Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine


Friday, December 23rd, 2005

Batzner joins Blancett
Michael Batzner has been named Sales Manager for the Blancett Flow Metering Equipment Division of Racine Federated Inc. Batzner will be responsible for all Blancett sales activities. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, he has more than 35 years experience in sales and sales management in the retail, distribution and manufacturing industries.

Two promoted at Chemilizer
Chemilizer Products, Inc., a manufacturer of fluid injectors, has named two new operational managers. Wilma Pennino (left) has been named Inventory Control Manager and Shelly Remmel (right), Operations Manager. Remmel is an 11-year veteran of Chemilizer and established the first formalized system of inventory control and centralizing protocol for the company’s purchasing. She will be responsible for product quality, supplier relations and manufacturing efficiency. Pennino joined Chemilizer in 2003 as an Inventory Control Assistant. In her new role, she will be responsible for reducing the total cost of inventory, placing orders for new stock and maintaining sufficient stock on hand to meet the rapidly growing customer demand.  Both women will be based out of the company’s 20,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Largo, Fla.

New WQA education director
Tanya Lubner is the new Water Quality Association Director of Education. Lubner has a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry and will be responsible for all WQA professional certification, distance education, education publications and state WQA educational liaison activities. She will also lead the WQA Aquatech USA and Mid-Year Leadership Conference education programs. Lubner’s most recent position was as a technical sales engineer for optical spectroscopy instrumentation.

Hancock joins LifeSource
LifeSource Engineering, Inc., a provider of customer water purification and wastewater treatment systems, has added John Hancock to the senior management team at their headquarters in Seminole, Fla. Hancock has assumed the role of Process Engineer and will oversee project engineering and management of the company’s environmental and industrial divisions.

Hague announces annual sweepstakes winner
Hague Quality Water International has awarded its annual customer appreciation sweepstakes $5,000 grand prize to Jeff Papineau of Lakeville, Minn. Papineau (who is pictured with his wife, Thora and their children, Matthew and Anna) had the opportunity to choose a John Deere tractor, Polaris ATV or the cash payout. He opted for the latter, as his family plans to build a new home shortly and will use the money toward the project, Papineau said. Hague began the national sweepstakes in 1997 and each year draws a single winner from a one-year pool of entrants.

B&H hires Prieto
B&H Labeling Systems has appointed Guillermo de la Fuente Prieto to the position of Mexico Parts Sales Manager. Based in the new B&H Labeling Mexico S. de R.L. de C.V. office in Mexico City, he will manage the company’s new parts department to assure rapid delivery of spare parts to Mexican customers. De la Fuente Prieto holds a masters degree in marketing from Technologico de Mont-errey Campus Estado de Mexico and has over 10 years experience in sales and service, most recently as an associate with Grupo Vertigo.

Watts Pure Water adds two
Gene C. Shockley has joined Watts Pure Water, a division of Watts Water Technology as Vice President of Commercial Sales. Shockley will be managing the group responsible for selling the Pure Water line of commercial, industrial and residential water treatment products to the wholesale plumbing channel, OEMs and related industrial accounts. Prior to joining Watts, he was a Senior Account Manager at Harrington Industrial Products. Watts also promoted Mark Henss to Senior Account Manager. He will work with OEM and commercial/industrial companies seeking water treatment products. Henss has been with the firm for more than 10 years; most recently as Production Manager providing technical support to commercial and industrial accounts.

Thermax adds to U.S. staff
Thermax USA has named resin industry veteran Jim Sabzali General Manager of North America. Sabzali is a former Sales Manager of Dow Chemical’s resins and adsorbents division and was North American Sales and Marketing Manager for The Purolite Company. Other Thermax additions include new Sales Manager for the Eastern U.S. Cindy Gresham and new Sales Manager for the Central Midwestern States Nancy Gleasman. “These proven hires denote our renewed commitment to the U.S. as well as the entire North American market,” Sabzali says.

Global Spotlight

Friday, December 23rd, 2005

Shimadzu Scientific Industry, Inc. has received R&D Magazine’s 2005 R&D 100 Award for its new hybrid Ion Trap-Time-Of-Flight instrument. Named a ‘breakthrough technology’ in the Analytical Instruments Category, the Shimadzu LCMS-IT-TOF employs more than a dozen pending product technology patents. 💧

AquaCell Technologies, Inc. announces that its Aquacell Water, Inc. subsidiary has received its first order for its arsenic removal system from a municipal water supplier. 💧

Ecovation, Inc. has entered into an exclusive license agreement with Biotim N.V. to sell the company’s anaerobic treatment technologies in North America. Ecovation also recently broke ground on a new waste stream pretreatment and renewable energy facility in North Lawrence, N.Y. in partnership with CoolBrands Dairy, Inc. 💧

WS Packaging Group of Algoma, Wisc. has purchased the assets of Ampersand Label, Inc. of Garden Grove, Calif. Ampersand will be known as WS Packaging Group—Ampersand Label. 
Pure1 Systems has selected Livendco, Inc., of Pensacola, Fla., as the exclusive dealer for its products in Alabama and Florida. 💧

Pure1 Systems has selected Livendco, Inc., of Pensacola, Fla., as the exclusive dealer for its products in Alabama and Florida.💧

The U.S. EPA is distributing flyers on potential health and environmental issues to the impacted areas of the recent hurricanes. Containing basic information on water quality safety, they direct concerned residents to local water treatment professionals for assistance. 💧

NSF International has expanded its laboratory testing services in Taiwan with the assistance of a nonprofit Taiwan-based technical service institute, the Plastics Industry Development Center. 💧

Parker Hannifin Corporation has acquired TexLoc Ltd. and its medical division, TexMed. The financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed. 💧

Tomlinson Industries has purchased the assets of C&K Manufacturing & Sales Co., LLC. C&K’s line, which will fit into Tomlinson’s range of commercial foodser-vice equipment and supply items, and will be called C&K Products Division of Tomlinson Industries. 💧

After 25 years in Sarasota, Fla., Ozone Pure Water Inc. has moved to Kerrville, Texas. Their new location is 134 Cummings Ln. Kerrville, Texas 78028-4963. “Being in Texas gives us a central location to better serve all our customers, for whom we are always grateful,” said President Roger Nathanson. 💧

William R. Pearson II has received the Ray Baum Memorial Water Technologist of the Year Award from the Association of Water Technologies. He is director of sales, consulting and technical services at Southeastern Laboratories, Inc. The award recognizes exemplary service to the AWT membership and outstanding contributions to the industry. 💧

WQA creates health review board
The WQA’s Gold Seal program has created an independent review board to provide oversight and approval to the association’s Gold Seal Certification policies. While ANSI’s accreditation and ongoing audits ensure the program is a bona fide independent certification program, the association decided to add oversight to help ensure the utmost integrity and assurance of public interest. Over 90 manufacturers currently use the WQA accredited certifications for conformance to the NSF/ANSI Standards and required compliance with state regulations for more than 1,030 drinking water contact products.

Lakewood splits from GE
Lakewood Instruments, previously a division of GE Water & Process Technologies, is under new ownership as an independent, privately owned and operated company. A manufacturer and assembler of water treatment controllers for cooling tower, boiler process and wastewater applications, Lakewood plans to operate under a new business model with renewed interest in investments for product development and increased market coverage in the water treatment industry. In early 2006, the company plans to introduce a combination controller model, the M1500 Series.

Pool associations renew partnership
The Association for Pool & Spa Professionals and the National Swimming Pool Foundation have signed an agreement to expand cooperation between the two organizations to better encourage healthier living through aquatic education and research so they can better serve the people who purchase and use pool products. As a part of new working agreement, APSP will discontinue its Professional Pool & Spa Operator (PPSO) course and transition instructors and operators to the NSPF-run Certified Pool-Spa Operator program. NSPF will waive all registration fees to PPSO instructors in good standing and the two associations will work together in order to ensure that the transition is a smooth one for existing customers.

United States

Nonchemical water treatment demand
The national demand for nonchemical water treatment supplies and equipment is projected to increase 6.7 percent annually to $6.3 billion in 2009, according to a new report from The Freedonia Group, Inc. While the filtration and separation segment is expected to continue to account for the largest majority of demand, disinfection is expected to register faster growth as water treatment operators turn to nonchemical techniques. As a result, both UV and ozone equipment are expected to post growth approaching 20 percent annually. For more information on the report, visit www. freedoniagroup.com

EPA sets guidelines for water on airlines
Two dozen airlines (11 major domestic carriers and 13 smaller airlines) have signed agreements with the U.S. EPA subjecting them to fines up to $27,500 if they fail to adopt safeguards against drinking water contamination on their flights. The deal comes as a result of an EPA investigation earlier this year that found fecal coliform in 15 percent of airplanes at 19 airports nationwide. The agreements, which varied slightly from airline to airline as a result of the negotiation process, require regular monitoring of water systems, collecting total coliform samples from at least one galley and one bathroom from every aircraft at least once each year. Additionally, 25 percent of an airline’s fleet must be monitored every three months.

More U.S. EPA news
The EPA’s Guide Standard and Protocol for Testing Microbiological Water Purifiers has certified ZENON Environmental Inc.’s whole house Homespring™ UF200 series ultrafiltration systems as its first series of whole home water filtration systems. The Homespring Purifier can be used on treated municipal water and untreated well or lake water. An EPA task force developed the standard, beginning in 1984, to be a general guide for determining the microbial removal/inactivation effectiveness of certain types of water treatment units on waters of unknown quality. Its purpose is to provide at least the minimum features and framework for testing a treatment unit. It utilizes a performance-based format and is intended to provide a realistic worst-case use of the unit under study.

NSF partners with USAF
NSF International has been awarded a research and development contract from the U.S. Air Force to test and evaluate microbiological treatment claims for several handheld water purifiers being considered for field use by military personnel. The Air Force Field Water Medic Program conducted a market survey in 2004 that identified a handful of commercially available handheld technologies that would be ideal for military use. NSF will test those kits for established product safety and performance requirements to finalize a product selection that the military will use to guarantee drinkable water for military personnel while in field conditions where only untreated source water is available.

Freight rate changes could hurt softeners
The Classification Committee of the National Manufacturers Freight Transit Association is considering changing the density classification for water softener shipments, potentially raising the shipping rates for the product. Under the new proposal, the less dense a shipment is, the larger its classification number and the higher the costs associated with shipping. The Water Quality Association called upon its members to testify on the topic at NMFTA’s meeting last month.

New AirWater products coming to the U.S.
Hendrix Corporation will debut a new line of Atmospheric Water Generation equipment in the first quarter of 2006. The Rainmaker and Eriva AWG products join a rapidly growing collection of AirWater machines that use condensation and purification technologies to provide a water cooler with no plumbing and no bottles. They’ve billed themselves as an environmentally sensitive alternative to conventional POU systems such as reverse osmosis. AirWater technologies debuted at the Water Quality Association’s annual convention and expo two years ago and have grown from a small contingent of U.S.-based manufacturers to more than a dozen product offerings from manufacturers worldwide.

‘Governator’ limits soda sales in schools
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill restricting the sale of soft drinks to high school students on school grounds from 30 minutes before school until 30 minutes after school. Opposed by the American Beverage Association, the bill allows for the sale of bottled water, 100 percent juices, sports drinks and milk, but specifically limited the sale of drinks with no-calorie sweeteners.

NGWA foundation receives $1 million
The Foundation for Affordable Drinking Water, established by the National Ground Water Association, has received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide one percent interest loans to low-income families for water wells and well systems. The loans are offered in 18 different states and qualified applicants can receive up to $8,000 on a 20-year loan for drilling and installation. An important aspect of the program is to educate recipients on the importance of regular well maintenance and annual testing. Loan applications are available at www.wellowner.org

400,000 sign up for water line protection
American Water’s Homeowner Services Group announces that 400,000 people have enrolled in their Water Line and Sewer Line Protection Programs. In response to this large turnout, the company has developed a new program exclusively for municipalities. The new program, LineSaver™, is designed to protect customers from unexpected service line repairs while generating revenue for the community with no additional investment and minimal labor requirements. Typically, homeowners are unaware that they are personally responsible for the cost of maintaining and repairing water and sewer lines from the street to their homes.

Coffee Perks names first female franchisee
Coffee Perks, an affiliate of SunBelt Coffee & Water Service, a provider of breakroom supplies, equipment and services, has awarded the exclusive rights to own and operate the franchise in Charlotte, N.C. to Amy Gais, the company’s first female independent franchisee. Charlotte is currently home to more than 1.5 million people and is expected to become a key revenue generator for the company. “We are looking forward to having Amy Gais as our first independent franchise operator in the state of North Carolina,” said Susan Hartley, the company’s president.

WEF receives presidential honor
The Water Environment Federation was been awarded the U.S. Commerce Department’s Certificate of Appreciation for Achievement in Trade. Presented by Israel Hernandez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director-General of the U.S. Commercial Service, the award recognized the long-term partnering efforts between the Federation and the Service for its role as one of the oldest partners of the Service’s International Buyer Program. WEF President Lynn Orphan accepted the award during the WEFTEC 2005 trade show in Washington D.C. in October.

Airlines supports cancer research with bottled water
Alaska Airlines served Athena bottled water to passengers throughout October in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the airlines reports. Athena Partners, founded by breast cancer survivor Trish May, donates 100 percent of its profits to women’s cancer initiatives. Athena water is also available at retailers and cafes throughout the Northwest, including Bartell Drugs, Costco Business Centers, Larry’s Markets, Safeway and FC.

Middle East

Abu Dhabi Water selects Severn Trent
The Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority in the United Arab Emirates has selected Severn Trent Services’ SmartMeter™ line to upgrade their metering technology. The contract, the financials of which were undisclosed, includes the supply of water meters and touch pads used to take readings at residential and commercial properties. STS will provide local technical support for the program.

World’s largest desal plant opens
Ashkelon, Israel is now home to the world’s largest desalination plant, with two sister plants each producing about 43 million gallons of drinking water each day. The Water and Desalination Authority of Israel will use the treated water to supplement and upgrade existing potable municipal water supplies in the region with extremely dry conditions and limited fresh water resources. The plant is owned and operated by the VID Desalination Company and relies on FILMTEC™ membrane technology from The Dow Chemical Company.


Recyclable shower water
A university student in the United Kingdom has designed a shower that recycles dirty water, re-circulating and cleaning it to lower energy and water bills. The shower, which won the British Standards Institute 2005 Environmental Design Award, uses a filtration system and hydro-cyclones installed behind the shower unit to clean, recycle and reheat water before reentering the shower at a cost savings of about $200 each year.

Common bacteria in drinking water
The most common stomach bug in Britain, which affects more than 42,000 people a year, could be present in tap water, the Canadian Water Quality Association reports. Campylobacter, which causes intestinal problems commonly associated with undercooked meats, is not routinely tested for by the majority of water companies in the United Kingdom. While many companies look for E. coli, recent studies show that it is not a good indicator for Campylobacter and additional routine water testing may be necessary.


‘A Silent Tsunami’ surges
The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Polity Solutions at Duke University has published a new report on worldwide access to clean drinking water. The report, A Silent Tsunami, outlines the World Health Organization data documenting an estimated six million deaths annually from the lack of clean drinking water. The report also features 10 recommendations for priority action and many examples of innovative projects already underway by governments, businesses and civic groups to help remediate the problem. The report, which will be presented at the 4th World Water Forum in Mexico City in March 2006, is available for review at www.nicholas.duke.edu/institute/water

The world’s worst water crisis
The Chinese Vice Minister of Construction is calling the country’s water woes, “a crisis more severe and urgent than any other country in the world.” According to Vice Minister Qui Baoxing, less than half of the wastewater generated by major Chinese cities is currently treated and recycled and is instead seriously jeopardizing China’s ability to sustain uncompromised aquifers that are pumped for drinking water. The company struggles with an aging infrastructure, with losses of 20 percent of water supplies through leaky pipes and unknown levels of contamination during transport. Calling the situation the “the world’s worse water crisis,” Qui outlined a five-year plan to replace infrastructure, develop wastewater systems and regulate heavy pollution in and around agricultural communities.

Central America

Thermal desal in Aruba
Aquatech International Corporation has received a contract for a thermal desalination plant for the Valero Refining Company in Aruba. The 1.5-million gpd system will be used as boiler feed water for Valero’s cogeneration power plant at their Aruba refinery. When delivered in 2006, the project will be the 8th identical Multi Stage Flash unit supplied by Aquatech on the island of Aruba.


Friday, December 23rd, 2005

To the Editor:

I read Tony Frost’s article entitled, “Hardness Minerals and Drinking Water: Now a topic for an International Symposium” in Water Conditioning & Purification’s October 2005 issue. While this is a very good overview of the current direction the water hardness discussions are heading, I do take issue with Mr. Frost’s narrow definition of ‘epidemiology.’ According to my well-worn copy of Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, epidemiology is defined as, “a branch of medical science that deals with the incidence, distribution and control of disease in a population.” My concern is not with Mr. Frost’s claim that the science is imprecise, although the tendency for poor science to be called epidemiology frequently does exist, but it is with his focus on relating disease solely to a geographic area. The focus does work for this particular article’s argument, but not for most epidemiological studies. A population could be widespread, as with ‘teenage males between the ages of 13 and 15 with blue eyes and left-handed.’ Geography could be a very minor attribute for such a study.

Frost’s topic is one to watch as it significantly impacts most water conditioning methods and the industry as a whole. I recommend attendance at the April 24-25 (2006) WHO/ILSI/NSF Calcium and Magnesium in Drinking Water symposium in Baltimore, Md. for a close-up view of what will be future directions for this issue.

Susan R. Feldman
Technical Director
Salt Institute
Alexandria, Va. 22314
Phone: (703) 549-4648
Email: susan@saltinstitute.org


Friday, December 23rd, 2005

By Karen R. Smith

Visions of mistletoe…

I find myself surprised that 2005 will end just a few short weeks from now. Where did the time go? It’s been a whirlwind of a year both in the water treatment industry and for the world at large.

There is no better way to wrap up these past 12 months than by heading down to Georgia for the National Ground Water Association’s conference and trade show. Our remarkable cover image this month comes courtesy of that organization. As water—and the lack thereof—changes the geopolitical and scientific paradigms, the lines between different parts of the spectrum blur and overlap. Well water, groundwater, reclaimed and recycled water, municipal and private water are all in flux.

December 13-16 at the NGWA show, there will be more than 50 workshops, interest group sessions and hands-on demonstrations which are all designed to provide real answers to the issues facing today’s groundwater industry. In addition, there will be myriad networking opportunities and a chance to view the latest in technology from more than 230 manufacturers in the exhibit hall. You can register online at www.ngwa.org and use a convenient itinerary planner on the website to ensure you don’t miss a single thing.

Scheduled educational sessions include well servicing and maintenance; water quality and treatment (this workshop covers chlorine treatment of well water and also discusses the chemistry of oxidation and treatment of iron, iron bacteria, hydrogen sulfide and other water problems); common contaminants and basic water treatment options and—important to all!—how the 2006 Arsenic MCL will impact the well water industry.

Being a part of the most comprehensive buyer’s guide in the industry has gotten even easier as WC&P now offers manufacturers, distributors and suppliers the opportunity to complete their free buyer’s guide registration online. Visit www.wcponline. com today to obtain a free listing for your company or revise a previous listing! In minutes, your listing will be ready for our 2006/2007 buyer’s guide, coming in April. At your fingertips, you can even add a company description, logo or other eye-catching effects (additional costs apply, see website for details) to make your listing stand out from the crowd. What’s more, if you sign up today you’re company will be listed immediately (upon confirmation of your information) online in our web-based, searchable guide. The WC&P 2006/2007 Buyer’s Guide, raising the bar online and in print.

I want to wish every subscriber and advertiser a joyous holiday season. In particular, my personal thanks go to those who made the entire WC&P staff welcome at the industry events and shows that we were able to attend across the U.S. and around the globe throughout 2005 and to those who volunteer their time and expertise to our Technical Review Committee each and every month.

All of us at WC&P wish you and your loved ones peace and prosperity in the coming year.


On the Road with Falsken Water Systems

Friday, December 23rd, 2005

By Nate F. Searing

For Dennis Falsken of Falsken Water Systems in Norco, Calif., success in the water treatment business is a very personal affair. In a state where the industry’s largest manufacturers make millions of products and the largest dealers serve thousands of customers, Falsken is an independent owner with a smaller focus.

“I’m the guy answering the phones when customers call us. I’m who goes into the customers’ homes. I also do a good part of the service and installations myself,” he said. “To me, a successful business is the one where the owner gets to see a satisfied customer face-to-face.”
Falsken got into the water treatment industry almost accidentally. Before opening Falsken Water in the 1984, he worked in the liquor industry at a bottling plant in California.

“We were ahead of the curve at that plant. We installed our own processing plant to reduce the costs of buying water from a local bottled water company. The system used carbon filtration, softeners, ozone, ultraviolet and deionization along with a 20,000 gpd RO system to process the water used for mixing with the bulk liquor back in the mid-1970s,” Falsken recalled. “Over the years, I learned from the technicians and did my own research on how it all worked and why. I got really comfortable with the whole water treatment process.”

In 1984, when Falsken’s wife was pregnant with their first child, the couple had concerns about drinking the water in their community. Local officials in Norco at the time recommended that the elderly, pregnant women and infants should avoid drinking the well water that was supplied to the community because of elevated nitrate levels.

“I knew about home RO systems and took a shot at installing one under our sink at the house,” he said. “A few weeks later, a neighbor asked if I would install one in their home and it just took off from there.”
Out of those first installations, Falsken Water Systems was born and has remained a trusted name in water treatment for the people of Norco.

According to Falsken, the once-agricultural town and the surrounding communities have significant hardness problems, as well as the pervasive concerns created by pesticides used on the region’s many citrus groves. As a result, a growing percentage of new Falsken Water customers are private well users.
“I like working on well water issues a lot. There’s something kind of fun about getting out into the country, having a cow or a horse wander up and nudge you while you’re working,” he said. “It helps slow down the hectic pace of our Southern California lifestyle!”

Success is staying small
Falsken strives to maintain the small size of his water business. Serving about 600 customers with three part-time employees, he believes the key to his continued success in the industry is providing quality equipment and top-notch customer service, “and I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having dedicated, knowledgeable equipment suppliers,” he added.

“I have nothing but respect for the larger dealerships and the franchises, but I think there’s something really great about being the guy who is out on the road every day.”
When you call Falsken Water Systems, he answers the phone, often while he’s driving, on his way to a sales call, service call or an installation.

“We’ve been a larger operation in the past and there’s a lot of benefit to that,” he said. “But I don’t think the long-term goal is huge growth…it’s more personal than that.”
Instead, Falsken said he plans to focus even more on well water treatment, and expanding the company’s presence by targeting customers interested in office and business drinking water systems.

National issues at the local level
In addition to running Falsken Water with a hands-on approach, Falsken is also one of the newest board members of the Pacific Water Quality Association (PWQA).

“I’m still getting my feet wet at this point, but I’m really eager to point the association into a new direction,” he said. Specifically, Falsken hopes that PWQA will begin to take a more active role in marketing itself and its activities to the general public. In many cases, the association is the place where customers turn after they have had a bad experience with a water dealer who is not a PWQA member, rather than the place they should start to find a reliable one.

“One of the things that has made (Falsken Water) so successful is our commitment to servicing systems that we didn’t install in the first place. In this state, you have a whole lot of unlicensed contractors and a lot of dealers who make the original sale, then disappear. They are not the ones who are PWQA members, they are not the long-term, reputable businesses that most of us are, but they make our work more difficult and it adversely affects the water treatment industry’s image as a whole,” Falsken said.

To that end, Falsken hopes to guide the association toward more consumer outreach, including more educational programs to foster trust in dealers that will help drive consumers to PWQA member-dealers.
“We have a whole lot of issues right now that are affecting the way in which individual dealers do business,” Falsken said. “PWQA has been out in front of a lot of these things and I want to be able to help be a part of the solutions.”

As a result, Falsken got involved with the Inland Empire Utility Agency’s Salinity Reduction Project after the utility approached PWQA for assistance. The project, a research program developed by graduate students at Claremont College, has been exploring ways for IEUA to reduce excess saline discharges by partnering with individual dealers to update, retool and replace old softeners that are less efficient than newer models and may be discharging higher-than-necessary amounts of salt into the waste stream.

“Honestly, the project is still ongoing and we have high hopes for it,” Falsken said.

“More than anything, it has shown that we (the water treatment industry and regulators) can work together.

When asked if he would like to eventually serve on the national WQA board, Falsken only laughs.

“One day at a time please! At this point, my only focus is the issues affecting the water treatment industry served by the PWQA. But in fact, many of our issues here in California are national issues as well.”

New Membrane Point of Entry Filtration System Certified as A disinfection solution for all water sources

Friday, December 23rd, 2005

By Ron Ing and Andrew Warnes

In both developed and developing countries throughout the world, the need for small, self-contained point of entry (POE) water purifying systems is acute. One of the most recognized manufacturers of municipal membrane water and wastewater treatment systems has focused on the development of a new solution that addresses these needs by bringing cutting-edge commercial water treatment technology to homes and small industries throughout the world.

In developed countries, the exodus of millions of people into rural areas has created the need for purified water in new parts of the countryside. In municipalities, bottled water sales continue to grow at double-digit rates due to concerns over the quality and taste of the municipal water supply. In developing countries, simple and effective solutions are being sought to achieve purified water for daily drinking and hygiene needs.

Various technologies are currently being utilized to disinfect/purify water by killing, inactivating or removing bacteria, viruses and cysts. Most current technologies have limitations: they may generate disinfection by-products (DBPs); some require electricity to disinfect; some are only effective on certain pathogens or leave inactivated pathogens in the drinking water; others are highly inefficient due to the ratio of water wasted versus the amount of usable water produced or cannot be used on hard water without pretreatment. Also, most disinfection systems available today require a complex combination of multiple technologies to achieve the required turbidity and disinfection levels to meet safe drinking water standards.

Hollow fiber membrane filtration technology
Hollow fiber membrane technology for treating water provides one of the simplest and most effective ways to both clarify and disinfect water. Hollow fiber membranes, which resemble strands of spaghetti that are hollow inside, utilize physical exclusion to filter water. The polymeric walls of the membrane strands have billions of pores that act as a strainer to filter out particles, turbidity and pathogens while allowing water to flow through with virtually no pressure drop.

Hollow fiber membranes are available in either microfiltration (MF) or ultrafiltration (UF) levels. Microfiltration membranes filter down to approximately 0.2-0.1 microns nominal. Ultrafiltration membranes filter down to approximately 0.05-0.02 microns nominal.

Hollow fiber UF membrane effectiveness and performance is based on pore size, pore size distribution, permeability, surface area, fouling characteristics and membrane consistency. The nominal pore size is the primary determinant of the particle/pathogen rejection characteristics of the membrane. If many of the pores are larger than the nominal pore size, or if there are a few pores that are significantly larger than the nominal pore size, the membrane will have poor rejection characteristics against small pathogens such as viruses. Pore size distribution is controlled by having good base membrane chemistry and a tightly controlled manufacturing process. For UF membranes to be capable of virus rejection, the membrane pore distribution must be very tight.

Permeability is the measure of the flux rate of the membrane. It represents the pressure necessary to achieve a specified flow rate. The higher the permeability of a membrane, the more efficient the membrane is. Surface area represents the amount of available membrane area for the water to pass through. A larger surface area, combined with higher permeability, will result in larger product water throughput.

Both outside-in and inside-out flow directions through the membrane walls are employed in the water treatment industry today. Having a flow passage from the outside-in provides a significantly higher filtration surface area due to the larger outside circumference of the membrane. Also, an outside-in flow prevents large particles from being lodged in the membrane bore, which can occur with an inside-out flow. This can result in a stress riser, leading to fiber weakening and breakage over time as the membrane fibers flex during normal operation.

Fouling characteristics and a cleaning regime are crucial to the life performance of the membrane fiber. The design of the membrane skin and the chemical composition of the membrane affect the fouling characteristics. Non-disposable membranes are cleaned on a regular basis using either linear membrane flow for inside-out membranes or a combination of linear flow combined with ‘through the membrane’ wall flushing for outside-in membrane flows. Generally, ‘through the membrane’ wall flushing using pre-filtered water in the opposite direction of normal flow is the most effective methodology, as it both pushes away debris/pathogens that have collected on the membrane skin and dislodges any particles that have become stuck in the pores during normal filtration.

There are numerous companies throughout the world working on hollow fiber membranes. Many have been able to produce a satisfactory membrane on a limited laboratory production basis. The challenge for most companies is leaping from laboratory development to actual mass production—to manufacturing millions of miles of consistently high quality hollow fiber membrane and keeping the process under control.

A new system
The same industrial grade membranes that have been proven in water treatment plants around the globe have been incorporated into a new central water purifier, developed for residential point of entry (POE) and small commercial/industrial applications. It incorporates a two-stage filtration process that addresses both taste and odor issues while purifying water for whole home or commercial applications.

The first stage uses granulated activated carbon (GAC) to pre-filter the water and remove unwanted taste and odors, such as chlorine. The second stage uses thousands of strands of proprietary hollow fiber membranes. The water flows through pores that are 0.02 microns (nominal) from the outside-in; the membranes physically remove turbidity, bacteria, viruses and cysts from the water. The systems do not require electrical power to filter the water. Using only the inlet water pressure, the systems can filter up to 11 gallons (42 liters) of water per minute. The unit uses electricity only to operate a programmable controller for scheduling backwashes. During power failures, the systems can continue to supply purified water as long as there is water line pressure. When electricity returns, the systems resume their normal backwashing schedule.

Because the membranes are extremely efficient, the system has a minimal pressure drop (~2.5 psi per 3 gpm/0.17 bar per 12 lpm). The purifier has a built-in daily backwashing system that performs a ‘through the wall’ membrane flush with pre-filtered water every 24 hours, and is typically maintenance-free for an entire year. The systems come in a range of sizes and are up to 64 inches (165 cm) tall, have an 18-inch (46 cm) footprint and weigh only 100 pounds (45.5 kg) when empty.

There are considerable differences between the hollow fiber membrane used in the new system and other, more common, flat sheet membrane systems. Unlike typical home point of use (POU) reverse osmosis (RO) systems, there is no mineral removal. The membrane is chlorine tolerant and will work directly on hard water. No under-sink storage tanks are required, because this is a flow-through system. The membranes are highly efficient (up to 97 percent ) when compared to typical RO systems, which can reject 50 percent or more of the incoming water to the drain.

To provide the ability to validate the performance of the system on the spot, an on-site, handheld integrity tester has been developed (patent pending), which can immediately determine whether all the membrane strands are intact and functioning. This test can be performed in minutes and assures customers and regulators that the units are delivering purified water upon start-up and at any other time during their use—including during boil water advisories, should municipal emergencies arise.

U.S. EPA testing and certification
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) Guide Standard and Protocol for Testing Microbiological Water Purifiers was developed in 1987. The protocol outlines the testing and performance expectations for a microbiological water purifier on potentially contaminated water sources, such as wells and springs. It is used as a guide to the acceptance of water treatment units for compliance with Safe Drinking Water Act requirements where the device may be used temporarily to treat potentially contaminated water supplies during emergency situations like boil water alerts and natural disasters. The stringent protocol involves testing multiple systems over a number of days with microbiologically contaminated water that includes bacteria, viruses and cysts.

The protocols for testing the systems were developed and performed by BioVir Laboratories (a NELAP and California Department of Health Services approved laboratory) and the systems were certified under the Water Quality Association’s Gold Seal Certification program. The procedure involved testing three systems concurrently over a 12-day period with various feed test waters that contained, on average, concentrations of 3.9 x 107 bacteria and 3.7 x 105 of viruses while varying the pHs from 6.5 to 9, turbidities from 0 to greater than 30 NTU and a water temperature varying from 20°C to 4°C (68°F to 39°F). The test was to simulate a variety of worse-case scenarios under different water environments.

Upon completion of the testing, no bacteria or viruses were detected from any of the water samplings. These are the first POE water filtration systems certified as a Microbiological Water Purifier by the WQA.

The systems are also certified by NSF and WQA to NSF/ANSI Standard 42 (Aesthetic Effects) and NSF/ANSI Standard 53 (Health Effects). In Australia and New Zealand, the same systems have been certified to AS/NZS 4348 Standard Water Treatment-Domestic Type Water Treatment Devices-Performance Requirements to achieve greater than 99.99999 percent bacteria reduction, greater than 99.999 percent virus reduction and greater than 99.95 percent cyst reduction.

The new central purifier can be used on treated municipal water, untreated well supplies and lake water sources. For people on city water systems, it eliminates the need for bottled water as the taste and odor of chlorine are removed. It also provides additional peace of mind in case of a water main break or boil water alert. On well, surface or rainwater sources, the unit provides crystal clear purified water for all household needs. The system can also be used in small commercial/industrial applications and a number of systems can be combined to deliver up to 30,000 gallons (114 cubic meters) of purified water a day. The systems have been effectively deployed to supply water in disaster relief areas as they require no electricity to supply purified water. In small communities (less than 250 homes), the units can be used for decentralized water treatment. By installing one at each house, developers can provide a more cost effective solution than building a conventional water distribution line infrastructure and centralized water treatment plant. (Editor’s note: Arizona has already endorsed individual units as a viable alternative to more traditional centralized infrastructure improvements).

The challenge for the water treatment industry, particularly for disinfection systems on waters of unknown quality, has centered upon being able to provide consistent, reliable and verifiable disinfection for the entire home—not just at a single POU. Designed to address these concerns and satisfy the needs of both consumers and regulators, new systems utilizing proven membrane technology provide high flows with minimal pressure drops using existing water line pressures. Their effectiveness can be verified on-site with a simple, immediate test and they do not require electricity to provide purified water. The patented system design enables these units to automatically self-clean usually resulting in maintenance-free operation for an entire year.

About the authors
Ron Ing, P.E., is General Manager of ZENON’s Consumer Products Division. He has a bachelor of applied science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Waterloo. He can be reached at (905) 465-3030 or via email at ring@zenon.com.

Andrew Warnes is Director, International Sales and Marketing, of the Zenon Consumer Products Division. Formerly, he was the International Director of the Water Quality Association (WQA). Warnes can be reached at (847) 274-0595 or via email at awarnes@zenon.com.

About ZENON Environmental
The central water purifier discussed herein is the Zenon Homespring™. For more information, visit www.zenon.com. ZENON Environmental Inc., based in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, has been a global leader in membrane-based water filtration technology since the 1980s. ZENON has hundreds of patents for membrane developments and membrane system designs worldwide. Each day, ZENON’s ZeeWeed® patented hollow fiber UF membranes are used in over 500 large scale municipal and industrial water treatment plants throughout the world that treat anywhere from 1,000 to 100 million gallons (3.79 to 379,000 cubic meters) of water. Over a billion gallons (3.79 million cubic meters) of water is filtered through ZeeWeed® membranes daily.

In 2004, the the Homespring™ Central Water Purifier was handed the “Best of What’s New” award in the Home Tech category by Popular Science magazine. Literally thousands of products were considered and the winners were those judged to be one of the products that “represented a significant step forward.”

NOWRA & WQA Septic-Softener Symposium

Friday, December 23rd, 2005

By Bob Boerner

Asymposium focused on water treatment and its possible effects on on-site wastewater systems was attended by some 125 interested parties in Cleveland, Ohio on  October 13th, 2005. The event was sponsored by the National Onsite Wastewater Association (NOWRA) and was held in conjunction with the Water Quality Association (WQA), who helped in arranging speakers and developing a productive agenda for the one-day symposium.

Over the last few years a growing number of regulators, often urged by the on-site Aerobic Treatment Units (ATU) manufacturers, have voiced concerns about water treatment wastes entering on-site wastewater systems and have suggested softener discharge bans in some states. Some of these recommendations have been enacted into state codes, but many of them have since been overturned or modified in light of the growing body of scientific evidence showing no harmful effects from softeners on either anaerobic (septic) or aerobic (ATU) systems. On-site operators have relied largely on anecdotal evidence to support ban recommendations.

The issue had become recurring and often heated enough that WQA actively sought out NOWRA to open up a dialogue on the subject. Over a number of months an outline for a Symposium on Septics and Softeners evolved, overseen and facilitated by NOWRA’s Technical Practices Director, Matt Byers, Ph.D. and Jim Converse, Ph.D. of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the co-chair of NOWRA’s Education committee. WQA’s Carlyn Meyer and Joe Harrison, P.E. also played important roles in helping move the project forward and in procuring speakers to present the water treatment industry’s studies spanning a number of years.

The trend in the last decade or two has been for consumers to rely more and more on on-site systems to treat their wastewater as they populate areas well beyond the reach of municipal wastewater systems. Today in the United States about 25 percent of the total domestic wastewater treatment systems are on-site types and almost a third of new construction in this country includes them. Unfortunately, a good many of the systems are showing signs of failure for various reasons. Age, lack of proper maintenance, marginal or poor initial siting or design and possibly excessive or hard-to-digest substances introduced into the waste streams are pushing the systems beyond their abilities.

These failures and near-failures pose a significant risk to the environment and especially to water tables tied to the treatment systems. Untreated or partially treated wastes can potentially expose humans to harmful pathogens. They can also pollute watersheds and the life these systems support by overfeeding nutrients into the ecosystem, thus disrupting the normal biological processes which keep recharge. Some softener water feed systems were described as possessing stuck valves, thus contributing large quantities of water to the on-site system. The remedy was simply maintaining the softener systems correctly and using better grades of salt.

  • Modern softener systems include demand initiated regeneration units. These units are programmed to regenerate only when water use demands the regeneration. Thus, the number of regeneration cycles is related to actual water use. Number of cycles is directly related to the amount of regeneration water inputting the on-site system.
  • Water chemistry such as calcium concentration and pH were described as important factors that could affect on-site system operation.

Proposed symposium follow-up

  • Creation of a task group that will ensure that the WQA and NOWRA continue discussion.
  • Creation of a summary paper from the symposium. This paper will be just a few pages describing highlights in detail. It will be reviewed by the presenters at the symposium as well as WQA representathings in balance.

A growing trend in on-site wastewater treatment has been to redesign the old standard septic system (which relies on an anaerobic digestion process) to add aeration and oxidation processes and sometimes a disinfection step for the digested wastes in the newer ATUs. The benefits are faster and more complete digestion for waste streams, often accomplished in less space, but the systems are more complex than the older septics and often require more care and periodic maintenance to operate properly.

Most participants in the conference would likely agree that septic failures are often a product of multiple events but that it is difficult to isolate one particular culprit. Without necessarily having scientific proof regarding the role of water softeners, some of these ATU manufacturers have decided it best to simply ban water conditioning waste products from their systems, at the risk to the consumer of voiding the warranty on their ATU. The water treatment industry feels this type of ban is unfair to the consumer and that it can add unreasonable expenses to the cost of installing a water treatment system, potentially steering the consumer away from water treatment altogether, despite its many proven benefits.  

The symposium provided a platform for both sides to air their concerns and opened a face-to-face dialogue on the issue. Conference participants presented a number of scientific papers, most showing little if any deleterious effects to on-site systems or their drain-fields. During the discussion, NOWRA members presented anecdotal evidence that softeners contribute to or cause septic failures under certain circumstances.

It became apparent that both sides have a good deal to learn about the others’ technologies and designs and one positive outcome of the symposium was that a working taskforce between the two entities will be set up to explore the issues in more depth and hopefully develop some acceptable guidelines to better co-exist. To that end, conferees supported the idea of joint inspections of varied septic tank failures in order to identify the various ingredients, dynamics and malfunctions that contributed to them.

A keynote of the meeting was that both industries are a part of the same chain of water use throughout a household and that there is a need to better integrate our systems to benefit the consumer and the environment. A good deal of this process will likely involve enhanced education and training of the parties involved in setting up these small-scale hydrological cycles. Both the water treatment and on-site wastewater parties will need to better focus on optimizing the performance of their respective technologies and to better educate the consumer on ways to optimize their use.

The WQA Septic Issues Task Force will continue the dialogue between the groups and will likely line up a joint meeting at the WQA in Chicago in March of 2006 to further explore the issue and advance communication between the two groups.

Bob Boerner , Chair, WQA Septic Issues Task Force
San Antonio, Texas
Culligan Water Conditioning of San Antonio
1034 Austin Street, San Antonio, Texas 78208
(210) 226-5344

By Matthew E. Byers, Ph.D.

On October 13th, NOWRA aided by the WQA convened a symposium to address the topic of water softeners and septic systems. At issue was the perception that these two critical appliances may have certain incompatibilities. Speakers from both industries addressed the issue. From the WQA, or softener side, data was presented that supported a claim of no harm to the tank, system biota and receiving soil. From the on-site side, cases where systems were compromised due to the presence of water conditioning devices were presented. Research papers and testimonials comprised the morning session, followed by an afternoon session of discussion. There were at least 125 people present. Many people from the water conditioning industry attended and desired this meeting. Very few members of the on-site secondary treatment manufacturing industry attended.

Highlights of the symposium included learning that each industry provides equipment that is going to be used at the same site by system owners. This should not be a surprise to anyone. Thus, these industries must learn from each other how best to make this situation workable. Workable means the on-site system works in concert with the input stream and thus protects human health, protects the environment and is a good value for the consumer.

  • It was learned through presentation and discussion that an inadequate amount of discussion had taken place between the two industries. Two levels of need will emerge: 1. Immediate communication to define what we already know and thus, how to adjust each others’ systems to make the whole work on site and 2. developing research needs based on a complete understanding through communication.
  • Presentations dealing with the receiving soil environment appeared to indicate that soils generally could assimilate softener inputs.
  • Some advanced treatment units were presented to be impaired by the use of water conditioning equipment. After much discussion, it was felt that softeners were and on-site systems could likely be adjusted to accommodate each other. Indeed, there may be cases where slugs of regeneration wastewater may cause calcium carbonate precipitation in units under aerobic conditions. Several solutions were proposed such as bypassing such a sensitive system, as well as time-dosing the regeneration waste into the system. Individual on-site treatment systems and devices likely have limits under which they can be operated. If a home is simply going to have a water softener, then the on-site system needs to be able to accommodate that input.
  • Softener systems were described as hydraulically overloading on-site systems. Discussion revealed the relative small quantities of water in softener tives and some members from NOWRA Technical Practices Committee.
  • NOWRA presence and continued discussion at the WQA meeting in March.
  • Generation of guidance materials from the task group to assist practition-ers in using both technologies at the same site with a high probability of success.
  • Generation of a statement of research needs. Through discussion, both industries will reveal to each other what is known and thus, what remains to be described. Research will likely yield a description of limitations.

The symposium was successful in that it initiated an overdue meeting between these two industries. Both industries agreed that our collective goal is system functionality and satisfied customers.

Matthew E. Byers, Ph.D.
On-site Manager, Zoeller Company
3649 Cane Run Road
Louisville, Ky. 40211-1961
(502) 778-2731

By C.F. “Chubb” Michaud, CWS-VI

A joint symposium was held by NOWRA and the WQA to present documentation and discuss the issues on water conditioning’s influence on the performance of on-site treatment systems. There are over 25 million on-site water treatment systems (septic systems) currently in use in the U.S. and it is reported that nearly 50 percent of all new homes have on-site treatment. There are over 25 million residential water softeners in use today and many are used at residences where there is also a septic system.
Many members of NOWRA claim that the brine discharge from a regenerating water softer discharging directly into the septic system disrupts the normal bacteria action, causes scaling, poisons the leach field (swells the soil and causes plugging), increases the density in the tank causing solids to float and overwhelms the system due to high flows during the regeneration cycle. They have proposed bans on the use of automatic softeners discharging into septic systems and have caused legislation to be enacted in several states to that effect. It should be noted that WQA has successfully defended the use of softeners in states with certain restictions.

WQA has maintained that none of this is true and presented numerous papers from well-designed and well-executed lab and field trials proving their case. In addition, it was shown by WQA presenters that the use of portable exchange softeners that allow only hardness-free water to pass to the septic system and then regenerate off-site could very well be detrimental to the proper operation of a septic system and the use of a French drain to bypass the regenerant brine directly to a separate drain field was both costly and impractical besides being totally unnecessary. NOWRA presenters offered only anecdotal observations and suppositions and did not back up any of their claims with hard science. Nonetheless, their observations (particularly hard scale formation) were real and not dismissed out of hand by WQA. Scaling problems seem to be limited to aerobic systems (none were reported with the anaerobic septic installations) and were even reported on aerobic systems without softeners. As one of the co-authors of a WQA paper, I pointed out that urea and other organics in household waste would be converted to ammonia during the digestion and raise the pH of the system within the tank. We added that softeners do not create calcium, but they do release it in higher concentrations than the feed water. In addition, we pointed out that softeners do not produce calcium carbonate but add only calcium chloride, which is extremely soluble. I then pointed out that the higher calcium concentration at higher pH would precipitate when aerated using air containing carbon dioxide and that the scaling was actually being caused by the aerobic system design rather than the softener discharge per se.

Another observation by aerobic system service representatives was that some aerobic systems with softeners seem to have more frequent filter plugging. Filters have recently been installed on the discharge of the septic system to keep solids out of the drain fields, which seem to be picking up paper fibers and ‘salt crystals’ (probably calcium and magnesium scale). There is a possibility that the bacteria responsible for the digestion of paper are adversely affected by the brine. No work was done by WQA presenters to address that concern.

The following papers were presented:

“Home Water Treatment System Discharge to On-Site Wastewater Systems” by Joe Harrison, PE, Technical Director WQA and Chubb Michaud; “Compatibility of Water Softeners and Residential Wastewater Treatment Systems” by Tom Bruusema, Gen. Mgr., NSF International; “An Installer’s Observations on the Effects of Water Softeners on On-Site Wastewater Systems” by Gene Bassett, owner EC Bassett Construction; “A Quantitative Analysis of the Impact of Salt on the Micro-organisms in an Aerobic Wastewater Treatment System” by Salea Husain, George Mason Univ., Manassas, Va. and CD Litchfield; “Impact of Water Softeners on Septic Tanks—A Field Evaluation Study” by Christopher Kinsley, Ontario Rural Wastewater Centre, Univ. of Guelph, Ont., Canada, Anna Colla and Doug Joy; “Effect of Water Softeners on Septic Systems” by Robert Pickney (presented by Mike Hines); “Water Quality Changes in Conventional On-Site Wastewater Treatment Systems Associated with use of Sodium Based Water Softeners” by Marc Spratt, RLK Hydro, Inc., Kalispell, Mont. and Garry Grimestad; “Soil Infiltration and Percolation of Wastewater as Affected” by Water Softener Use by E. Jerry Tyler, Dept. of Soil Science, Univ. of Wisc., Madison.

In a spirit of cooperation, NOWRA and WQA will meet in the near future to see if modifications can be worked out in the softener regeneration cycle and/or the septic design to eliminate the tendency to produce scale in the aerobic systems. No other problems are being considered in aerobic systems or reported in the anaerobic systems.

C.F. “Chubb” Michaud
Technical Director, Systematix Co.
6902 Aragon Circle
Buena Park, Calif. 90620
(714) 522-5453

Unedited excerpts

Orenco Fact Sheet: Water Softeners and Wastewater Treatment Systems

What Is the Next Step?
When regulators consider whether to allow discharge of water softener brine to wastewater treatment systems, the burden of proof should be on the party that stands to profit from its position. Sales of wastewater systems will not change based on whether softener brine is a1lowed in them, but water softener sales may. Rather than asking wastewater system manufacturers to prove harm to the treatment system, water softener manufacturers should have to prove that the addition of their brine discharge to the waste stream does no harm. Although the Water Quality Association has advocated for the discharge of softener brine to wastewater treatment systems, its references are limited to two specific and limited studies. These should be carefully reviewed and their conclusions considered in context.

Need for Future Research
One thing that all parties to this controversy agree upon is that more research is needed. This research should include not only standard septic tanks, but also secondary and advanced treatment processes that are required to maintain high levels of treatment. Until that research is in hand, the onus is on the Water Quality Association to prove, in a manner consistent with protection of public health, that adding water softener brine to wastewater treatment systems, and accumulation of salts within the process, will not jeopardize the long-term performance or degrade any part of the primary or secondary Treatment processes, or the final effluent quality.

A Quantitative Analysis of the Impact of Salt on the Microorganisms in an Aerobic Wastewater Treatment System
By S. Husain and C. D. Litchfield

In the solar salt concentration range of 0 ppm-10,000 ppm there was no significant impact on microbial respiration. However, 50,000 ppm solar salt concentration retarded microbial growth and respiration and this was magnified by the addition of sodium lauryl sulfate. Typically home water softeners leach a maximum of 1,000 ppm brine and under backwash mode, may expose the aerobic microorganisms in the tank to up to 5-10,000 ppm brine for short periods. Thus, the length of time that the inoculum in this study was exposed to 5 to 10 times normal brine conditions was a worst case scenario, and yet there was no statistically significant differences in the metabolic activity of the microbial community. This means that it is unlikely that failures in domestic water treatment systems are the result of exposure to the brine from home water softeners.


John Barelli of Surplus Management, Inc.

Thursday, December 15th, 2005

By Nate F. Searing

John Barelli, owner and founder of Surplus Management, Inc. and www.watersurplus.com, has some new and interesting ideas on the way the water treatment industry can capitalize on the growing need for pure water used in everything from manufacturing to drinking. Be it a new way to look at Web-based sales or a common-sense approach to providing drinking water solutions to those in need, Barelli is pushing Surplus Management into new territories and finding new opportunities while doing so.

Surplus Management, Inc. (originally known as Pure Solutions) was founded in 1988 as a sales rep firm to market their principals’ capital equipment. Surplus Management changed its focus to providing an outsource investment recovery venue in the late 1990s. Watersurplus.com became part of the firm’s evolution into a revolutionary way to bring water treatment professionals and equipment together.

“The biggest hurdle has been overcoming that ‘junk store’ mentality,” Barelli says. “There are several other companies out there that just sell used equipment, which many customers see as low cost spare parts. We’re doing it completely differently… we’re more selective in the items we purchase, seeking only the highest quality surplus inventory and taking the time to redesign and refurbish it so we can provide our customers with a start-to-finish water treatment solution.” Over 50 percent of Watersurplus.com’s inventory is actually unused and in the original box, Barelli says.

Through a network of customers, business partners and contacts, Watersurplus.com is able to locate and procure a steady stream of equipment suitable for residential, commercial and industrial applications. Unlike many other online equipment dealers, Watersurplus.com does not offer treatment solutions direct to the consumer.

“In order to meet the needs of customers across a large geographical area, Watersurplus.com utilizes a network of engineering companies, equipment manufacturers and local water treatment companies who provide services locally,” Barelli says.

“This is a very unique and collaborative operating approach that helps manage cost and ensures that customers ultimately get what they need. We have created this really amazing network where one day a company is my customer and the next day my supplier, selling us their old equipment.”

Word of mouth and unique product offerings have attracted more than 20,000 people to Watersurplus.com each month, from more than 130 countries. The business is steadily growing by about 50 percent each year. “Small OEMs and foreign buyers are the key,” Barelli says, “because they are eager to try new approaches and save money in the process.” In total, about 80 percent of their business originates online from ‘as is’ component sales and refurbished systems. The remaining 20 percent is rapidly expanding as Watersurplus.com offers an ever-increasing virtual catalog of new products.

“In effect, the used products we offer online are as much marketing opportunities as they are inventory. When you can offer a client the option of a rebuilt pump for only $3,000 that would cost him $6,000 new, customers take the time to explore what else you can offer. While many of them will just buy the rebuilt pump, more and more are asking for help in locating related new components or help with their water equipment and operations.”

One of the strongest areas of growth for Watersurplus.com is in the realm of reverse osmosis systems. “We purchase used RO equipment in good to excellent condition, along with subcomponents that may work in the redesign for a future installation,” Barelli says. “While the RO sector growth is welcome,” he says, it’s not completely by design. “Like so many parts of our business, we have allowed our website growth to be guided by actual marketplace demand. I have a dedicated staff that strives to do what is in the best interest of each customer. This dedication to our customers’ needs, along with a site that is easy to navigate, has created a lot of customer loyalty. We plan to add many new features, like our new technical library consisting of over 5,000 product files in a PDF format to keep our customers returning.”

In the future, Surplus Management aims to continue developing unique partnerships, more new product offerings and additional services. The company recently opened up a line of credit for foreign buyers through the EXIM Bank in an effort to develop a full service export trading business specifically focused on water treatment processes and media.

“We are also exploring the possibility of partnering with leading OEMs to distribute their products exclusively, outside their traditional distribution areas, both within the U.S. and overseas,” Barelli says.

In addition to the company’s drive to establish a new way of doing business in the water treatment industry, another key corporate objective is the desire to bring drinking water treatment solutions to places in the world where it is needed.

“Corporate America generates a constant stream of surplus and used water related equipment assets valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars, while people around the world die from contaminated drinking water. This heartbreaking global irony drives our other long-term purpose,” he says. To that end, Surplus Management is committed to mobilizing over $1 million in cash donations from their company and other equipment manufacturers to help develop sustainable potable water systems in developing countries. This money will be distributed through non-profit organizations that dedicate themselves to that cause.

“By purchasing this equipment, refurbishing it and putting it to good use, we’ve developed a successful, unique business that also ultimately results in a really creative way to help give people access to clean drinking water.”

“Above everything else, we’ve made a determined effort to focus our business activities on the investment recovery niche within the water treatment industry,” he says. “By leveraging surplus inventory and used assets along with our global Web traffic, we continue to lower the cost of capital required to solve water process problems around the world.”

Silver Technology for Cleaner Water Coolers

Thursday, December 15th, 2005

By Brian McBride

Keeping water cooler equipment clean is a challenge around the globe. In many countries, maintaining water cooler cleanliness is the responsibility of the water consumer. However, in both Europe and in the United States, companies that sell water typically own the coolers placed in businesses, hospitals, schools and public places. Since these suppliers are generally in charge of water cooler maintenance, the quality and cleanliness of water coolers and the water contained within them are their responsibility. Because of this, water cooler providers must maintain high levels of cleanliness for their customers in order to ensure that the quality of the water they supply is consistently clean and great tasting.

The water cooler industry has made numerous advancements in water processing and delivery systems in recent years that have greatly improved the quality of drinking water, ensuring consistent flavor and good water quality. Many of these advances have been mechanical in nature, minimizing contact between the water and the environment to reduce the risk of contamination. Despite these advancements, bacteria and biofilm formation in water coolers remains a problem. Because it can affect water appearance and taste, finding a method to reduce bacterial contamination remains a top priority for water cooler manufacturers.

Bacteria can enter the cooler as part of the natural microbial flora in the water, or can be inadvertently added when bottles and equipment are touched by users. Because of this, biofilm formation is a continual problem. Biofilm is a thin layer of bacteria that forms on surfaces exposed to water. It develops when bacteria attach to a surface and begin to form a microcolony, which eventually develops into a coating. Biofilm does not automatically affect the quality of water, but as it builds up on the surface, bacteria can slough off into the water and cause contamination. Biofilm can also have negative effects on the taste, odor and appearance of the water.

Researchers at the Uni-Institut for Environmental Medicine and Hospital Hygiene in Freiburg, Germany conducted a study of 20 water coolers found in bookstores, medical offices, drugstores and supermarkets throughout Germany in 2004. Contaminated water was found in nearly all of the coolers tested. More than half of them contained water with microbe levels 20 times higher than the levels recommended as safe by the European Bottled Watercooler Association (EBWA), the authoritative source for all information concerning the European water cooler industry.

To ensure reliable quality of dispensed water, the EBWA recommends that owners sanitize their coolers at least once each quarter. To comply with the EBWA regulations, a technician cleans the water coolers with chemicals strong enough to kill bacteria and break up the biofilm that develops from bacterial growth. But the process is time consuming and expensive. The labor associated with this cleaning cycle is the most expensive element—costing anywhere from $50 to $70 a visit, four times each year. Considering that the average cost of a water cooler is just over $100, it is evident that quarterly cleanings are not an economical solution. In addition, the cost of these quarterly cleanings can negate the cost savings potential of water coolers over bottled water.

Furthermore, these quarterly cleanings are effective for only a short period of time. According to a study conducted by the University of Albany, State University of New York, bacteria begin to grow and a biofilm develops only one week after a typical water cooler disinfection treatment. During the time between quarterly cleanings, the bacteria continue to grow and the water in the cooler becomes less and less clean resulting in drinking water with unpleasant appearance, taste or odor.

Finally, cleaning solutions themselves can add unwanted chemicals to the water reservoir. While technicians are meticulous in their job, concerns remain that improperly used cleaning chemicals can impart unwanted tastes and odors to the water.

In an effort to combat the cleanliness issues associated with water coolers, a leading international manufacturer of water coolers developed a self-cleaning water cooler technology. Seeking a natural solution, they evaluated companies that offered silver-based antimicrobials. Silver has long been recognized as a way to prevent microbial contamination of drinking water. The Egyptians lined water cisterns with silver to combat microbes and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) used silver to purify water on its spacecrafts in the 1960s.

Evaluation of available products led them to an American manufacturer of a silver-based antimicrobial compound. They selected the firm because it was the only company that had experience in developing antimicrobial products that were used in direct contact with drinking water, including working with a variety of manufacturers to develop water tubing, faucet aerators, water filters and other water-related components. They had the capacity to help determine the type of product needed to meet the high demand of water contact, engineer the solution, make trial runs of the technology in its pilot plant and test for effectiveness on key bacteria.

The silver-based compound is comprised of naturally occurring silver ions and a ceramic material called a zeolite. It provides safe, long-lasting and continuous protection against microbes by releasing silver ions to the surface at a slow and steady rate. The compound has been proven effective against a broad range of microorganisms, including bacteria, algae and fungus such as mold and yeast. Initial laboratory tests show the compound may also fight viruses.

This antimicrobial silver compound was incorporated into polymeric water cooler components—the entire inner water path, including the no-spill system, reservoir, water separator and tubing—of a current product line. All plastic parts in direct contact with water were treated, since bacterial contamination can occur if any component is unprotected.

In Europe, the silver-compound treated water cooler components are marketed as Self-Sanitizing Technology (SST). They are designed to inhibit bacteria throughout the distance traveled by the water inside the cooler for a time period of one year. The SST technology maintains a hygienic surface even in coolers used only occasionally, where water remains in the reservoir for extended periods of time. When it is time to install new components, customers can easily remove and replace them without the assistance of a technician.

Benefits of choosing silver
There are economic as well as cleanliness advantages to using this technology in water coolers. The silver-based antimicrobial solution combats the growth of bacteria, thus inhibiting the formation of biofilm. (See Figure 1). This results in cleaner and better tasting water over the entire one-year period of use. By eliminating the need for quarterly cleanings, costs were significantly reduced: the added cost of the antimicrobial technology is a fraction of the cost of one single quarterly cleaning. It is estimated that the payback on an SST cooler is approximately three months.

Extensive laboratory and field tests conducted by the manufacturer on its silver-treated SST water coolers have been remarkably successful. In 2003, laboratory tests on a statistically significant sample of SST coolers over a 12-month period were conducted. The coolers were placed in settings replicating real-life usage patterns, dispensing water several times a day. The water samples were analyzed weekly. The results confirmed a significant decrease in bacteria in the SST coolers.

After 12 months of actual use, these coolers met the EBWA’s rigorous standard for freshly sanitized coolers even without a single cleaning. Swabs of coolers tested by an approved Italian laboratory were found to have less than 500 CFU/cm2, a level that receives a rating of ‘good’ on the EBWA water cooler bacteria count scale. In other words, the Self Sanitizing Technology used in Europe produced equivalent hygiene to a cooler that had been freshly cleaned with chemical sanitizers (See Figure 2).

The silver release level (into the drinking water) from the cooler was measured to be slightly above the detection limits using the most sensitive techniques—averaging in the single digit ppb range. The EPA recently revised the maximum level of silver from 50 ppb to 100 ppb in light of their finding of no non-cosmetic health effects related to silver.

Based on these proven results, the company has launched the SST technology in water coolers in North America. Customers can expect to benefit from improved hygiene, reduced need for chemical cleanings, cost savings, effective resistance to biofilm formation and, most importantly, water that tastes great.

About the author
Brian McBride leads AgION Technologies Inc.’s Water Applications team, which develops solutions to meet microbial challenges for a wide range of customers in the filtration, water and beverage dispensing, water storage and foodservice industries. Brian also acts as AgION’s liaison to leading organizations such as Water Quality Association (WQA), International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) and other related associations. Prior to joining AgION, Brian worked as a lab chemist within Rohm and Haas’ Water Treatment Group. He received a BS in Chemistry from Bates College and an MBA from Babson College.

About AgION Technologies
The silver-based antimicrobial manufacturer discussed herein was AgION Technologies Inc. Located in Wakefield, Mass., the company is a leader in providing engineered antimicrobial solutions based on ionic silver that continuously inhibit the growth of bacteria, mold and fungus on a broad range of industrial, consumer and medical products. For more information about AgION Technologies Inc, visit www.agion-tech.com or contact us at +1-781-224-7100.

About Cosmetal
The water cooler technology discussed above is the Avant product line from Cosmetal. For more than 30 years, Cosmetal has delivered products that address the varied needs of its global customers. Upon investigating self-cleaning cooler technology, the company settled on silver because of the their commitment to natural technologies. With success in the European markets, the Avant series with silver technology is now being offered in the United States. For more information about Cosmetal water coolers, visit http://www.cosmetal.it/en_prod_connect.htm


Southwest Water Conservation Using Mobile Technology

Thursday, December 15th, 2005

By Laura J. Drangmeister

New Mexico, ‘The Land of Enchantment,’ is home to spectacular desert scenery, brilliant sunsets and abundant wildlife. Unfortunately, there is not an abundance of the most valuable resource for the Southwest: water. Although new conservation technologies regularly arise, there are limited water savings. Low flow toilets, water-efficient appliances and lifestyle changes are helpful conservation tools, but these methods do not affect the primary source of excess water use in New Mexico: Irrigation.

Irrigation consumes a considerable amount of water in New Mexico. Inappropriate use and excessive run-off from irrigation only exacerbates the problem. Xeriscaping and irrigation conservation campaigns have had some impact, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg when addressing the severity of New Mexico’s water crisis.

“It’s frustrating to see neighbors watering during a rainstorm, gutters filled with runoff water and broken sprinkler heads unnecessarily flooding public parks,” said Contact Wireless owner Jon Word. “The solution is really quite simple: turn off irrigation systems when a watering cycle is unnecessary.” Traditional sprinkler systems, however, are set to operate on timers and are often difficult to control. If a rainstorm materializes while a homeowner is at work, it is impractical or impossible to make the trip home to interrupt a watering cycle on one’s sprinkler timer system.

The water industry needs new technology and effective products to ameliorate water waste problems. Cutting edge project testing and development is funded through New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson’s Water Innovation Fund. In November of 2004, Governor Richardson announced 25 projects that would be funded with a $10 million drought initiative; the Hydro Pro 1000 was one of those projects. Through innovation and state-of-the-art technology, it will play a major part in New Mexico’s water conservation goals, all with a technology that is probably in your pocket right now. After car keys and wallets, mobile phones are the next most-critical item that people must have before they leave their homes. Although the sounds of blaring ring tones are often a nuisance, mobile technologies are changing the way people approach everyday responsibilities, even conserving water.

The firm developed a remote access irrigation control system representative of several technologies that together can help solve New Mexico’s water woes. The unit is comprised of a simple paging receiver board and a logic board that, via numeric commands, controls any make or model of irrigation timer. With one phone call and the entry of a seven-digit code, the device provides a simple, quick method to turn off or delay one, 10, hundreds or even thousands of sprinkler systems when watering is unnecessary or ineffective, such as during rainstorms or windy conditions.

Paging has long been the foundation of simple, reliable and inexpensive communication. Digital messages can be sent over existing networks throughout the country and the wireless coverage is generally superior to competing technologies. The paging receiver board used in New Mexico is characteristic of a very basic numeric pager. The board consists of an antenna and a frequency-specific crystal that enables the board to selectively accept only data on its unique channel. In addition to the paging board, there is miscellaneous circuitry, which allows incoming information to be passed to the logic board. Dual-tone or multi-frequency tones can be sent from any telephone, even cellular phones, and converted to a digital Post Office Code Standardization Advisory Group signal at the paging switch. The digital signal is then sent via satellite to multiple terrestrial-based transmitters located near the device.

The logic board is designed to decode the incoming digital message and to determine if the message is designated for that particular device. Once identified, the circuit deciphers the numeric code and determines the command that will be activated on the logic board. The logic board is designed to interrupt the irrigation system’s common power lead on any make and model of irrigation timer unit. The activation of the unit closes the water valve by turning its power supply off. The unit has the ability to interrupt an irrigation timer from one second up to 99 days in increments of one second. A command to permanently turn the sprinkler timer off and then back on is also available.

The segregation and grouping options make the device easy to adapt to every irrigation control need. Each unit can participate in up to 32 separate groups and each group can have an unlimited number of units as members. Additional phone numbers can be used to make unlimited combinations of devices and groups.

The new device is available for prices ranging from $100 to $350 per unit, depending on the quantity produced in a single manufacturing run. It is inexpensive to operate, about $2 per month, but the implications for water waste reduction are considerable. It is designed to operate on a commercial 900 MHz wireless network. By using an established commercial one-way wireless network, the expense of operating the units is drastically reduced compared to the more expensive satellite systems available. The coverage and penetration of the firm’s networks throughout the country allows users to control their sprinklers remotely.

“This has the potential to have an enormous economic impact,” Word said. “The system will greatly affect the way New Mexico approaches water conservation for years to come.” New Mexico’s water crisis is not unique and even in areas where water is plentiful everyone could stand to exercise responsible water use. Implementing such systems around the country and abroad could change the way people think about the efficacy of mobile technologies and in doing so, conserve water resources for future generations.

About the author
Laura Drangmeister works with Contact Wireless marketing the Hydro Pro 1000. She can be reached at (505) 888-5877 or email: ldrangmeister@dwturner.com.

Contact Wireless was recently awarded the New Mexico Information Technology Excellence Solution Award for Integrated Systems for the development of the Hydro Pro 1000 by the New Mexico Information Technology and Software Association (NMITSA). To reach Contact Wireless directly call (505) 888-9999 or visit www.contactwireless.com.


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