Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine

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Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

PureGen names Sone as CEO
Los Angeles-based PureGen Technology Inc. has appointed Albert Sone as president and CEO of Asia Pacific operations. In addition to managing existing manufacturing and distribution operations, Sone will focus on the strategic development of a regional sourcing and supply network that creates new opportunities for the company’s global customer base. He has been an active member of the water treatment industry for more than 10 years and was formerly with Pentair Water Asia/Pacific as vice president of sales and marketing for all water treatment and pool-related products. PureGen’s Asian operations are based in Shanghai, China, with branches throughout the region.

Deems grabs managerial post
Hellenbrand Inc., of Waunakee, Wis., announced the addition of Rick Deems as regional sales manager. He will be responsible for sales in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio as well as other projects for the company. Deems brings 25 years of experience in the water treatment industry in varying capacities both on the dealer and manufacturing side of the business. His most recent position was with Water Soft Inc., a division of Amtrol. Deems will be based out of Ohio. Hellenbrand is a manufacturer of residential, commercial and industrial water treatment equipment.

Saad to speak on membranes
This year’s EuroMed conference Marrakech, Morocco, will include a one-day course by Mohamad Amin Saad, president and chief consultant of MASAR Technologies Inc., of Tucson, Ariz. “Membrane Desalination Technologies in Practice” will take place on June 3. Euromed 2004 is hosted by the European Desalination Society (+39 328 1693305).

AWWA elects new president
The American Water Works Association (AWWA) announced that longtime water expert Andrew Richardson has been chosen as its next president-elect. Richardson will assume the AWWA presidency in June 2005 following the one-year term of Kathryn McCain. McCain succeeds current president Marlay Price in June at the AWWA Annual Conference and Exposition in Orlando, Fla. Richardson is an AWWA vice president and serves on the board of directors and executive committee. He chairs the strategic planning committee and has served on other board committees as well as committees on water reuse and international issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois and master’s degrees in civil engineering and business administration. Other AWWA leadership elected by the board of directors and set to take office in June as vice presidents include;

  • Mari Garza-Bird, senior engineer with MWH Americas, of AWWA’s Texas section
  • Nilaksh Kothari, general manager of public utilities for Manitowoc, Wis.;
  • Mike Leonard, general manager of the Atlanta-Fulton County Water Resources Commission;
  • Gerald Samuel, a manager with Opertech Consulting in Edmonton, Canada, and
  • Curtis Truss, executive director of the Operator Training Committee of Ohio.

Reynolds touts purifier;product passes NSF test
Kelly A. Reynolds, MSPH, Ph.D., was recently featured on Newbury, Ohio-based Kinetico’s website as a spokesperson for the Purefecta drinking water purifier, which is jointly manufactured by Kinetico and Pall Corp. Visitors are able to see a 1-½ minute, video presentation for the purifier at www.kinetico.com/residntl/ that includes comments from Dr. Reynolds. In addition, a 16-page white paper written by her—”Concerns About Tap Water Quality”—is also viewable at the same URL. Dr. Reynolds has written the “On Tap” column for WC&P and has served on the publication’s Technical Review Committee since 1997. In related news, NSF International, of Ann Arbor, Mich., has unveiled a new protocol that establishes product safety and performance requirements for microbiological water purifiers. After meeting stringent NSF testing requirements, the Purefecta is the first product to become certified under NSF Protocol P231: Microbiological Water Purifiers, which is based on recommendations from the USEPA for testing microbiological water purifiers. This protocol is designed to:

  • Test the capacity of a purifier to treat a contaminated public water supply or for emergency situations,
  • Act as a product selection guide for consumers,
  • Assist in the research and development of microbiological treatment units for military applications, and
  • Confirm a product’s ability to reduce several forms of microorganisms from drinking water including bacteria, viruses such as rotavirus, and protozoan cysts such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia.

The NSF protocol criteria were reviewed by a panel of experts including representatives from the U.S. Army, USEPA, Department of Health and Welfare of Canada, and the University of Arizona—Department of Microbiology & Immunology.

IDEXX promotes Silvatti
Westbrook, Maine-based IDEXX Laboratories water testing division announced the promotion of Ana Paula Silvatti to sales manager for Latin America. Based in São Paulo, Brazil, she is responsible for overseeing all the company’s Latin American operations. Sales in the area are conducted through various distributors exclusive to each country while Mexico has multiple distributors. Silvatti’s roles include technical training and support, organization of seminars, promotions and ensuring distributor requirements are met. She graduated from São Paulo University with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and biochemistry as well as a master’s degree in business administration. Silvatti joined the company in 1998 and previously held positions at Johnson & Johnson and Nestlé.

 

When the Well Runneth Over: A Complete Program for Well Water Treatment

Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

By Mike Hamberger

Growing a water treatment business involves everything from marketing the company to the types of water quality issues that can be addressed effectively. This article is about how one Midwest company built a strong business through private label branding, creative marketing campaigns and strategic partnerships with key suppliers in the industry.

“We know water from the bottom to the tap” is more than just a clever marketing slogan for Mark J. Traut Wells Inc., of Waite Park, Minn. This phrase paints an accurate picture of the all-encompassing services provided by the company. Traut adopted it as a theme in the mid-’90s after numerous company expansions had led them into virtually every aspect of the water well industry.

In 1959, founders and twin brothers, Marvin and Melvin Traut, established Traut Wells to provide well drilling and pump repair services throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. At the time, the two brothers had only one employee to help them handle everything from operations and management to sales, drilling and customer service.

Forty-five years and a name change later, Traut Wells (as it’s more commonly known in the industry) now has an established work force of over 50 employees including many second- and third-generation family members. Ownership officially changed hands in 1982 when Marvin’s son, Mark Traut, and Mark’s cousin, David Traut, took over the company’s reins. Under this new ownership, Traut Wells has continued its expansion efforts and traveled a path of exceptional growth.

“Our main line of business today is still in well drilling,” says Mark Traut, current owner and president of Traut Wells. “But we do other types of drilling, too. Anyone who wants a hole in the ground, we’ll drill it for them.”

The company’s well drilling services range from small residential wells for new home construction to large diameter wells for municipal water supplies. Other drilling specialties include environmental drilling, recovery services and mineral exploration. The company’s services extend far beyond drilling, and often include areas such as water testing and treatment, lawn irrigation and water dispensing equipment.

The early days
Being located in central Minnesota where average January high temperatures hover around 21 degrees, the winter leaves well drillers with little to do but wait for the spring thaw. To overcome this seasonal downturn in business, Traut Wells formed a water treatment division in the mid-1970s. “It was a natural progression to our well drilling business and a great complement to the services we already provided,” Traut says. “With this division, we are now able to treat the water that we supply to our customers, all the way to its point of use.”

Adding a state-certified, water-testing laboratory in 1985 rounded out Traut Wells’ capabilities in the water treatment arena. “We needed to test the water to treat it, so it just made sense to bring this service in-house,” Traut recalls. “With this lab, we are able to test for a wide range of water impurities from common groundwater elements such as hardness, iron, and pH to more serious water contaminants like coliform bacteria, nitrates and lead.”

Evolution of the company
Over the years, water treatment has turned into a major profit center for Traut Wells. This is largely due to the efforts of Traut’s Water treatment sales manager, Jim Gruenke, who joined the company in late 1996. His goal from the beginning was to build the somewhat stagnant water treatment side of Traut’s business. “Our water treatment sales were in kind of a lull around the time I came on board,” Gruenke says. “It just wasn’t a business focus until they had someone dedicated to the effort.”

In addition to the hard work he has put forth to generate awareness of the company’s water treatment capabilities and build the Traut Wells brand in the marketplace, Gruenke credits much of the company’s success in this area to the strategic partnerships formed early on with key suppliers. “Here in central Minnesota, much of our groundwater has a high iron content,” Gruenke says. “By forming partnerships with suppliers that could effectively treat this problem, we essentially ensured our success in this segment of the industry.”

Part of the marketing strategy employed by Traut Wells involves the private-label branding of the water softener systems installed at customer sites. Gruenke explains, “We have established a relationship with a water softener manufacturer that uses a unique zeolite media designed specifically for high-iron conditions. Though the Traut Wells name appears on the softener head, customers are supplied with manufacturer information upon installation of the unit. The private labeling is simply a way to further market our services.” Traut’s staff has participated in the manufacturers’ technical training seminars, enabling them to provide qualified, local maintenance and troubleshooting services if the need arises.

Equipment applications
Traut Wells’ overall customer base ranges across the board from residential and small commercial to industrial and municipal, although the company’s water treatment services are provided primarily to private homeowners. “We get a real mix of customers as far as water quality goes,” Gruenke says. “In some cases, we’re just dealing with a little bit of hardness in the water, but some of the groundwater we tap into is a real mess. That’s where the right water conditioning equipment is crucial.”

Testing performed recently for a new residential construction customer revealed a typical hardness of about 15-16 grains accompanied by a high iron content of 8 parts per million (ppm), tannic acids, a trace of iron-related bacteria and sulfur-type odors. Though this residence had a generic water softener installed as part of a standard plumbing package in the home, the system only served to remove the hardness from the water. Traut Wells successfully filtered this problem water by utilizing a two-tiered approach. By installing Traut’s self-chlorinating water conditioner as the first filtration unit, technicians were able to effectively remove the iron, sulfur and calcium from the water. A tannin-removing resin was then installed in the generic water softener to give the water a final polish.

“The generic softener was just not capable of removing the iron, especially in those quantities,” Gruenke explains. “The media used in our water conditioners is a zeolite crystal with a high affinity for iron. Another key feature is the electrolysis process in the valve of these units that converts a small amount of sodium chloride to free chlorine for use in chlorine regeneration, which keeps the media bed sanitized. Keeping the bed clean is imperative for effective iron removal.”

Traut also recently introduced a new Clack Corp. valve that offers electronic cycle sequencing controls to effectively deal with high iron situations. Though this particular piece of equipment isn’t designed specifically for high iron, Traut technicians have learned to adjust the settings and tweak the bed to get effective numbers in iron removal. This equipment features sophisticated user settings that allow technicians to adjust the cycle sequence of regeneration with positions such as an extra backwash, split backwash, extra rinse or split brining. Length of each position can also be adjusted to control the amount of water used.

Untapped markets
In addition to its residential roots, Traut also tapped into the agricultural market in 2001 based on a study done by a group of experts in the dairy industry. The study found that making drinking water more palatable for dairy cattle could significantly impact the farmer’s profit margins.

Research consistently showed that higher water consumption by cattle led to significantly higher milk production. Thus, if the farmer could get the herd to drink more water, overall business revenues could be increased through improved milk production. Removing elements like manganese, sulfur and iron resulted in increased water consumption by the herd.

“We started off with baby steps in this new market,” Gruenke recalls. “Our strategy was to partner with veterinarians and dairy nutritionists in the area to diagnose and recommend water treatment equipment for the farmers. Our equipment could effectively remove unwanted minerals from the water but, of course, we could not guarantee how the cows would react to the filtering.”

Got milk
With 22 installations completed over the last 2-½ years, Traut now has statistics showing a full return on investment in as little as four months as a result of the increased milk production. “This segment of the business has worked well for us because of our geographic location,” Gruenke says. “Stearns County, Minnesota, and its surrounding areas have a very strong history in the dairy industry and, lucky for us, word travels fast.”

Aside from minerals such as iron and manganese commonly found on these farms, Gruenke has also occasionally found bacterial issues, typically iron- or sulfate-related. By having equipment capable of removing these bacterial contaminants, Traut also played a role in improving the overall health of the herd.

In these applications, the first thing typically done is to disinfect the well with a pellet-drop chlorinator. Technicians could then use the well as contact time for the chlorine, either killing the bacteria or, at the very least, providing an aggressive oxidant. Once the manganese and iron is oxidized, it can be successfully filtered out of the water. Filtering is done most effectively through Traut’s backwashing filters by using greensand and anthracite media.

The water conditioners used in these settings are typically commercial-grade, twin tank units to accommodate 24-hour service. “We just couldn’t tell the cows when they could and couldn’t drink the water,” Gruenke jokes. Traut Wells equipment allows service personnel to program flow rates for peak times—like immediately after milking—when the cows are typically most thirsty. Using the twin tanks allows more volume without taking up a lot of space.

In addition to the typical prospecting activities and scheduled sales calls to bring in new customers, Traut Wells launched their “Water Days” publicity campaign in the summer of 1998 as a way to generate awareness of the water treatment division. “Water Days is essentially an open house to the public,” Gruenke explains. “For this event, we invite customers to come in and get their water tested for free. We advertise the event on the radio and offer food, beverages and prizes to participants.” Sales reps from Traut’s supplier companies are on hand at the event to answer customer questions on a wide range of water treatment issues. “We’ve found that it’s a great promotional tool for our water treatment division,” Gruenke says. “It has certainly boosted our name recognition in the marketplace.”

Conclusion
Traut’s revenues from water treatment equipment sales have increased by over 540 percent in the seven years since Gruenke joined the company. This total includes sales of Traut’s private-labeled water softeners, backwashing filters, reverse osmosis units and pressure tanks. “Of course, we wouldn’t have achieved this increase in sales volume without the quality equipment and service to back it up,” Gruenke says.
When considering your partners in the industry, factor in every aspect of their business. It’s not enough to have a great product. The availability of comprehensive training, professional sales literature, and manufacturer support have all helped Traut Wells achieve a high level of success in the water treatment industry.

About the author
Mike Hamberger is the national sales manager for Appleton, Wis.-based Water-Right Inc., manufacturer of the Sanitizer and Impressions Series water conditioning systems for residential, industrial and commercial markets. It also specializes in its proprietary Crystal-Right zeolite media. He has been involved with most aspects of the water treatment industry for over 33 years and served as a guest speaker for both regional and national WQA conventions. Hamberger can be reached at (920) 739-9401 or email: mike@water-right.com

Ask the Expert

Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

Cooler cleaning
Question: I would like to know how to clean
the drinking water machine in my office. Many people drink distilled water, which is dispensed from this drinking water machine. But I wonder how frequently should we clean the water machine inside? How do we clean it? Which kinds of disinfection solvents should we use to clean it? I would appreciate answers to these questions.
 
Murphy Chung
Hong Kong, China

Answer: Typically, water dispensers such as this should be cleaned at least once a month.  Assuming no one with a waterborne disease contaminates the unit, it will likely grow only non-pathogenic bacteria; however, high concentrations of certain kinds of these bacteria will produce objectionable taste and/or odor over time if the unit is not properly sanitized and maintained. Typically, soapy water and a clean cloth is all that’s required. If the buildup is extensive, though, you can make up a dilute solution of chlorine (sodium hypochlorite) and water to rinse out the cooler. Concentration of about 10 ml per liter of water will disinfect the unit effectively. Let us know if we can be of further assistance.


Filters: Double or nothing
Question: I am doing my Ph.D. studies on filtration. I require some information:

1.    What is the effect on pressure drop and flow rate if two cartridges are joined in series to form a single cartridge?
a.    Will pressure drop double?
b.    Will flow rate double?
2.    What is the effect on pressure drop and flow rate if two filter cartridges are placed in parallel?
a.    Will pressure drop double?
b.    Will flow rate double?

Also, if you could, tell me about some relevent books and literature. Your assistance is highly appreciated.

Stephen Flemming

Answer: When two filters are combined in series and operated at the original flow rate, the pressure drop is doubled if they are the same type of filter. If flow rate is doubled across the combined filters, then pressure drop increases by a factor of four. When two filters are combined in parallel and operated at the original flow rate, the pressure drop is reduced in half if they are the same filter. If the flow rate is doubled across the combined filters operating in parallel, then the pressure drop returns to the same pressure as a single filter operating at the original flow rate. In general, filters should be operated in parallel when possible. Filters are operated in series only when one filter serves as a “guard” for the other filter in a critical application.

Global Spotlight

Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

WC&P Technical Review Committee members Peter Cartwright, P.E., CWS-VI, and Dr. Evan Koslow were named to Filtration News’ editorial advisory board for 2004. The announcement appeared in the magazine’s January/February issue. Congratulations to both of them on the news. 💧

IDEXX Laboratories Inc., of Westbrook, Maine, reported net income decreased 3 percent to $12.4 million for the quarter ended Dec. 31 vs. $12.8 million for the same period in the prior year. 💧

Demand for non-chemical water treatment equipment and supplies in the United States is projected to increase 7.2 percent per year to $5.9 billion in 2007, according to The Freedonia Group Inc., of Cleveland. 💧

Black & Veatch, of Kansas City, Mo., has earned a Project Merit award from the Environmental Business Journal for its membrane systems in several water and wastewater treatment plant designs last year. 💧

Queench Inc., of Jericho, N.Y., has had its water bottling plants approved by the U.S. Army Veterinary Command. Since Jan. 1, Queench has supplied the military contract in the southern United States including Florida. Queench is a beverage company holding 24-year leases on four natural springs in Canada, Florida, New York and Oregon. 💧

The International Society of Beverage Technologists, an organization interested in the technical and scientific aspects of soft drinks and beverages, has entered into an agreement with the organizers of BevExpo 2004 to become a “supporting association” of the event. 💧

East Troy, Wis.-based Trent Tube announced a 6 percent price increase on all stainless tubular products, effective Feb. 2, 2004. The company said the increase was “required to offset escalating raw material prices.” 💧

Dow Chemical Co., of Midland, Mich., has introduced a series of QUESTRA crystalline polymers for use in water and food contact applications such as water transport and purification systems. 💧

The U.S. affiliate of Degremont was renamed Infilco Degremont because of its strong water treatment equipment heritage. The name Infilco originated from the International Filter Co. of Chicago. 💧

David Conway, president and chief executive officer of Glen Head, N.Y.-based WaterChef Inc. said the company has filed an application for patent protection in Hong Kong for its PureSafe Water Station.💧

St. Louis-based Environmental Management Corp. renewed its contract with the city of St. Charles, Miss., for management of the city’s wastewater treatment system. The five-year renewal agreement is worth $8.1 million. 💧

Portola Packaging Inc., of San Jose, Calif., reported results for its first quarter of fiscal year 2004, ended Nov. 30, 2003. Sales were $59.8 million compared to $52.0 million for the same period a year ago, an increase of 15 percent. 💧

Alexandria, Va.-based Water Environment Federation has released “Managing the Water & Wastewater Utility,” the group’s first publication this year. Highlights include leadership, financial management, budgeting and fiscal control, managing O&M, design and capital improvements, and the role of information technology. 💧

The National Ground Water Association has three new publications including “Transfer of Technology: A Technical Article Series to Better Understanding Drilling Equipment Components” by John L’Espoir. The others are the Ground Water Contracting Industry Survey and December’s Water Well Journal with highlights of the survey. 💧


WQA foundation kicks off endowment drive; online courses also featured at booth

The Water Quality Research Foundation (WQRF), formerly the Water Quality Research Council, announces a new $1 million endowment drive that will officially kick off at the 30th Annual Water Quality Association (WQA) Convention this month. Four donation brackets have been established—Bronze ($5,000), Silver ($15,000), Gold ($25,000) and Platinum ($50,000). Aside from plaques and publicity related to gifts, artwork will also be commissioned for use on donor stationery and other company publications including websites. All donors will be recognized at WQA conventions. All contributions to WQRF, most of which are tax-deductible, go into the foundation’s research fund. The money provides the foundation with a source of funding critical to continuing education and scientific research in the point-of-use/point-of-entry industry. The WQRF raises funds through donations, annual golf and tennis outings at the Mid-Year Leadership Conference, and now the endowment drive. The original WQRC was formed in 1949.

In other news, the WQA introduces its new online education program, which will be unveiled at the association’s annual convention on March 16-20 in Baltimore. There will be courses for employees new to the water treatment industry as well as more experienced professionals. Initial online courses will cover basic water treatment fundamentals such as water chemistry as well as core technologies including softening/ion exchange and reverse osmosis. The latest treatment options for arsenic removal will be covered in another new offering. Later, courses covering the latest science and treatment options for Legionella and radium will be introduced. Initial courses will be available for preview and purchase on WQA’s website, www.wqa.org, beginning March 22. The cost per course will range from $20 to $25. The courses will also include interactive progress questions (multiple choice with answers revealed) as well as a final credit quiz with immediate notification of results. A passing quiz grade will earn the student a minimum of 1.5 education hours (0.15 continuing education units or CEUs) and a printable course certificate. Convention attendees will have an opportunity to preview initial online courses at the WQA booth. The first three course offerings will be “Basic Water Chemistry”; “Understanding Ion ExchangeSoftening and Basic Deionization,” and “Arsenic: Chemistry, Occurrence and Removal.” New courses will be added on a regular basis. For more information about the online education program, contact the WQA at (630) 505-0160.

Auditor report slams Lancer
Lancer Corp., of San Antonio, accused by outside auditor KPMG LLP of “illegal acts” amid an ongoing U.S. government investigation into its dealings with Coca-Cola Co., stood by findings of its recent audit-committee investigation that found no evidence of misconduct or irregularities, The Wall Street Journal reported. Lancer’s auditor, KPMG, told the maker of beverage-dispensing equipment in an early February letter that it was resigning as outside auditor and withdrawing its audit opinion on the company’s financial statements for 2000-2002. KPMG declined to comment on the “illegal acts” it found. Audit firms rarely disclose such information for fear that they will open themselves up to litigation as to why they didn’t act earlier. Since last summer, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Atlanta and the Securities and Exchange Commission have been investigating some of Lancer’s dealings with Coke, its biggest customer for fountain dispensers. Coke has denied wrongdoing. Coke and Lancer said they are cooperating with investigators. In other news, Lancer said Christopher Hughes will succeed George Schroeder as chief executive; Schroeder was set to resign on Feb. 28 after 37 years at the company. Schroeder said the change had been planned for some time and had nothing to do with the current investigation.

Pentair grabs WICOR/Sta-Rite
Pentair Inc., of Brookfield, Wis., has agreed to buy Wisconsin Energy Corp.’s water-systems subsidiary, Wicor Industries, for $850 million, a move that is expected to accelerate Pentair’s growth in the global water treatment industry. Parent company of Sta-Rite Industries, Wicor, with sales of about $750 million last year, will boost Pentair’s 2003 sales of nearly $1.1 billion from its water pumps, filters and pool and spa components. The acquisition will be Pentair’s 12th and largest in water technologies since 1995. Meanwhile, Pentair is set to explore a sale, a spin-off or a joint venture of its power tools business, which had sales of $1.1 billion last year. Wicor is an autonomous industrial unit of Wisconsin Energy, a utility holding company based in Milwaukee.

Tenergy signs with BWT unit
Tenergy Water LLC, of New Britain, Conn., has signed an exclusive manufacturing, license and technology transfer agreement with Switzerland-based Christ AG. Technology transfer and manufacturing of Christ AG’s premier equipment line, led by the company’s pre-engineered pharmaceutical and life sciences pure water system series, will begin immediately. Under this new business partnership, Christ AG has acquired a minority interest in Tenergy Water and the company will be renamed Tenergy Christ Water LLC. In addition, Tenergy Christ will take over exclusive responsibility for the distribution of all Christ products in the United States. Tenergy Christ will broaden distribution efforts beyond Christ’s traditional focus on the pharmaceuticals market to become active in the sectors of drinking water treatment, the food and beverage industry, and power generation. Tenergy Water specializes in the design, manufacture, distribution and service of high purity industrial water systems for the pharmaceutical, beverage, power and electronics industries. It also serves its U.S. customers’ needs through its service deionization and residential/light commercial divisions. Christ AG, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vienna stock exchange-listed Best Water Technologies (BWT) Group of Austria, is Europe’s recognized market leader in water technology.

Calgon Carbon to pick up  Waterlink, Barnebey Sutcliffe
Waterlink Inc. and its affiliated companies have approved Pittsburgh-based Calgon Carbon’s bid as the highest and best for Waterlink Specialty Products, comprised of the operating units that make up Waterlink’s former Specialty Products division. Calgon Carbon’s bid is around $35.2 million plus the assumption of certain liabilities. The assets to be acquired include those of Waterlink’s U.S.-based subsidiary, Barnebey Sutcliffe Corp., and the stock of Waterlink (UK) Limited, a holding company that owns the stock of Waterlink’s operating subsidiaries in the United Kingdom. Water-link Specialty Products is a provider of products, equipment, systems, and services related to activated carbon and its uses for water and air purification, solvent recovery, odor control and chemical processing. The company has 250 employees at 12 locations in the United States and the U.K. For fiscal year 2003, company sales were $66.9 million.

Water Pik buys Huron Tech
Water Pik Technologies Inc., of Newport Beach, Calif., purchased the assets of Huron Tech Systems, of Jacksonville, Fla., a division of Finnchem USA Inc., for $10 million. Huron Tech Systems is a leading manufacturer of automatic salt chlorinators for swimming pool and spa water sanitation and titanium heat exchangers, a component used in high-end pool and spa heat pumps. For the year ended Dec. 31, Huron Tech Systems’ unaudited sales were $6.2 million including $2.4 million of titanium heat exchanger sales to Air Energy, a business acquired by the company in June. In other news, Water Pik said sales for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 were $97.1 million, an increase of 14.8 percent vs. sales of $84.6 million for the same period in 2002.

Sta-Rite pool filters recalled
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall of Sta-Rite’s System 2 and AquaTools filters and filter systems because the locking ring, which secures the filter’s upper tank shell to the lower tank shell, can disengage from the lower tank shell. In certain instances, this has allowed the top shell of the filter to blow off and caused injury to nearby consumers. Sta-Rite has received three reports of the upper tank shell blowing off including two reports of minor scratches and bruises to hands and/or arms of individuals servicing the filters. These modular pool filters are designed for use with above-ground and small, in-ground pools.

NGWA lauds water well bill
President George W. Bush signed a bill that provides $1 million for loans for low- to moderate-income persons for the installation or improvement of household water wells.

The National Ground Water Association (NGWA), which supported the federal assistance, hailed the appropriation as an important step in meeting an urgent national need. Some 3.6 million low- to moderate-income households across the country use outmoded water wells, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. From the $1 million, grants will be awarded to non-profit entities, which in turn will provide loans to eligible persons for constructing, refurbishing or servicing household water well systems. The loans would have a maximum interest rate of 1 percent with a term of up to 20 years. The NGWA currently funds the non-profit Foundation for Affordable Drinking Water, which offers such loans in Ohio and Iowa, and is expected to expand into other states in the near future. Under the program offered by the foundation, households must:

  • Have a combined household income of no more than $43,200 in Ohio (for a family of four) and $42,100 in Iowa for the most recent 12-month period,
  • Be located in a city, town or unincorporated area with a population of less than 10,000.

Nearly half the U.S. population depends on groundwater as its source of water for drinking and household use. Every day, 76.4 billion gallons of groundwater are pumped in the United States. Information on the foundation and its low-interest loan program can be found by visiting www.wellowner.org and clicking on “Financing.”

Norland to greet governor
Lincoln, Neb.-based Norland Int’l. Inc. has moved into new office and plant facilities. The new 35,000-square-foot building houses the company’s customer service, warranty and technical support staff, along with executive and administrative offices including the marketing and engineering departments. The facility’s plant area includes product assembly, parts warehousing and shipping departments. An open house is scheduled for March 12 with Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns scheduled to participate. The company is a leading designer and manufacturer of water purification and bottling equipment used by commercial bottlers worldwide.

Calif. systems add chloramine
The drinking water in 30 northern California communities may have tasted different beginning in February as a result of a switch in chemicals used to treat water against bacteria. Local officials believed the change from chlorine to chloramine would go unnoticed by most residents. Still, people who use kidney dialysis machines, keep fish in aquariums, or use highly processed water for their businesses are being asked to take certain precautions. A mix of chlorine and ammonia, chloramine produces lower levels of trihalomethanes, suspected carcinogens that form when chlorine mixes with natural organic substances in water. Communities affected buy some or all their water from the San Francisco system, which is making the treatment switch.

Dealers: Join up, win chance to see Brickyard 400
Flint & Walling Inc., of Kendalville, Ind., introduces its Professional Prime Times Dealer Rewards program. The program is designed to thank and reward company dealers as well as to provide distributors with additional tools to more effectively approach new dealers. By signing up for the program by May 25, dealers will be entered into a drawing to win an all-expenses paid weekend package to this year’s NASCAR Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. For more information, contact the company at (260) 347-6671 or email: lradcliffe@flintand walling.com. Flint & Walling is a manufacturer of water pump lines and water conditioning products.

System passes radium tests
Communities scrambling to meet USEPA standards for removing radium from drinking water are finding new cutting-edge environmental technologies that save millions of dollars and spare thousands of acres of Illinois farmland from radium exposure. Chicago-based Water Remediation Technologies (WRT) has developed new technology to remove the radioactive substance to an out-of-state licensed facility. In Illinois, the cities of Elburn and Oswego have adapted the WRT process. Many other communities have run or are running pilot tests. Last year, WRT completed a pilot study in Elburn. The company said the study confirmed this technology worked and will save residents $10 million over the next 20 years. A pilot plant study in Oswego revealed similar results.  

Severn gets MUD(dy) in Texas contracts
Fort Washington, Pa.-based Severn Trent Services was awarded two new operations contracts for municipal utility districts (MUD) in Texas. The contracts are with the Fry Road MUD and the Fort Bend County MUD #35—both located near Katy, Texas, a western suburb of Houston. In these communities, Severn Trent will provide full operations and maintenance services including meter reading, billing, customer service, and the operations, maintenance and repair of water and wastewater facilities. In other news, Severn Trent’s Eclox rapid response water test system was verified by the Environmental Technology Verification Program. Verification testing was conducted by Battelle at the AMS Center in Columbus, Ohio, from July 14 to Aug. 22, 2003.

USEPA begins full-scale arsenic project in New Mexico
The first full-scale arsenic removal demonstration project for drinking water in the nation funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) began on Jan. 7. Funding follows the agency’s approval of a new arsenic standard for drinking water of 10 parts per billion promulgated January 2001. At that time, the USEPA pledged to support research and development of cost-effective technologies to help communities meet the standard. The USEPA has set aside $157,000 to fund installation and demonstration of the new treatment technology for a year at the Desert Sands Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Association in Anthony, N.M. The technology being tested at the site attempts to use an iron oxide media to absorb arsenic from water. The project is one of 12 funded last year. Another demonstration project in New Mexico will be sited at Nambé Pueblo to begin later this year. Water systems must comply with the new standard by January 2006.

Letters

Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

IBWA: ‘Undue alarm’

Dear Editor:
The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) takes issue with a number of comments in WC&P’s “On Tap” column on Campylobacter and drinking water (Kelly A. Reynolds, “Campylo-bacter: Concerns with Drinking Water Sources,” December 2003).

IBWA is well aware of methods and reporting of studies and laboratory surveillance such as the University of Wales, College of Medicine, that’s at the root of this coverage. This study and the subsequent WC&P article may cause undue alarm about the safety of bottled water. WC&P readers should understand the study showed only a remote statistical association, not a causal link, due to the fact that the organism was neither tested for nor found in bottled water. Consider that the study also showed a statistical association between Campylobacter infection and walking for more than 15 minutes, but no one is suggesting that walking causes food poisoning.

Bottled water that complies with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state regulations and standards has been shown not to harbor harmful bacteria. Groundwater-sourced bottled waters are routinely monitored, sampled and analyzed, regardless of the amount of processing, to help ensure they’re free from pathogenic microorganisms.

Regardless of whether the bottled water product is from a groundwater source or public water source, utilization of a multi-barrier approach has demonstrated to be extremely successful in helping to ensure product safety and protect public health. Dr. Reynolds’ unspecified statement about “bacterial re-growth” in bottled water is ambiguous, and she’s likely addressing heterotrophic plate count (HPC) bacteria. In April 2002, an expert group of the World Health Organization (WHO) gathered to consider the health implications of HPC in drinking water, including bottled water, and concluded that HPC itself does not present a risk to human health.

Also of note, statements made in the “PipeLines” column of this same WC&P edition contend that a “reeling” bottled water industry, through IBWA, was spurred, as a result of the University of Wales Campylobacter study to release the IBWA Bottled Water Path-to-Market Flash Presentation, which is an interactive demonstration of bottled water regulations, standards and Good Manufacturing Practices. The bottled water industry, because of confidence in our standards and processes that would make Campylobacter contamination improbable in bottled water, was far from “reeling.”

In fact, as stressed above, IBWA strongly affirms that bottled water sourced and packaged in compliance with FDA standards would not harbor Campylobacter or other harmful bacteria. Secondly, the IBWA “flash” presentation was not released in response to the University of Wales study. This flash project is part of IBWA’s overall strategic initiative to educate important audiences about bottled water regulations, standards and safety and had been initiated independently a year before we became aware of the study.

Stephen R. Kay
Vice President, Communications
International Bottled Water Association
Alexandria, VA

Viewpoint

Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

By Carlos David Mongollón

M&As & Culligan—Waiting for the Next Big Deal!

When will the Culligan shoe drop? That’s the big question going into this year’s WQA convention in Baltimore this month. Who’s going to buy the POU/POE water treatment industry’s leading brand?
It’s been several months since Veolia Environnement announced it was selling off remaining assets in USFilter—which then parent company, Vivendi, bought in March 1999 for $6.2 billion. Greg Noorgaard, incoming WQA president and Culligan executive vice president, says he would be surprised if a sale were consummated before 2004’s third quarter, adding he could not comment further. Our interview with him is in next month’s issue.

John Packard, the largest independent Culligan dealer with 20 dealerships, said he understood an audit was necessary before it was put out for bids, but expects up to six vying for the company. He’s more optimistic about a new owner since, in a dozen sales of Culligan over 20 years, this is the first time prospective buyers contacted him beforehand. Said Packard: “That’s really nice. It’s gratifying. And that’s why I tend to have a positive view because people that want to buy it are doing more research on the dealer side than I’ve ever experienced. And to me that can only be positive.”

Meanwhile, in roughly the past year, we’ve seen:

  • General Electric pick up Osmonics Inc., adding it to the new GE Water Technologies division, and form an alliance with Pall Corp., which acquired USFilter’s Filtration & Separations Group, to serve industrial water markets. 
  • ITT Industries buy PCI Membranes and WEDECO A.G., which itself amassed UV and ozone disinfection acquisitions in recent years.
  • Apollo/Blackstone Group, a group of investors that once owned Culligan International, acquire Ondeo Nalco.
  • Calgon Carbon Corp. buy a watered down Waterlink, whose main holding Barnebey Sutcliffe nonetheless accentuates Calgon’s dominance in activated carbon.
  • The home-office delivery (HOD) niche in bottled water heat up with Grupo Danone snatching Eden Springs and partnering with Japan’s Suntory, and Nestlé Waters grabbing Powwow and Clear Water Group.

There were other big deals, but honors for the most impressive string of buys goes to Pentair Inc. Not only did Pentair acquire Plymouth Products—now Pentek—from USFilter in late 2002, it bought USFilter’s Everpure and most recently WICOR, the parent company of Sta-Rite Industries. WICOR adds a host of complementary brands to Pentair’s arsenal of products, but some that overlap as well. Both companies, for instance, have pumps for just about every application. They also are strong in pool products. And they both make tanks and enclosures with Pentair owning Structural and K&M Plastics/Composites—another acquisition last year; and WICOR owning Park International, which Sta-Rite acquired in August 2000.  

Jorge Fernandez, Pentair senior vice president for emerging markets, said the company plans to reorganize after the sale is complete, planning to jettison a lagging Tools Business Unit and renaming the Water Treatment Division as the Filtration & Purification Division. He adds, “The reason for the change… is it signals a broadening of scope… It underscores the importance we give the acquisition of Plymouth… Everpure and now WICOR. We are now very meaningful in a competitive arena with the CUNOs, the Palls and others interested in making water better globally.”

Some concerned about the consolidation, such as Clack Corp.’s Rich Clack, take a wait-and-see approach to the Pentair/WICOR deal and how anti-trust regulators might view it. Clack comments, “I want to be really clear, we’ve got a great interest in what happens with this Pentair/Sta-Rite deal because we distribute the Park tank. Three years ago, we broke away from Pentair’s Structural Fibers to go into the Park camp. So, we’ve got a lot of interest in what’s going on here. And we’re going to take a real cautious look at what the implications are.”

Fernandez says he’s confident the deal will be approved in whole. But he doubts Pentair will buy Culligan due to its commitment as a components supplier and such a deal would put it in competition with customers who do completed systems.

On the Road Again: EWQA Announces Convention Dates

Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

By Ronald Y. Pérez, WC&P Managing Editor

The Eastern Water Quality Association (EWQA) will be holding its annual conference and trade show from Sept. 27-29, at the Harrisburg Holiday Inn East in Harris-burg, Pa. The conference is designed for any individual involved in the water treatment industry.  An educational program with timely topics relevant to the industry will be conducted as well as a trade show for dealers to view new products and services that EWQA’s manufacturer members have to offer. In addition to the annual conference, EWQA is also offering two road shows with educational sessions and exhibits. The first road show will be held on April 20 at the Ramada Inn Geneva Lakefront in Geneva, N.Y. The second road show will be held on June 15 at the Ramada Inn in Hightstown, N.J. All EWQA educational sessions are applied to seat time with the Water Quality Association. For information on EWQA sessions or membership, call (866) 557-5513.

The national Water Quality Association (WQA) has created a new publication with a hefty title—“WQA Guide of International Standards and Regulations for Residential Water Treatment Equipment.” Targeted at manufacturers, the directory will contain basic information needed to start the process of complying with local product, materials and installation requirements in various countries. The following is a list of countries to be included: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, European Union, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and the United States. In its WQAInterNews, the association admits that most of the information is already located in its files but needs to be updated and reviewed. On Dec. 1, the WQA hired an intern, Svetlana Corr, to complete these tasks. Over the next several months, she’ll be contacting WQA members worldwide to gather information for the publication. Corr can be reached at email: scorr@mail.wqa.org

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has released a new brochure, “Bottled Water: Questions and Answers.” This one-page, two-sided fact sheet discusses topics such as sources of bottled water, how it compares with tap water in terms of safety, and how it’s regulated. The brochure is available upon request; up to 50 copies can be requested from MDH. To receive copies, contact Wendy Mielke at (651) 215-0699 or email: wendy.mielke@health.state.mn.us. The brochure is also available at www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/water/com/fs/bottledwater.html

In its December 2003 issue of The Florida Flow, the Florida Water Quality Association reported that its members have donated their time and effort in developing a long-awaited website. The site is in its final stages and will include industry events, member information, WQA website links and perhaps links to other related industries. Stay tuned.

The Ohio Water Quality Association (OWQA) upgraded its computer systems to DSL and thus has a new email address (dan310@ earthlink.net), said OWQA’s Dan Schlosser. The association will now have the “ability to update member listings, links, news, etc., but not some of the static information,” Schlosser said. The early response and registration to WC&P “Creative Marketing” columnist David Martin’s seminar at the OWQA annual meeting on April 23 has been very encouraging, he added.

To submit an item for this column, contact WC&P managing editor Ron Pérez: (520) 323-6144 or email: ryperez@wcponline.com. For further details or updates on these and other state and regional items of related interest, see Breaking News at www.wcponline.com

Back to the Beginning: Water Recycling Proves Its Worth at Plating Operation

Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

Summary: When a small, California-based circuit board shop tried to expand by relocating to larger quarters, it was faced with staggering water permit fees and strict discharge limitations. By implementing a well-designed, closed-loop water system, the company reduced permitting costs by over 95 percent and solved its discharge problem at the same time.


As industry advances in once remote regions of the world, many of the potential expansions are still sitting on the drawing board because of the shortage of industry’s life blood—water. The global expansion of small electronic parts manufacturers requires a lot of water, clean water at that. A small circuit board shop may require 75,000 gallons of water per day. This is enough to cover the needs of 250 households in California and many, many times that number in the less-industrialized world. Sourcing that needed water and providing a solution requires creativity.

In the United States, the simple process of applying for a water use permit places a high financial burden on the would-be entrepreneur. Application fee rates of $5 per gallon, based on estimated daily consumption, for such access and sewer permits send many a new business owner back to the bank for additional financing. The cost of getting a permit for a 20-gallon per minute (gpm) stream may top $100,000, and that doesn’t include cost of the water at normal rates or special discharge fees.

Vector Fabrication, of Milpitas, Calif., was one such firm. Its circuit board shop, since coming online in 1995, required 50 gpm and the permit would have run in excess of $375,000 as a one-time fee for getting connected assuming discharge quality met all specifications. Not only that, the water would require extensive waste treatment to meet the local discharge requirements and a 50 gpm make-up water, pre-treatment plant for the plating and etching processes. This would eat into valuable floor space as well and require full-time technical operators.

Eliminating the need
Closed-loop water systems were not too widely utilized in the early ’90s but Vector’s vice president, Isaac Stringer, decided to look into it. Through a series of contacts, he was put in touch with an area water system engineering and consulting firm with several previous successes in closed-loop recycling of plating rinse streams and discharge volume reduction. Their approach was straightforward; however, rather than simply removing the heavy metals (copper, lead, aluminum and gold), the design removed everything through ion exchange demineralization and produced a 50 gpm discharge of <2 parts per million (ppm) of deionized (DI) water. This stream then became the make-up source, eliminating the need for raw water pretreatment and essentially eradicating the discharge stream in the process.

Throughout the plant, plating line rinse tanks are fed a continuous stream of DI water. Because the water is reclaimed, there’s no need to skimp on the tank turnover rates. The total dissolved solids (TDS) in the rinse tanks rarely builds beyond 10 ppm and, compared to other shops using tap water or even softened tap water, Stringer reports that his rejection rates on boards is much, much lower. DI water is also used for the make-up of the plating bathes themselves, thus eliminating chemical incompatibilities with the plating chemistry and further improving quality and efficiency.

Making the ‘transfer’
The rinse tanks throughout the production area are of different sizes and levels above the ground plane. Therefore, it was necessary to install a “transfer” station below floor level where the overflows converge into a common sump. Submersible pumps then transfer the rinse waters to a floor-level, atmospheric, make-up sump. The use of atmospheric tanks is to prevent siphoning when the system is shut down. A float valve in the make-up sump maintains the total amount of water in the system by automatically adding city water to compensate for losses from evaporation and drag out, or carryover to subsequent tanks during final processing steps.

There’s a little bit of math involved in sizing the transfer and make-up sumps so that they neither overflow nor give “low water” alarms to pump controls. When the system shuts down, all overflows are transferred back to the make-up sump and there has to be room for it. Also, when the system starts up, there’s a drop in the make-up sump until the pipeline has filled and the rinses are recycled back. The make-up sump must be of sufficient volume to prevent starvation of the system pump and avoid cavitation.

Rinse waters from the make-up sump are pumped through a 5-micron (µm) bag filter and a granular activated carbon (GAC) filter before entering the DI system. Filtration removes particulates (bits of plastic and dust from the board fabrication) and organics (from cleaning and process chemicals), thus protecting the DI columns.

In addition, the GAC column back-washes with reclaimed water so carbon fines are captured in the bag filter. If micro-fines are present (generally indicated by gray water coming from the GAC column during the settling rinse), the system is allowed to recirculate until it clears up. This is done while bypassing the DI system. On a subsequent backwash, the GAC column will backwash with city water directly to the wastewater treatment batch tank where the fines are ultimately trapped in the precipitated sludge.

The DI system incorporates a strong acid cation followed by a strong base anion. Since this system sees basically DI water with a few parts of copper and such, it can run about two weeks before exhaustion. Regeneration is with sulfuric acid and caustic using city water. The cation regenerates first and then is used to produce de-cationized water for the anion regeneration. The acid and caustic wastes are directed to separate waste tanks. Service rinse is a recirculating rinse from the make-up sump and back. Some capacity is sacrificed during the rinse for the sake of minimizing the waste volume. This plant does not operate around the clock so they can regenerate the single train line as needed.

Sulfuric acid is used for the cation regeneration because the copper discharged in the spent regenerant is reclaimed through an electrowinning cell. This reduces the copper from about 15,000 ppm to around 100 ppm as it recirculates through the cation waste tank. Better than 99 percent of the copper content of the cation waste is sufficiently reduced when the stream is diverted through a rather cleverly designed proportioning system that combines the acid and caustic waste streams. By design, the resulting pH is alkaline and this precipitates the remaining copper. The sludge is removed through a filter press and the metal-free waste stream is then neutralized and discharged to the city sewer. The value of copper recovery helps offset the cost of the sludge disposal.

All in the reclaim
The resin regeneration consists of: 1) backwash followed by 2) chemical draw, 3) displacement rinse, and 4) fast rinse. Only the chemical draws and slow rinses—displacement rinses—are sent to the treatment plant. The backwash and fast rinses—quality rinses prior to putting the system back in service—are recirculated from the make-up sump. Only the chemical draw in the slow rinses, or displacement rinse is used to push the chemical through. The total waste stream is about 35 gallons per cubic foot (g/ft3) of resin every two weeks. Spent plating baths are sent directly to the acid waste storage tank. Cleaning tanks go to the caustic waste tank. Since start up, Vector estimates that it has averaged better than a 98-percent reclaim of its water usage and the savings have extended directly to its sewer permit as well. Vector did this by sending its waste stream “back to the beginning.”

Eliminating the make-up treatment plant and reducing the size of the batch plant also reduced the total footprint by over 50 percent. This entire 50-gpm treatment facility including chemical and waste storage, copper reclaim, sludge press and neutralizer is fit into a 350-square-foot, birmed section of the plant.

Conclusion
Vector vice president Stringer stated, “This system paid for itself many times over in the first year of operation.” He added, “We are considered good neighbors by the city of Milpitas, Calif., because we are a low-discharge operation and we are not putting a big demand on the local water supply.”

Vector was nominated recently for an award for its eco-minded water treatment facility. Stringer said when prospective clients come to visit, they recognize the use of DI water as an insurance policy for quality and that simple fact has often tipped the scales in Vector’s favor. “The treatment system started up without a glitch and has run continuously since 1995 without an unplanned shutdown. We couldn’t be happier,” he said.

About the author
C.F. “Chubb” Michaud is technical director of the Systematix Company, of Buena Park, Calif. A University of Maine graduate, he holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering. He has over 35 years of field experience and holds several U.S. patents on ion exchange processes. An active member of the Water Quality Association, Michaud serves on several technical committees currently chairs the Commercial/Industrial Section Committee. He serves on the Pacific WQA Board of Directors and is past chair of its Education Committee. He’s also a founding member of the WC&P Technical Review Committee. Michaud can be reached at email: cmichaud@systematixUSA.com

Looking for an Arsenic Antidote: POU RO Finds a Warm Reception in the Desert

Sunday, March 14th, 2004

By Shannon Murphy

Summary: With the advent of a new federal arsenic limit set to go into effect in two years, some water treatment companies across the nation are conducting their own pilot tests. One company in Arizona pitted centralized water vs. point-of-use reverse osmosis in two communities and came away with definitive results.


For many small water systems, finding a cost efficient method to meet the approaching deadline for the new arsenic standard has more questions than answers. There are a few different technologies available to the water systems. Making the decision on which one is best for the user, however, can appear to be a complex one. Several factors need to be addressed—cost, engineering, training, installation, operation and maintenance, and reassurance that the technology works.

To provide some of these answers, one company started pilot testing point-of-use (POU) reverse osmosis (RO) units with a few different communities in the Phoenix area. The first public water system is a relatively large community consisting of 2,000 residents and 700 service connections. What makes this community a candidate for POU approach over a centralized system is the fact that the water district has three separate non-mixing well heads, each requiring a separate arsenic treatment system if they were to proceed with a centralized approach. As a result, this triples the cost of such an approach. The second community is a smaller water system, consisting of 40 residents and 20 service connections with 20 to 30 additional connections planned in the coming year.

Town meetings
In both cases, initial meetings were set up with the community where the company provided background information about the Safe Drinking Water Act, the new arsenic ruling, timelines on compliance, and an overview of the role POU RO can play in cost efficiently meeting these requirements. Community meetings are invaluable as many participants have several questions, which are easily addressed up front in this type of forum. Following the meetings, both community water boards agreed to proceed with a POU RO study, with one water system deciding to pursue complete community installation.

In brief, these case studies included 20 NSF-certified RO units with total dissolved solids (TDS) monitoring faucets installed into volunteer dwellings where specific water and operational parameters will be evaluated over an eight-month period. Water characteristics to be monitored included: arsenic, alkalinity, bacteria, total chlorine, free chlorine, fluoride, hardness, inlet pressure, iron, manganese, pH, TDS and temperature. The testing matrix will evaluate pre- and post-filtration concentrations as well as any difference between the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) wet lab test results and on-site quick test kits supplied by Hach Co. Water parameters will be evaluated every other month over an eight-month period and charted. During the study, the homeowners will be provided three surveys to complete regarding the project.

Installation of POU RO
The installation of RO units was completed through use of a local water dealer. In one case, the water dealer was bonded to the water system. For many of these water systems, the use of a local bonded plumber or water dealer will prove to be an easier, more economical route to take. This is due to the fact that many water systems do not have the expertise or time needed to install, maintain, sample and document for a POU approach. By relying on the local plumber or water dealer to manage the installation, operation and maintenance, testing and result documentation, water systems can quickly review these maintenance records and results submitted to ensure efficient operation of the POU program within their own office.

During the installation process, there were a few participants already equipped with a home filtration device. All of these, however, were simple carbon systems not certified for the reduction of arsenic. These systems were removed and replaced with an RO system. The installations took an average of 45 minutes as many of the homeowners wanted to discuss the purpose of the project as well as background of the arsenic regulations. In the end, units were installed ahead of schedule.

Public education
Another aspect to a successful installation is education of the public. The company in this instance developed a manual for all participants that provided information regarding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), where regulations originate, why arsenic regulations changed, and information about the RO unit and expectations of the project. These booklets were reviewed and left with each homeowner participating in the case study. Additionally, an initial survey was left with the homeowner at the time of installation.

Water sampling and testing
One week following the installation of the units, water samples were obtained from the houses, one from the RO and one from the outside hose bib. These initial water tests results show the RO unit reduces the concentration of arsenic to below detection levels. In addition, the RO provided an average of 81 percent reduction in alkalinity, 94 percent reduction in hardness, and a 92 percent reduction of TDS when compared to the raw incoming water (see Figure 1).

Pricing out the program
Several different cost estimates regarding the use of POU RO have been published by the USEPA and other agencies. Many of these estimates for a POU RO installation are substantially higher due to initial cost estimates of the RO unit (the USEPA has used numbers between $300 and $600 per RO). A cost comparison of POU vs. centralized treatment using an NSF-certified, five-stage RO unit and based on realistic assumptions regarding initial cost of the RO, installation, replacement elements and periodic service costs over a 10-year period was put together. With these calculations, the cost to implement a POU project using the RO mentioned above averages under $14 a month per service connection. Compare this 10-year cost against centralized treatment provided by an independent regulatory body, and the break-even point for centralized treatment cost comes in between 300 and 350 service connections (see Figure 2).

Financial assistance
There are currently a number of financial assistance programs that are available to small drinking water systems working to comply with the arsenic rule. Many state departments of commerce have infrastructure grant and loan programs. The drinking water agency with primacy in each state can also help small water utilities identify state funding opportunities.

Two federal programs set up to assist small water systems are the USEPA Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service (RUS) grant and loan program. The DWSRF provides capitalization grants and loans to states for implementation of these drinking water projects. Many small systems have already been inquiring about and benefiting from the funding from DWSRF. The RUS program provides loans and grants for drinking water projects, which have totaled on average $750 million annually. Assistance from the RUS program is targeted for small systems serving fewer than 10,000 people.

Conclusion
The new arsenic rule goes into effect in January 2006 and, for many small water systems, there are many time-consuming factors which need to be completed before then in order to implement a successful water treatment program. Small water systems may have the greatest at stake with this upcoming rule, as many of these systems currently do not treat their water, and thus have the greatest learning curve ahead of them. Small water systems also need to be aware of proposed regulations for several different water contaminants and other coming disinfection rules. POU RO provides a single cost efficient way for many water districts to meet the needs of today’s regulated contaminants and tomorrow’s discoveries. Where there has been success in providing education, there are still questions regarding the use of POU ROs for compliance. Many of these issues are expected to be answered this year through pilot studies that are being conducted. With these answers, millions of dollars can be saved by small water communities and homeowners for today’s concerns as well as future ones.

About the author
Shannon Murphy is vice president of municipal sales for Watts Premier Inc., of Phoenix, whose RO units were used in the above study. Before that, he was operations manager for NSF International’s DWTU Program. For updates regarding the progress and survey results of these and other projects with which Watts Premier is involved, go to: www.wattspremier.com/adwa/. A member of the WC&P Technical Review Committee, Murphy can be reached at (623) 505-1514 or email: murphysp@wattsind.com

 

G.A. Murdock’s Appelwick Makes the Grade

Sunday, March 14th, 2004

By Carlos David Mogollón, WC&P Executive Editor

G.A. Murdock Inc.
1200 Division Ave. S.
P.O. Box 465 • Madison, SD 57042
Tel: (800) 568-7565 or (605) 256-9632
Fax: (800) 568-4301 or (605) 256-9682
Email: sales@gamurdock.com or brian@gamurdock.com
Web: www.gamurdock.com
Management: Gene Appelwick, president; Brian Appelwick, vice president
Staff: 18
Revenues: 2002/2003 growth–13%, average growth over 3 years–15%, expected 2004 growth–20%

Brian Appelwick, vice president of G.A. Murdock Inc., of Madison, S.D., is a third-generation water treatment professional. His grandfather, Omer, established one of the first Culligan dealerships in this rural town of 6,800 in 1949. Omer sold it to his son, Gene, in the ’70s.

Brian’s father launched G.A. Murdock in 1987 to purchase some assets for depreciation purposes. Brian worked at the dealership between classes at the University of Nebraska. But business was brisk, so he decided to finish up his business studies at Huron University while managing another dealership that was acquired in Huron, S.D., in 1990. That’s about when the Appelwicks began gearing up G.A. Murdock as a vehicle to improve the quality of valves, fittings and other point-of-use/point-of-entry (POU/POE) water treatment accessories available on the market.

In 1992, after G.A. Murdock moved into its own 17,000-square-foot facility, things really took off, Brian said. At the Water Quality Association trade show, the company introduced its Mur-Lok RO Pal, which was designed to replace saddle valves frowned upon in most plumbing codes. It began manufacturing ball valves in 1994 as well and acted as a distributor for a number of other companies. Today, those companies include KX Industries, Watts Regulator, Pentair’s Pentek (formerly Plymouth Products), GE Osmonics, Touch-Flo and Opella as well as Hanna Instruments, Dow Liquid Separations, Omnipure and Clack Corp.

One of its key product lines for 10 years was John Guest valves and fittings until G.A. Murdock introduced its own line under the Mur-Lok brand a year ago at the WQA exhibition in Las Vegas. It also introduced its own polyethylene tubing and PVC drain line. Appelwick pointed out the company hired a consultant to help develop the new lines and set up its manufacturing operation to ramp up to meet demand. That started about two years ago and, around the same time, they sold the dealerships to an employee to concentrate on G.A. Murdock.

Today, business is great, Brian said. Through the recent recession, it maintained an average annual growth rate of 15 percent. With the economy trending upward, it expects a 20 percent growth rate in 2004. He credits that to on-time deliveries and good customer service. “We take care of the customer,” said Appelwick. “We try to ship about 95 percent of the orders the same day.”

About 75 percent of sales are to dealers, but the company expects a 30 percent growth rate among manufacturing customers. Overall, about 85 percent of business is residential with the balance in commercial/industrial split among office coffee service, dialysis, photo processing, beverage and agricultural clients, among others. International business—which makes up about 10 percent of sales—is strongest in Canada, accounting for half of that figure. But the recent low value of the dollar has helped sales in Europe and elsewhere as well.

Brian sees chloramines’ effect on valves and fittings and potential leaks as a hot-button issue the industry will continue to face: “With the issues of the insurance companies and mold and everything else, it’s probably going to be a pretty big deal.”

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