine maintenance schedule, every three to 12 months, depending on iron levels of the influent water. These powders are strong chemicals that react directly with the iron and put it back into solution. This manual cleaning can return iron-fouled resin to its original capacity in lieu of a complete resin change.

Iron removal and cation exchange
Two kinds of iron in water will be discussed here: insoluble (red water) and soluble (clear water). Water softeners will only remove clear water iron and typically treat up to 10 parts per million (ppm)—depending on the brand and model—when used in conjunction with resin bed cleaners.

Many people refer to insoluble iron as “bad iron,” but at least your customer knows it’s a problem. A water treatment professional is typically called to remove the iron before the customer runs a drop of water into their home. What’s so “bad” about that?

The irony here is that clear water iron is often called “good iron,” but “good” iron is the real problem. The homeowner may only realize they have clear water iron after they see red stains in the shower, toilet, dishwasher, etc. And if they don’t use a resin bed cleaner, they run the risk of staining with or without a water softener.

Water softeners remove iron the same way they remove hardness. If regeneration occurs frequently, iron is removed from the resin the same way hardness is removed. But “frequent” regeneration means two to three times per week, which usually doesn’t happen. If regeneration occurs weekly or less frequently, iron turns from clear to red on the resin bed the same way it does on the shower wall. No amount of sodium chloride is going to remove it. Over time, this coating gets thicker and thicker and takes up more exchange sites, and the water softener loses capacity to remove iron and hardness. At this point, manual cleaning is needed.

Your rural water business
Ultimately, the most cost effective way to remove iron and hardness is the installation of a water softener and use of a resin bed cleaner. This cost effective approach is good for your customer. And using resin bed cleaners is good for your business. Resin bed cleaners reduce warranty claims and increase service revenues. This is especially true for rural accounts.

Regardless of where you are in the world, you probably have some iron in well water sources. Therefore, resin bed cleaners will be a benefit to your business. The only question is “How?”

How you use resin bed cleaners depends on whether you have salt delivery and/or maintenance contracts. If you’re in the customers’ homes for salt delivery or routine maintenance, offering a “cleaning special” can increase your revenues and provide optimal system performance. It’s common to charge $50-$100 per cleaning, less if combined with other service. Cleaning is performed two to four times per year, depending upon iron levels. You would use continuous feed systems when the iron level is too high to justify frequent cleaning. As noted in Figure 2, continuous feeder systems and manual cleaning should be combined when iron levels are higher than 3 ppm.

If your business plan limits service and delivery to warranty and call-ins, you want to provide continuous feed systems in all cases. The last thing your business needs is service calls for fouled equipment. Homeowners are typically charged $15-30 for the feeder and $20-30 per gallon for cleaning solution (one gallon will last 100-200 regenerations). Assuming there’s iron in the water, it’s highly recommended you inform the customer that their performance warranty is voided unless they maintain this chemical supply.

Regardless of your service capabilities, if you’re called upon to replace a unit or the resin due to reduced capacity, try manual cleaning first. It’s a high-value, low-risk option.

Your municipal water business
Municipal water supplies are generally low in dissolved iron. Iron is typically removed as a result of the disinfection process. Nonetheless, you may benefit from resin bed cleaners when treating municipal water.

Iron stains occur in the home on a municipal supply when water stands in the distribution system, fire hydrants are flushed or when copper and galvanized pipes are directly connected. Iron problems are only temporary when introduced from the distribution system, but the treatment required is the same as with rural water. The problem is more likely to occur at the far end of older distribution systems. In these cases, it pays to do an annual cleaning, especially considering broader benefits of the sanitizing effects.

Copper-to-galvanized connections result in iron corrosion from electrolysis. You can eliminate your customers’ problems by installing dielectric unions. And after the problem is solved, you have an opportunity to sell resin bed cleaner to remove existing stains. Most household cleaners and detergents are too mild to effectively remove rust stains, but powdered resin bed cleaners work great to clean clothes, showers and toilets; the inside of washing machines and dishwashers; or any other iron-stained surface.

Cleans, disinfects…and deodorizes
An underutilized advantage of periodic resin bed cleaning is the resulting disinfection. The same chemistry needed to dissolve the iron also retards bacterial growth, and the chemicals aren’t as harsh on the resin and softener components as chlorine.

It’s well accepted that resin beds grow bacteria. These bacteria may not be harmful, but it’s good practice to disinfect the resin bed to reduce the risk of bacterial infection, and remove bacterial slime that reduces exchange capacity and increases pressure drop.

The disinfectant capabilities of resin bed cleaners are certainly not as good as chlorine; however, they will significantly retard bacterial growth (see Figure 3).

In almost all cases, the use of resin bed cleaners will improve the performance of a water softener. That’s the main benefit to you and your customer. The added benefits occur when you incorporate resin bed cleaners into your business plan to increase service revenues or reduce warranty costs. How resin bed cleaners fit into your business plan depends on your customer base and the service aspects of your business plan.

About the author
Troy Ethen is president of Spectrum Labs. He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Carleton College and has been working in the water treatment industry for 13 years, during which he has served on and chaired various Water Quality Association technical committees. He can be reached at (651) 633-0101, ext. 107, (651) 633-1402 (fax) or email: tethen@spectrum-labs.com

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