Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine


Friday, July 22nd, 2005

Portola names new CEO
Portola Packaging has appointed Brain Bauerbach to the position of President and Chief Executive Officer. Bauerback served briefly as the company’s Chief Operating Officer and will oversee their global operations from San Jose, Calif. He has a B.S. in industrial technology from Ohio University and more than 18 years’ experience in the water and beverage bottling and packaging industries.

RW Beck hires East Coast Water Director
Edward Wetzel joins the management, consulting and engineering firm R.W. Beck Inc as the company’s East Coast Director of Water and Waste Resources in Nashville, Tenn. He will be responsible for overseeing and broadening the sale and delivery of management and consulting services to water and waste resources clients throughout the eastern United States. Prior to joining R.W. Beck, Wetzel worked at MWH Inc., a global environmental and engineering firm, where he led strategic planning processes and provided business development support for the firm’s global operations.

Severn Trent adds two in New Hampshire
Severn Trent Services announces the addition of Susan Pryputniewicz as engineering supervisor and Kim Emond as office manager for its Pipeline Services office in Manchester, N.H. The office provides sewer collection systems analysis and rehabilitation services throughout New England and the Mid-Atlantic states.

Ogle joins Metals & Arsenic Removal
Metals & Arsenic Removal Technology Inc., a portfolio company of HydroFlo Inc., has named Paul Ogle as Vice President and General Manager of the MARTI Consumer Products Division. Ogle, a former Business Development Manager in the International Trade Division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce, will be responsible for sales and distribution of all consumer merchandise for MARTI in the Americas and will manage all residential and personal-use products including pitcher and filter units, under-sink systems and faucets.

Luna sworn in at EPA
Luis A. Luna has been sworn in as the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Luna, the former head of the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Office of Community Development, will be responsible for the agency’s hiring and personnel policies affecting 18,000 federal employees nationwide; facilities management; a $1.2 billion procurement program and administration of the agency’s grants programs totaling $4 billion annually.

Whitney joins Koch
Alden Whitney has joined Koch Membrane Systems has the new Sales Director for Municipal Business. His new role will include responsibility for Koch’s municipal sales in North and South America, as well as the Asia Pacific region. Whitney will also participate in sales efforts for municipal products in Europe to assist the shared resources overseas in developing and executing global sales plans to increase the company’s business.

Lewis joins Dow subsidiary
Mike Lewis has been named North American Sales Manager for ANGUS Chemical Company
(a wholly owned subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Company) and Dow Biocides. Lewis assumes the sales manager responsibilities in addition to his current role as North American Distribution Manager.

Industry veteran joins PHSI
As part of its global expansion, PHSI Pure Water Technology has hired Robin Householder as Vice President of Sales. Robin, a 25-year veteran of the industry, will oversee U.S. and European sales of its POU water purification coolers. Householder is formerly the Director of Sales at OASIS Corporation as well as an accredited speaker for the International Water Quality Association and regional WQA associations.

Ask the Expert

Friday, July 22nd, 2005

Question: Are there any potential health affects from drinking deionized water? Are you aware of any technical resources that provide more information on this topic?

Russ Romme
Buckeye Field Supply
Cincinnati, Ohio

Answer: “I have seen arguments on both sides but nothing definitive,” says Dr. Joseph Cotruvo, a former director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Drinking Water Standards Division and Toxic Substances Risk Assessment Division.

“On the one hand, drinking deionized water foregoes the opportunity to benefit from extra intake of desirable nutrients like calcium and magnesium that could be beneficial and there have been many epidemiological reports on the benefits of drinking hard water, such as lower cardiovascular disease risk,” Cotruvo says.

However, the extent to which nutrient consumption in drinking water impacts the total daily consumption of such nutrients is still the subject of much study and debate.

As an active member of the World Health Organization WHO/NSF International Collaborating Center for Drinking Water Safety and Treatment, Cotruvo has been a key participant in this discussion.

WHO is preparing a Public Symposium and expert meeting that will deal with some of the issues associated with consumption of low and high-mineralized water, Cotruvo says. The symposium is tentatively scheduled for late April 2006 in Baltimore, Maryland.

For some additional information on the topic, see WHO Report: Nutrient Minerals in Drinking Water and the Potential Health Consequences of Consumption of Demineralized and Remineralized and Altered Mineral and the corresponding response from the Water Quality Association, which appeared in the March 2005 issue of Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine.

Global Spotlight

Friday, July 22nd, 2005

The handheld eXact meter from Industrial Test Systems Inc. has been named one of the Top 50 New Products for 2005 by Pool & Spa News Magazine and one of the Most Valuable New Products for 2005 by Aqua-tics International Magazine.💧

New Jersey American Water, the nation’s largest water utility, has received the Partnership for Safe Water Director’s Award from the U.S. EPA for drinking water quality that consistently surpasses required federal standards.💧

Unique chlorine dioxide release technology from Engelhard Corporation has been awarded its eighth registration by the U.S. EPA for fighting microbial contamination.💧

Wilron Pumps & Compressors has changed its name to WestRon Pumps, Compressors & Blowers. Ownership, sales and service locations remain unchanged.💧

Lanxess Deutschland GmbH has increased prices globally for its Lewatit® ion exchange resins by five percent due to high energy and raw material costs.💧

USFilter Corporation has received a U.S. patent for its General Filter Products’ CenTROL® filter flow splitting weir design. The company’s Zimpro Systems has also achieved ISO 9001:2000 registration.💧

The website of the American Water Works Association, www.awwa.org, has earned a Webby Award from the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences for design, creativity, usability and functionality.💧

Zenon Environmental Inc. has launched a new website, www.zenon.com, with expanded content covering the company’s products and services for membrane plants and pre-engineered systems of all sizes.💧

Suez Corporation released its first quarter financial statement detailing more than €10.3 billion in revenues, 6.1 percent organic growth and seven percent total growth.💧

An MSNBC report cites plastic water bottles and the skyrocketing retail bottled water business as the cause of a nationwide slump in recycling rates.💧

Amiad North America announced today the launch of its redesigned corporate website, www.amiad.com. The new site centralizes all Amiad Filtration System divisions under one domain and supports the company’s overall corporate identity and brand consolidation efforts.💧

CUNO sold for $1.35 billion
3M Company has acquired CUNO Inc. for about $1.35 billion in a move to capitalize on the company’s water and air purification technologies, Reuters reports. Known primarily as the manufacturer of Scotch Tape and Post-It Notes, 3M also has a $1.1 billion air purification business and hopes to use the acquisition as a way to introduce CUNO’s own water and air purification products into China and other areas where they have yet to establish a presence. 3M plans to fund the transaction with existing cash and additional details regarding the new structure of the company or potential layoffs were not disclosed.

Micro-fluidic division
Burkert Chromatic Inc. has expanded with its new Micro-fluidic Systems Division. Offering a comprehensive family of valves, sensors and pumps ranging in size from 10 mm to 35 mm, Micro-fluidic Systems primarily serves OEMs building precision instrumentation and devices for a variety of industries. Craig Occhiato, Micro-fluidic Systems Market Segment Manager, says, “Burkert actually has been in the micro-fluidic market for more than 15 years, pioneering market milestones that include flipper solenoid valves and the proprietary rocker incorporated in our Type 127 Miniature Rocker Solenoid Valve. As such, we fully understand the market’s requirements and can anticipate customer needs and trends.”

Silica may reduce Alzheimer’s risk
A French study is suggesting that a high concentration of silica in drinking water, “may help to protect against Alzheimer’s disease,” the Canadian Water Quality Association reports. The findings were gleaned from the Epidemiology of Osteoporosis Study performed on more than 71,000 women age 75 and older, in Toulouse, France, conducted by researchers at Hospital Casselardit. The relationship between silica and Alzheimers remains statistically significant despite a variety of factors outlined in the study including age, history of stroke, education level and income.

Advanced perchlorate removal
Carollo Engineers has received conditional acceptance from the California Department of Health Services for their fixed-bed biological treatment process for the production of drinking water from perchlorate-contaminated water. The first approval of its kind, the non-proprietary perchlorate treatment technology makes it possible to implement such a process in California. Unlike conventional technologies, the process does not produce a perchlorate-laden waste stream, has high process efficiency with water recoveries greater than 97 percent and simultaneously removes other contaminants such as nitrate, organic matter and taste and odor compounds.

Online industrial marketplace
Worldwide Industrial Marketplace, an online directory and industrial portal, has aligned itself with two websites, www.industrialleaders.com and www. foreigntradeexchange.com, to enable industrial buyers to find distributors and manufactures in more than 50 countries worldwide. The network features a custom search engine, articles and reports covering the industrial marketplace, a business forum and a unique Trade Board that allows users to explore and post offers and demands for a variety of industrial products and services.

Cartridge filters market explodes
McIlvaine Company has published a new report, Cartridge Filters: World Markets, projecting a $4 billion worldwide market for residential water purification cartridges by 2008. The study concludes that at that time, the sector will comprise about 30 percent of the cartridge market, which is projected to reach about $13.2 billion in sales in the next three years. Among the biggest growth in the sector is the continued projected success of POU cartridges, which will likely account for more than 75 percent of the residential market. The full report is available at www.mcilvainecompany.com

MARTI to distribute internationally
Metals & Arsenic Removal Technology Inc. (MARTI), a portfolio company of HydroFlo Inc., has signed a distribution agreement with EYI Industries Inc., an international distributor of dietary supplements and nutrional products. Under the agreement, EYI will distribute MARTI FATS® units, water pitcher and filter units. The agreement explains that each unit will be packaged and sold as an EYI product with the market label “With MARTI Inside.”

United States

No passport needed for WQA Mid-Year
The Water Quality Association reminds members that a current passport is not a requirement for Americans attending its Mid-Year Leadership Conference in Quebec from Sept. 13 to 16. While U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to carry the document to avoid any problems when returning to America, homeland security restrictions on intercontinental travel do not go into effect until Dec. 31, 2006. For additional information on travel restrictions and regulations to Canada from the United States, visit http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/get_840.html

60 years of fluoridation
The city of Grand Rapids, Mich., celebrated the 60th anniversary of community water fluoridation in May with a special ceremony at the site of the city’s downtown Water Fluoridation Monument. Grand Rapids was the first city in the country to fluoridate its public water supply in 1945. “Its pretty remarkable to think that the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay all started right here in Grand Rapids,” said Steve Dater, a dentist in the area and the treasurer of the Michigan Dental Association.

New division at Nelsen
Nelsen Corporation announces its new division, Nelsen Filtration Solutions, which will emphasize Nelsen’s point of use product lines. “This new division is geared to offer our customers even greater service by expanding their selection, savings and convenience,” said President David Nelsen. “We want our customers to continue to receive the same great experience from these POU products as they have for the last 50 years with products from Nelsen,” he concluded. The new Nelsen Filtration Solutions has expanded their product offering to include many specialty filtration products from Pentek, KX Industries, GE Osmonics and many more. Nelsen Filtration Solutions will serve customers from both of Nelsen’s locations in Ohio and Arizona.

Lead found in courthouse water
Unsafe levels of lead and copper have been found in about two dozen water fountains at the Theodore Levin United States Courthouse in Detroit, Mich. As a result, federal officials have shut off more than half of the fountains at the federal courthouse and have told judges to stop drinking water from their office sinks or using the water to make coffee. Testing in one jury room’s sink found lead levels five times the maximum amount allowed by the U.S. EPA, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Water Smart Homes in LV
The Southern Nevada Water Authority and the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association unveiled the first Water Smart Home, certified to save as much as 75,000 gallons of water per year. Built by KB Home Nevada, the house is the first to be certified by the new home and neighborhood program that state officials say is critical to preserving water resources in Las Vegas and beyond. KB Home, the largest builder in the Las Vegas area, expects to build 2,500 Water Smart Homes this year.

U.S. EPA water quality funds
Every state will get additional water quality monitoring funds as a result of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency decision to target a $9.92 million increase in fiscal year 2005. The U.S. EPA awards funds to assist states and interstate agencies in establishing and implementing water pollution control programs. The funds are awarded annually under Section 106 of the Clean Water Act. A total of $208.3 million for the grant program was appropriated this year for activities to provide the data necessary to support cost-effective water quality management decisions and to generate a national assessment of water quality conditions.

Connecticut adopts water bottle recycling
The Connecticut State Senate has voted to include plastic water bottles among the containers eligible for a five-cent recycling deposit, local news station NBC 30 reports. The Connecticut Food Association opposes the bill, which they say would impose new costs and regulatory obligations for the state’s food retailers, while only addressing about one percent of the state’s litter problem. About 244 million plastic water bottles were sold in the state in 2002 and the association estimates the bill would cost about $16 million annually.

Koch to supply NY treatment plant and U.S. Navy
Koch Membrane Systems has been selected to provide ultrafiltration equipment under a contract with BMJ Construction Company Inc., to upgrade the Mount Ebo Wastewater Treatment Plant in Putnam County. The 160,000-gpd system features two membrane filtration package plant systems, each equipped with KMS low-pressure, hollow-fiber membrane cartridges.
In other news, the U.S. Navy has selected Koch to provide tactical water purification systems for reconstruction, humanitarian aid and disaster relief projects where feed water has nuclear, biological or chemical contamination.

Activists challenge Suez/United Water
Consumer advocates and environmentalists protested in front of United Water’s New Jersey facility in defense of people’s right to water and access to water services. The event coincided with Suez’s annual shareholders meeting (the parent company of United Water). “Private water corporations do not exist to provide safe and affordable water to you and your family,” says Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen’s Water for All Campaign, which organized the protest. Suez is one of the world’s largest private suppliers of water and sanitation services.

Carlsbad desal project
The City of Carlsbad, Calif., has released the Environmental Impact Report for the Carlsbad Desalination Plant and the public review and comment period is now open. Since 1998, the city has been working in conjunction with Poseidon Resources Corporation to develop a 50-million gpd desalination plant to provide drinking water to about 300,000 residents annually.


Quebec water crisis
Thousands of residents and seven municipalities in Quebec are without drinking water after a myriad of problems with the local supply, the Canadian Water Quality Association reports. Although aging water pipes have been replaced, many residents have been warned not to drink the water. As a result, affected municipalities have supplied drinking water with tanker trucks and many local stores have increased their stock of bottled water.


Bottled water stockpiling in the U.K.
The British Soft Drinks Association and several large bottled water companies in that country are working with local municipalities to develop a plan to stockpile bottled water in the event that a summer drought threatens hospitals and households. While reservoir levels throughout the U.K. are currently at acceptable levels, government officials fear that supplies could be exacerbated in the hot summer months. As a result, they see a need for making sure that emergency supplies at critical locations, like hospitals, schools and community centers, are available throughout the summer, the BSDA says.
Forty percent of Russian tap water lost in transit

Russia’s Federal Agency for Water Resources is reporting that up to 40 percent of the nation’s tap water is lost during distribution. By comparison, Germany loses only five to seven percent of its tap water. According to Mosnews.com, water systems’ failures in the nation are at a critical level with about 70 percent in need of replacement. The risks are not only associated with water loss, but also increased threat of contamination. The number of water-related acute intestinal infections has risen steadily since 2003.


Membrana supplies Chinese plant
Membrana-Charlotte announced that Liqui-Cel Membrane Contractors has been chosen to de-aerate ultrapure water at a major semiconductor lab in China. The contractors will be used to remove dissolved oxygen to less than one part per billion and are scheduled to be online by the third quarter of 2005.


OZWATER successes
The OZWATER series of conferences held in partnership with the Australian Water Association have drawn thousands of manufacturers, distributors and dealers from across the country. More than 100 delegates met in Townsville to discuss catchment management and discharges into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Basin while preliminary figures from the Brisbane OZWATER Conference detail more than 745 delegates from the association, about 200 exhibitors and thousands of visitors.

Water commission meets again
The second meeting of the National Water Commission was held at Mount Loft, South Australia in May, the first of a series of conferences scheduled throughout the country to discuss water reforms at the national and local level. The dates and locations of future meetings can be obtained by emailing commissioner Kim Ulrick at kim.ulrick@nwc.gov.au

The season heats up

Friday, July 22nd, 2005

By Karen R. Smith

Summer has begun across the northern hemisphere and there have already been some blazing temperatures in the western United States. Water will once again take center stage in the news, as higher temperatures increase consumption in drought-struck regions. Wherever you are, please help local government conservation efforts during the dry days ahead. For example, find out about sponsoring hydrant sprinkler caps and reap marketing benefits while helping your community.

Or, consider lending your expertise and support to those attempting to make potable water available to people without it. The Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design birthed the Base of the Pyramid (BoP) project, which aims to create new products and services that improve daily life and generate sustainable economic growth in the developing world’s impoverished cities.

Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) is providing a $25,000 grant to support the BoP efforts to design simple, cost-effective ways to transport and distribute drinking water in the slums of Mumbai, India. One concept already under development is “MobileH2O,” a door-to-door water delivery service facilitated by wireless technology. Service vendors on mopeds or other locally suitable transportation would deliver clean water directly to the homes of slum residents, who would pay electronically with smart-cards issued by a banking partner. Currently residents must wait for hours in queues and sometimes travel long distances for access to water.

ResinTech’s Dick Chmielewski is providing a priceless resource to the U.S. Peace Corps—himself! He has taken leave of the company to serve two years with the Corps. Many others in our industry give their vacations over to volunteer work both in America and abroad. Tell us your experiences and we will be able to keep all our readers abreast of how you’re helping and where.

On the legislative front, challenges to the industry continue. If the shelves at the supermarket are any indicator, today’s villains are sugar and salt. All the new product labels shout that they are free of one or the other as if it were a badge of honor. These are the same items that last year were low-carb or no-carb…and the year before were ‘lite’ or low-cal. Progress? Fad is more likely. Yet one we need to stay on top of as it makes us a target for over-zealous legislation.

In the U.K., the British Water Quality Group’s website is chock-full of facts and illustrations on the benefits of water softening via ion exchange, designed to educate consumers and put the current anti-sodium craze into scientific perspective. Such education is our best outreach tool. Do visit http://www.britishwater.co.uk for ideas on your own efforts.

We’re very pleased to be bringing you a roundup of AirWater manufacturers. Are these the right new product for your dealership? Read on and decide for yourself!

Now is the time to make your reservations to attend the upcoming regional WQA conferences: Texans will gather this month at The Woodlands resort beginning on July 20th; Kansans on August 11th in Medicine Lodge and before you know it, it will be WQA Mid-Year Leadership Conference in Quebec.

Most importantly, please be aware that to serve you better, we’ve made a significant change in our editorial calendar. September will now be our bottled water issue so that we can distribute copies of the magazine at the huge IBWA show. Our International Issue will therefore move to October as a result. We make every effort to provide value-added opportunities to our advertisers—and the opportunity for education and expansion for our readers as well.

If you normally attend the IBWA show in October, make sure you change your calendars to the new dates: September 27-30. See you in Orlando!

Lead Contamination of Drinking Water

Friday, July 22nd, 2005

By Kelly A. Reynolds, MSPH, Ph.D.

Lead contamination of drinking water is one of the most common violations reported to the Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS). Listed and regulated as a priority pollutant by the U.S. EPA, approximately 51 percent of U.S. cities still utilize lead or lead-lined pipes in their drinking water distribution systems. Although amendments to the 1986 Safe Drinking Water Act (SWDA) called for the use of lead-free pipe, solder and flux in new installations or repairs of public water systems and interior plumbing, little has been done to address the existing lead plumbing. Drinking water reportedly accounts for 20 percent of all lead exposure in the United States, but simple procedures can greatly minimize harmful lead exposures.

Lead sources
Sources of lead in the environment are diverse (Table 1) but the primary exposure route is via ingestion or inhalation of dust or paint chips. Atmospheric pollutants from the combustion of leaded gasoline (dramatically reduced now), ore smelting and the burning of fossil fuels are sources of lead in surface water. In groundwater, lead may be picked up from the natural erosion of deposits in soil and rock minerals. In drinking water, the greatest source of lead contamination is corrosion of home plumbing materials. Even brass, bronze and chrome-plated fixtures have a percentage of lead in their composition. In fact, lead-free is defined in the SDWA as solder and flux not containing more than 0.2 percent lead and pipes, pipe fittings and well pumps may not contain more than eight percent lead.

Lead is most often a problem in houses that are very old or very new. Plumbing installed before 1930 was generally constructed of lead. More lead is leached into the water of newer homes due to a lack of scale, beneficial for coating lead solder and preventing leaching. Corrosion, stagnation, temperature and other environmental conditions affect the amount of lead leached into tap water.

Potential health effects
Evidence of lead poisoning has been traced back more than 2,000 years to the Roman Empire. Since the U.S. wartime industrial revolution of the 1940s, a variety of adverse effects have been associated with lead exposures (Table 2).

Children, infants and fetuses are the most severely affected populations since they adsorb lead more rapidly than adults because they are still growing and developing. Generally, about 10 percent of the lead consumed is absorbed. Absorbed lead enters the blood and is distributed to soft tissues and bone, where it can accumulate over time. The half-life (time required for 50 percent to be removed) of lead in blood, soft tissue and bone have been estimated to be two to four weeks, four weeks and 27.5 years respectively.

Vulnerable populations
The amount of lead leached from plumbing materials into the drinking water depends on a number of factors including the pH and softness of the water. Highly corrosive waters have a pH below 8.0, are soft (with less than 60 ppm calcium carbonate), are high in dissolved oxygen and are low in dissolved solids and alkalinity (less than 30 ppm) (U.S. EPA, 1988). Concentrations are highest in the morning since the water sits all night, leaching lead from pipes. Lead levels exceeding the action level have been reported in some of the nation’s largest cities: Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, New York, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Many schools, daycare centers and medical facilities have their own water supplies. These populations often represent those most at risk due to the immuno-compromised nature of the very young and the chronically ill. Historically, the most common violation of EPA health standards at schools, hospitals and daycare centers, were for lead. During the period of 1993-1995, the problem of lead contamination was undeniable and since then, many water utilities have begun to take measures to minimize the problem such as adding calcium carbonate to harden the water and prevent lead leaching from distribution pipes. Only through continued monitoring can we be assured that the violations of lead levels in water are being reduced.

Monitoring and protection
Lead imparts no taste, odor or color and thus is only detected by qualified personnel and specific laboratory analyses. If the plumbing in your home is made of lead or is less than five years old, or if the water is highly corrosive (evidenced by rust-colored water) lead may be a concern.

No level of lead is considered healthy to ingest, therefore EPA has set zero as the goal of lead exposure in drinking water, but the enforceable action level is 15 ppb. Lead levels in water are monitored at the tap in homes deemed worst case scenarios and controlled by a treatment technique requiring utilities to regulate the corrosiveness of their water. Ninety percent of homes must test below the action level to avoid further water treatment. In 1991 the EPA published the LCR (Lead and Copper Rule), aimed at controlling lead by reducing corrosiveness of water. The Rule is still being modified (U.S. EPA, 2005).

Although recent EPA surveys did not find widespread lead contamination, >15 ppb, throughout the U.S., popular press continues to question data validity. According to a Washington Post article, “Utilities manipulate or withhold test results to ward off regulators.” High lead levels detected in Washington D.C. water supplies and the charge of “creative reporting” by other cities adds fuel to the fire. The only way to know for sure if your water has lead is to have it tested by a state- or EPA-certified laboratory.

Consumers can minimize exposures to waterborne lead by:

  1.  Running water from faucets that have been unused for six or more hours until it is as cold as it will get (5-30 sec).
  2. Never using hot water from the tap for consumption or cooking.
  3. Minimizing corrosion with calcite filters or other treatment devices.
  4. sing carbon, ion exchange or other point of use (POU) treatment technologies certified for effective lead reduction (lists available from NSF or the Water Quality Association).

Not all of these suggestions are effective; for example, persons living in apartments and high-rise buildings may not be able to flush lead from pipes. With all of the unknowns associated with diverse water supplies and variable contamination sources, POU filtration is recommended as a reliable safeguard against designated contaminants in water. Routine maintenance is vital, however, to ensure a quality product over continued use.


  1. U.S. EPA. 2005. Drinking water lead reduction plan. EPA 810-F-05-001.
  2. U.S. EPA. Drinking water regulations; maximum contaminant level goals and national primary drinking water regulations for lead and copper; proposed rule. 53 Federal Register. August 18, 1988. p. 315-21.
  3. Leonnig, C. et al., Lead levels in water misrepresented across U.S. The Washington Post. October 5, 2004.
  4. EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline: 1-800-426-4791
  5. National Lead Information Center: 1-800-424-LEAD

About the author
Dr. Kelly A. Reynolds is a research scientist at the University of Arizona with a focus on development of rapid methods for detecting human pathogenic viruses in drinking water. She holds a master of science degree in public health (MSPH) from the University of South Florida and doctorate in microbiology from the University of Arizona. Reynolds has been a member of the WC&P technical review committee since 1997. She can be reached via email, reynolds@u.arizona.edu

Navigating Local Govenrnment—Why You Need the New WQA Handbook

Friday, July 22nd, 2005

By Robert W. Boerner

he Texas Water Quality Association (TWQA) was caught flat-footed in the fall of 2001. That’s when we found out about an already-enacted Rule at the state’s environmental agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Softeners and reverse osmosis systems were both banned from draining into septic and aerobic waste water treatment systems!

There we were, with no knowledge of why or how this had happened. Not knowing what to do, or how to do it, all we knew was that we had to act. Numerous meetings were set up to find out the reason for the ban and it became clear rather rapidly that the agency had no hard scientific basis for enacting it in the first place.

Despite that, TCEQ was unwilling to work with us to change the legislation to a more reasonable format, even when confronted with sound science refuting their (unfounded) claims of common catastrophic failures of waste treatment systems due to water softener discharges. We appeared to be at an impasse.

As a last resort, TWQA approached a state senator and explained the situation. He was sympathetic to our organization’s cause. Not just because we do business in Texas and contribute statewide to the health of our towns and cities as employers, taxpayers and residents. It was obvious to the senator and to us that the TCEQ rule was capricious; that in fact real science would back up TWQA claims of softeners being only benign contributors to the septic system’s waste stream.

Language was drafted that specified using the industry’s most efficient softeners on septic installations, the now common, but not always used, Demand Initiated Regeneration (DIR) units. This ensured that waste water and regener-ants from softeners are kept to an absolute minimum and thereby proactively addressed some of the agency’s concerns.

The process—in fact, the entire experience!—was an eye-opener for me and for other Texas WQA members as well. We learned firsthand, without a road map, how to work with government and promote our interests, explain our technology and defend our livelihood.
Sure enough, we had an opportunity to draw on that hard-won expertise last year, when New Mexico was considering a ban on softeners discharging into waste water systems. Learning about it ahead of time, we contacted the WQA and began attending the hearings, intent on presenting the real science and showing softeners as benign. (In that instance, we were instrumental in showing that the state’s notice process had failed to meet the legal requirements.)

Another incident occurred in Montana where member Don Dammel, with the help of other water dealers in the state and an expert hydrologist, Marc Spratt, were able to convince governmental authorities there to act reasonably in their proposed regulations. Once again, incorporating the DIR requirement for softeners was a key factor in getting buy-in for an amended and less strict set of regulations; but a key part of the process involved dealing effectively with local health and environmental authorities as well.

Nationally other regions have faced, or are currently facing similar legislation and while I had garnered regional experience in Texas, WQA Public Affairs Director Carlyn Meyer was in a position to see the whole picture. We realized that by putting our newfound knowledge into a handbook for association members, they would be better able to deal with government should the need arise.

We included information from many states by incorporating Joe Harrison’s extensive experience as a provider of expert testimony on the part of the water treatment industry in his role as WQA’s Scientific Liaison and incorporated the advice of Kelley Thompson, legislative watchdog for the association, who also helped us put the material into a publishable form.

The essential premise of the advice is that dealers probably have more potential influence over the political process than they think they do. Contact with local legislators is recommended before a problem occurs (trust me, it’s easier that way!) and advice is given on the best ways to monitor the state’s legislative and rule-making actions.

WQA believes that an informed membership will be better able to intercept and rescind rules that come out of specific dealers’ regional territories. I encourage everyone in the industry to obtain a copy of Navigating State & Local Government—A WQA Membership Smart Guide to effectively deal with the increasing number of legislative threats to the water conditioning industry. Many times these threats arise on the local or state level and don’t readily show up on the larger radar screens maintained by the WQA—it is locally that they are most effectively dealt with.

About the author
Robert W. “Bob” Boerner, a Culligan dealer in San Antonio, Texas, serves on WQA’s Board of Directors and Legislative committee and is the Texas WQA’s Legislative Chair. He can be reached at Culligan Water Conditioning of San Antonio, 1034 Austin Street, San Antonio TX 78208; telephone (210) 226-5344 or email BetoBrnr@aol.com. To get your copy of Navigating State & Local Government—A WQA Membership Smart Guide, contact the WQA or your regional chapter today!

The Last Untapped Water Source

Friday, July 15th, 2005

By Darryl Clayman

Every day, 280 cubic miles of water evaporates (or transpires) into the atmosphere. That’s a tremendous and virtually untapped resource. Capturing that transpired vapor and returning it to water is what AirWater machines do, without taking away or wasting any of our current fresh water supplies and without adding to the environmental problems of the manufacture, use or abuse of plastic bottles.
Water can be delivered and enjoyed where there is none, with the only requirement being a source of power.
The public demand for these new AirWater systems enables water dealerships to profitably add diversity to their current business. Given the tremendous growth and potential in this new industry already, the financial rewards appear certain.

The origins of AirWater
Researcher Roland Wahlgren, when interviewed by the Ottawa Citizen Newspaper, said, “People have indeed thought about pulling water from the air; hundreds of years ago. The large-scale collection of dew, nature’s own method of recouping water vapor, has long been ascribed to ancient Hebrews and Greeks, who are thought to have arranged stones to collect moisture from condensation as night temperatures fell.”
Feodor Zibold, a Russian engineer, thought that the ancient landmark stone piles around the modern city of Feodesia in Ukraine were the ruins of an enormous dew condenser. He saw them as part of a huge system of collectors that supplied that city’s ancient predecessor, Theodosia, with its water supply.

Technology background
More than 50 years ago, a few forward thinkers knew the value of fresh water for life and pursued it to invention and U.S. patents. First was a man who made his home in Los Angeles, California. That inventor, Bernard Granville, filed his patent on July 20, 1943, the first of its kind for AirWater technologies. Granville was granted patent #2409624 on October 22, 1946 for his technology, known at the time as an Apparatus For Extracting Water From Atmospheric Air.

The next invention of major significance to the AirWater quest was the brainchild of Francis X. Wright of Shaker Heights, Ohio. He was granted patent #3035418 for the Self Contained Water-Supply and Cooling Unit on May 22, 1962. This unit accomplished the cooling and filtration of water vapor and looks very much like the technology today.

Little was done with AirWater over the next few decades and it is only recently that interest in AirWater as a viable alternative water source has been revived. The very sad reality is that many are dying for the lack of potable water, but the advent of AirWater technology and its growing visibility in the United States and abroad, is making that more and more preventable.

Two Canadians began exploring AirWater applications in 1996. Inventor Keith White and his partner Ray Anderson, evolved it to an entire other level after five years of R&D. They then began mass-producing an AirWater unit that today is in its fifth generation. There’s even a tabletop model.

A very common question we receive is: With scientists aware of the availability of water in the air, why has it taken them so long to invent an efficient way of collecting that water from our atmosphere? Most of the world’s leaders in water resources have focused on ground and surface water. However, this preoccupation can (and has) led to political conflict, even war, as countries vie for control of rivers and lakes as their water tables plummet.

How it works
All AirWater machines that I am familiar with pull water from the air via condensation. We do, indeed, have water vapor (moisture) in the air and the intake of that air into the AirWater machines is the first step toward producing clean drinking water. The air passes through a filter, (various methods and/or brands) removing airborne particles such as dust, pollen and dirt. This newly filtered air, which still contains particles of moisture, travels to the condensation system where it is chilled to capture the water.
After capturing water by chilling the air, the temperature is slowly raised releasing this captured moisture and creating water flow, thus allowing this highly oxygenated water to begin a filtration process.
The remaining process varies from company to company, depending on their particular concerns and designs. All seem to use some form of water filtration; most use UV light for the sterilization of waterborne bacteria.

A few common denominators, in my opinion, should be addressed by all AirWater machines, as follows:

  • Certification for machines and water absolutely needs to be established and obtained.
  • One of the certifications should show ETL or UL approval
  • The condensing coils themselves should be coated with an FDA-approved substance that does not promote any form of bacterial growth or metal leaching, such as aluminum.
  • Water filtration should, at least, contain a sediment filter, carbon filter and a means to kill bacteria..
  • Regular maintenance of filtration systems (air and water) must be mandatory.

As this technology continues, new ways will be found to improve on what is now possible as we retrieve valuable healthy drinking water from the air. Do your own personal due diligence in keeping up with or at least checking out lab results of the product you put your water trust in.

Opportunities and drawbacks
The biggest limitation in current AirWater technology is the decreased production rates over conventional POU systems in certain climate conditions. While several of the machines on the market boast a daily production of 10 gallons, they are all subject to a dramatic cut-off in production rate as humidity and ambient temperature decrease. Each of the companies that appeared at WQA Aquatech 2005 and profiled on these pages provides detailed water production statistics on their respective websites. As will be discussed below, the greatest opportunity for POU/POE dealers today, is to incorporate the AirWater machines into their product offerings, rather than substituting them, to give you customers more choices when they make the decision to switch to safer drinking water.

While the technology has become more and more efficient since its inception, reducing the size of the systems and increasing their production rates, many AirWater manufacturers today have employed alternative water production features in their designs.

One new approach is a hybrid, the best of both water worlds … AirWater and tap water in a single unit. This is a concept that several AirWater companies are using. Environmentally friendly to the moisture in the air, with a tap water backup for when the humidity and temperature aren’t conducive for generating the quantity of water necessary. Interesting concept, it makes almost any given area one with the ability to use this new technology.

Moving into the future
Today we have no base line for AirWater, not even an approved definition of the recently-coined word itself, but in the not so distant time to come, AirWater will be an approved word and an everyday accepted appliance in our lives. We have no more water in our world today than yesterday, but we do have more demands than ever on it. We must have fresh water, without it, life itself cannot exist.

In the 2004 Annual Water Quality Association Convention there was only one AirWater Company, Planets Purest Water. At the time, the company’s CEO Robin Larson, predicted that AirWater machines would be the next major household appliance. At this year’s WQA Aquatech 2005 in Las Vegas, Nevada, four AirWater companies showcased their own water generators. I believe the addition of more and more AirWater pioneers is a trend not likely to subside. With the incredible need for fresh clean drinking water on the rise and given the income such products can bring to established dealers, it should be a welcomed addition to the water industry.

For POU/POE dealers, this new niche in the marketplace provides a unique opportunity to expand up their current product offerings and sell to host of new customers who may be hesitant about conventional bottled water and other drinking water systems. AirWater machines give the average dealer a way to solicit customers that may have concerns about lifting their own five-gallon water bottles, a lack of space for water bottle storage, concerns about wasted water in conventional reverse osmosis systems, the costs associated with treatment at the tap and a host of other concerns.

Moreover, as AirWater continues to gain acceptance as a viable solution to the solving critical water shortages in the Third World and other places where the climate is conducive to large-scale production but access to potable water is currently limited, the environmentally conscious here in the United States will see residential AirWater machines as a “greener” alternative.

For these and many other reasons, the time has come for the water treatment industry as a whole to take a good look at AirWater technology and begin incorporating it into their lineup of conventional bottled water coolers, under-sink RO systems and POU coolers.

About the author
Darryl D. Clayman, a long time newspaper executive is now media and advertising director for Planet’s Purest Water, a Southern California-based company whom has been leading the AirWater industry since 1996. He can be reached via email at darryl@airtowatercompany.com.

AirWater technology gives POU/POE dealers a unique opportunity to expand their current product line and make more sales by solving many of the common concerns customers have about drinking water.

  • Not enough space to store 5-gallon bottles? AirWater machines use no more space than a conventional POU cooler.
  • Heavy lifting? No bottles are required, eliminating a customer’s risk of injury and reducing the costs associated with fleet management.
  • Plumbing concerns? No plumbing is needed with an AirWater machine.
  • Environmental concerns? AirWater doesn’t use water from the tap, which lowers water bills.
  • Other benefits? AirWater machines purify the air as they condense the water. They also lower the ambient humidity at the machine location, a positive selling point in regions where folks rely on dehumidifiers for climate comfort.

Why Can’t I Buy Insurance From A Standard Carrier?

Friday, July 15th, 2005

By John Brennan Larkin

I have been getting a great deal of mail from people who can’t understand why the standard insurance market (St. Paul, Travelers, Hartford, AIG, etc.) does not want their business. The majority of the time, the answer is the insured’s loss history or high risk business. This can apply to those water softening, water filtration and bottled water enterprises with a poor loss record. Inadequate safety measures, using poor quality products, lack of driving checks prior to hiring or installers who are cheap but do not know what they are doing… when these incur losses and those losses add up, the standard market carriers are likely to decline your business.

Excess and surplus lines carriers
When the standard markets say no, the excess and surplus lines markets are an option. Excess and surplus lines markets exist to ensure that coverage is available when insurance companies in the standard market reject an applicant as too risky. The majority of the people reading this article today are likely to be utilizing (or will soon be) the E&S marketplace.

People tell me all the time that they cannot believe their insurance company cancelled them. “I’ve been with that company for 10 years! So what if I have losses? They’re in the insurance business!” Then I look at the premium the account generated over that 10-year period versus the frequency and severity of the losses. Invariably, I find myself saying, “I can’t believe they kept you all these years”!

How it works
Why would the E&S marketplace take on the risk of covering your business when the standard insurers decline to do so? Think of it this way. How do sports betting companies pick a line on a game (i.e. this team should win by this much, lose by this much or will have this amount of points)? They do it by statistics. They look at the history of the team, how they have been doing lately and any injuries that may affect the outcome.

One team may have a tremendous advantage over another, so much so that there would not be bettors on both sides of that game. To get folks to bet on both teams and not just the one with the better performance history, the sports betting people change the odds by adding or removing points from a particular team to even out the competition. Likewise, if an E&S carrier adds more premium and a larger deductible to your policy, then it may make sense write your business.

An insurance company will look at your history (and that of your industry), assess how you have performed in the short and long term, investigate any new issues affecting your industry and then determine if you are a good risk to insure. Viewed through the eyes of a standard carrier, they may not be able to charge enough premium and large enough deductible to make a profit on your business. Standard carriers are admitted in one or more states and their rates are subject to regulation. This is not true for the E & S carriers. When they don’t want your business, the Excess and Surplus Lines market or your state’s insurance department may be the only game in town.

Be careful difference of deductible vs. self insured retentions (SIR). In laymen’s terms, deductibles require you, the insured, to pay a portion of every claim. If you had a $5,000 deductible for a certain loss, the insurance company would handle the claim and pay the injured party damages minus your deductible. You would pay the difference to the injured party.

An SIR requires you to be responsible for the first dollar of every claim (including defense) and also requires you to work (and pay for) third party administrator fees to handle the claim up until a certain dollar threshold (usually $10,000 and up). This requires more time and care than with a deductible program.

Regulations, procedures and taxes
A large portion of E&S insurance companies are termed ‘non-admitted’ in the states they do business in. Is that important? Yes it is. State insurance regulators have considerably more control over admitted insurers than over carriers writing business through the E & S market. To exercise some control over non-admitted insurers and to protect their states’ citizens from fraud and other potential dangers in working with these less-regulated carriers, many state insurance departments have established a number of requirements that must be met in order to place coverage with a non-admitted insurer:

  • The broker (and in some case the insured) must certify by notarized affidavit that the risk has been submitted to and refused by several – often three – admitted insurers.
  • The selected non-admitted insurer may need to be an approved carrier for surplus lines in the state whose law governs the contract.
  • All states impose a tax on surplus lines polices (generally between two and five percent of premium) and many states charge additional stamping or service fees. (In some states, surplus lines premiums are also subject to a municipal tax.) These taxes and fees are part of the cost of coverage placed in the E & S market and will be itemized separately on your invoice for each coverage placed with a non-admitted insurer.

Check out the carrier
One significant risk of doing business with an excess and surplus lines carrier is the potential for the carrier to go bankrupt. If your carrier is non-admitted, it is important to check the financial rating of that company with A.M. Best or another similar rating company to ensure that financial stability. Unlike utilizing an admitted carrier in your state, should the non-admitted carrier fail, your state insurance fund is not obligated to pay your property, general liability, auto or worker’s compensation claim. YOU WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYMENT OF SUCH CLAIMS. Didn’t know that, did you? Take the time to check the carrier you do business with!

With that caveat, please do not be scared of using the E&S market. I place many of my clients with them all the time. The key is to be aware that not every carrier is created equally. Take the time to know what you are dealing with. Remember, most standard and E&S policies of the water treatment and purification industry are written on an occurrence basis. That means that whoever your carrier was at the time of the incident is the one who pays the claim. You may get a claim in today that occurred two years ago. Look at the strength of the carrier you want to use today. If they are in financial trouble now, will they be in business two years from now?

The majority of those in the E&S market today take a greater interest in their loss history, hiring practices and products they use prior to getting into trouble. I find that an insured usually has to stay a year or two in the E&S market after years of larger-than-normal incurred losses. The key is to limit your losses through risk management and to take the time to recognize your organizations weaknesses and then to fix them.

About the author
John Brennan Larkin has been in the insurance industry for over 11 years and is one of the largest insurance brokers for the bottled water, water softening and water filtration industries in the United States today. He has insured new start-up water companies and large national franchisors. For more information on risk management or the Excess and Surplus lines market, you may call John Brennan Larkin toll free at (877) 987-7873.

After the acquisition

Friday, July 15th, 2005

By Nate F. Searing

The following is a conversation with Jeffrey Connelly, Vice President & General Manager at GE Infrastructure, Water & Process Technologies. Connelly spoke to WC&P en route to General Electric’s newest piece of real estate, the former headquarters of Ionics Inc. in Watertown, Mass.

GE Water and Process
Technologies, Ionics

65 Grove Street
Watertown, Massachusetts 02472 USA
Phone: (617) 926-2500
Fax: (617) 926-4304
Web: www.gewater.com
Employees: ~7,000 (total for GE Water)

Quote: I think the ultimate goal is coexistence of all our drinking water technology: to have technology remain available direct to the consumer through the ‘big box’ stores; residential and commercial systems selling to a different segment of that market; municipalities and industries seeking out our desalination technology—with all these segments reinforcing one another to bring new technologies to market faster and more efficiently.
—Jeff Connelly

“Every few years, we take a fresh look, evaluating every aspect of the water industry,” says Connelly. “We determine how we want to grow and how best to get there.”

That’s precisely what happened last November when GE Infrastructure, Water & Process Technologies initiated its acquisition of Ionics, Inc.

Jeff Connelly, a seventeen-year GE veteran and the new Vice President & General Manager for GE Infrastructure, Water & Process Technologies, has nearly two decades of experience across a variety of industries. In 2001, Connelly moved from overseeing operations in power generation to industrial water.

“I spent the first 13 years in our energy sector, involved in power systems and power generation. Through analyzing the needs of the boilers and cooling towers, I was first introduced to the water industry,” Connelly says

In 2003, following the acquisitions of BetzDearborn and Osmonics, Connelly moved to lead the Osmonics segment of GE’s new water business, largely focused on mechanical separations technologies. Over the last few years, GE’s presence in the POE/POU home water treatment industry has grown, exposing Connelly to a variety of new and advanced technologies. The recent addition of Ionics to this division of GE Water has added further to this global presence.

“We’re learning a great deal about the global desalination market, about drinking water treatment on the very large scale and about all the other smaller point-of-use technologies for which Ionics is known,” he says.

As GE initiates the integration of Ionics’ technologies into its product line, customers will profit from the combined resources and broadened desalination and water reuse capabilities. While still too soon to offer details about the effects of the acquisition, Connelly says that this synthesis will result in many of the acquired technologies taking on the GE brand

“What our customers will see (with these products) is a concerted effort to showcase the GE name and logo which will avoid confusion in the marketplace,” Connelly says. “Therefore, as a result of the acquisition, our customers will benefit from the expanded product offerings, advanced technologies and innovative solutions.”

The addition of Ionics’ desalination and water reuse technologies has provided GE Water & Process Technologies with a competitive advantage in water treatment, especially in regions like the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean and China, where freshwater is scarce, Connelly said.

“GE’s strong research and development capability worldwide, along with the financial structuring expertise that runs deep within the company, positions GE Water to provide unique full-service offerings where few others can compete,” Connelly said. “GE Water & Process Technologies, as part of GE’s company-wide “Ecomagination”, is committed to continually investing in innovative technologies that meet its customers’ industrial and environmental challenges head on.”

“GE is not done growing. While the company is now reevaluating how all the pieces of its water business fit together, we never stop examining the marketplace, and eyeing new technologies that can bring innovative solutions to our customers,” Connelly concludes.


The East Asian Arsenic Crisis Revisited

Friday, July 15th, 2005

By Larry Henke

In September 1997, I wrote in these pages of the emerging crisis of arsenic contamination in East Asia. At the time, India was considered the focus and it was only suggested that Bangladesh might also be affected. Well as it happens, Bangladesh was affected, and to a degree at least as extensive as in India. How Bangladesh has been impacted by the presence of arsenic in groundwater is still not fully known, and may not be for decades, but we can readily see the effects arsenic has played on the population of this poor, developing nation.

Bangladesh is a nation approximately the size of Wisconsin and has a population that is estimated between 139 million and 155 million, or about half population of the United States. In the 1970s, 80s and early 90s, tube wells were drilled to provide irrigation during the dry seasons and for drinking water. It was thought then that groundwater was a safe alternative to the highly contaminated surface waters. It is ironic that a land immersed in water should find it hard to find acceptable drinking water, but that is the case.

By the mid-1990s, it became evident that ingestion of groundwater water was causing health consequences of a serious nature, and it was further determined that the primary cause was arsenic.

There are 10 to 12 million tube wells in Bangladesh. Although there has not been a complete survey of the wells, it is estimated that about 27 percent have arsenic levels above the Bangladesh (and former US) arsenic maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 0.050 mg/L, (or 50 parts per billion) and that 46 percent of the wells have arsenic levels above 0.010 mg/L (10 ppb).

Bangladesh’s geology is characterized by the confluence of three rivers: the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna. These rivers begin in India in the Himalayas and carry the combined waters of mountain snowmelt, monsoon and glacial melt. They also carry the effluent from thousands of miles of agricultural runoff, city and industrial wastes. They convey approximately 1 billion tons of sediment annually, a third of which is deposited in the river plains, a third in the submarine shelf, and a third carried out to sea. The nation is made from the deposits of these rivers since the last glacial period.

Bangladesh has a its annual monsoon from March to May and it, along with snowmelt from the Himalayas, often causes flooding. Upwards of one-third of the cropland is covered by water during those floods; in the southeast, the ground is so saturated with water that even at this time of the year, there is nowhere for additional moisture to go.

Despite the potential for contamination, 97 percent of the population receives drinking water from the ground, of which one-forth is tainted with arsenic, affecting from 30 to 70 million people. Add to that the affected population of East Bengal in India and the “at-risk” population is staggering.

Arsenic’s Toxic Effects
Arsenic has a well-deserved reputation as a poison. Although the different forms or species (inorganic As III, As V and organic arsenic) have different toxicity characteristics, in low but steadily accumulating doses any form can be harmful. Generally, As III is most toxic, but As V can be converted to As III in the stomach, so speciation is useful mainly for removal selection. The LD50 (Lethal Dose ─ where 50 percent of those exposed will die) for inorganic arsenic is 10-20 mg/kg body weight, the corresponding LD50 for organic arsenic varies with the specific organic chemical from 700 to 2600 mg/kg.

Arsenic can be ingested unknowingly for several years before the effects begin to show. In trace amounts, there is no taste or odor to the water. The first noticeable effects are darkened pigmentation, especially of the hands and feet. These patterns can have a “raindrop” appearance, followed by a thickening of the skin. After five years’ exposure there can be neurological damage and the internal organs can be harmed; lungs, liver, kidney, nerves and other organs can be seriously affected. Ultimately, cancers can form in the lungs, kidneys, bladder, liver or skin. Acute exposures where the lethal dose is approached can cause immediate problems: diarrhea, extreme cramps, discoloration and death.

The chronic onset is determined by age, weight, gender and genetic make-up, but the final result is fatal. Since the progression of the disease is long term, the total burden of arsenic poisoning will not be know for decades.

There is relatively little medical treatment for the condition now. Some therapies have been devised, including the use of chelating resins and of hemodialysis, with varying degrees of success, but the best medical procedure to date ─ especially for the poor ─ is to stop drinking the water.

Arsenic’s geochemistry
The source of the arsenic is natural. Arsenic is the 20th most-common element in the earth’s crust; the 14th most-common in seawater and the 12th in the human body.

Arsenic is a metalloid, with an atomic weight of about 75 and has a reduction/oxidation (redox) relationship with iron that partly explains its release from geology into water and that can be exploited in its removal from water. Although either reducing or oxidizing conditions can be responsible, it is most commonly the reduction of arsenic from its combination with iron or other minerals that releases it and increases its solubility in water. Arsenic can also be locked into organic molecules, especially arseno-sugars, in plants and animals. The organic forms of arsenic can be accumulated in plants and animals and ingested as a part of the diet. Most organic forms are less of a problem than the straight inorganic forms.

Arsenic treatment
Once in the water, how can you get it out? This question has received intense study in the past decade, with emphasis placed on the use of adsorptive media and membranes for application to small systems, including solutions for developing nations. The traditional methods of water treatment include coagulation and precipitation by aluminum or iron salts followed by settling or filtration, lime softening, anionic exchange with resins or natural iron exchangers, reverse osmosis or nano-filtration, co-filtration with natural iron and by adsorptive media, with special attention on iron-based media.

With the scope of the problem however, and with the introduction of the Grainger Prize (a $1 million prize for the development of low cost, sustainable, effective arsenic remediation technology) the number of prospective media choices has soared. Selections and reports on media ranging from highly sophisticated, such as titanium dioxide or zirconium doped resin, to those less processed such as coal plant fly ash, hyacinth root powder, newspaper pulp. Many schemes employ variations on iron based media, whether zero-valent iron, processed iron hydroxides, dried iron oxides or other minerals coated with iron. Each of these systems has its role, but there is no single mechanism for application in all cases. Most groundwater treatment cases are highly site specific.

Many removal systems aimed toward the rural populations include multiple “buckets” with sand filtration as part of the process. In one case, a “tea bag” of adsorbent is stirred in a container, with the tea bag later disposed.

One novel system, Solar Oxidation and Removal of Arsenic (SORAS) uses readily available PET bottles, lime or lemon juice (citric acid) and sunlight to oxidize iron and arsenic. After overnight settling, the supernatant water can be decanted and used.

The effectiveness of a removal plan will depend on the conditions of the water, in particular the redox potential (Eh), the pH (inorganic arsenic species are pH dependent), other minerals in the water that might affect oxidation or compete for adsorption sites on media such as silica, phosphorous, nitrates and sulfates.

In all cases however, treatment plans for developing nations must consider costs and simplicity of operation. Like people worldwide, water is an extremely important commodity for Bangladeshi women (many of whom walk up to 6 km each way to carry a 20 liter ─ 45 pound ─ container) and ease of access and availability is of utmost importance. Initial and continuing costs, and the problem of disposal of concentrated waste (whether water or spent media) must be factored into any removal program.

In some cases, especially in developing countries, but also in areas of the US where funds are limited, alternative water sources may be the best solution.

Other water sources
In Bangladesh, harvesting rainwater may be a good solution in some rural areas. The average annual rainfall is 80 inches, and where it can conveniently be captured and stored, rainwater may provide a good source. Of course, surface storage invites other concerns, microbial contamination foremost among them, but disinfecting powdered bleach is available for reasonably low cost. Boiling the water is not usually an option: fuel is limited and costly.

With the volume of surface water available, some of the cities may choose a central treatment plant and distribution as the best long-term solution. Dhaka City, the nation’s largest with over 10 million people, receives most of its water from some 400 wells that draw from the Dila Tipa Aquifer. While this aquifer is arsenic free, heavy withdrawals have resulted in a lowering of the ground water to dangerously low levels. Despite frequent flooding, aquifers do not recharge as rapidly. Increased use of surface water, however difficult to treat because of upstream contamination, may be the best overall source.

In rural areas, central treatment with distribution would be difficult. Many villages are strung together by raised walking paths around ponds and rice paddies. Even central elevated storage would, aside from its costs, be a complex engineering problem.

Another solution is deeper wells. Wells at about 1,000 feet generally have low arsenic levels. These wells can be drilled in many places by a hand-turned, rotary water/mud drill in five days. The cost for such a well is about $1.00/foot, half of which is for materials.

The prospects
The attention Bangladesh is getting is well founded: solutions and insights offered here can be applied elsewhere. But the urgency of the crisis can not be underestimated. Millions of people are drinking tainted water, and so both immediate and long-term solutions are necessary. Although we tend here to focus on the technical problems, there are profound political problems as well. These must be solved before the Bangladeshis can all be provided safe drinking water. Perhaps as Bangladesh matures as a nation (it was only formed as such less than 35 years ago) the conditions for large civil engineering projects will be met and the nation can enjoy a network of roads, communications and water treatment distribution. For now however, small, local, village and family level water treatment solutions are imperative.

About the author
Larry Henke is an independent water treatment consultant in the Minneapolis area serving industrial filter and disinfection applications and small non-community and community public drinking water systems. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, he has more than 20 years of experience in the water treatment industry. He’s a member of the American Water Works Association and the National Ground Water Association, as well as WC&P’s Technical Review Committee. Henke can be reached at (612) 599-7477 or lrhenke@email.msn.com.

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