Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine

Viewpoint

Monday, February 27th, 2006

By Karen R. Smith

Good News and Bad News

As we noted last month when announcing this year’s Technical Review Committee members, it was an incomplete list, partly because we hope to add additional members (with additional areas of expertise) to this august panel; partly because some members will change roles in the coming months, partly because some could not be reached to learn their plans for this year.

Since joining WC&P’s Tech Review Committee in 2005, Stephen Tischler of National Testing Labs has helped both our writers and our readers with all manner of water problems. His own experience is unique in that in addition to being Director of Sales and Marketing for National Testing Laboratories, he worked as an analytical chemist at NASA and has a long history in the aerospace industry with expertise in quality control and analytical testing method development.

He will be joining us as a regular contributor to a brand new column, Test Patterns. Today, we can test water for more substances in smaller quantities than ever before and we are legally mandated to do so for a growing list of contaminants. While enhanced testing with reputable labs is to be encouraged, the question today is what do those test results actually mean and what is the correct course of action to take to mitigate the problem revealed?

That is precisely what Tischler will help us to grapple with. While writing for us quarterly, he has graciously agreed to continue on our Technical Review Committee as well. If you’d like to help him get started on his column, send him your problem water stories. Call him at NTL at (440) 449-2525, or send your letters to his attention here at WC&P.

As to the bad news, my east coast family spent much of the holiday season quite literally underwater due to a plumbing problem. The plumbers said the water softener and/or the RO unit were implicated, so they called for a service tech. Nice man, but he refused to believe there was any connection between the disaster and the water treatment system. So they called me.

As luck would have it, I work here at WC&P. I called a member of our Technical Review Committee and although he was several thousand miles away, he suggested that from the description of events, it might’ve been an airgap problem. Family asked about the airgap. technician agreed with a smile to check it out, but assured them there was nothing wrong with the softener. Five minutes later he said, “Well, will you look at that? There’s no airgap after all!”

Moments later, new airgap in place, he was getting ready to leave. That’s when they asked about the odor they’d noticed coming from the softener. He suggested it might be the salt—saying that sometimes salt can have an odor. Inlaws had never found that to be the case and said so. He was getting into his truck by this point, eager to leave. “If it really bothers you, I guess you can add some bleach,” he suggested as he pulled out of their driveway. In response them asking how much, he made a wavy up-and-down motion with his hand and said he wasn’t quite sure, but not too much—and drove off.

This might sound strange, but I don’t think a softener should have any smell at all! We drink that water! I wanted a finite, specific solution to the problem, not a smile and a wave from the truck and a guess about an unknown quantity of bleach while he drove off into the sunset.

Of course, you can guess what I did then. Yup…I called a Tech Review Committee member and described the problem. He told me we potentially had E. coli in the softener because of the flooding; told me where to put bleach and how much; how to shut down and drain the hot water heater, disinfect that as well, regenerate the resin and run the whole system through with the bleach by running every faucet, tub, shower and washer in the house.

What if I didn’t work here? Are your customers getting the answers my inlaws got? You need to find out—and teach them to do better. Lives and livelihoods depend upon it. Even the best staff needs to brush up on skills—and there is no better place for training than WQA Aquatech 2006 in Chicago. See you there!

 

Breaking Records…Again!

Monday, February 27th, 2006

By Ids Boersma, Director International Exhibitions, Amsterdam RAI

The latest products and technologies, new contacts and old friends, educational sessions and plenty of networking opportunities—you will find them all at WQA Aquatech USA 2006!

This international exhibition and conference on water technology is the leading trade event and conference in North America aimed at water industry groups including process water, drinking water, ultrapure and water for household, commercial and industrial uses. It is the one and only event that features all segments of the water industry under one roof, offering you a unique opportunity to catch up on the latest industry news in the most efficient way.

After the very successful event held in Las Vegas last year, WQA Aquatech USA is expanding this year in Chicago. The 2006 exhibition is expected to draw even more participants and visitors from the United States and surrounding countries. This serves to prove that WQA Aquatech USA has become a truly important event for the water technology industry on this continent and a mature sibling of the successful Aquatech exhibitions in Europe and Asia.

This year, we are particularly excited about the promising presence of the industrial water segment. The representation of the full spectrum of the water industry—combining the drinking water, wastewater and process water industries—has proven to be the major strength of WQA Aquatech USA. We will continue to bring these segments together and to make them grow into the largest Water Opportunity Show™ in the U.S.

With more than 350 exhibitors from over 23 countries, WQA Aquatech USA 2006 is undoubtedly the trade event of the year for the water technology industry in the U.S. The 2006 event promises to be even better than the record-breaking show of last year, and this would not have been possible without the support of our co-organizers, WQA, supporters and endorsers. I thank all of them for their invaluable contributions.

Now is also the time to circle the dates for Aquatech Amsterdam 2006, which will be held September 26 to 29 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The world’s leading biennial water technology trade show, with over 22,000 visitors (57 percent of whom are from abroad) and more than 800 exhibitors, it is the place for you to meet water professionals from all over the world who wish to keep abreast of the latest water industry news and information. Don’t miss out; mark you calendar and book your flights now!

But first, I hope to see you in Rosemont, Ill. for a very pleasant and successful business week at WQA Aquatech USA 2006!

 

Real world cost impact of arsenic compliance

Monday, February 27th, 2006

By Shannon Murphy

As the arsenic rule rolls into effect, there are more real world projects going on-line and a better understanding of the real costs and actual impact that rule is having on large and small communities alike.

In Arizona, it was recently reported that one water system is moving forward with the installation of a $20 million media-based arsenic treatment facility just outside Phoenix. Not an uncommon cost analysis for a fairly large water system in the Southwest. Based upon the cost for this arsenic treatment system and the population of the water system, the average water bill for these customers is anticipated to increase an astronomical 252 percent—going from $25 to $88 per month.

Another real-world example, as reported during the EPA Arsenic Road Show, was the AwwaRF arsenic project utilizing a standard GFH media in a southwest New Mexico community. This water system has approximately 475 connections and serves as a good representative for standard New Mexico water conditions. Following the installation of the well head arsenic treatment plant and including all peripheral costs like engineering costs, approvals to build and construct and the pre- and post-treatment costs the average water bill for these customers will increase 104 percent: from an average $24.50 per month to $49.68 per month.

Here we have examples of two communities that have gone through the process of installing an arsenic treatment program and are now in compliance. In many cases in order to front the money to complete this process, these small water utilities need to obtain loans, often through federal or state programs that have been set up to help, such as the USDA Rural Development Program. A real concern for these communities that are now stretched financially beyond their means and have already taxed their customer base 104 percent or 252 percent rate increases, is what happens when the next regulation comes down the line? What recourse will they have if another water treatment plant is needed in order to treat for some new concern? Many of these same water systems will be affected by the Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule and others concerning disinfection by-products, uranium or perchlorate, to name a few. There is also growing information and concern regarding endocrine disruptors in the water and the effect they may be having on the population. The U.S. EPA has more information about these and other regulations on its website (http://www.epa. gov/safewaterstandards.html)

Some of these regulations are close upon us and others are years off; however, the question is that as these new regulations continue to be promulgated, where does the cost increase to the consumer end? How much will a consumer spend for that eight-ounze glass of tap water and is it worth the same amount as the water that is used to irrigate the lawn or flush down the toilet?

There is widely varied acceptance of the decentralized (or POU) treatment program. Some states (like Arizona) have completely embraced the program and have gone as far as developing a comprehensive application and operations and maintenance package in order to facilitate the implementation of a POU compliance program. Because of this, there are a growing number of communities, ranging in size from 16 connections to over 200, that are now successfully utilizing POU for compliance.

Other states (like Nevada, New Mexico and Utah) agree POU is a viable means for compliance, but have reservations regarding the program, so have placed different size restrictions (under 200 connections, under 100 connections, etc.) for those communities wanting to utilize this approach for compliance. Many of these states are looking to these smaller communities to blaze the trail in the state regulatory body to use the decentralized treatment.

Just as there have been large centralized programs going on-line, there have also been smaller POU programs that have provided real-world numbers regarding the cost for the project. There are different costs for different communities based on how many units are used; if there is a blend of POU and point of entry used and if the installation and operation is contracted out, or if it is internalized. However, based upon the projects that have been run through Watts Premier, the cost per household for this decentralized treatment program ranges from $6-$15 per month. Even at the high end, POU is well below the $25.18 increase that was needed for the New Mexico community with 475 connections. Moreover, through POU RO, these small communities will be in compliance with many of the new regulations as they come down the line without needing to heavily invest in a new well head treatment plant.

POU myths versus facts
There is a lot of misinformation regarding POU programs, (i.e., only good for under 25 connections, will not work if the water is to cold, cannot be used in low pressure systems, cannot treat for Arsenic III, etc.) which are sometimes stated due to the truly competitive cost structure of the POU programs. It is a true paradigm shift in how we think about treatment as the U.S. has always used centralized water treatment. In many cases decentralized treatment will never even be mentioned to the small community as a compliance option by the state or contracted engineer, even when it could save tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. The status quo, as well as the paperwork trail, lead through the same comfortable, yet costly path of well head treatment.

Small communities ahead of the curve
In the end, all communities large and small will need to have a low-cost solution for these ongoing compliance issues and not just for arsenic. POU (and specifically POU reverse osmosis) provides this ability by treating only the drinking water and not the working water of the household or facility. In doing this, significant cost savings can be had and not just today, but also moving forward as new regulations are enacted. As small communities blaze the trail for decentralized treatment and new information about water standards and contaminants emerge, who is to say that even the larger, dare we say, large water districts may come to see the merit in a decentralized treatment approach.

About the author
Shannon P. Murphy is Vice President of Municipal Water Programs for Watts Premier Inc., a division of Watts Water Technologies, of North Andover, Mass. Murphy has a bachelor’s degree from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in biology and master’s degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Murphy has also been a member of the WC&P Technical Review Committee since 2004. He can be reached at MURPHYSP@wattsind.com

 

Self-Cleaning Filtration Remediates High Radium Levels

Monday, February 27th, 2006

By Drew Robb

Water utilities around the country are upgrading filter systems to meet new federal radium level standards set by a 2000 amendment to the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act. The City of Wenona, Ill. initially addressed this problem more than a decade ago by installing a reverse osmosis system (RO). Recently it improved its water filtration system by replacing five sand filters with a single self-cleaning, stainless steel filter. As a result, radium levels have been further reduced, dissolved solids removed, water taste has been improved and water consumption during backwashing has been cut dramatically.

“We were using around 20,000 gallons of water to backwash the sand filters, but only around 45 gallons to backwash the new filters,” says Waste and Wastewater Superintendent Mitch McCaw. “That gives us a substantial savings in both water use and pumping costs.”

Wenona began the process of upgrading its filtering system in the late 1980s. In November 1987, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Ill. EPA) sent the city an enforcement notice that ordered it to bring radium levels down to compliance with the 5 pCi/L (picoCuries per liter) requirements of the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments. Although the only mandated change was to reduce the radium content by 78 percent, the city undertook an evaluation of what other steps it could take to improve overall water quality at the same time. The city has two wells drawing from a sandstone aquifer and the water was very high in total dissolved solids, primarily sodium and chlorides. It also had an iron content high enough to stain clothes and fixtures and an unpleasant odor from hydrogen sulfide gas.

Three technologies were evaluated for remediating the high radium levels: sodium zeolite ion exchange softening, lime softening and RO. While the first two would have addressed the immediate problem of attaining regulatory compliance and the zeolite ion exchange would have had the lowest initial construction costs, neither would have removed the dissolved solids or improved the taste. In fact, the zeolite method would have increased the already high sodium levels. So instead, the city opted to install a $600,000 RO facility, with half the money coming from the state. The plant can treat 194,400 gallons per day, which gives it an excess capacity of 54,400 gallons over the peak daily demand.

Triple treatment
Wenona’s plant had three levels of filters. To begin with, there was a series of five sand filters to remove most of the entrained particulates. These fed into a one-micron cartridge filter and finally into the RO system. The sand filters, however, required a lot of maintenance—about three to four hours per week of manual backwashing. But they did do the job, so they stayed in service for a while. However, they had been plumbed with ABC piping which eventually began to fail.

“We were looking at having to pay substantial costs to replace the valves and piping with ductile iron,” says McCaw. “Then I ran into someone who told me about stainless steel, self-cleaning filters. I got with our engineers and they agreed that it was a good solution.”

The new filters incorporate a self-cleaning mechanism which allows an uninterrupted flow of filtered water even while the cleaning takes place. The procedure uses a fraction of the water that normal back-flushing requires. Stainless steel is standard (rather than a special order option) providing a longer lasting filter.

In Wenona, the dirty water flows in around the outside of a coarse filter which removes the larger particles. This prefiltered water then flows to the other end of the filter housing where it passes from the inside to the outside of the final filter and then through the outlet. Over time, as the filter removes particles from the water, those particles clog the filter, reducing water flow and water pressure. At the outlet is an adjustable pressure differential switch, typically set at five to seven pounds. When that threshold is crossed, it opens the small flush valve, which initiates the cleaning procedure.

Rather than taking the full water flow to initiate a complete backwash, the filters have a number of small cleaning nozzles arrayed around a central shaft. Opening the flush valve lowers the water pressure within the cleaning unit and the nozzles vacuum the dirt from the inside surface of the filter screen. A hydraulic motor and piston cause the nozzles to rotate and move axially in order to cover the entire screen surface in under 10 seconds. At that point the flush valve closes and the cleaning mechanism returns to its starting position. Other than a small control voltage for the differential pressure sensor and to actuate the flush valve, all motions involved in cleaning the filter are performed using the water pressure.

Water and labor savings
Wenona replaced the five sand filters with a single new stainless steel, self-cleaning filter on a six-inch, 150-gpm line, freeing up a lot of floor space in the process and eliminating the need for much of the piping and valves that would have been required if the city had continued using the sand filters.

Initially, the plan was to have the RO process continue during the backwash. However, the Ill. EPA had required that the city remove some of the pump stages to reduce the pressure on the ROs. Consequently, there wasn’t enough flow to feed the ROs during the filter backwash cycle. Instead, the city reprogrammed its Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) to shut down the ROs while the new filter cleaned itself, a process that takes about 15 seconds every three days. Not only does it save time, but it also saves money. As a result, combined Radium 226/228 levels are running from 1.1 to 3.5 pCi/L, well below the 5 pCi/L standard.

“The filter manufacturer’s service has been excellent,” says McCaw. “Their representative was very helpful during the initial installation and he stopped by to take a look at the installation and gave me some additional tips.”

About the author
Drew Robb is a Los Angeles-based writer specializing in engineering and technology. He received a degree in geology from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland before moving with his wife and two children to America. He can be reached at robbeditorial@sbcglobal.net

About Tekleen filters
The stainless steel, self-cleaning filters discussed herein are Tekleen Filters manufactured by Automatic Filters, Inc. of Los Angeles, Calif. and are available in a wide variety of sizes and configurations. For more information, contact the manufacturer at (310) 839-2828 or visit the website, www.tekleen.com. Be sure to request a copy of the CD-ROM showing how Tekleen filters work, containing installation diagrams and technical information.

 

Global Spotlight

Monday, February 27th, 2006

NSF International and the U.S. EPA have released seven new verification reports and statements from the ETV Drinking Water Systems Center. ADI International Inc., ORCA Water Technologies, Pall Corporation, Basin Water Inc., Kinetico, EcoWater and Watts Premier all received reports for a variety of POU systems. 💧

Modern Process Equipment Corporation (MPE), has launched a new website to focus exclusively on the Food, Chemical and Mineral Grinding Division. The site, www. mpechicago.com, features a new design and  is more organized to feature additional content on various grinders manufactured by MPE. 💧

IG-MEX Plant 3, A.O. Smith Corporation’s production facility in Juarez, Mexico, has completed more than one million hours without a lost-time accident. 💧

GE Water & Process Technologies and HW Process Technologies, Inc. have announced a partnership to provide proprietary, environmentally sound process recovery, water reuse and wastewater solutions to serve the mining industry. 💧

In celebration of its 35th anniversary, U.S. EPA has released a comprehensive review of pollutant reductions during its tenure. Since 1970, total emissions of the six major air pollutants dropped by about 54 percent, the agency reports. 💧

Pentair, Inc. has entered into a joint venture agreement with ITT Industries, Inc. to create FARADYNE Motors LLC, a separate and stand-alone company. FARADYNE began to design, develop and manufacture submersible pump motors for both water technology companies in early 2006. 💧

CoolerZone™, a stocking distributor of POU water coolers based in Nevada City, Calif., announces a sales and distribution agreement with Cosmetal® of Recanati, Italy. CoolerZone will be the exclusive importer/exporter of Cosmetal products in California. 💧

BioLab Water Additives, a Chemtura company of Lawrenceville, Ga., has increased prices on their industrial water additives. Actual price adjustments range from $0.02/lb. for Flocon® to $0.06/lb. for LiquiBrom® brand products. All increases were effective Jan. 1 of this year. Chemtura Coporation is a global manufacturer and marketer of specialty chemicals, crop protection and pool, spa and home care products with pro forma 2004 sales of $3.9 billion. 💧

Dow Biocides has announced a 10 percent price increase on both list and off-list prices for its entire biocides product portfolio worldwide. 💧

Clearwater Filter Systems Pty. Ltd., a POU drinking water-dispenser company in Australia been acquired by New Zealand’s largest bottled water company, Just Water International Limited (JWI). Clearwater shareholders will retain approximately 40 percent of the purchase price in shares in JWI. The remaining financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed. 💧

Clarity, the new trading entity developed by Specialist Technical Solutions, will position itself as a premier technical authoring and promotion company specifically targeting the water and environment industries. 💧

Target Corporation has obtained the exclusive rights to Icelandic Glacial Water, which will debut in Super Target stores nationwide in six-packs, the Soft Drink Letter reports. 💧

WS Packaging Group has purchased the Renaissance Market Narrow’s Web division, which includes facilities in California, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Mexico, for an undisclosed amount. 💧


Aquion sold to investment firm
Aquion Water Treatment Products, LLC has been purchased by a private equipment investment firm. Waud Capital Partners, LLC now owns a host of well-known and respected brands in the water treatment industry, including RainSoft Water Treatment Systems, Erie Water Treatment Controls and ClearWa-ter Tech. According to Aquion President Robert Ruhstorfer, Aquion will, “serve as their growth platform in the water treatment industry, through internal organic growth as well as future strategic acquisitions.” While the cost of the acquisition was not disclosed, Waud notes in their company profile that they typically invest in companies with enterprise values between $30 and $150 million.

IBWA honored by ASAE
The American Society of Association Executives has honored the International Bottled Water Association with three Association Advance America Awards for 2006, bestowed in recognition of outstanding programs and special accomplishments by trade associations. IBWA won the ASAE Award of Excellence for 2006 for its Bottled Water Emergency Relief program and was named ASAE 2006 Associations Advance America Honor Roll for two other programs: the IBWA Hydration Calculator and Water: Our Most Precious Resource.

Schools: soda sales plummet, water sales up
The American Beverage Association is reporting that sales of traditional ‘sugared’ carbonated drinks in high schools fell nearly 25 percent from 2002 to 2004. Sales of diet soft drinks increased about 21.7 percent, water increased 22.8 percent, sports drinks were up 69.5 percent and 100-percent juices increased 15.4 percent during the same time period. The study, conducted by Richard Forshee at the University of Maryland, showed that while sales of soft drinks had decreased, eliminating full-calorie carbonated soda sales in schools would have little or no impact on the prevalence of overweight adolescents.

Calgon wins appeal in Canadian patent case
Calgon Carbon Corporation announced that the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal has set aside a decision rendered by a lower court in June 2005 that declared invalid the company’s patent for the use of ultraviolet light to prevent Cryptosporidium in drinking water. The case will move forward to trial in April to determine the merits of Calgon’s claim that the City of North Bay, Ontario infringed on its patent and Trojan Technologies, Inc. induced that infringement.

Symposium to focus on hard water and mineral nutrition
The International Symposium on Health Aspects of Magnesium and Calcium in Drinking Water will be held on April 24-26 in Baltimore, Md. NSF International and the International Life Sciences Institute are planning the NSF World Health Organization Collaborating Center event to discuss the health benefits of consuming hard water. Immediately following the symposium, a WHO expert meeting will convene to examine the information and prepare recommendations to WHO that could be used in its Desalination Guidance (2006) and WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality (2008).

Spaghetti filters for water filtration
The American Chemical Society has published information suggesting that perchlorate and nitrates may be best removed from drinking water with tubes of bacteria known as ‘spaghetti filters.’ The bacteria grow on membranes and are then wrapped into long, thin threads resembling spaghetti. Bundled into cylinders, the filters are effective in removing a variety of nitrates and perchlorate, which have gained notoriety as of late in the United States after studies showed its prevalence in drinking water supplies around military bases and other manufacturing facilities.
 
United States

President signs Water for the Poor Act
President George W. Bush has signed the Water for the Poor Act of 2005 into law. The new law came as a result of tremendous bipartisan support in both the House and Senate and creates an opportunity to save hundreds of thousands of lives by extending safe water to those most in need, the U.S. non-profit organization Water Advocates said. It also makes drinking water and sanitation a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy and directs the State Department to come up with an overall strategy to be implemented by the U.S. Agency of International Development (U.S. AID).

Michigan okays Nestlé plant
The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of Nestlé Waters in a dispute about the ‘beneficial use’ of water bottled at their Ice Mountain facility in Stanwood. The company had been forced to halt bottling operations at the plant after state officials and environmental activists argued that the bottling plant was drawing resources from the region’s already limited water availability for sale out of state. The court, however, said that bottled water is a “proper and beneficial use of water in Michigan” and that lower courts did not properly apply the state’s groundwater protection rules under the Michigan Environmental Protection Act, the Soft Drink Letter reports.

Watts consolidates product names
Products previously sold under the names Flowmatic Systems and Alamo Water Refiners will now be sold exclusively under the name Watts Water Quality & Conditioning Products, Watts Water Technologies, Inc. announced. This includes the complete line of residential and commercial water quality improvement products, such as water conditioning equipment, backwashing filters, reverse osmosis systems, membranes, membrane housings, cartridges, cartridge housings, fittings, tubing, faucets, storage tanks and a complete line of stainless steel filter housings and cartridges for industrial filtration. Watts Water Quality & Conditioning Products are available from three distribution centers, located in North Florida, San Antonio, Texas and Phoenix, Ariz., in addition to stocking distributors located worldwide.

CEI expands with equipment purchase
Carbon Enterprises Incorporated has purchased the manufacturing equipment of Lang Filter Media. The new company, CEI Anthracite (a subsidiary of CEI) will have updated equipment and facilities to manufacture, including a 26,551-square-foot office/warehouse space and the manufacturing plant that sits on 2.6 acres. The new plant will be able to make product with a uniformity coefficient as low as 1.3. CEI Anthracite will provide sieve analysis and uniformity coefficient information for every order that is shipped. The General Manger for the new facility will be Bob Dalvet and Sales Manager will be Liz Corch. They were selected due to their many years of experience and commitment to customer service.

Royal Spring receives two ROIs
Royal Spring Water Inc. has received two letters of intent worth a combined total of $12 million for their Artesian water, the Soft Drink Letter reported. The ROIs include a three-year contract with Crystal Splash for six million dollars and another with Conquest for more than six million dollars. This brings the value of Royal Spring ROIs to more than $28.5 million for the next three years.

Filtered water market demand
How many water cooler units are there in the United States? What are the growth prospects for the home and office delivery (HOD) of water in the coming years? A new report from Beverage Marketing on the U.S. HOD and filtered water market is now available. Documenting a variety of aspects of the industry, the report includes profiles of leading companies and includes Beverage Marketing’s exclusive projections for the category with in-depth analysis, assessments of major market factors and upcoming issues facing the industry. The report is available at www.beverage marketing.com

DOD and EPA differ on perchlorate impact
Pentagon and White House officials are drafting new guidance for toxic site cleanup officials, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal in December. This will establish a perchlorate cleanup standard for federal pollution sites at 24 ppb. The U.S. EPA has proposed that a safe level of the rocket fuel chemical would be one part per billion, which would have significant effects on the Pentagon and its defense contractors. Perchlorate has been found in the water in 35 states. The new guidance is still under review at the EPA. The arms industry appears to believe even 24 ppb is too strict a limit.

More EPA news…
The U.S. EPA has issued the External Review Draft Nanotechnology White Paper, a road map that identifies critical questions that must be addressed in order for the nation to reap the potential environmental and economic benefits of nanotechnology in a variety of fields, including drinking water treatment and groundwater remediation. The paper also deals with risk management of possible negative impacts of the new technologies. To review a copy of the white paper, visit www.epa.gov/osa/nanotech.htm

The agency has also finalized two related drinking water protection rules—one that reduces the risk of disease-causing microorganisms from entering water supplies and another that requires water systems to limit the amount of potentially harmful disinfection by-products that end up in drinking water. Signed on the 31st anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the rules were first proposed in Aug. 2003 and were developed from consensus recommendations from a federal advisory committee comprised of state and local governments, tribes, environmental, public health and water industry groups.

Hydraulic conductivity to locate groundwater systems
The American Society of Civil Engineers is beginning work on a new hydraulic conductivity standard to provide standard guidelines and practice documents for statistical spatial estimation and spatial averaging of hydraulic conductivity using geostatistical theory. It will provide valuable information on the analysis, design and planning of groundwater systems and infrastructure. The association has coordinated a committee to develop the standard and is currently seeking applicants. For more information, call Eileen Boeing at (703) 295-6338.

Carlsbad publishes final desal report
The City of Carlsbad, Calif., has published its final report on the environmental impact of a new desalination plant in the city. Poseidon Resources Corporation, which is providing the facility investigated by the Final Environmental Impact Report for the city, said environmental research has been compiled since May 2005 and includes a comprehensive overview including input from more than 60 interested individuals and organizations. The report did not identify any significant, unavoidable impacts for both the construction and ongoing operation of the plant related to 13 different areas studied including noise, traffic, growth inducement, air and water quality, land use, public utilities and natural resources.

Asia

Indian water treatment chemicals market set to grow
With greater efforts to preserve the environment and strict government regulations on the quality of effluents disposed, companies have realized the urgent need for efficient water treatment. The overall market for water treatment chemicals showed a steady growth of 10 percent. The trend is expected to be the same in the future as well, driven by export-oriented industries such as mining, food processing, chemicals and petrochemicals, textiles and others. Competition in this market is characterized as being extremely fierce, with about 250 producers seeking preeminence. About 40 percent of the market is dominated by the organized sector, largely multinationals and large-scale domestic companies like Thermax and Ion Exchange Ltd.

Pionetics to sell LINX® in China
Pionetics Corporation has announced a joint venture with Elantec of Beijing, China under which the two companies will manufacture and sell the LINX Drinking Water System for the Chinese market. Elantec, which has about 20 percent of the Chinese market for water purification systems, brings significant market presence for the new LINX system. The companies are projecting sales of 50,000 LINX systems this year and up to 150,000 in 2007.

300 million Chinese without safe drinking water
The Chinese Government has acknowledged that about 300 million people living in rural areas of the nation’s countryside have little or no access to safe drinking water, the Associated Press reports. After drought, the most common threat to clean drinking water is chemical pollutants and other harmful substances that have seeped from manufacturing facilities to neighboring agricultural communities. But the problem of clean water access is not limited to agrarian areas, said the official Xinhua News Agency, which noted that 90 percent of China’s cities have polluted groundwater. Even in Shanghai, the country’s biggest and wealthiest city where local waterway cleanups are common, the city’s tap water is yellowish and smelly.

Middle East

Water crisis spurs reuse debate
The Middle East region is about to enter a water crisis. According to the World Bank, there is one percent of accessible fresh water and five percent of world’s population in Middle East and North Africa regions. The reuse and recycling of wastewater is a viable solution. Fady Juez, General Manager of the Metito Group, said, “There are some great regional success stories in regard to proactive water strategies where the government is supporting the private sector. For example, Abu Dhabi has already combined wastewater and water under a unified strategy. Another example is how the World Bank has set up Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt as a private sector development. But more is needed, with the most immediate need being for governments to encourage multi-use real estate developments to reuse water.”

31 water supply projects to come on stream this year
Abbas Shafiei, the deputy energy minister for water and sewage affairs in Tehran, Iran, has announced that 31 water supply projects are due to become operational in 2006. He further announced that 800,000 new connections would be delivered in the urban and rural water and wastewater sector next year. The deputy also said that the production capacity of the potable water would be increased to 440 million cubic meters by the end of the Fourth Socioeconomic and Cultural Development Plan (2005-2010) through implementation of 115 water supply projects across the country.

Australia

Multi-association water group holds first meeting
The Water Industry Capacity Development Coordinating Committee (WICD), a collaboration of a variety of regional and national water trade associations, interest groups and researchers, has met initially to discuss better coordination of training and professional development for the water industry nationally, the Australian Water Association reports. It will provide governance and strategic direction for the initiative and has set up an internal Reference Committee to provide technical support for the WICD’s activities.

Heavenly Water—Angel Water Condditioning

Monday, February 27th, 2006

By Nate F. Searing

Angel Water Conditioning
214 South Hager Ave.
Barrington, IL 60010
Phone: (847) 382-7800
Web: www.angelwater.org
Email: awilson@angelwater.org
Employees: 11
Owner: Andrew Wilson

Introduction
Andrew Wilson, the owner of Angel Water Conditioning, says the success of his water dealership in northwestern Chicago is grounded in the fact that it is a small family business with values that customers respect and tell their friends and neighbors about. But for Wilson, the concept of a ‘family business’ means more than just passing the company from father to son: it’s about the relationships and traditions he has developed with his employees, his friends and the founding family behind Angel Water Conditioning. It’s about preserving those traditions—so that even if Angel doesn’t end up in the hands of his family after he’s gone, the spirit of the company will always endure.
 
Background
Angel Water Conditioning was founded more than 35 years ago in Palatine, Ill. by Bernie Haggard, Sr. Haggard’s wife, Jackie, suggested the name ‘Angel Water’ as a way of reflecting the purity and quality of their product. His son, ‘Bern’ Haggard Jr., assumed ownership upon his father’s retirement 14 years ago. The company moved to Barrington 30 years ago.

Wilson joined the family affair early on in Angel Water Conditioning’s history. A close childhood friend of the Haggards, he even worked for them while a teenager before going to college to pursue other interests.

He returned after college and in January of this year, purchased the company from Bern, who has since retired. “It was the natural progression for the business, I think,” Wilson said. “I had a business background and Bern had the lifetime of knowledge about the industry.” The combination was a success and today the company serves nearly all of suburban Chicago with water conditioners, drinking water systems and sulfur/iron removing systems.
 
Well water and Lake Michigan
Like many dealerships in the greater Chicago area, Angel Water Conditioning has had significant success in providing residential water systems to suburban residents, without a significant operation inside the city. According to Wilson, this unique situation arises from the fact that residents of Chicago receive their water from Lake Michigan, which is naturally soft, making the need for treatment options extremely limited.

“Its interesting to compare to other major cities in U.S., where you hear horror stories about hard water coming out of municipal systems,” Wilson said. “That simply isn’t the case here. It’s once you get outside the city that you start finding water softeners in every house.” This is because most of the suburban areas west of Chicago survive on well water and the region has very high iron levels, hard water and odors. The result for Angel Water is a significant presence throughout the northwestern Chicago area and a throughout the remaining suburbs, including Rosemont, the site of this year’s WQA Aquatech show.

Attending WQA Aquatech 2006
While Wilson has attended the annual Water Quality Association trade show and convention many times before, he said he is extremely excited about this year’s show, which will take place just 20 miles south of his hometown.

“In the past, I’ve traveled alone to the show. This year will be different—we’re taking everyone so that they can attend the educational sessions and see all the new products for themselves,” he said.

In addition to attaining WQA certifications and perusing aisles of new water treatment equipment, Wilson said his goal for the show is to identify new office technologies that can help his small business run even smoother.

“I’m always interested in seeing the latest conditioner or RO system, but this year I’m really looking for some software innovations. Angel Water has gotten to the point where we’re pushing the limits of what we’re using for accounting and tracking and I’m hoping to find answers to my more business-related questions, not just my water treatment ones.”

A WQA member for about a decade, Wilson credits the association for much of his success in the industry.

“Just about every time I call (and I call them a lot) I’m immediately put in touch with a water treatment expert,” Wilson said. “That ‘on tap’ expertise has helped me to make the right decisions when looking at new products to sell as well as troubleshooting our customers’ water problems.”

That commitment to education is evident in the way in which Angel Water interacts with each of its customers, Wilson said. The company works to educate every client, even potential clients, on the basics of water treatment technologies and the water problems inherent to their geographic area.

The goal, Wilson said, is both to reaffirm for the customer that the salespeople, installers and repair staff are knowledgeable and reliable and to establish a rapport that builds trust and translates into greater word-of-mouth referrals.
“Those referrals are our livelihood,” he said.

The future
For Wilson, the strength of Angel Water Conditioning has always been its steady growth, which, while incremental, is anchored by good word-of-mouth and a commitment to customer education that many other dealers overlook.
“We’ve been able to consistently grow and expand our presence in our market,” Wilson said. “One of the things we’ve been able to do really well is to maintain that growth while not losing sight of our focus.”

Angel Water is currently exploring growth opportunities in a number of sectors, Wilson said, including a recent expansion into five-gallon bottled water delivery and sales of 12-ounce PET bottles at local grocery stores and other shops.

“The Angel Water name has been out there for 35 years and it resonates with our community,” Wilson said. “It’s taking a little time for that to translate into recognition on the store shelf, but we’re confident that in the next year, that aspect of the business will experience significant growth.”

Disappointed with the current quality of salt tanks, Angel Water, Inc. is also investigating manufacturing opportunities, which would enable the company to take control of this important aspect of water treatment.

The company is even looking at the possibility of an acquisition or opening a second office to better facilitate growing business south of Barrington. Combined with a renewed interest in providing moderately larger treatment systems for local restaurants, the continued success of Angel Water Conditioning is safely secure, Wilson said.

“Angel Water Conditioning remains very much a family affair. Bern and I are like family, so many of our employees are part of our families and everyone in the company is a part of the broader family and I can’t imagine Angel Water Conditioning any other way,” Wilson said. “In that sense, we’ll be a family business forever.”

 

Retail Water Treatment Service Department Basics

Monday, February 27th, 2006

By Jeff Parvin CWS-VI

Flexibility, communication, common sense, cooperation and professionalism are keys to a successful service department. Most of your customers are reasonable and understanding people. Satisfied customers are the foundation of a successful dealership by guaranteeing their future business and also referrals to their neighbors, relatives, friends and co-workers.

This article is a basic outline; there will be equipment and circumstances unique to your business that may differ from this information. Hopefully, some points will help you to improve your service business and customer satisfaction.

Scheduling
When a customer contacts the service department, determine if the work requested is emergency, urgent or routine. Emergencies are customers who are without water because of an equipment problem; they may be experiencing catastrophic equipment failures (flooding) and the like. Policies will vary from dealer to dealer on how to react to these emergency calls. If it is feasible, you should have a 24-hour hotline and an on-call service technician. For many, that won’t be possible due to limited resources—such dealers have regular business hours and have service technicians carry a beeper or cell phone. Urgent calls for service usually include when a customer has water, but it is not being treated because of an equipment problem. Urgent calls should be scheduled the same day, if possible. Routine service calls include regular maintenance (filter changes, salt deliveries and the like). Routine calls should be scheduled as conveniently for your customer as possible.

Complete a service invoice. If this is a previous customer, look up their record. For current customers, verify that all of the information is current; for new customers, set up a new service record. Whether an existing customer or a new caller, train you staff to include as much information as possible to prepare your service technician for the service call and have them double check driving directions for accuracy.

Schedule a day and time for the service to be performed. In a perfect world, exact times could be given and adhered to—in the real world there are traffic tie-ups, personnel problems, emergencies, unexpected, extra-long service calls, poor directions, truck breakdowns, etc. Let the customer know that this is an approximate time and that if the technician is running late or early that they will be called. If you know that the customer has a special time requirement, make note of it, so that the technician can adjust accordingly.

For example, if it is 1:30 p.m. and the service tech is running late and Mr. Smith took off work to be at his house from 2 p.m. to 2:30 while Mr. Jones was scheduled for around 1:15, but, Mr. Jones is retired and told you that anytime that afternoon would be fine. Even though it may require going off the planned route, iMr. Jones should be called to work out a later time for his service call since he’s flexible about scheduling. Such changes show good thinking, but if too much rescheduling is being done on a regular basis, the service manager will need to determine if the problem is with scheduling, personnel or equipment and make necessary corrections to avoid aggravating customers.

Scheduling service calls can be done in many ways. For a small customer base, often one technician will be able to install equipment and work service calls around the installations; larger dealerships may require separate, dedicated service technicians and installers. A dealership that covers a vast geographic area may schedule by zones for different days, or service technicians may be assigned specific regional areas to keep travel costs minimized.

The person doing the scheduling must be a customer service expert and that takes training. The way the customer is handled by the employee taking your phone calls will set the mood of the customer/company relationship. They should be familiar with the geographic area and be knowledgeable enough about equipment to make simple suggestions—like bypassing a leaking unit, being sure the softener has salt, shutting off a feed valve to a leaking RO, etc. They must also have a basic knowledge of labor rates and material costs. After basic information has been covered, there is a point where the correct response is,”the service technician will have to determine that during the service call”. An answer like that will help to avoid inaccurate troubleshooting over the phone and will also forestall giving the eager do-it-yourself type a free service call by phone (unless you do not mind that).

Communication
Communication is the oil that keeps the dealership running smooth. The service technician must keep his office and customers updated if he is ahead of, or behind schedule. The office personnel must advise techs in the field of new emergencies and schedule changes on a timely basis. Customers must be called if appointments need to be changed. Service order and invoice records should be completed by office and field personnel. Accurate, up-to-date and complete records will avoid mistakes, delays and upsets.

Meetings should be held to ensure that updates, feedback, concerns and suggestions can be shared and handled appropriately. A monthly dealership-wide meeting may be needed to keep everyone headed in the same direction and to enable different departments to understand each other better. Between managers, schedulers and technicians, weekly or daily meetings may be needed. To maximize meeting benefits without wasting time, prepare and follow an exact agenda that allows for any necessary information to be dealt with in a productive and timely manner.

Communication with your customers can take many forms. Follow-up phone calls, customer satisfaction surveys, newsletters, courtesy visits, ‘service due’ notifications, sales flyers and the like can all add to the quality of the company/customer relationship.

Follow-up phone calls can be done by various personnel—sales people, owners, managers, technicians—and at different time intervals. Phone calls can be made during the installation, or at any appropriate time during the company/customer relationship. Calls may even be made to customers who have indicated they are going to do business with a competitor—if they are not satisfied with your competitor, you may end up getting their business.

Customer satisfaction surveys can be used to obtain written feedback regarding specific aspects of your company’s performance. Questions can be geared to equipment, personnel, service, timeliness and possible referrals and to specific or general subjects. A customer may be more open in a written (rather than verbal) format. “Did the service technician explain the work performed completely?” “Were you treated in a professional manner by our company?” You may also take this opportunity to request permission to use pictures of or comments from their installation for future sales presentations and marketing materials.

A monthly, quarterly or annual newsletter can be used to enhance the relationship between you and your customers. Include information about company events (personnel additions, achievements or promotions) or new equipment and accessories can be featured. Water concerns, on a local or national level, might be included. Coupons or referral bonus certificates could be added to a newsletter to make it a vehicle for encouraging referrals or to enhance service program participation.

Courtesy visits are another communication tool to keep your customers satisfied. An appointment can be scheduled to conduct simple pre- and/or post-equipment tests and to answer any questions or concerns the customer may have. This is good opportunity to talk about additional equipment or accessories and to ask for referrals

Service notifications are a powerful way to build your service department and keep your customers satisfied. Your manual or computerized system can be designed to generate service notifications by phone, mail and/or e-mail. The system should be flexible to allow for various service intervals, depending on the customer’s individual needs. You can offer an incentive to customers, such as a rebate or discount, for joining the service notification program.

Sales flyers and other promotions may also be used to communicate with (and keep your name in front of) your customers. For example, if your database is organized in a way that allows you to access customers by specific types of equipment, you could send a sales flyer to all customers who do not have an RO system.

Service basics
Service has several key components, including: appearance, conduct, competence, timeliness and satisfaction.

Appearance of both your equipment and your personnel helps to set the tone for the service department. A clean, neat, well-lettered and professionally driven truck is a positive advertisement for your dealership. The service technicians’ clothing should be neat and as clean as possible and complete (no tears or holes). Appropriate clothing will vary from area to area and can range from a uniform to jeans and a company tee shirt. Hair should be well groomed and be of local ‘business style’ on both men and women; men’s mustaches and beards should be kept short and neatly trimmed. Good general and oral hygiene must be insisted upon.

The service technician should have good overall manners. He or she should not curse, spit or be offensive in any way while in any public place or on a customer’s premises. The technician should treat the customer in a courteous, professional manner and accurately address questions and concerns, though should not allow a customer to delay them unnecessarily.

Competence comes from training, experience, reference materials and field support. If the technician cannot solve a problem in a reasonable time period using his experience and service manuals, he should confer with someone with more experience. If someone cannot be reached by phone from the job site, then the call should be rescheduled for a later date for the technician to return with help to complete the call properly. The customer will appreciate the extra effort instead of someone who says they fixed the problem when they really did not!

Timeliness is expected by the customer. As discussed previously, if the technician is running behind or ahead of schedule, he should let his customers know, either by calling them, or having the office call.

Satisfaction is for everyone. The customer must be satisfied to ensure his future business and referrals. The business owner must be satisfied that the service department is a profitable division of the dealership and a source of referrals to maintain future growth. The personnel must be satisfied that they are an important part of a solid organization with a bright future.

About the author
Jeff Parvin is Vice President of Sales/Marketing for Aqua Treatment Service Inc., a leading manufacturer of ultraviolet water treatment systems, stainless steel tanks and the AquaPRO Dealership Program. A former Goulds-Bruner dealer, Parvin moved to wholesale with the Noland Company and the Water-Right Dealer Program and subsequently to Aqua Treatment Service Inc. He conducts water treatment application, installation and service seminars, gives support to the ATS accounts and manages the ATS sales/marketing program. For more information, contact Parvin at (717) 697-4998 or email jeff@aquat.com

 

 

Drinking Water Chlorination: A Review of Disinfection Practices and Issues

Monday, February 27th, 2006

Courtesy of the Chlorine Chemistry Council/American Chemistry Council

The treatment and distribution of water for safe use is one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century. Before cities began routinely treating drinking water with chlorine (starting with Chicago and Jersey City in 1908), cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery and hepatitis A killed thousands of U.S. residents annually. Drinking water chlorination and filtration have helped to virtually eliminate these diseases in the U.S. and other developed countries.

Meeting the goal of clean, safe drinking water requires a multi-barrier approach that includes protecting source water from contamination; appropriately treating raw water and ensuring safe distribution of treated water to consumers’ taps.

During the treatment process, chlorine is added to drinking water as elemental chlorine (chlorine gas), sodium hypochlorite solution or dry calcium hypochlorite. When applied to water, each of these forms ‘free chlorine,’ which destroys pathogenic (disease-causing) organisms.

Almost all U.S. systems that disinfect their water use some type of chlorine-based process, either alone or in combination with other disinfectants. In addition to controlling disease-causing organisms, chlorination offers a number of other benefits:

  • reduces many disagreeable tastes and odors;
  • eliminates slime bacteria, molds and algae that commonly grow in water supply reservoirs, on the walls of water mains and in storage tanks;
  • removes chemical compounds that have unpleasant tastes and hinder disinfection; and
  • helps remove iron and manganese from raw water.

As importantly, only chlorine-based chemicals provide ‘residual disinfectant’ levels that prevent microbial re-growth and help protect treated water throughout the distribution system.

The challenge of disinfection by-products
While protection against microbial contamination is the top priority, water systems must also control disinfection by-products (DBPs), chemical compounds formed unintentionally when chlorine and other disinfectants react with natural organic matter in water. In the early 1970s, U.S. EPA scientists first determined that drinking water chlorination could form a group of by-products known as trihalomethanes (THMs), including chloroform. U.S. EPA set the first regulatory limits for THMs in 1979. While the available evidence does not prove that DBPs in drinking water cause adverse health effects in humans, high levels of these chemicals are certainly undesirable. Cost-effective methods to reduce DBP formation are available and should be adopted where possible. However, a report by the International Programme on Chemical Safety1 strongly cautions:

The health risks from these by-products at the levels at which they occur in drinking water are extremely small in comparison with the risks associated with inadequate disinfection. Thus, it is important that disinfection not be compromised in attempting to control such by-products.

Recent U.S. EPA regulations have further limited THMs and other DBPs in drinking water. Most water systems are meeting these new standards by controlling the amount of natural organic material prior to disinfection.

Drinking water and security: threats to public water systems
Water treatment and distribution systems provide one of the most basic elements of life, a reliable supply of safe drinking water. Protecting these critical systems from intentional wrongdoing has always been a concern. For many systems, security measures were primarily designed to protect facilities and equipment from pranks and vandalism. Recently, though, the prospect of a terrorist attack on a water system has forced all water systems, large and small, to re-evaluate and upgrade existing security measures.

Even before the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, officials recognized water systems as potential terrorist targets.

Since September 11th, water system managers have taken unprecedented steps to improve security at their facilities. With support from federal, state and local governments, water utilities are working to secure their reservoirs, treatment plants and distribution systems from a terrorist attack and to minimize the potential impact if an attack were to occur.

Disinfection and bioterrorism
Disinfection is crucial to water system security, providing the ‘front line’ of defense against biological contamination. Normal filtration and disinfection processes would dampen or remove the threats posed by a number of potential bioterrorism agents. In addition, water systems should maintain an ability to increase disinfection doses in response to a particular threat.

However, conventional treatment barriers in no way guarantee safety from biological attacks. For many potential bioterrorism agents, there is little scientific information about what levels of reduction can be achieved with chlorine or other disinfectants. In addition, contamination of water after it is treated could overwhelm the residual disinfectant levels in distribution systems. Furthermore, typical water quality monitoring does not provide real-time data to warn of potential problems.2

Protecting chlorine and other treatment chemicals
As part of its vulnerability assessment, each water system must consider its transportation, storage and use of treatment chemicals. These chemicals are both critical assets (necessary for delivering safe water) and potential vulnerabilities (may pose significant hazards if released). For example, a release of chlorine gas would pose an immediate threat to system operators and a large release may pose a danger to the surrounding community. As part of its vulnerability assessment, a water system using chlorine must determine if existing layers of protection are adequate. If not, a system should consider additional measures to reduce the likelihood of an attack or to mitigate the potential consequences.

Possible measures to address chlorine security include: enhanced physical barriers (e.g., constructing secure chemical storage facilities), policy changes (e.g., tightening procedures for receiving chemical shipments), reducing quantities stored on-site or adopting alternative disinfection methods. These options must be weighed and prioritized, considering the unique characteristics and resources of each system.

Water system officials must evaluate the risk-tradeoffs associated with each option. For example, reducing the chemical quantities on-site may reduce a system’s ability to cope with an interruption of chemical supplies. Furthermore, changing disinfection technologies will not necessarily improve overall safety and security.

Conclusion
In response to new regulations, emerging science on microbial contaminants, as well as safety and security concerns related to treatment chemicals, water system managers will continue to evaluate chlorine and other disinfection methods. Despite these challenges, a number of factors indicate that drinking water chlorination will remain a corner-stone of waterborne disease prevention.

Disinfection is unquestionably the most important step in drinking water treatment and chlorine’s wide range of benefits cannot be provided by any other single disinfectant. Only chlorine-based disinfectants provide residual protection, an important part of the multi-barrier approach to preventing waterborne disease.

It is uncertain that alternative disinfectants reduce potential DBP risks significantly.1 All chemical disinfectants produce by-products. Generally, the best approach to control disinfection by-products is to remove natural organic precursors prior to disinfection.3,4

To comply with the forthcoming Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule, some systems with high levels of Cryptosporidium in their source water may choose to adopt alternative disinfection methods (e.g., chlorine dioxide, ozone, or UV). However, most water systems are expected to meet disinfection requirements without changing treatment technologies. The U.S. EPA’s forthcoming Groundwater Rule, as well as efforts to strengthen Canadian drinking water standards following the E coli. outbreak in Walkerton, Ontario will likely increase the use of chlorination for ground water systems.

World leaders increasingly recognize safe drinking water as a critical building block of sustainable development. Chlorination can provide cost-effective disinfection for remote rural villages and large cities alike, helping to bring safe water to those in need.

References

  1. International Programme on Chemical Safety (2000). Disinfectants and disinfectant by-products, Environmental Health Criteria 216.
  2. Rose, J.B. (2002). Water quality security. Environmental Science and Technology, 36, 217-256.
  3. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2001a). Toxicological review of chloroform in support of summary information on the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). EPA Number 635/R-01/001.
  4. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2001b). Controlling Disinfection by-products and Microbial Contaminants in Drinking Water. EPA Number 600/R-01/110.

About the Council
This article is an abridged version of “Drinking Water Chlorination,” a comprehensive review of the disinfection method first produced in 2003 by the Chlorine Chemistry Council/American Chemistry Council. To read a copy of the complete report, visit http://c3.org/chlorine_issues/disinfection/c3white2003.html

The Chlorine Chemistry Council®, a business council of the American Chemistry Council, is a national trade association based in Arlington, Va. representing the manufacturers and users of chlorine and chlorine-related products. Chlorine is widely used as a disease-fighting disinfection agent, as a basic component in pharmaceuticals and myriad other products that are essential to modern life. For more information, contact the council at (703) 741-5583 or visit http://c3.org

 

Emerging Waterborne Pathogens

Monday, February 13th, 2006

By Kelly A. Reynolds, MSPH, PhD

Many of the pathogens considered ‘emerging’ may have been around for decades, but with new routes of exposure and increased susceptibility they have found new opportunities to reproduce. Microbes continue to surprise (and maybe even outsmart) us with regard to their continued ability to change, adapt and wreak havoc on public health. Technically, a pathogen is considered emerging, or reemerging, if the incidence in humans has increased within the past 20 years or if increased incidence is suspected to occur in the future. New microbial insults seemingly appear overnight, while others follow somewhat predictable patterns of emergence. A range of factors contribute to the appearance of a new pathogen. For example, a pathogen may be previously unrecognized, undetectable or undiagnosed but prevalent in the community for some time; a pathogen may have always been present but harmful only to a specific group of individuals, such as the immunocompromised, or transmitted by a new exposure route; climate changes or a change in the environment may impact pathogen survival or transmission; or a pathogen may truly be a newly evolved genetic sequence, never before present.

Factors of disease emergence
It is difficult to predict where new health threats will emerge. Common ailments such as ulcers and some cases of diabetes and heart disease have recently been linked to microbial agents. Detection methods are continually improving for better isolation and diagnosis of microbes and their associative illnesses, but efficient and reliable cultural methods have yet to be developed for some of the most common microbial health threats.

Changes in lifestyles and cultures play a role in the emergence of new pathogens. For example, compared to 20 years ago, more children are in group day-care environments and more people are traveling nationally and internationally, contributing to an increase in pathogen exposures in new populations. Today, more than 20 percent of our population is considered immuno-compromised, including HIV, organ transplant and chemotherapy patients. One study found that up to 85 percent of Cryptosporidium infections acquired by AIDS patients were from drinking tap water.1 The susceptibility of these growing populations has led to an increased incidence and awareness of microbial infections and their subsequent consequences.  

In addition to knowing where to look for pathogens, we must know how to look for them. The advent of molecular-based detection methods has opened new doors toward the understanding of emerging microbes. Molecular methods enable us to characterize genetic variations in the same organism. These variations can lead to increased virulence in a pathogen where characteristics such as growth temperatures, heat stability, toxin production, resistance mechanisms, etc. essentially owe to a brand new organism. The waterborne norovirus, for example, consists of numerous, genetically distinct strains, much like the common cold and influenza viruses. Such strain variation can complicate the efficacy of natural immunity and targeted medical interventions (such as vaccines). We now know that noroviruses are a primary cause of human infections in the U.S., including a significant portion of waterborne outbreaks where a causative agent was previously unrecognized.

With continued improvements in methods for monitoring and identifying pathogens transmitted in the environment, emerging disease can be better identified both on an epidemic and endemic level. Waterborne disease is generally recognized as being significantly underreported and seldom diagnosed. Thus, the true impact of microbial contaminants in water is difficult to assess. Endemic (low baseline level) waterborne disease is thought to be highly prevalent in the U.S. population. Based on extrapolation from existing databases, researchers estimate that seven million people become ill and more than 1,000 die each year from disease-causing microbes in drinking water in the U. S. alone.2 During 2001-2002, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported only 31 drinking water outbreaks resulting in 1,020 cases of illness and seven deaths. The agents significant for endemic infections may be different than those targeted from outbreak data.

Evolution of a deadly microbe
Genetic mutations are common in nature; however, most have no notable effect on the organism or its virulence properties. Microbial sequences may mutate due to either an outside stress (i.e., exposure to ultraviolet light) or the inherent inefficiency in the nucleic acid replication process of the organism. In either case, the genetic sequence of the organism is altered. Another common event is the exchange of genetic information—such events have been purposefully orchestrated by scientists to enhance positive attributes of microbes. For example, the properties of a fast-growing bacteria may be genetically combined with an organism capable of degrading toxic pollutants to produce an ideal organism for use in bioremediation practices. In nature, bacteria are constantly exchanging genetic information, providing an opportunity for the combination of a variety of virulence factors that may collectively create a newly emerging pathogen.

Genetic sequencing data indicates that the Escherichia species and Salmonella species diverged from a common ancestor about 120 to 160 million years ago, around the time of the origin of mammals. Shigella species are thought to have arisen from E. coli about 80 million years ago, around the time of the origin of the primate. Nonpathogenic E. coli is part of the normal flora of the intestinal tract of humans and other warm-blooded animals and is generally harmless. Over the course of evolutionary history, E. coli appears to have undergone mutation events and in addition, acquired virulence genes from other bacteria, resulting in a potentially severe and even life-threatening infectious agent (E. coli O157:H7) that rapidly emerged in the 1980s.

Emerging threats
The greatest threats in drinking water are those pathogens capable of resisting conventional treatment. In recent years, Helicobacter pylori was recognized as the primary cause of duodenal (90 percent) and gastric (80 percent) ulcers. It is considered a class A carcinogen, meaning that infections can lead to gastric cancer, the second most common cause of cancer worldwide. H. pylori has been found in biofilms of water distribution systems and in 10-60 percent of individual groundwater wells where conventional treatment applications are not routinely applied.3

Although incapable of growth in the distribution system, infectious Cryptosporidium was detected in finished water samples from nearly 27 percent (22/82) of U.S. surface water treatment plants, all surpassing current treatment standards.4 Thus, the researchers concluded that, “the potential exists for low levels of infectious oocysts to be present in the treated water of nearly all conventional surface water treatment plants.”

In an effort to thwart the next potential emerging hazard, in 1996 the Safe Drinking Water Act was amended requiring that the U.S. EPA establish a list of contaminants of potential public concern that were not currently regulated. This list is known as the Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate List (CCL) (Federal Register, March 2, 1998, 63 FR 10273) and is meant to identify priority contaminants for drinking water research, occurrence monitoring and guidance development, including health advisories. Of the initial list of 10 microbes, research to date shows that those marked with asterisks are the most problematic in terms of conventional drinking water treatment (Table 1). Although microsporidia is inactivated by UV light, it is relatively resistant to chlorine. Also resistant to chlorination, certain mycobacteria are of great concern in hospital outbreaks among immunocompromised individuals. Conversely, adenovirus is sensitive to chlorine but the most resistant waterborne pathogen to UV light. One is cautioned that as new treatment solutions are applied to address previous issues, new issues will undoubtedly be created.
 
Reducing your risks
In the environment, microbes are continually evolving, mutating and sharing genetic information. Strains are known to change within a single host, complicating efforts to determine the relatedness of specific organisms over geographical distributions. While the evolution of new pathogens are a definite concern, the increased virulence of well known pathogens is also unsettling. Recent acquisition of antibiotic resistance characteristics have complicated treatment efforts for some common pathogens, now considered emerging, or reemerging. Some strains of bacteria that cause tuberculosis are resistant to the three major antibiotic treatments, meaning that an infection with one of these strains may be virtually untreatable, as was the case before the advent of antibiotics.

Conclusion
As with most pathogens, the best way to combat new microbes is to avoid initial exposure. Since the exposure routes are common sources such as food, water and direct human contact, it is important to follow precautionary guidelines for safe food handling, water treatment and good personal hygiene. Waterborne disease microbes promise to continue emerging as we recognize their presence in new environments. Nearly half of drinking water related outbreaks are associated with small, noncommunity water systems or private wells, not currently regulated by federal agencies. Groundwater systems are now known to be vulnerable to many of the same pathogens that surface water hosts; however, there are far less treatment requirements for underground water sources. Evidence is emerging that Naegleria, a highly fatal amoebic pathogen, is commonly present in tap water sources, but with few incidences of recognized disease. Evaluating the risk of exposure to this pathogen is an important next step in disease prevention. Improved or added treatment of source water supplies is one avenue for control but maintaining the water quality throughout the distribution system is an added challenge that is best combated at the point of use.

References

  1. Aragon et al. 2003. Endemic cryptosporidiosis and exposure to municipal tap water in persons with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS): a case-control study. BioMedical Central Public Health 3:2.
  2. Morris and Levin. 1995. Estimating the incidence of waterborne infectious disease related to drinking water in the United States. In Reichard, et al., eds. Assessing and managing health risks from drinking water contamination: Approaches and applications. International Association of Hydrological Sciences Press. Great Britain.
  3. Park et al. 2001. Helicobacter sp recovered from drinking water biofilm sampled from a water distribution system. Water Research. 35: 1624-1626.
  4. Aboytes et al. 2004. Detection of infectious Cryptosporidium in filtered drinking water. Journal AWWA 96:88-98.

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

 

Chlorine Reduction Testing: All These Details You May Not Know

Monday, February 13th, 2006

By Rick Andrew

The most common contaminant reduction claim for activated carbon based filtration systems is chlorine reduction under NSF/ANSI Standard 42. Whether point of entry, faucet-mount or pour-through pitcher filters, almost any filter system that contains activated carbon includes a chlorine reduction claim. It is also the major claim for filtration systems utilizing metallic reduction-oxidation (redox) media.

As common as the claim is, there are many details about it that are not commonly known. How is the test conducted? How much chlorine is in the influent challenge and how much is allowed to be in the effluent? Is a chlorine reduction claim the same as a taste and odor reduction claim? The answer to this last question may surprise many.

These questions, and others, will be addressed in this column, so that hopefully knowledge about the most common claim for activated carbon filter systems will be as widespread as the claim itself.

How does a chlorine reduction test work?

First, we’ll look at testing of plumbed-in filters. Two filter systems are connected to the test stand initially. Prior to testing, the filters are flushed and conditioned according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This is important to ensure that the filters are properly wetted and ready to perform effectively, and it is required by the Standard.

Test water is then introduced into the filters at 60 psig initial dynamic pressure, with the flow rate controlled to the manufacturer’s rated service flow. The requirements for the test water are described in Table 1. Flow to the filters is cycled on and off according to one of two schedules as specified by the manufacturer—either a 50/50 or a 10/90 cycle. The 50/50 cycle includes flow being on for 10 minutes and then off for 10 minutes. The 10/90 cycle means that flow is on for two minutes, then off for 18 minutes.

After 10-unit volumes of water have flowed through the filters, samples are collected. The sample collection is conducted in the middle portion of the on cycle, with enough water collected for a free available chlorine analysis. This analysis must be conducted within one minute of sample collection, because the chlorine is highly reactive and unstable. Influent and effluent samples are collected so percent reduction of chlorine may be evaluated.

Immediate sample analysis offers some advantages in testing. Because the results are available as the samples are collected, decisions regarding the test can easily be made in real time. These decisions may include whether to continue the test beyond the initially expected capacity, terminate the test early or take some other course of action. For some other tests that involve complicated instrumental analysis, sample results take time, making it more difficult to alter the course of the test based on sample results.

The test then continues, with samples being collected based on the manufacturer’s rated capacity (unless the feedback from sample results points to a change in plans). The sampling schedule specified by the Standard is included in Table 2. As indicated by Table 2, the test is complete once 100 percent of the manufacturer’s rated capacity has been reached.

Testing of pour-through batch filter systems

In many respects, pour-through batch filter systems are tested similarly to plumbed-in systems. The test water chemistry is the same. The sample points are identical. Two systems are tested. However, there are obviously differences. Test pressure and cycling do not apply to pour-through batch systems. Instead, they are manually operated exactly as a consumer would operate them. A number of batches consistent with the manufacturer’s instructions is processed each day. Only full batches are processed, and each batch is allowed to fully process prior to filling the next batch. A random amount of time is allowed between batches in order to be consistent with consumer usage.

Samples are collected directly from the filtered water reservoir immediately after a batch has been filtered. As with the testing of plumbed-in filters, free available chlorine analysis must be conducted within one minute of collection.

Pass/fail criteria

The pass/fail criteria for chlorine reduction involve significant calculations. The filter systems must reduce free available chlorine throughout the course of the test by at least 50 percent. This means that at each sample point, the effluent samples must contain 50 percent or less of the free available chlorine concentration in the influent. The Standard allows that 10 percent of the effluent samples may exceed this allowance, although no exceedances are allowed in the last effluent samples of the test.

This criterion based on percent reduction has an interesting consequence. Many think of the pass/fail criterion being 1.0 mg/L free available chlorine in the effluent samples. This is correct if the influent is 2.0 mg/L. However, the influent may vary between 1.8 and 2.2 mg/L. If the influent concentration is 1.8 mg/L, effluent concentrations over 0.9 mg/L would exceed the allowable 50 percent of the influent. On the other hand, if the influent concentration is 2.2 mg/L, the effluent concentration could be as high as 1.1 mg/L and still be within the requirement.

Taste and odor reduction

The question was posed—is the taste and odor reduction claim the same thing as chlorine reduction? As I indicated, the answer may surprise you…sometimes.

NSF/ANSI 42 states that the taste and odor reduction claim is based on the reduction of free available chlorine for activated carbon systems only. This means that systems using only metallic redox media may not make a taste and odor reduction claim. And those filter systems that contain both activated carbon and metallic redox media must be specially configured for testing without the metallic redox media to make the taste and odor reduction claim.

Sometimes it’s the commonplace that we need to learn more about

Most of us own cars and we are faced with the task of changing the oil (or getting it changed, as the case may be) every so often. Do we just guess what grade of oil to use or use the grade we used in previous cars we’ve owned? Or, do we actually check the owner’s manual to see which grade is recommended by the manufacturer? We may find that the manufacturer recommends a grade of oil we never would have expected. Sometimes a little bit of extra research or information on commonplace, everyday subjects can reveal enlightening and useful information.

Although many of us are familiar with the chlorine reduction claim under Standard 42, I hope this column has served to enlighten you and provide some new insights and information. If so, maybe it’s time to break out your car’s owner’s manual.

About the author

Rick Andrew has been with NSF International for over six years, working with certification of residential drinking water products. He has been the Technical Manager of the Drinking Water Treatment Units Program for over three years. His previous experience was in the area of analytical and environmental chemistry consulting. Andrew has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and an MBA from the University of Michigan. He can be reached at 1-800-NSF-MARK or email: Andrew@nsf.org

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