Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine


Friday, September 20th, 2002

Pentair makes moves at top
Jorge Fernandez will lead Pentair Water, of Brookfield, Wis., in his new position of senior vice president of developing markets. Fred Leers, managing director for Pentair Water Asia-Pacific and Gautam Khanna, general manager for Pentair Water India, will report to Fernandez. The title change is viewed as a promotion since Fernandez moves from Pentair Water Treatment to Pentair Water, the umbrella group of the former.

Fernandez will concentrate on expanding Pentair’s markets abroad, especially in India and China. For the past five years, Fernandez served as president of Pentair Water Treatment North America. He is credited with coordinating the company’s global investments in the water treatment business resulting in strong global reach and recognized influence within the industry. “His knowledge of global markets and the water industry will serve us well as he leads these significant growth initiatives,” said Rick Cathcart, president and COO of Pentair Water.

In other personnel news, Bill Waltz will serve as vice president and general manager of Pentair Water Treatment. Waltz served as vice president and general manager of Pentair Pump Group’s Aurora Pump operation while also managing international sales for the entire Pump Group. He was also leader of the company’s launch of the global supply management initiative.

2 NSF staff get new titles
NSF International announced the new appointments of Robert Herman and Richard Andrew. Herman has been appointed laboratory manager for the Drinking Water Treatment Units (DWTU) Program. Herman has worked at the company for over 17 years including his most recent position as the DWTU Program Technical Manager. Previously, he worked as a test system design and protocol development technician in the company’s Engineering Research Services department. As laboratory manager, Herman oversees all DWTU testing. Herman holds a master’s degree in environmental health from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in science from Lawrence Technological University. Andrew has been appointed technical manager for the DWTU program. Andrew has been with NSF for over three years. He was previously a program representative in the DWTU program assisting customers with product testing and certification. As technical manager, Andrew is responsible for all product testing associated with product certification. He also provides training through the NSF Center for Public Health Education and assists in development of new product standards. He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan.

In other news, Harry Grenawitzke, vice president of regulatory affairs for NSF International, was given the 2002 Walter S. Mangold Award. The award is the highest honor the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) bestows on one of its members. Grena-witzke was recognized for his lifetime dedication and technical excellence to environmental health. He has been with NSF for 11 years serving as the principal liaison between NSF and regulatory agencies and administering its audit services to clients. He works closely with industry and regulatory officials to promote NSF standards and certification. He is also past president of NEHA.

Meanwhile, NSF appointed Kirk Nemer as vice president of human resources. Nemer holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the American University and a juris doctor degree from Wayne State University.

CDC gets first female head
Dr. Julie Gerberding was named the new chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in early July. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson appointed Gerberding during a ceremony at the CDC’s Atlanta headquarters. He praised her experience in infectious diseases, public health and bioterrorism. Gerberding was previously the CDC’s acting deputy director for science and became its first female director. She replaces Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, who stepped down March 31.

Delgado bottles up VP post
Aquatyzer Engineering, of Long Beach, Calif., has appointed Al Delgado as vice president of operations. Delgado graduated with a mechanical engineering degree from California State University. He was formerly design engineering manager for Universal Aqua/Severn Trent. Aquatyzer Engineering is an engineering design, manufacturer and distributor of quality 5 gallon bottling equipment, water purification and complete bottling plants. The company has an additional office in London.  

‘Oyster Lady’ wins trip to Sweden to represent U.S.
The Water Environment Federation and ITT Industries have nominated Katherine Holt, a senior at Bruton High School in Williamsburg, Va., as the 2002 U.S. finalist for the International Stockholm Junior Water Prize, the world’s most prestigious water science prize for youth. Holt, better known as the “Oyster Lady” for her project, “Cleaning the Chesapeake Bay with Oysters,” was awarded an all-expense paid trip to Stockholm, Sweden, where she will represent the United States in the international competition. Her project was selected from a pool of 30 state winners at the U.S. national competition in Dallas, hosted by the Water Environment Association of Texas, with financial support provided by the Coca-Cola Company. Holt will compete with finalists from 23 countries for the International Stockholm Junior Water Prize ($5,000) awarded by HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden during World Water Week, Aug. 10-16. Holt set out to demonstrate how the Chesapeake Bay could be cleaned using the native oyster, Crassostrea virginicia, and the non-native oyster, Crassostrea ariakensis.

NGWA names new director
The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) has named Christine Kerstetter as its new membership director, effective May 6. She is based out of the NGWA’s headquarters in Wester-ville, Ohio. She replaces Jackie Mack, who retired from the association in April. Kerstetter can be reached at ckerstetter@ngwa.org

Ask the Expert

Friday, September 20th, 2002

Trolling for poll results

Question: There was a recent article in USA/CNN/Gallop Poll wherein 86% of consumers indicated concerns about their drinking water. Was it in your magazine and how do I get a copy of that article?

Ron Sacks
Ecowater Systems
Los Angeles, Calif.

Answer: We’re not sure which article you refer to regarding WC&P. If you could be more specific, we’d be glad to help. If it’s regarding the USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll, you’d need to contact CNN or USA Today for the article associated with the poll. Searching both of their websites proved fruitless in locating the specific poll you requested as they do a poll on a weekly basis. The Gallup website lists a series of polls, but without a clear indication of whether it’s what you’re looking for (and accessing them requires a premium subscription fee).

We did find on the Ecowater website a reference to a WQA survey wherein “86 percent of Americans have some concerns about the quality of their home drinking water” (see www.ecowater. com/residential/whats_new.asp).
It’s always best to clip a news item (or print it out if you found it online) right away and save it in a related clip file. A number of dealers put these in plastic sheaths bound in three-ring binders as additional tools for sales displays, i.e., something for potential customers to thumb through as you’re discussing the value of home water treatment. I might recommend that you use only articles from local papers or standard news outlets (Associated Press, Reuters, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, New York Times) for better credibility. Let me know if we can be of further assistance.

Recycling data

Question: I’m a student at the University of Leeds, England. I am currently undertaking a research project on water recycling for my chemistry degree and would appreciate it if you could send me some technical information (chemistry-based if possible) on water purification and recycling techniques.

Philip Mounteney
Leeds, Yorkshire, England

Answer: One of the largest water reuse projects in the world is now under construction in Southern California. It uses state-of-the-art membrane technology to produce drinking quality water from municipal sewage. You can learn about this project by going to the following website: www.gwrsystem.com. GWR stands for ground water recovery here. Hope this helps. For your information, previous studies using conventional chemical means, such as lime clarification, have been scrapped; and this large plant will use microfiltration followed by reverse osmosis.

Global Spotlight

Friday, September 20th, 2002

Tomlinson Industries, of Cleveland, has acquired Hiller Eng. & Mfg. Co., of Santa Barbara, Calif. Hiller manufactures the “Quad-Flo” bypass valve. Quad-Flo valves will now be manufactured and distributed from Tomlinson’s headquarters. 💧

Watts Industries Inc., of North Andover, Mass., acquired ADEV Electronic SA, of France, and its closely affiliated distributor, E.K. Eminent A.B., of Gothenburg, Sweden. In June 2001, Watts purchased Phoenix-based Premier Water Systems. 💧

Westbrook, Maine-based IDEXX Laboratories Inc. said revenues for the second quarter in 2002 increased 4 percent to $105,690,000 from $102,001,000 for the second quarter of last year. 💧

Envirotrol Inc., of Sewickley, Pa., received a contract from American Water Resources dba American Carbon Resources, a subsidiary of American Water Works Company, for reactivation of granular activated carbon from municipal customers throughout North America. Envirotrol is a provider of custom reactivation services in the United States. 💧

Mycelx Technologies, of Gainesville, Fla., named Italy-based Technicalservice SNC, and EBP Engineering and Marico Engineering, both of Singapore, as distributors of Mycelx products. The company manufactures technology that bonds to hydrocarbons to make them hydrophobic and viscoelastic to aid water contaminant removal. 💧

The USFDA ruled that NicoWater, a bottled water containing nicotine intended to be a replacement for cigarettes, is illegal. The ruling was expected since the agency ordered nicotine-laced lollipops and lip balm off the market calling them non-approved drugs with enough nicotine to endanger children lured by the candy appearance. 💧

Ondeo Nalco Company, a subsidiary of SUEZ, was named “supplier of the year 2001” by Cargill in Turkey. Ondeo Nalco has provided water treatment and process services to Cargill since 1999, when the latter company started operating in Turkey. 💧

EcoWater, of St. Paul, Minn., was presented with the Sears Partner in Progress Award for 2001. The award is presented annually to a select group of vendor companies that supply Sears, Roebuck and Co. with products and services.

Pall Corp., of East Hills, N.Y., and VWR International, of West Chester, Pa., entered into an agreement to increase sales to the laboratory end-user market. Under this multi-year pact, VWR will sell and co-promote Pall’s filtration technologies in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and throughout Europe. 

North Shore City (New Zealand) Council has awarded a contract to WEDECO WWT Water Technology Ltd., a subsidiary of WEDECO AG Water Technology, for a system plus ancillary flow control equipment (flow meters, pumps and penstocks) for installation at the Rosedale wastewater treatment plant. It provides service to 185,000 people.

Emerson Process Management, a St. Louis-based company, will provide a new desalination plant for the City of Ras Laffan, Qatar, in the Middle East. The plant will produce 40 million gallons of water per day. The contract is worth $1 million.

Badger Meter Inc., of Milwaukee, reported record sales and increased earnings for the second quarter ending June 30, 2002. Net sales for the second quarter were $43,586,000, a 28.4 percent increase from the same period last year.

Ionics Inc., of Watertown, Mass., acquired Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Microbar Inc. and its EnChem wastewater treatment process. Founded in 1991, Microbar manufactures systems for semiconductor fabrication. 

Houston-based Aqua Dyne Inc. received an positive independent review from an Australian government department of its water purification technology—the JetWater distillation system. 

PCI-WEDECO launches system
The Medford (Ore.) Water Commission recently began an ozone generation system for treating drinking water at the city’s Robert A. Duff Water Treatment Plant. The ozone generators were supplied by PCI-WEDECO Environmental Technologies, of West Caldwell, N.J. The project included two ozone generators, each capable of producing 680 pounds per day of ozone. The entire system will be able to produce up to 1,400 pounds per day at high concentrations reaching 10-12 percent by weight, using oxygen as the feed gas to maximize plant performance. The ozone system is capable of treating up to 45 million gallons per day of water at the facility. Black & Veatch, of Kansas City, Mo., designed the new system as part of a plant upgrade. PCI-WEDECO is also producing an ozone generation system for the City of Dallas for its Eastside Water Treatment Plant. On completion next year, it will become the world’s largest ozone treatment system for potable water, capable of purifying up to 450 million gallons per day.

AWWA touts anti-terror plan
The American Water Works Association recommended that public water supplies comply with the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act signed by President Bush. The act includes significant new requirements for water utilities intended to better prepare the nation in case of another terrorist attack. Title IV of the act requires water utilities serving more than 3,300 people to conduct vulnerability assessments to include a review of pipes and constructed conveyances; physical barriers; water collection, pretreatment, and storage and distribution facilities. The completion dates for vulnerability assessments for systems serving the indicated population categories are as follows:

  • 100,000 or more—March 31, 2003
  • 50,000-99,999—Dec. 31, 2003
  • 3,300-49,999—June 30, 2004

The act authorizes $160 million this year for drinking water utilities to conduct vulnerability assessments, revise emergency response plans and make security upgrades.

Pentair travels to masses
Pentair Water Treatment, of St. Paul, Minn., announced in July that it’s launching a mobile showroom as a way to shorten new product introductions, build long-term customer relationships, and stimulate sales. The van will allow the company to focus on customer service and education. It’s scheduled to visit OEMs and dealers from Chicago to California throughout the remainder of this year. The mobile showroom comes equipped with a clear plastic, working model of a softener to demonstrate the advantages of the company’s technology. In addition, the showroom is used for the following—training on softener control valve installation and programming, system troubleshooting, and market trend analysis.

Faster E. coli testing?
Scientists are developing a handheld sensor they claim would help save lives by quickly pinpointing the presence of a deadly E. coli strain and other harmful germs in food and drinks, in some cases within minutes. The device has been in development for the past decade, during which time several fatal E. coli outbreaks have occurred throughout the country. Cornell University, and in particular chemist Richard Durst, helped develop the test. Field testing of the new device, which takes as little as eight minutes to detect the potentially lethal E. coli O157:H7, was scheduled to begin in July. Cornell has licensed the device to Grand Island, N.Y-based Innovative Biotechnologies International Inc., which is working with a public health laboratory in upstate New York to test the technology.

Spectrum, Nelsen strike deal
Spectrum Labs, of St. Paul, Minn., announced that Nelsen Corp. will be a master distributor for Spectrum’s chemicals and soap products. Under the agreement, Norton, Ohio-based Nelsen will distribute water treatment chemicals and serve as a warehouse location and distributor for soap products. Spectrum Labs is a leading provider of water treatment chemicals to the residential water treatment industry. Spectrum Labs is a member of the Marmon Group of Companies, an international association of autonomous manufacturing and service companies with annual sales of $7 billion.

Water pros finish training
Black & Veatch, of Kansas City, Mo., announced today that more than 1,500 water industry professionals have completed security training offered by the company in association with the American Water Works Association and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). The company is also working with Sandia National Laboratories to provide training designed to help utilities protect their customers and the nation’s water supply.

Through the “Counter Terrorism and Security in the Water Industry” seminars, Black & Veatch water system security experts helped utilities nationwide prepare for the possibility of both natural disasters and terrorist acts. Between November 2001 and May 2002, Black & Veatch conducted 16 seminars that focused on vulnerability assessment and the development of emergency response plans.

In accordance with directives developed in response to the attacks of Sept. 11 of last year, water utilities serving more than 100,000 citizens are required to assess their vulnerability to a terrorist attack and submit that assessment to the USEPA by March 31, 2003. “Security concerns will continue to evolve in the water industry as more becomes known about detection and prevention of chemical, biological, radiological and cyber attacks. Utilities should prepare to institutionalize security beyond current levels—not because we expect water to be attacked, but because it makes good business sense,” said Americas Division president Jim Patton.

Radon risk taken lightly?
The health risk posed by residential radon exposure may be 50 percent higher than indicated by previous studies, say University of Iowa researchers. They examined several exposure assessment methods used in previous residential radon studies that were done in North America, Europe and China. Those epidemiological models looked for associations between radon exposure and lung cancer rates. The USEPA says 15,000, or nearly 10 percent, of all lung cancer deaths in the United States are attributable to radon. The USEPA recommends homes be fixed if the occupants’ long-term radon exposure averages 4 picocouries per liter (pCi/L). The average U.S. indoor radon level is 1.3 pCi/L. It’s suggested radon detecting devices be bought or a qualified radon tester hired to check a home’s radon levels. Most radon repairs cost between $800 to $2,500. They may include installing underground pipes and an exhaust system to expel the radon, or sealing cracks and other openings in floors and walls. For more information about radon, go to the USEPA or National Safety Council websites (www.epa.gov or www.nsc.org).

Perchlorate found near wells
Groundwater samples taken by the U.S. Army near drinking water wells in Aberdeen, Mass., contain a chemical often linked to thyroid cancer, and officials at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) say that it makes the area a top priority for investigation and treatment. The Army and USEPA said no traces of perchlorate were found in the drinking water or 11 wells along the APG boundary. But perchlorate was discovered within 300 feet of the city’s wells. No acceptable limits for perchlorate in drinking water are established, but maximums considered range from 2-to-18 parts per billion.

Standard 58 gets face-lift
Revisions to ANSI/NSF Standard 58 on arsenic were accepted and expected to be published this summer. Three areas of the standard were affected. One, the material extraction requirement was reduced from 25 parts per billion (ppb), which is the maximum allowable concentration (MAC) in Canada, to the new USEPA maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 10 ppb. Two, chemical reduction now has a maximum allowable product water level of 10 ppb, as opposed to the previous 25 ppb. Thirdly, product literature now includes several detailed statements about arsenic and creation of a new arsenic fact sheet. Some fact sheet examples are included in the standard for reference. Meanwhile, another ballot was completed in the standard concerning efficiency rating and recovery rating. The definitions have changed. Systems with a storage tank and automatic shutoff are required to report the efficiency rating. Plus, there are additional instructions about measuring efficiency and recovery ratings as well as new literature requirements for both ratings.

Court tosses Perrier suit
A federal court in late May dismissed a lawsuit filed by three American Indian tribes against The Perrier Group of America and Michigan Governor John Engler, saying that the tribes didn’t have the right to sue under provisions of the U.S. Water Resources Development Act. The lawsuit alleged that a Perrier water bottling plant, which is located near Big Rapids and utilizes groundwater, would impair the tribes’ fishing rights on the Great Lakes.

Two die in L.A. hospital
Nine people have become ill since January—including two who later died—with Legionnaires’ disease acquired at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles. One patient, a 55-year-old man, died June 15. Details on the other deceased patient weren’t available. County health officials believe the patients became sick with the respiratory infection because of the hospital’s water system, which contained the bacterium Legionella pneumo-phila. Hospital and county officials believe the outbreak has been contained. The hospital was serving all patients bottled water instead of tap water, changed all shower heads and has performed a super-heated water flush of its plumbing system. In Europe, meanwhile, a German and two UK residents died of the disease in separate incidents. Nearly 100 people were diagnosed with symptoms in Britain.

StonePoint hits markets
Canadian-based StonePoint Group Limited was awarded the private label bottled water business for Haggen Inc.—the largest independent grocer and sixth largest private company in Washington state. Under the agreement, StonePoint will supply spring water, packaged in 500 mL and 750 mL PET bottles, to all Haggen Food & Pharmacy and TOP Food & Drug supermarkets throughout the Pacific Northwest. In addition, StonePoint has been selected to supply Safeway Inc. with its spring water for the Denver distribution center. The company also reported fiscal 2001 revenues of $12.04 million, representing an increase of 4.8 percent over revenues in 2000.

Study tracks membrane use
Demand for membrane separation materials is forecast to advance 7.4 percent per year to $2.1 billion in 2006. Advances will be driven by the expanding use of membranes in a variety of markets such as water and wastewater treatment, and food and beverage processing. This data are presented in “Membrane Separation Technologies,” a new study from The Freedonia Group Inc., a Cleveland-based industrial market research firm. The vast majority of membrane materials were polymeric last year. By process, microfiltration membranes accounted for the largest share of the market in 2001 with about half of value demand (see Table 1). Meanwhile, demand for reverse osmosis membranes are predicted to advance more rapidly due to their ability to provide the highest level of purity, increasingly demanded in home water treatment, beverage processing and wastewater treatment. The water and wastewater treatment market accounted for 55 percent of membrane demand last year. The pharmaceutical and medical markets will post the strongest gains through 2006 as demand for membranes expands from well-established niches into a variety of new uses.


Belgium firm picks up PCT
As of May 1, Progressive Composite Technologies (PCT), of Vista, Calif., is the membrane pressure vessel division of Bekaert Corp, of Kortrijk, Belgium. Bekaert is a $2.5 billion world manufacturer in advanced metal transformation and coating technologies as well as the leading supplier of membrane pressure vessels in Europe and the Middle East. Effective immediately, the name Bekaert Progressive Composites will refer jointly to PCT and Bekaert Composites in Spain. “The combination…positions us as the second largest membrane pressure vessel supplier in the world,” said PCT president Doug Eisberg. The Vista, Calif., facility will serve as the focal global point for Bekaert membrane pressure vessel technology.

Editor’s note: In the International section of the August 2002 issue, the above news item contained some erroneous information. This is the correct version.

Waterite buys Wis. company
Waterite Technologies, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, purchased Great Lakes Soft Water Co., of Stevens Point, Wis., on July 8. Paul Jacuzzi, president and CEO of Waterite, said, “The purchase of Great Lakes represents an exciting entry to the U.S. market as a full-line, wholesale supplier to the water quality industry. We are able to offer Great Lakes customers a much expanded product line and enhanced services, while participating in a new sales region with an opportunity for continued company sales growth.” The combined company will operate under the name of Waterite Technologies, while retaining the Great Lakes sales division. Great Lakes was expected to have a sales representative for the Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota sales regions by mid-summer. Combined manufacturing, warehousing and administration services were consolidated at Waterite’s headquarters July 15. Waterite is a manufacturer and distributor of water quality equipment, providing products and services for the residential, commercial and municipal water treatment.

Cuba to host global environment forum
A U.S. delegation is being assembled to attend the Fourth International Conference on Environment & Development in Havana, Cuba, in June 2003. An open invitation to attend has been extended to specialists, professionals, students and activists in the fields of sustainable agriculture, renewable energies, marine conservation, biodiversity, forestry, recycling, alternative wastewater management, fisheries, protected areas and environmental education. The delegation—which is being coordinated by San Francisco-based Global Exchange—will be invited to all conference sessions and activities, and attendees are invited to submit abstracts for the presentation of papers. Global Exchange participants will take part in special pre- and post-conference sessions to discuss the bilateral U.S.-Cuba issues regarding environment and development issues during a 10-day period (14 optional). Global Exchange will also organize visits to sites of historic, cultural and natural interest for trip participants. UN Environment Programme Special Ambassador John Francis (U.S.) invites attendees to participate in a walk across Cuba, as part of his Planet Walk Project. For more information, contact Rachel Bruhnke, coordinator for Eco Cuba Exchange at (415) 575-5531 or email: rachel@globalexchange.org

Study shows some E. coli immune to UV disinfection
According to a new study from Canadian researchers, ultraviolet (UV) lamps aren’t always effective in eliminating E. coli bacteria from drinking water. The researchers discovered that commonly used low-pressure UV lamps can’t prevent the bacteria from regenerating their DNA after exposure. Medium-pressure lamps, however, work better, said the scientists from the University of Waterloo, whose study appeared in the July issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology. The research becomes significant as more U.S. cities and towns are moving toward UV water treatment. Seattle is building such a system, and Phoenix, Los Angeles, New York City, Atlanta, San Francisco, Detroit, Salt Lake City, and Portland, Ore., are also testing the technology. UV irradiation has been used extensively in Europe for 50 years to kill bacteria in water and food. Its U.S. popularity—growing in the past decade with technical advances and more affordable systems—is expected to increase as federal authorities require smaller towns to treat Cryptosporidium and protect against potential bioterrorism.

Drinking toilet water?
According to Reuters, Singapore’s residents may soon face the idea of drinking water recycled from toilets. It’s seen as a move by the Singapore government to cut its dependence on neighboring Malaysia, which supplies half of its water. The Public Utilities Board is looking at the findings of an international panel that has declared recycled water, or so-called Newater, safe to drink. It’s expected to deliver its recommendations to the government this month. Joan Rose, a U.S. microbiology expert from the United States stressed the importance of education to help the public get over its doubts about drinking recycled wastewater. Resource-scarce Singapore is building two plants to produce 15 million gallons per day of recycled water for industrial use that will be ready by year end. Rose said using recycled water to recharge reservoirs before its treatment to produce drinking water was in practice in the U.S. for more than 20 years, adding studies showed no evidence of any adverse health effects.

Seminars set for Aquatech
The Water Quality Association’s World Assembly Division will host four separate two-hour water treatment seminars at this year’s Aquatech show Oct. 1-4 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Each session will cover fundamentals, critical aspects, and useful application information for a different water treatment technology. Issues covered include disinfection processes, membrane technologies, filtration and ion exchange. The seminars will be presented by industry experts, and cost for all sessions, plus the educational proceedings on CD-ROM, is 75 Euros.


Friday, September 20th, 2002

Correction: In the July issue, author Mel Mirliss’ article—“A Comparison of DE and Crossflow Filtration: Just the Facts, Ma’am”—contained a reference to a Figure 2 on page 50 that should have referred to Figure 3, which was missing. In essence, the author wanted to convey that “a typical DE filtration system can be installed for about one-half the capital cost of a membrane filtration unit.” The correct figure is to the right.

Time for my monthly complaint

Dear Editor:
I read the Bruce Eccleston article today (“UV: Is the Water You’re Drinking Safe?” WC&P, July 2002, pp. 72). The references to the tables and figures are a bit mixed up, but my concern is primarily about Table 1. This supposedly indicates UV dose for various microorganisms. The table, however, fails to indicate the degree (log) of inactivation that would be achieved at these levels, and the units of dose are not given. Looking them over, it is obvious that microwatt seconds per square centimeter (µWsec/cm2) was the intended unit. But, the text states that dose is generally presented as millijoules per square centimeter (mJ/cm2) or milliwatt seconds per square centimeter (mWsec/cm2). As a result, a reader likely would interpret Table 1 as indicating thousands of mJ/cm2 are necessary. Also, in an article supposedly about drinking water safety, the inclusion of nematode eggs and paramecium under “Protozoa,” with no mention of Giardia and Cryptosporidium, is questionable. Under viruses, what is bacteriophage (E. coli)? E. coli is a bacterium, and in fact is properly listed under bacteria. Likely, what was meant was MS2 bacteriophage.

Tom Hargy
Clancy Environmental Labs
St. Albans, Vt.

Our apologies for allowing the omissions and misnomers to pass through unchecked. We’ll correct this for the online version of the article.—The Editors

Strong-arming the postal service

Dear Editor:
I just wanted to drop you a note to say “good for you!” on your decision to stop using bind-in cards for reader service (Viewpoint, “Reader Service, Breaking News, Misguided Media—and Aqua Europa, Again,” July 2002, p. 6). I’m in favor of any plans to give the post office less money! We also have been wrestling with the “circle card” problem for awhile now in our two magazines, Water Well Journal and Ground Water Monitoring & Remediation. It’s an expensive program that readers are using less and less with the advent of easily accessible company websites. Currently, I’m looking at some web-based solutions. Perhaps we will follow your lead and move to a fax only reader service program—and cut the post office entirely out of the loop!

Jill Ross, Director of Publications
National Ground Water Association
Westerville, Ohio

ASCE’s Water Treatment Competition: Civil Engineering Students Compete in a Battle of Mind Over Filth

Friday, September 20th, 2002

By Lindsay J. Keller

Most Americans take the abundance of clean and safe drinking water pouring from their taps for granted. They’re unaware the Earth’s water supply will never grow and that the water we drink now has been recycled by nature innumerable times already. Even more critical, most people are unaware that the men and women behind the infrastructure created to sustain such a pressing demand for clean water are often civil engineers.

As a direct response to the imperative need for civil engineering students to study and understand water infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) developed the Water Treatment Competition as a feature event of the first ever National Student Conference as part of its 150th anniversary. The conference was held June 21-24 on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Over 1,000 civil engineering students from all over the nation, as well as Canada, Japan, Mexico and Turkey, participated in the conference to network with the civil engineering community as well as to demonstrate their skills. Specifically, the Water Treatment Competition challenged students to use their ingenuity to design, build and operate a system to treat contaminated water within a limited time period.

It’s a dirty job…
The students participating in the Water Treatment Competition were given 10 gallons of tap water from the city of Madison, polluted with the likes of oyster sauce, rock salt, vegetable oil, athletic socks, molasses, fine silt, grass mulch and garlic powder—and were able to use only everyday household items to transform the concoction to potable drinking water. Acceptable kitchen items to accomplish this feat included colanders, pots, cheese cloth and coffee filters. All of the utensils used had to fit totally inside of three, five-gallon buckets with the top firmly attached on each bucket.

The object of the competition was to make economical use of material while maintaining a high level of treatment using limited resources. Points were awarded for efficiency and the ability of the system to produce treated water approaching U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) standards, established by the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), for wastewater effluent. In addition, points were awarded for a technical presentation detailing the design, operation and capability of the system. The ultimate goal of the teams was to discharge as much effluent as possible, as quickly as possible, with at least enough effluent to fill a half-gallon collection container.

First place
The students who took first place in the competition were Lucas Bryant, Steven Butler, Jeremy Carr, Adam Lease, Jeff Stover and Matthew Tilley of West Virginia University Institute of Technology. The team prepared for 10 hours a day for three days leading up to the competition, mostly by experimenting with different kitchen utensils they were allowed to use. Prof. Lesley Rosier, West Virginia’s faculty advisor and co-chair of the conference, said, “These students present the best and brightest of the future of civil engineering. Through their hard work and determination, and more than a little bit of imagination, this team was able to demonstrate the skills that will prove essential for water infrastructure in our future.”

Jennifer Lewis, Dave Mogge and Erik Pitoniak, of the University of Florida, placed second in the competition under the team name “The Wastewater Wizards.” After consulting with the university’s environmental engineers, their strategy consisted of progressively finer strainers, with a multiple media filter ladened with Grape Nuts™ cereal to catch the oil, a cotton cloth to catch the silt, and a coffee filter to catch anything else. They used a weir to allow the water to flow over the top and let particulate settle at the top. As a final step, the team then added bleach to disinfect the water. “This was an amazing competition. It was exciting to put the knowledge I’ve gained from my classes to practical use,” said Lewis.

Rice and beans
In third place came Jeff Lambert, Billy Ostroff and Lyle Stone, of California Polytechnic State University. The students nicknamed their team “Captain Planet and the Planeteers.” Their strategy was comprised of a system of filters that progressively grew smaller. They began with a web of wooden skewers and a series of two common kitchen strainers, which were followed by a custom-designed dual media filter with a top layer of rice and a bottom layer of beans. The team also prepared for the competition by speaking with  environmental engineers on their campus including the wastewater treatment team.

Stone has enlisted in the U.S. Peace Corps as a requirement of his master’s program in civil engineering at Michigan Technology University. He serves as a positive example of how civil engineering ingenuity is essential to the future of water infrastructure all over the world. “This is a good step toward learning about water treatment, and a great lesson about making due with what you have. I have no doubt that I’ll use these skills in the Peace Corps,” Stone said.

While clean water remains abundant in this country, our nation’s 54,000 water infrastructure systems are structurally obsolete. In January 1997, the USEPA released a report indicating the nation’s water infrastructure systems will require an investment of $138.4 billion over the next 20 years to install, upgrade or replace infrastructure to ensure the continuation of safe drinking water for 243 million customers served by these systems. This projected investment, however, doesn’t take into consideration the future demands of a growing population. Currently, there’s an annual shortfall of $11 billion for drinking water infrastructure.

Though health-based violations of federal drinking water standards have been on the decline, non-point source pollution remains the most significant threat to water quality. In addition to the continuing efforts to reduce pollutants in our drinking water, the heightened awareness of infrastructure-related security issues demands that civil engineers be prepared to also develop solutions in the event that the nation’s drinking supply becomes contaminated or depleted (see Newsreel this issue).

About the author
Lindsay Keller is a communications coordinator with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), which represents more than 125,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America’s oldest national engineering society. Founded in 1852, it’s 150 years old this year. A member of the State University of New York at Oswego’s class of 2000, Keller has been with ASCE’s communications department in Washington, D.C., since graduation, and has worked on national and local campaigns for the civil engineering community and ASCE’s members worldwide. She can be reached at (202) 789-2200 or email: lkeller@asce.org

A Detective’s Approach to Successful Water Treatment Projects

Friday, September 20th, 2002

By Robert Slovak

Summary: The following article originally appeared in the premier issue of Agua Latino-américa magazine. It was modified for publication here with the author’s permission.

The “way” of the indomitable sleuth Sherlock Holmes—created by English author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—can be best summed up by the detective’s very own words:

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”1

“You know my method. It is found-ed upon the observance of trifles…”1

You may wonder how I would apply this to your success in water treatment. But, I assure you this is one business that can greatly benefit from Mr. Holmes’ approach to solving the mysteries of crime.

I observe, time and time again, the same shortcomings in the information gathering process used by water treatment professionals in accomplishing a water treatment project. The story is often the same—the salesman or engineer didn’t ask the customer enough of the right questions. They didn’t dig deep enough. They accepted the first round of answers and didn’t go back for more. Mistakes were made. Costs were more than expected.

Finding the mark
If you find your company rarely “hitting the bull’s eye” when it comes to water treatment projects, it most likely comes back to the failure to look for what Holmes calls the “elementary” details. You must train yourself to be relentless, and to anticipate when your client isn’t capable of telling the “full story”—since it’s certainly not intentional. As Holmes treats his suspects so you should treat you customer. Never believe they’ve given you all the necessary details about their requirements. The more you stick to this water detective approach, the more efficiently and profitably you’ll complete your water treatment projects.

Let me take the simplest of examples, one that’s “committed” throughout the water treatment industry daily. I’ve been guilty of this fault and it’s likely you have too. You’re called in to look over a water treatment requirement and at some point you ask what volume of treated water they require. Your client tells you 12,000 gallons per day and you write it down. You’re satisfied. You ask other important questions and finally return to your office to discuss the project with an engineer who’ll specify the system design. An inexperienced engineer may take this information at face value and start designing a system to deliver 12,000 gallons in a day—that is, in 24 hours. This would translate to 500 gallons per hour (gph) flow—throughout the day. The young engineer proceeds to specify treatment equipment (e.g., a softener or RO system) with just enough capability to deliver 500 gph operating 24 hours a day. It isn’t until after the installation that the customer calls to complain that the system won’t perform, i.e., they can’t get the 12,000 gallons in their company’s eight-hour workday. Your customer’s “day” was different than the salesman’s “day.” This example may be an oversimplification, but I cannot stress how important it is to inquire in depth about your customer’s water use pattern.

Using checklists
The best way to avoid this type of problem is to make up your own checklist for all your staff to use—anyone interacting with the customer who gathers information to specify and install water treatment systems. These checklists of questions should be tailored to the applications and technologies you’re qualified to work with. It should be a “living” document because even your best efforts at producing such a document will require modification on occasion. There’ll never be enough information gathered and you must always be ready to expand and update it. Also, a picture is still worth a thousand words. Encourage your staff to develop the habit of taking photographs and making drawings of the installation location conditions.

Let’s take a typical modern water treatment business, one that serves the residential, institutional and light industrial markets with a variety of technologies, including but not limited to:

Your company receives requests for water treatment solutions from prospective customers. You know how the process goes. It’s often beset with mistakes, revised pricing, installation callbacks and even system re-design. Sometimes you wonder where the profit went. How would you improve the process? What “tools” would you give your staff to minimize these costly problems? The key is to create your own questionnaire, dedicated to your business model, which allows your staff to acquire the critical information necessary to be “on target” in each step from customer visit to installation.

Project data sheet
Let’s get started and create a list of required information for the business model above. The following list of items to include in a project data sheet should assist you:

1. Customer identification: Name, address, telephone, fax, email, contact names with extensions

2. Customer referred by…: Who takes credit for getting you and the customer together?

3. Salesperson/sales engineer: Who is responsible for direct communication with the customer?

4. Project category: Residential, commercial, institutional, light industrial

5. Scope or definition of the project: An overall but concise description of the job and the problem to be solved. This should be easily understood by management and the rest of the staff.

Customer requirements

  • This section should be as detailed as possible and may be continually revised, as more is understood about the problem. Then, when you’ve completed this important exercise, write it up separately and have the customer sign it to avoid misunderstanding later.
  • Water quality required (hardness level, chlorine level, total dissolved solids or TDS level, microbiological concerns, etc.). List any special standards that have to be met (e.g., Type II lab water, boiler quality water, spot-free rinse water, etc.)
  • Water volume and use pattern (see Figure 1)
  • Minimum flow and pressure required (see Figure 1)
  • Number of people or equipment (e.g., bathrooms, kitchens, pools, dishwashers, ice machines, beverage systems, production lines, etc.) served
  • Overall description and size of the facility served
  • Details of the distribution of the treated water (e.g., piping configuration, size, material)
  • The type of operation (manual, semiautomatic, fully automatic) of the water treatment equipment
  • Budget limitations
  • Time constraints (e.g., the customer needs to be operating in six weeks)

7. The volume of treated water required (daily, hourly, etc.)*

  • What information was used to determine the total volume and who supplied it?
  • IMPORTANT! For commercial, institutional and industrial customers, estimate the pattern of use over each day of the week and/or each hour of the day. Expect to meet with great resistance in obtaining this information because it may require significant extra work from your busy customer.
  • If no one has any reliable information to offer, be prepared to install a flow totalizer and/or refer to some of the water industry reference charts that estimate water usage for specific applications.

* I give special attention to this requirement because experience tells us that so many mistakes are made in assuming and estimating water usage. Select the volume units that best apply to the requirement, e.g., gallons per day (gpd), per cubic feet per day, etc. You or your customer will rarely be right the first time around on this number so don’t be surprised to have to revise it several times.

8. Flow rate and pressure required for the treated water

This can be based on one or more factors—known usage factors, number of persons served, number of bathrooms, pipe size, equipment specifications, etc. Like water volume estimates, if no one can offer reliable information on an existing installation, be prepared to install flowmeters and/or refer to industry reference charts.

9. Existing water supply information*

* The type, source and known treatment.

10. Existing water storage*

* Provide drawing of all reservoir relative locations and elevations.

11. Existing supply and distribution piping*

  • Pipe sizes
  • Pipe lengths
  • Pipe material
  • Piping configurations

* Provide a drawing of all piping relative to the water treatment system.

12. Existing water pressurization*

  • Pump make and model
  • Pump inlet and outlet size and horsepower
  • Hydropneumatic tank make, model and capacity
  • Pressure control mechanism (e.g., pressure switch, flow switch or manual) and settings (e.g., high/low pressure or flow.)

* Identify any existing pressurization system after the reservoir that may be used for supplying water pressure and flow to the water treatment system.

13. Existing electrical power available at the installation location

  • AC Voltage (e.g., 115, 230, 380 VAC)
  • Current capability of available circuits (e.g., 20 Amp, 30 Amp)
  • Phase (e.g., single phase, three phase)
  • Regularity and stability of power*

* Inquire about any power supply problems that are common such as the power goes off or the circuit breakers trip several times a week. This could significantly affect the operation of water treatment components such as softener timers, chemical feed pumps, etc. In remote areas, it may be important to monitor the voltage fluctuation over several hours and if necessary, install special voltage regulators or even backup power generators.

14. Existing on-site water treatment equipment*

  • Make and model
  • Special settings (e.g., salt dosage, chemical dosage, backwash time, etc.)
  • Date of installation and condition of equipment

* Identify, list and describe any existing water treatment equipment which will interface with the new water treatment system.

15. Installation location information

  • Description and dimensions of the existing facility, room or space allocated for the water treatment system. Document any space limitations, especially doorways that may not be large enough for equipment such as tanks (provide photographs and drawings).
  • Construction characteristics of the installation location—wall, floor and ceiling materials, lighting; window location, etc.
  • Available electrical power—location of outlets, electrical boxes, disconnect boxes, etc.

16. Physical, chemical and microbiological parameters of the water supply

Identify which parameters are relevant to the application, that is, they require reduction or indirectly affect the performance of the process or equipment. Some of the more common parameters are listed in Figure 2 for reference.

After the above Sherlock Holmes investigation of the “crime scene,” you’re now ready to put your homework on paper for the appropriate water treatment system proposal. Whatever the proposed design you submit, by following the advice in this article, expect to have a new experience in having the project proceed from beginning to end with fewer problems and more profitability than before.


  1.  Encarta® Book of Quotations© & (P), Microsoft Corporation, 1999. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

About the author
Robert Slovak is president of AROMAN Inc., a water treatment consulting company in Incline Village, Nev., and currently serves as a water consultant and manufacturer’s representative in Brazil. He is also the technical director for Agua Latinoamérica. A member of the Water Quality Association, Slovak is the author of its manual, Application Guide to Point-of-Use Reverse Osmosis Systems. He can be reached at the following emails: robtslovak@aol.com (U.S.) or robtslovakBR@aol.com (Brazil)

pH & Carbon, Part 2 of 2: Causes of pH Changes through Activated Carbon Adsorbers

Friday, September 20th, 2002

By Mick Greenbank, Ph.D., Henry G. Nowicki, Ph.D., and Barbara Sherman

Summary: A change in water’s pH indicates a shift in the balance between acids and bases and is usually caused by an addition of an impurity. Therefore, it can be disconcerting to observe a pH change across a new bed of activated carbon (AC) installed to purify the water. This article discusses the causes of pH changes through activated carbon beds. Part 1 of this subject appeared in the August issue.

The simplest cause of pH change is leaching of the naturally occurring inorganic impurities in activated carbon (AC). These impurities are called ash and are generally basic metal oxides, which cause an increase in the pH as they’re extracted from the AC structure. The magnitude and duration of the pH change are predictable from composition and concentration of the ash in the AC, which can be determined by standard ASTM test methods.1 For vegetable-based AC (i.e., non-bituminous), three quarters of the ash is leachable, and tends to cause a large pH increase because it’s composed of strong bases such as alkali and alkaline earth metal oxides (i.e., fireplace residues). For coal-based AC, the pH rise is less because only a tenth of the ash is leachable. The composition of the ash is the same as the rock minerals from above and below the coal seam, which tend to be weaker bases. The simplest solution to ash leaching is to discard the first few bed volumes of water contaminated with ash leachables. If this isn’t practical, then with additional expense the AC can be “water washed” or “acid washed” during manufacture to remove the soluble ash prior to use.

For AC with less than 10 percent ash, this pH change lasts only a few bed volumes with the leachate concentrations following an exponential decay, or washing curve. The exception is AC manufactured using either high ash raw materials, strong acids/bases as dehydrating agents in raw material preparation, or Lewis acids as activation catalysts. Lewis acids or bases are any substance that can accept or donate a pair of non-bonding electrons-bases. (For a full explanation of Lewis acid-base reactions, see: http://chemed.chem.purdue. edu/genchem/topicreview/bp/ch11/lewis.html). For this AC, the inorganic impurities are present at high levels and can be acidic or basic, thus the effect can be much greater and more varied. The pH can either increase or decrease for 10 to hundreds of bed volumes. If pH change is a problem, it’s best to avoid these carbons and select a low ash carbon that was activated using a thermal process only.

STOP and think.

  1. Service or used activated carbon (AC) typically has higher ash values than the fresh starting AC, not lower ash values.
  2. The same AC lot used by several customers has different pH rise phenomena due to AC interaction with different chemical composition waters. Thus CAUTION needs to be applied to ex-plain this pH rise phenomena.
  3. GO to new thinking to help explain the pH rise, such as proton chemical bonding, in the next illustration.

AC ash impurities can also chemisorb anions from weak acids or cations from weak bases via formation of insoluble salts within the AC pore structure. This can also be done by the surface oxygen groups, which are part of the AC’s structure. Both these types of sites can remove ions from solution. Still, only when the ions are from weak acids or bases does the pH change, due to a shift in the equilibrium. The chemisorption phenomena removes the dissociated acid anion or base cation and allows the equilibrium to shift, forming more H+ or OH-. For low-ash AC—without extensive oxidation—the number of these chemisorption sites is small, and the pH effect is small and generally limited to less than 10 bed volumes.

Physical adsorption
It requires less work for the physical adsorption forces to remove a lower solubility species. The effect of decreasing the solubility tenfold has the same effect on the adsorption capacity as increasing the concentration tenfold. With weak organic acids and weak organic bases, the equilibrium is established between the dissociated ions (including H+ and OH-) and the undissociated organic, which tends to have a reduced solubility by 10 to 1,000 fold compared to its ionized form. The undissociated acid or base is preferentially adsorbed shifting the equilibrium away from the ions, thus adsorption of organic acids tends to increase the pH while adsorption of organic bases decreases the pH.

The magnitude and duration of the effect can be long lasting and is entirely predictable with competitive adsorption models.2 The effect varies with the concentration and capacity of the organic species. For example, adsorption of 10 parts per million (ppm) humic acids from a surface water can increase the pH from 7 to 8 for a 1,000 bed volumes.
For both chemisorption and physical adsorption mechanisms, the AC is actually purifying the water by removing the acid or base, but the pH changes because the acid/base balance of the water has been altered. The acid or base removed in the AC adsorber can be added to the effluent down stream to re-establish the pH balance and replace what was adsorbed. The other alternative is to buffer the water.

Anion exchange’ behavior
AC can also behave like an anion exchange resin, by removing an anion and replacing it with an OH-, thus causing a corresponding pH rise. The preference for anions is also the same as for an anion exchange media where anions with the greatest charge density are desired. The phenomenon can be demonstrated simply by contacting virgin AC with a solution of 10 ppm Na2SO4 in deionized, distilled water (DIDW) at near pH 7. With an empty bed contact time (flow rate divided by carbon column bed volume) of 10 minutes, the carbon removes over 99 percent of the SO4 = anion and releases an equinormal amount of OH-, resulting in a pH rise from 7 to 8.3. For a standard commercial carbon, such as Calgon Carbon’s Filtrasorb 400, the capacity for sulfate is 0.5 percent by weight. The rise in pH occurs for 250 bed volumes, then the effluent pH drops to the influent pH 7.0 and the sulfate ion concentration increases to the original 10 ppm, with a typical “S-shaped” breakthrough curve.

For this reason, one explanation for the phenomenon is the presence of anion exchange sites on the AC surface. In terms of sites, a 0.5 percent by weight sulfate capacity corresponds to 0.1 milliequivalents per milliliter (meq/ml) capacity, which is about a tenth that of a commercial anion ion exchange resin.3 If it were true anion exchange, all sites would be similar and loaded or unloaded at similar pH values. In practice, this anion exchange behavior on AC is incremental. Once saturated, the AC will remove additional anions with decreases in the influent pH, or desorb the strong acid with influent pH increases. The carbon acts like it has a memory for the last pH and anion concentration with which it was saturated.

Stopping adsorbates and accumulating them in AC is done by the random graphitic platelets. Platelets have outer shell conjugated electrons which can pair with a proton (see Figure 1).

In fact, it was discovered4 that sulfate capacity on the carbon changes continuously with pH, just like an adsorption isotherm for H+. The explanation provided was that the proton, H+, associates with the pi electron clouds above and below the graphite platelets, resulting in the structure of AC.

The effect of the positive charge on the electron clouds is delocalized over the plate to stabilize the system, but there’s still an excess positive charge, which is neutralized by an anion positioned in a double-layer fashion. This delocalized anion double layer is the so-called anion exchange site. The size of the graphite platelet structure dictates the stability of the system and the ability of the platelet to hold the H+. Large platelets will be more stable than small and thus be able to retain the H+ at higher pH. Since there’s a range of platelet sizes, a wide variety of proton affinity sites are available, which can retain H+ at a variety of different pH values. The 0.1 meq/ml capacity also corresponds to about 800 carbon atoms per H+ site, which corresponds roughly with two sites per 1,600 carbon atom platelet (above and below). Table 1 summarizes the causes of pH change through an AC bed.

To counteract the effects of this anion exchange behavior, simply add the strong acid back to end up with the identical water. An alternative approach is to presaturate the carbon with H+ prior to use5—and these carbons are commercially available. A third means is to heavily oxidize the carbon surface to generate carbonate groups, which act as a buffer to reduce the pH rises or drops.6

The authors would like to thank Joe Tokish at PACS Inc. for providing the artwork for this article. The authors also want to thank Mike Havelka of Enviro-trol for writing a chapter on this subject in an upcoming book to be published by PACS.


  1. ASTM D 2866-94 Total Ash Content of Activated Carbon and D 3838-80 pH of Activated Carbon, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, Pa.
  2. Rosene, M.R., Ph.D. Dissertation,* Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, 1977; and Rosene, M.R., and M. Manes, The Journal of Physical Chemistry, 81, 1646 (1977).
  3. ResinTech Inc., “Anion Exchange Resins,” West Berlin, N.J., website: http://www. resintech.com/print_products_anion.html ; or Dionex Corp., “Separation of Inorganic Anions and Oxyhalides,” Sunnyvale, Calif., website: http://www.dionex.com/app/tree.taf?asset_id=9201
  4. Snoeyink, V.L., “Adsorption of Strong Acids, Phenol and 4-Nitrophenol from Aqueous Solution by Active Carbon in Agitated Non-Flow Systems,” Ph.D. Dissertation,* University of Michigan, 1968.
  5. Havelka, M.J., “Elimination of the pH Spike with NoRiseTM Activated Carbons,” 9th International Activated Carbon Conference, Pittsburgh, Sept.22, 2001, see: www.envirotrol.com
  6. Calgon Carbon Corp., Pittsburgh, “Filtrasorb® pH Dry Granular Activated Carbon,” online spec sheet: www.calgoncarbon.com/bulletins/Filtrasorb_ pH_Dry.htm ; or “React pH Granular Reactivated Carbon,” online spec sheet: www.calgoncarbon.com/bulletins/REACT_ pH.htm

*Note: Ph.D. dissertations can be purchased from the American Chemical Society in Columbus, Ohio.

About the authors
Dr. Mick Greenbank provides special projects, consulting and training at PACS Inc., of Pittsburgh. Greenbank teaches “Selecting the Best Activated Carbon for the Application.” He is head of the PACS electronics laboratory and can be reached by email: mickpacs@aol.com

Dr. Henry Nowicki directs the PACS laboratory testing and consulting services. He has published over 100 articles about environmental issues and activated carbon adsorption and has been an expert witness in over 30 legal cases. He is also a member of the WC&P Technical Review Committee. Nowicki can be reached by email: hnpacs@aol.com or website: http://www.pacslabs.com.

Barbara Sherman directs PACS short courses and focused conference programs. PACS provides 57 different, one-to-three day courses and four, two-day annual focused conferences. Four of the short courses are on activated carbon and PACS hosts the annual September International Activated Carbon Conference held in Pittsburgh. She can be reached by email: barbpacs@aol.com

Marketing in a Slow Economy—Five Tips for Survivors

Friday, September 20th, 2002

By Sally Koepke

Slow. Sluggish. Flat as a pancake. When economic indicators are down, you may want to consider new ways to make customers sit up and take notice. Here are a few tips on how to do just that from companies large and small.

Tip No. 1
Take your show on the road—If customers aren’t coming to you, consider going to them. That’s what Pentair Water Treatment in Brookfield, Wis., is doing. The company is focusing on customer service and education as a way to stimulate sales and build long-term relationships. With a recently completed mobile showroom scheduled to visit OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and dealers from Chicago to California this year, Pentair’s Tom Horel, vice president of sales and customer service, believes the water treatment company is meeting a real market need (see Newsreel this issue).

“OEMs and dealers are busy keeping their businesses on track,” Horel said. “They don’t have time to keep abreast of what’s new, much less train their service team on installation tips and tricks for existing products. Our mobile showroom gives us the ability to meet those needs by sharing our technical expertise and introducing dealers to new technology on their turf. They don’t have to pay to come to us; we’re going to them.”

Pentair’s mobile showroom comes equipped with a working model of a softener to demonstrate the advantages of the company’s technology. In addition, the showroom is used for the following:

  • Shorten new product introductions,
  • Training on softener control valve installation and programming,
  • System troubleshooting, and
  • Market trend analysis.

“So far, we’ve found our mobile showroom to be a great way to stay in touch with our customers,” commented Horel. “We’ve improved communication and already learned things we didn’t know. Whether our mobile showroom stimulates sales or not, it’s certainly stimulated our thinking.”

Tip No. 2
Get technical—Let’s face it. Bigger companies have more technical firepower than smaller companies. And when that firepower is shared, it can mean big advantages for all concerned. Take the Parflex Division of Parker Hannifin Corp. in Cleveland. Over the past five years the division has invested heavily in its technical equipment and processes, and is willing to share the wealth with its customers.

“Thanks to our investments, we can now help our customers with such critical tasks as 3D modeling, stereo lithography, and rapid prototype development,” said Steve Powell, Parflex’s Plastics Business Unit manager. “By offering these services, we provide our customers with valuable time and labor savings,” he said. “And hopefully, we become partners rather than vendors.”

Powell went on to cite a case in point. Parker Parflex had recently worked with a major Midwest OEM/dealer to develop a solution for connecting multiple products together quickly. “Using our technical engineering support, manufacturing and mold-making capabilities, we were able to design, prototype and test a new, 1½-inch quick-connect fitting within two months. This new fitting should save significant time, labor and materials,” he added.
Getting technical with its customers isn’t new to Parflex, or to Parker Hannifin. Over the past several years, the company and its parent have worked hard to position themselves as a value-added, idea-support service as well as a component supplier. Powell sees the benefits to his customers this way: “Because we have a technical edge, our customers have access to more applications, and better ways of doing things. In fact, our technical services and engineering leadership allow customers to tap into customized applications that can create meaningful competitive advantage for them. And hopefully, new business for us.”

Tip No. 3
Protect your customers’ assets—According to Janice Despotakis, marketing specialist for the Food Service Division of CUNO Inc., of Meriden, Conn., a slow economy means a higher than normal level of anxiety about the life of capital equipment.

“In times of economic downturn, we’ve found that food service operators are much more conscious of preserving their existing equipment, rather than outlaying capital,” she commented. “Our Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC) programs have always been among the best. But now we’re educating our customers to that fact.”
Despotakis explained that in the foodservice universe, equipment that uses water as part of its functionality—or to produce a product—is prone to service calls beyond scheduled maintenance. “Scale build-up, dirt, chlorine, ferric iron… these can all cause service problems that can potentially shorten the life of expensive equipment,” she noted.
As a result, CUNO now trains its distributors and customers on the science behind water treatment. Despotakis believes this gives consumers confidence that what they purchase and maintain significantly contributes to the life of their equipment.

“Our cartridges and systems are designed, developed and tested for performance, structural integrity, seal, fit and reproducibility in accordance with applicable NSF test protocols,” Despotakis said. “We’ve made our customers aware of all we do to set and maintain the highest possible QA/QC programs. Our ISO 9001 certification and NSF accreditation further corroborate that what we tell them is true,” she said.
And the result? “Customer relationships that last,” Despotakis says, smiling, “through the good times as well as the bad.”

Tip No. 4
Do what’s new—There’s a reason “new” is the most powerful word in the English language. According to Gary Martin, vice president of residential and commercial sales at Kinetico Incorporated in Newbury, Ohio, it’s an automatic draw for customers and business alike.

“While the economy has been soft, Kinetico has enjoyed double-digit growth,” commented Martin. “We believe this is due in large measure to our strategy of providing dealers with a steady stream of new and improved products that offer real value. During a sluggish economy, consumers do their homework. They research before they spend, so they can be sure their money is going to something meaningful that represents a good value. Provide them with that ‘something meaningful,’ and your sales will grow.”

Martin went on to cite specifics. “For example,” he said, “we recently provided our dealers with an improved RO unit that features our new QuickFlo™ tank, which offers a real advantage over the competition. The new tank features both a space-saving 1-gallon and a 3-gallon large capacity design. It features a constant high flow rate that differs from conventional air-charged tanks, which provide ever decreasing flow rates as the water in the tank is depleted. The tank also makes water significantly faster than other units because it eliminates back pressure on the membrane. That’s because it uses household water pressure to drive water to the faucet rather than an air charge in the tank. Customers love it; the proof is in the sales. The positive response makes us, and our dealers, very happy.”

Tip No. 5
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it—Of course, not every company is slow in a slow economy. Nelsen Corp., a water treatment distributor out of Norton, Ohio, is one of them. For the past 15 years, the company has enjoyed steady growth. According to Dave Nelsen, the company’s success stems from its consummate customer service. “We carry over 4,000 products so we can give the customer exactly what they want. Better still, we’ve made it our trademark to ship orders the same day they are placed,” said Nelsen.

These practices have stood the company in good stead. “At Nelsen, we don’t market for the short term, but the long. As a result, we rarely adjust what we’re doing in response to the economy,” he said. “We set a plan at the beginning of every year, and we stick to it. Our marketing strategy embraces a number of components that range from the traditional advertising, to performance incentives for our employees. Everything we do works together to encourage growth and build relationships with our customers. Do we try new things? Of course we do. But we don’t let the morning’s headlines influence our approach to our customers.”

Clearly there’s no right way to respond to an economic slowdown. Now more than ever, companies need to understand why customers come to them, and build on those strengths. Whether it’s technical advice, enhanced reliability, new products, outreach programs or the “same old, same old,” every company must find its own way to build business by nurturing customer relationships that will last through the good and bad times.

About the author
Sally Koepke is a principal partner with McHale & Koepke Communications, a Beachwood, Ohio, advertising/communications firm that works closely with a number of water treatment equipment companies. She can be reached at (216) 831-9716, (216) 831-4342 (fax) or email: skoepke@mchalekoepke.com

The Benefits of Nitrogen Monitoring by High Temperature Combustion

Friday, September 20th, 2002

By Mike Purcell and Brian Wallace

Summary: Failure to control nitrogen effluent can cost thousands of dollars and take days to recover. Total nitrogen (TNb) by high temperature combustion (HTC) oxidation offers a quick and efficient way to track nitrogen loading throughout a manufacturing process. By identifying problems early, real gains in overall plant efficiency can be attained.

Nitrogen monitoring is an important element of process control for treatment wastewater, seawater and a variety of industrial process water applications. New advances in high temperature combustion (HTC) technology with chemiluminescence detection provide a quick and easy way to monitor nitrogen loading by total nitrogen (TN) analysis.

Nitrogen in wastewater
Wastewater treatment facilities monitor their nitrogen for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) regulates organic nitrogen in wastewater discharge. In addition to regulatory requirements, high amounts of ammonia (NH3), nitrate (NO3) or nitrite (NO2) can cause severe problems in the wastewater treatment process, costing tens of thousands of dollars and can take days to recover. For these reasons, constant nitrogen monitoring is performed to minimize breakdowns in the nitrogen cycle as well as help improve plant efficiency.   

Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen (TKN) is the standard method for organic nitrogen analysis of wastewater. The objective of the TKN test is to convert nitrogen from biological origins or organic forms into ammonia through a digestion procedure. The ammonia is then determined through a titration procedure. Hence, TKN is the sum of organic nitrogen and ammonia.

Reaction 1: TKN = Organic Nitrogen + NH3

While effective, TKN has several drawbacks.
Nitrogen is analyzed in the trinega-tive state by TKN. Therefore, nitrogen in the form of azide, azine, azo, hydrazone, nitrate, nitrite, nitrile, nitro, nitroso, oxime, and semi-carbazone aren’t fully detected. Other problems that affect the reliability of the TKN results are found in the digestion procedure. During digestion, if there’s a high amount of salt or acid in the sample, then the digestion temperature will rise above the desired temperature resulting in a loss of nitrogen. If the quantity of acid is too low, however, the digestion temperature will be under the desired level resulting in incomplete digestion.1

Another concern with the TKN method is the extensive use of sulfuric acid as part of the sample digestion process. In most cases, the steps required to safely run this test, and the environmental concerns that have to be addressed, are actually more stringent than the care required to handle the samples. This is especially true when samples that contain pesticides are being analyzed. In summary, Kjeldahl nitrogen is a time-consuming, environmentally unfriendly, and labor intensive test for laboratory personnel to perform.  

The HTC method
Fortunately, with the latest developments in bound nitrogen (TNb) analysis, laboratories have a faster, more environmentally friendly and efficient analysis option. Bound nitrogen has been defined as TNb and is considered to be the organically and inorganically bound nitrogen, excluding the elemental nitrogen. Using a HTC technique eliminates concerns raised from TKN analysis and can be used to replace or supplement Kjeldahl nitrogen analysis in wastewater applications.

The High Temperature Combustion (HTC) technique addresses concerns raised by TKN analysis and can be used to replace, or supplement, Kjeldahl nitrogen analysis in wastewater applications.

The HTC technology is already being employed in Germany and other European countries where determination of bound nitrogen is required in freshwater, seawater, drinking water, surface water, wastewater and treated sewage effluent. The requirements are defined in European Norms such as EN-12260 and DIN-EN-ISO 11905-2.2 In these methods, the sample is combusted at up to 1,000°C with the nitrogen in the sample converting to nitric oxide. The nitric oxide is reacted with ozone to produce an excited state of nitrogen dioxide (NO2*)—the asterisk represents the compound in an excited state—which when decaying to its ground state, emits light. The light is then measured with a chemiluminescence detector and correlated to a specific amount of nitrogen in the sample.

Faster analysis time is a major advantage for the HTC technique over the TKN method.

The time of HTC analysis is usually between 10 and 15 minutes versus two to three hours with Kjeldahl. This significant difference in time allows firms using the TNb test to make necessary adjustments to their treatment processes faster than before. As a result, these firms are simultaneously minimizing risks to the environment from higher-than-expected levels of organic nitrogen loading as well as costs to treat the effluent, since firms are able to respond much more quickly to situations.

Screening out pesticides
Through the use of chemiluminescence and HTC, the TNb measurement can represent a good approximation of TKN without the interferences of a digestion process. HTC technology is much more environmentally friendly than the Kjeldahl technique. With less volume needed for analysis, the HTC technique provides less risk of exposure to pesticides and dangerous nitrogen compounds.

In addition to the analytical advantages, advances in HTC technology in recent years make implementing TNb analysis easier than before. Many manufacturers of TOC analytical instruments that use HTC technology now offer a total nitrogen module as an option on new instruments, and some manufacturers offer nitrogen module upgrades for existing TOC instrumentation. These modules, which are substantially less expensive than a standalone instrument, can analyze total nitrogen simultaneously with TOC. This dual TOC/TN measurement is only two to five minutes longer than the standard TOC analysis and involves little additional analyst time. As a result, many firms are using these TOC/TN instruments to supplement both chemical oxygen demand (COD) and TKN testing in their facilities.

While TNb analysis does have many advantages, it’s important to note it isn’t the same measurement as TKN. Nitrates and nitrites are included in the analysis and the HTC technique has its own unique set of interferences as any method, including Kjeldahl nitrogen. These differences are the primary reasons that HTC technology isn’t yet recognized by the USEPA for wastewater organic nitrogen testing; however, the improvements to the HTC technology and methodology provide the basis for a new look at using this technique for nitrogen monitoring in wastewater.

Industrial applications and seawater
Low-level nitrogen monitoring is needed in many industrial applications where the process is sensitive to organisms utilizing nitrogen as a food source. There may also be a need to monitor nitrogen-containing compounds that are detrimental to system operations or quality. More difficult matrices, such as brines and particulates, can be analyzed with efficiency. Nitrogen monitoring is also an important application for seawater because the supply of nitrogen is a key factor controlling the nature and diversity of plant life and their ecosystems. Because the deionized water used for reagents and rinsing water in most TOC/TN analyzers has a very low nitrogen background, the chemiluminescence detection technique is extremely sensitive. Therefore, nitrogen detection limits for low-ppb range are possible with TNb analysis.

High temperature combustion offers significant improvements in nitrogen monitoring for wastewater, seawater and a variety of industrial applications. Current advances in HTC technology make implementation both cost effective and environmentally superior to alternative technologies like Kjeldahl. Since total nitrogen analysis can be performed simultaneously with TOC analysis, the use of this dual element detection technology can increase both productivity and monitoring effectiveness as a part of an overall monitoring strategy.


  1. Eaton, A.D., L.S. Clesceri and A.E. Greenberg, Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater, Vol.2: 19th Edition (American Public Health Association, Washington, D.C.), 1995.
  2. Water quality—Determination of Nitrogen, International Organization for Standardization, Geneve, Switzerland, ISO method 11905-2, 1997.
  3. Water analysis—Determination of Nitrogen—Determination of bound nitrogen, after combustion and oxidation to nitrogen dioxide, using chemiluminescence detection, European Committee for Standardization, Brussels, EN method 12260, 1996.

About the authors
Mike Purcell is the product line manager and Brian Wallace is an applications chemist for TOC products at Cincinnati-based Tekmar-Dohrmann, a division of Emerson Process Management. Purcell can be reached at (513) 229-8240 or email: Mike.Purcell@emersonprocess.com. Wallace can be reached at (513) 229-7068 or email: Brian.Wallace@emersonprocess.com

Putting Strength in Filtering Operations: Valve Actuators for Water Works Plants

Friday, September 20th, 2002

By Fred Underwood

Summary: Due to stricter government regulations, water plants are required to meet certain conditions regarding their operations. None is more crucial than the filtering process. Realizing many of these systems are antiquated, the importance is heightened with valve control. One company has explored some mechanical options with valve actuators.

Few valve manufacturers make the mounting hardware for retrofits. One company sends its experts out into the field to help facilitate the installation process. Factory personnel or the qualified representative do the survey on the valve and return to the factory with the dimensions and recommended actuator sizing. The mounting plate is then fabricated, set up and tested with the actuator. This process also includes the correct control module to interface with the plant’s existing PLC, SCADA or even older pneumatic systems. The actuator is then shipped to the plant with the correct valve-mounting kit.

Under pressure from recent mandates of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), water works engineers and plant managers are now forced to scrutinize all elements of their potable water treatment operations, and none is more important than filtering. Water leaving this point must fall within strict turbidity levels. Over the past decade, much attention was directed at plant control systems to achieve these levels. Like putting a dashboard from a new Cadillac in a Model T, harnessing these modern systems to antiquated valve actuators yields little gain if precise valve control can’t be reproduced reliably.

In recognition of this, water works engineers are now turning to a new generation of pneumatic valve actuators up to the task of executing instructions of electronic control systems with the necessary precision to accurately control effluent flow. Surprisingly simple but rugged in construction, this new breed of actuators also meets the need to reduce downtime, and some of the first ones to debut in 1981 are still in operation without needing a spare (new) part. A cost-savings factor of up to 40 percent compared to electric actuators also explains the widening acceptance of new pneumatic actuators by plant engineers and managers faced with the responsibility of delivering potable water at a cost-effective rate.
Need to control filtering
The search for simple, accurate and reliable valve actuation has been prompted by the increasingly stringent mandates of the SDWA, which calls for turbidity levels of 0.3 nephelometric turbidity units (NTU) or less. Since filtration is typically the final step (before storage) in most water treatment operations, any water leaving the filtration process should be well within turbidity limits. Hence, any efficiency gains in filter operation will help plant operators not only meet federal clean water requirements, but also help reduce plant operating costs.
With the introduction of modern plant programmable logic controllers (PLC) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, recommended process controls are already in place. Despite these gains, archaic valve actuation remains the weakest link in filtering operations.

Accurate valve control
Only certain conditions can achieve lower turbidity, and an important one is accurate valve control. Valves with actuators receiving commands from the filter control system to properly execute the backwash option are pivotal in the process. If the effluent valve doesn’t shut off, backwash water containing the solids removed by the filter media will flow into the clear well. Plus, the measured turbidity levels will exceed the mandates. Actuators must operate the valves so they’re precisely closed. There’s no point in having the best PLC system if the actuators it controls aren’t executing instructions accurately and reliably.

Since mixed-media filter performance is affected significantly by hydraulic characteristics, accurate valve control begins at the point of bed loading. Typical loading rates range from 2-8 gallons per minute (gpm) per square foot of filter bed surface area. These rates must be carefully metered by the effluent valve because as the filter bed becomes dirty and clogged with solids, the resistance to flow rises.

When the filter media is fresh and clean it will pass more water than the specified design gpm, so you must close the effluent valve to the point where it only allows the flow rate designed for the filter media at that time. Turbidity meter, or headloss, differential pressure transmitter instrumentation (DP or ∆P) tracks the levels and determines the most appropriate time to trigger a backwash. Accurate valve actuation allows the PLC or SCADA system to maintain the correct flow rate until such time.

As the media gets dirty near the end of the filter run and the filter becomes clogged, the effluent valve needs to open more. Ultimately, flow will cease when the resistance to flow is greater than the gravitational force compelling it. As the “head” (hydraulic pressure) increases, solids’ particles are pushed further into the media bed. Solids will be driven completely through the bed and appear in the filtered water. Turbidity levels will increase and the filter controls will shut down the process.

Consistent flow
Performing a backwash prevents high turbidity levels, but it’s an expensive and time-consuming process. That filter is out of commission during the backwash process, and it must use potable water that you just spent on cleaning. The key to operational efficiency is to keep the flow at exactly the right levels and backwash when necessary, determined by the filter control system and carried out by the actuators.

The quality of the backwash process itself relies on proper valve actuation. The inlet valve that feeds water from the clarifier to the filter is closed. At the other end of the filter, the effluent valve that transfers water to the clear well must be closed. When the backwash water and air is pumped underneath the media, it must only be diverted through the drain valve and returned to the recycle, or holding, pond.

Reliability is extremely important. If the filter effluent valve actuation fails during a backwash, then you end up with a leakage of the backwash into the potable water stream. This results in non-compliance turbidity problems. You can even disrupt a filter if you open a flow rate backwash valve too quickly. The valves must be ramped up at the right speeds at the right position, and then held there during the entire process.

Because valve control accuracy and reliability play such an important role throughout all filtering operations and meeting federally mandated turbidity levels, many older plants are currently involved in plant improvements and controls upgrading. In most instances, the original pipe galleries and valves will remain in place; however, a new control system is usually the first step to be implemented. This changeover immediately requires new actuators that interface with modern control systems. Still, until recently, electric actuators were the primary ones that came equipped to interface with the first electronic control systems.

Ills of electric actuators
In comparison to the replaced hydraulic or pneumatic cylinder power actuators, electric actuators seemed to be the only solution at the time. The first actuators were water-actuated cylinders fixed to the back end of a mounting plate, and had a lever on the cylinder shaft to push and pull the valve open and closed. Still, it wasn’t easy to mount input controls and feedback mechanisms onto this crude device to interface with the new control systems, thus the progression from cylinders to electric actuators.

It didn’t take long for the shortcomings of electric actuators to become apparent to water treatment plant operators—especially the repair and maintenance staff. The easily understood, piston-actuator problems could be diagnosed and repaired by in-house maintenance personnel, but not so for the more complex electric actuators.

Reciprocating pneumatics
Completely sidestepping the inherent problems of electric actuators, today’s pneumatic actuators offer simple and reliable performance at a cost-effective price. Of course, certain mechanical insufficiencies inherent in the design of all reciprocating-cylinder actuators prevent them from meeting the precise control needs of today’s water treatment plants.

For example, rack-and-pinion designs suffer from a common leak path at the O-ring shaft seals that are subject to wear. The high-friction

O-ring of the piston is also subject to wear and tear. Side-load compensation pads also wear over time. Collectively, these items dictate regular maintenance, and thus more plant downtime (see Figure 1).

Typical piston actuator designs are also subject to heavy side load on the valve shaft. There are no travel adjustments and the design introduces unnecessary hysteresis—slop or play that occurs during the conversion of linear motion to rotary motion—which greatly affects accuracy and accelerates wear. These actuators also require the periodic replacement of their high-friction, piston O-ring seals. Additionally, it’s difficult to mount the control components that interface with the PLC or SCADA control system (see Figure 2).

The scotch yoke actuator—an actuator that translates linear motion to rotary motion—design features more working parts, and is typically too large to fit into the cramped quarters of the filter pipe gallery. These actuators also require maintenance of their piston-ring seals (see Figure 3).

A simple, new option
Rotary actuators were first introduced to the United States from Europe in the early 1970s. These rotary actuators meet American Water Works Association (AWWA) standards and have become a new option of choice for new facilities as well as plant upgrades.

The majority of this newfound success stems from the actuator’s simple design, which utilizes only one moving part. By scribing an arc, all torque forces directed to the valve remain constant from fully open to fully closed. Without having to convert linear motion to rotary, “pinch points” are avoided. Pinch points are areas where an exposed lever is rotating and where a hand or item of clothing can become trapped during the cycle. Given a smaller torque-to-size ratio, compact vane actuators can fit into the tight quarters of filter galleries and still exert a tremendous amount of force on ¼-turn valves, for instance.

The vane design also ensures accurate control and no hysteresis. Because no O-ring seals are needed, vane actuators can provide years of service in demanding, high-cycle, fast operation and critical-modulating applications, thus allowing water treatment engineers to carefully control turbidity levels. The primary market is the public and private water/wastewater segment while the secondary market is industrial water treatment.

Given the lower costs, operational advantages and ease-of-installation afforded by pneumatic vane actuators, water treatment managers are awakening to this new option for optimizing their water production, avoiding downtime due to maintenance problems and remaining within federally mandated turbidity levels. In a not so roundabout way, vane actuators are allowing water works management to raise their water production while decreasing maintenance costs. Whether private or municipal, utilities can take these kinds of operational efficiencies straight to the bank.

About the author
Fred R. Underwood, Jr., is CEO and founder of K-TORK Actuators and Controls, of Dallas. He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Texas Tech University and has worked in the valve, actuator and manufacturing business since 1973. He can be reached at (214) 341-1099, (214) 343-9653 (fax), email: info@ktork.com or website: www.ktork.com

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