Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine

Viewpoint

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

By Karen R. Smith, WC&P Executive Editor

Bottled water continues to dominate the marketplace. Financial experts all believe that growth will continue and no upward limit has yet been established. Should your business enter this profitable marketplace? If you already offer bottled water, how can you make your product stand out from the rest? What’s new in the world of bottled water? All of those questions are answered in this issue…beginning with our cover boy.

I’ll wager you’re wondering about that wonderful griffin on our cover. He was created in the 15th century — for bottled water! These containers are called aquamanilia. They were the first hollow-cast vessels produced in the medieval West. Clean water was needed by priests for handwashing prior to mass and by lay people at mealtimes, as much food was consumed without benefit of silverware.

Each of these remarkable water bottles has two openings: one for filling with water and one for pouring it out. Human and animal forms predominate; many are fantasy creations like the griffin here. In fact, aquamanilia are among the most distinctive and delightful products of the Middle Ages, according to the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design and Culture, where they are currently on display.

Our cover critter and a host of other aquamanilia are part of the extensive collection belonging to New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which are being exhibited at the Bard Center through October 15. The primary mission of the Bard Center’s exhibitions is to enhance scholarship and promote public awareness of the decorative arts, design, and culture by examining Western and non- Western subjects from the ancient world to the present. A range of seminars and public programs as well as gallery tours are also organized in conjunction with each exhibition.

For a historical perspective of bottled water – and a unique opportunity to see early packaging! – I encourage you to visit The Bard Center while the aquamanilia are on display. The Center is located on West 86th Street in Manhattan and easily accessible by mass transit. For additional information, visit the website: http://www.bgc.bard.edu.

We’re entering ‘conference’ season in the water treatment industry – which events are you attending? Spend a few minutes at your computer and check out the show’s floorplan and exhibitor list, along with the program of educational offerings. It is more important than ever to maximize the investment your business makes in trade show attendance – but doing so means planning ahead. Simple practices can enhance the benefits of your visit; for example, to learn the most about the products and services you are interested in, time your show floor visit for the middle of the conference. At the beginning, vendors are setting up and often initially swamped with inquiries; at the end, they are trying to pack up and head out, often having sent key staffers on ahead. In the middle of the show you will have the undivided attention of the full staff—all of whom are eager to help your business!

Many of the regional WQAs will be hosting their annual events in the coming weeks and thousands will head for Aquatech Amsterdam 2006, which is shaping up to be the largest show ever from the RAI. Head for the WC&P booth and introduce yourself!

 

Managing Risk

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

By Mark A.W. Smith

Introduction
The bottled water industry is huge and growing. From the delivery of five-gallon jugs to the handy 16 ouncers, more and more often Americans choose to get their water from a bottle. The industry has grown to a multi-billion dollar market, exceeding $10 billion in sales in 2005.

Since you’re already in the water industry, the allure of adding profits to your company’s bottom line by adding water bottling is a short leap. You have the water, you have the RO units and GAC filters, you have skilled workers: all you need is a bottling line and some labels! A number of companies, many featured in this magazine, make high-quality bottling lines that can be set up almost anywhere, require only moderate expertise and supervision and will churn out labeled, capped bottles of water that will retail at a higher price per gallon than regular unleaded at the pump. Who can blame you for wanting to become the next bottled water baron?

Risky business
Lawyers can blame you, that’s who. Like anything else, there is risk in the bottled water biz, but it’s risk you can manage. Adding a water bottling line of any size or configuration will substantially change your risk and should send you running to your broker for a complete policy review. If you need to change or upgrade your insurance, ask your broker to contact your carrier; many coverages can be added or changed mid-term (you don’t have to wait until your policy renewal period).

How will your risk increase? First, this is expensive equipment. A large bottling line with capper and labeling system costs over $45,000. Many first party policies (the insurance you buy to protect your own property) are scheduled policies. That means the insurance only applies to equipment and tools you disclosed during the application process. You will only have automatic coverage for new equipment you buy for a few weeks, so if you add a bottling line make sure it will be covered in the event of fire or other loss. Call your broker before the equipment is installed and make sure that it will be covered on your policy.

Workers’ comp and SIC
Another problem is your workers’ compensation insurance. These machines are well designed and most of the manufacturers continually upgrade their systems to make them safe and easy to use. Even so, bottling lines that include capping and labeling components present a risk of injury to your workers. ‘Pinch’ injuries from machines are one of the most common industrial accidents and can result in lost fingers—or worse.

Bottling water is considered manufacturing under the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code system used to classify businesses. If your company is already classed as a manufacturer adding bottling won’t affect your rating. If, on the other hand, your current business is as a retailer or installer, adding a bottling line will change your classification and your rates will probably rise. You might be tempted to skip this to avoid the added expense, but don’t do it. If you don’t add the machines to your business policy the worst thing that can happen is that the company will deny that portion of the claim and they might not even do that depending on the type of policy and the nature of the loss. On the other hand, in most states, a business is required to report a material change in its activities to its insurance carrier at once. Your workers’ compensation insurer probably won’t deny the claim of an injured worker even if you failed to disclose your new business activities. Instead, they will seek to cancel the policy. They may also annotate your loss run (the basis on which insurers rate your policy) that you failed to make required disclosures. If this happens you may face a catastrophic rise in compensation rates. It is especially important that you tell your broker/agent about the new venture. Most insurers will be tolerant of your failure to disclose the new activity for your current policy year, but if your broker sends in your renewal application without disclosing your new venture, the insurance company will suspect fraud. Fraud in an application is grounds to rescind the policy and getting another insurance company to write you a policy once that happens may be impossible. At that point your only option will be your state’s program, at exorbitant rates.

Liability
Once you have made sure that your property and workers are protected you also need to be certain your liability insurance is in order. Chances are your liability insurance will also need a tune up. If you are a dealer or installer, you probably carry commercial auto and general liability insurance. Between the two policies very little that can go wrong in your business will be uncovered. However, as the manufacturer of a product, rather than as the vendor of someone else’s product, you are taking on new risks; risks that may not be covered under your existing insurance.

The good news is that the biggest new risk you have assumed, the products liability risk, is covered. People drink water. Things people eat and drink can make them sick. If the thing they drank that made them sick is your water, or they just think that your water is what made them sick, they will sue you. Fortunately for you, bodily injury caused by a defect in your work or your product is covered under the Commercial General Liability (CGL) policy. So the question is, do you have enough CGL coverage? Let’s assume that your main business is selling and installing water softeners and RO systems for residential users. You have salesmen and a few teams of installers. Your commercial auto policy covers you for car accidents that your crews or sales reps might get into and your CGL policy will cover any mishaps at the customer’s home while installing the equipment. It will even cover you for plumbing leaks and the like that might arise after the fact. If something goes wrong with the equipment you install and the customer gets ill as a result, the system manufacturer will bear the brunt of that suit.

How much is enough?
If you have a $300,000 to $400,000 auto policy and a $500,000 to $1,000,000 CGL policy you are probably in great shape. But how much coverage do you need when you are the manufacturer? Just as you will look to the manufacturer if you are sued over a defective product, so your vendors are going to look to you. Insurance limits that are more than enough to protect you and your business may not be enough to protect you and your customer. While you must examine whether or not you have enough coverage to protect you and your vendors, you also need be sure that your insurance meets all of your legal obligations to your vendors. When you are sued your insurance carrier owes you not only coverage for any judgment, but also a defense of the lawsuit. Many policies limit that duty only to the insured. Thus, your customer may end up suing you to recover the often considerable expense of conducting his defense. If you decide to bottle water, make certain that your increased exposure is covered. Ask your broker to review your coverage and make sure that the policy either provides blanket coverage to vendors of your product, or that they can be automatically added by you. The former is a far wiser solution, because adding each vendor as an additional insured to the policy, even if there is no separate charge, means that you have to remember to do it.

You will probably need more coverage as well; the good news on that front is that there are reasonably inexpensive alternatives to doubling your primary coverage. A commercial umbrella policy provides excess coverage over and above both your commercial auto insurance and your liability insurance. Umbrella policies are usually far less expensive than increasing the limits of both your primary policies. By having your broker place the umbrella coverage for you, you maintain the simplicity of reporting losses to one broker, who can then handle reporting for you to the various insurers.

Conclusion
Deciding to bottle and sell water that costs you 60 cents a gallon for $7 (or more) a gallon is a good gamble; doing it with inadequate insurance is a very bad bet.

About the author
Mark A.W. Smith is the principal of Mark A.W. Smith & Company, providers of alternative dispute resolution services, including mediation and arbitration of claims in the construction, environmental and insurance coverage arenas, specializing in trades and trade contractors and their issues. Smith spent over 25 years as an executive for several of the major carriers. He can be reached at msmith@smithclaims.com or by calling (520) 887-1200.

Bottled Water 2005: U.S. and International Developments and Statistics

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

By John G. Rodwan, Jr.

As the second-largest commercial beverage category by volume in the United States, bottled water continues to experience steady growth. For several consecutive years, volume production has accelerated, and per capita consumption has increased significantly. In recent years, U.S. volume has been increasing more rapidly than dollar sales, but in both respects, the industry’s performance is unrivaled.

The characteristics driving bottled water’s growth are clear: It is healthy, safe, and a great beverage alternative. As a ready-to-drink commercial beverage, bottled water is relatively inexpensive and, with competitive pricing, it’s becoming increasingly affordable for consumers. Bulk and single-serve packaging options facilitate a variety of uses. A continued, growing interest by consumers in healthy, low-calorie products that confer benefits above and beyond refreshment also contributes to bottled water’s performance in recent years. As concern about obesity grows more widespread and intense, bottled water’s calorie-free contents appear that much more attractive to consumers.

Domestic nonsparkling water continues to be the largest and strongest part of the U.S. packaged water industry, consistently outperforming other segments. The retail premium PET segment is driving overall category enlargement and now accounts for more than half of total volume. Recently, consumers have a renewed interest in sparkling waters, causing some growth in that segment. Imports, however, declined in 2005. Bulk and direct delivery volumes have not enjoyed the levels of expansion that characterize the PET water. Outside the United States, home and office delivery (HOD) continues to be a growth segment.

The U.S. numbers
In 2005, total U.S. bottled water volume exceeded 7.5 billion gallons, a 10.7 percent advance over 2004’s volume level, according to the latest edition of “Bottled Water in the U.S.,” a comprehensive study of the market published annually by Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC). That translates into 26.1 gallons per person. With the exception of carbonated soft drinks (CSDs), U.S. residents now drink more bottled water annually than any other beverage. The gap between the two top categories is narrowing as bottled water ceaselessly advances, and CSDs either barely grow, as was the trend in recent years, or decline, as was the case in 2005. Average intake of bottled water has grown by at least one gallon annually, thereby more than doubling in a decade. Per capita consumption of CSDs has dipped slightly for several consecutive years.

While CSDs still have volume and average intake levels more than twice as high as bottled water, the soft drink market has been struggling recently, in no small part because of competition from bottled water. Moreover, bottled water’s share of the U.S. beverage market is poised to grow, while CSDs’ will continue to lose ground. According to “The Future of Liquid Refreshment Beverages in the U.S.,” a new report by Roger Dilworth, BMC’s senior editor, bottled water’s share of the non-alcoholic beverage market could advance from 21.7 percent in 2005 to 28.5 percent in 2010, when the bottled water market would be stronger than regular CSDs, which are on track to see their share erode from 29.8 percent to 24.7 percent during the same five-year period. The overall CSD market (including regular and diet volume) would remain larger, with a 38.1 percent share (down from 43.3 percent in 2005), but bottled water would have achieved another significant hallmark and further gained in the largest beverage category.

The U.S. bottled water market reached new highs not only in volume but also in wholesale dollar sales, which surpassed $10 billion in 2005. Sales grew more quickly than they did in the previous two years, but did not advance at as fast a rate as volume. That trend reflects the impact of price promotions, especially on PET multipacks, which are increasingly the focus of such promotions as well as central to volume growth. Once primarily a tactic used on the West Coast, lowering prices to attract buyers is now seen throughout the United States.

Weather always affects the beverage industry, and natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, contributed to demand for bottled water in 2005. Barring a repeat of such events, volume is likely to grow more slowly in 2006. Preliminary numbers suggest that volume could approach 8.3 billion gallons and that producer revenues will advance at a slightly faster rate than in 2005.

U.S. category developments
Domestic nonsparkling water’s 7.2 billion gallons represented 95.1 percent of total volume in 2005. The segment, which comprises diverse components with very different performances, grew at a faster rate than the overall market in 2005.

The most vital piece of the nonsparkling segment is the retail PET segment. PET volume increased from 1.4 billion gallons in 2000 to almost 4 billion gallons in 2005, boosting its share of volume from 29.0 percent to 52.8 percent. The segment is on track to increase share again in 2006. (See chart below.)

As consumers increasingly opt for convenient PET multipacks in large format retail channels instead of larger (1 to 2.5 gallon) sizes, retail bulk volume has slowed. Its share eroded from nearly one-quarter of the category volume in 2000 to less than one-fifth by 2005, largely as a result of competition from PET.

While HOD volume declined in 2003 and 2004, the segment was essentially flat in 2005. The segment accounted for approximately 18 percent of bottled water volume in 2005.
Domestic sparkling water has revived, with a solid 10.9 percent volume growth in 2005, which was the first year the segment achieved double-digit growth since 1990. Leading brands, such as Aquafina, now offer sparkling versions along with their still waters.

Imported water’s three-year streak of double-digit annual volume growth came to an end in 2005, when volume plummeted.

The industry leaders
Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA) remained the largest bottled water company in the United States, with $3.1 billion in wholesale dollar sales. The purveyor of major regional brands such as Poland Spring, Arrowhead, and Zephyrhills accounted for more than 31 percent of total bottled water sales in 2005. The United States-based subsidiary of the Swiss-based food and beverage giant Nestlé, NWNA derives a significant amount of revenues from its HOD business, as well as its retail bulk water, while also focusing on its retail in the fast-growing PET water business. Poland Spring remained the third-largest selling brand in the United States, and several of the company’s other brands, such as Deer Park and Ozarka, achieved strong double-digit sales growth. In 2005, NWNA launched its Pure Savings Plan, which sets fixed monthly fees for water delivery, in a bid to boost HOD volume. The company achieved significant growth in the segment.

NWNA, an early entrant into the U.S. bottled water market, has earned a reputation as an innovator in important areas such as PET packaging. It offers its various brands in an array of package types and sizes. It has plans to launch a 3-liter PET package in 2006.

Soon after acquiring Guelph, Ontario-based Aberfoyle Springs in 2000, NWNA transformed the company’s namesake brand into Nestlé Pure Life, as part of an effort to make Pure Life a global brand. It also started producing the brand in the United States, which affected imports of bottled water from the Canadian market.

The leading CSD companies have the top two bottled water brands in the United States, as measured in producers’ revenues. In 2004, Pepsi-Cola’s Aquafina, which has reigned as the number one brand for several years, became the U.S. bottled water business’s first billion-dollar brand. The brand sustained strong growth in 2005, when wholesale dollar sales neared $1.3 billion. In 2005, Coca-Cola’s retail PET brand, Dasani, joined Aquafina with sales greater than $1 billion (although Aquafina remained the leading brand). Both companies now offer flavored iterations of their brands, but those currently account for a small part of their sales. Although Dasani could be described as Coca-Cola’s standard-bearer in the bottled water business, the brand serves as part of a multifaceted strategy that entails distribution of several brands of various price levels.

Merge matters
After announcing in 2004 that it was reviewing its joint ventures with Suntory and Coca-Cola, Danone pulled out of both deals in 2005. In September 2003, Danone created DS Waters Enterprises with Suntory Water Group. DS Waters comprised all of Suntory’s Water Group activities and Danone Water North America’s (DWNA’s) HOD bottled water business. Brands involved included Alhambra, Sparkletts, and Crystal Springs. In 2004, Danone agreed to buy out Suntory’s share of the struggling enterprise. The following year, Danone sold DS Water’s assets to Kelso, an investment fund. The company’s revenues declined in 2005, albeit at a slower rate than in 2004.

In April 2002, Coca-Cola and DWNA formalized a deal under which Coca-Cola would manage all marketing execution, sales, and distribution for Evian in the United States and Canada. Evian is now dispersed through a direct store delivery (DSD) distribution network. Groupe Danone retained responsibility for global product development and brand strategy efforts for Evian. Whereas Dasani represents Coca-Cola’s mid-priced offering, the imported Evian is a premium-priced brand. However, so far, Coca-Cola has not been able to revive the brand, which saw sales contract in 2004 and 2005.

In June 2002, the two companies established a partnership to produce, market, and distribute most of Groupe Danone’s other U.S. bottled water brands. The CCDA Waters venture did not include Danone’s import brand, Volvic; Coca-Cola’s Dasani; or Danone’s HOD bottled water business (which became part of DS Waters). The earlier agreement concerning Evian also remained intact and separate from the later pact. Reportedly paying $128 million for a 51 percent interest in the venture, Coca-Cola gained five production facilities, a license for the Dannon and Sparkletts bottled water trademarks, and ownership of “several value brands” in the AquaPenn roster. The deal provided the soft drink company with various lower-priced spring and purified waters. Although the overall volume of the brands Coca-Cola carries in connection with Danone declined in 2004, the Dannon brand revived after a couple of off years. It enjoyed strong growth in 2005.

In April 2005, Coca-Cola bought out Danone’s 49 percent share of CCDA Waters. Coke gained full ownership of the five plants, and it continued to license the Dannon and Sparkletts trademarks. The company also agreed to increase marketing spending on Evian.

International developments
In practically every major region of the world, bottled water has been one of the most dynamic beverage categories. While bottled water as a sizeable commercial beverage category got its start primarily in Western Europe, it is now a truly global beverage, found even in some of the more remote corners of the globe.

Global bottled water consumption is estimated to have topped the 1.6 billion hectoliter mark in 2005, meaning that bottled water is more voluminous than beer across the globe, according to data from the latest edition of BMC’s “The Global Bottled Water Market” report. Global consumption increased by 6.2 percent in 2005 over 2004’s level. Per capita consumption was 6.7 gallons, up from 2004’s 6.4 gallons.

Some regional and national markets differ dramatically from the global consumption average. Several Western European countries, for instance, boast per capita consumption levels several times higher than the global rate. However, much of the developing world, where the bulk of the world’s population resides, finds its per capita consumption figures far lower.

While the global per capita consumption figure may belie dramatic regional differences, bottled water’s global growth is indicative of a number of noteworthy trends. First and foremost, bottled water has been able to make tremendous volume gains during the last decade by successfully tapping into some divergent consumer trends around the globe. Bottled water is in many respects the ideal category for beverage manufacturers worldwide. It is characterized by high gross margins, the ability to segment the market, the possibility of trading up, and high growth. Yet, the bottled water market is still highly fragmented, leaving the window open for acquisition and investment opportunities.

In developed countries such as the United States and Canada, bottled water has become the fastest growing and most dynamic major beverage category by tapping into a growing health and well-being consciousness on the part of consumers. Increased health awareness has helped position bottled water as an alternative not only to tap water, but also, and perhaps most significant, as an alternative to CSDs and juice drinks as well.

Simultaneously, in the developing world, bottled water is increasingly positioned as a safe and relatively affordable alternative to the often-unsafe tap water found in many countries.

While much of the world’s bottled water market is still highly fragmented and controlled by local brands, consolidation is rapidly occurring, as four companies have come to dominate much of the market. Swiss food and beverage company Nestlé and French entity Danone are the traditional leaders of the bottled water pack. Both companies centered their operations around the core markets of Western Europe and, to some extent, the United States. However, as water growth is increasingly coming from the developing world, Nestlé and Danone have taken their battle to the new competitive fields of Asia, Latin America, and other areas. In fact, Danone has retreated from the U.S. market to focus on some of those other markets.

Now challenging the two European leaders in the bottled water arena are the CSD stalwarts Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. Beginning with their resounding success in the United States, both companies are increasingly devoting resources and energy to developing their global bottled water businesses. PepsiCo and Coca-Cola already claim the top two brands in the U.S. bottled water market, and, while they do not pose an immediate threat to Danone and Nestlé in Western Europe, they must both be considered serious threats in the less developed and often high-growth bottled water markets of Asia, Eastern Europe, and South America.

Trends
A number of other trends will also be evident in the next few years as companies increasingly use new product development to differentiate themselves in the eyes of consumers. In Europe, the key question in the next five years will be whether or not consumers will trade down, as North Americans have, and embrace cheaper waters (such as those sold by Coke and Pepsi in the United States). That trend has already started to manifest itself on the continent. Another key trend to watch is the rise of nutrient-enriched waters. For example, both Danone and Nestlé have developed calcium-enhanced waters in Europe in the hopes that those products will become a new growth frontier for the industry. Finally, perhaps the most widespread trend in the industry has been the appearance and proliferation of flavored waters. Almost every company now has flavored versions of its leading brands. In the mature Western European market, such new innovation will be a key growth determinant.

Market leaders
While Europe may be the leading regional consumer of bottled water, on a country basis, North America boasts the two largest markets: the United States and Mexico. Those markets combine for a 28.9 percent share of the world market. The U.S. bottled water market has been a catalyst for much of the global growth during the past five years, rapidly growing in size from 4.7 billion gallons in 2000 to 7.5 billion in 2005—a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.8 percent. Mexico accounted for 11.5 percent of the global volume with nearly 5 billion gallons in 2005. In 2005, China remained in third place with 3.4 billion gallons. Brazil’s bottled water volume increased by 5.3 percent, reaching 3.2 billion gallons. In 2005, Italy and Germany grew by 4.2 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively. Italy ended the year at 2.9 billion gallons, and Germany at 2.8 billion gallons.

Ten of the top 15 bottled water consumers on a per capita basis are European countries, three are Middle Eastern, and two are North American. At more than 50 gallons per person in 2005, Italians consumed 2.8 gallons more than the United Arab Emirates, the number-two market, and 3.2 gallons more per capita than Mexico, the third largest in terms of average intake. The Belgium-Luxembourg market was the only other market with per capita consumption higher than 40 gallons. In 2005, Spain’s per capita consumption rate was 38.7 gallons; France’s was 36.6 gallons; and Germany’s was 33.8 gallons. Lebanon ranked eighth, just ahead of Switzerland. Other markets with high per capita consumption included Lebanon and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East and Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Portugal, and Slovenia in Europe. The United States ranked tenth in terms of per capita consumption in 2005, one notch higher than in 2004.

About the author
John G. Rodwan, Jr., is editorial director at Beverage Marketing Corporation, a New York-based research, consulting, and financial services firm.

 

People

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

Hague promotes Rice
Heather Rice has been promoted to Technical Advisor in the Dealer Services Department of Hague Quality Water International, reporting to National Technical Director, Gary Battenberg. She will work directly with dealers to support them with information about equipment, applications, diagnostics and troubleshooting service problems. Rice started her technical support career at Hague in 2002, beginning with intense training for the WaterMax product line and then the RO product line.

EWQA appoints Cain
The Eastern Water Quality Association (EWQA) has appointed Jane Cain as Association Administrator. Cain brings a wealth of experience to the position; in fact, her firm (Cain Associates Inc.) runs South Atlantic Jubilee, the annual well drilling industry trade show and conference of the South Atlantic Well Drillers Association. Cain is also the Executive Director of the Virginia Water Well Association. “We are very excited about the changes Jane is bringing to our association. Members will benefit from her firm’s expertise and they are bringing a new spirit to our Conference in Pikesville this September,” President Michael Urbans said.

Aquion adds officers
Aquion Water Treatment Products announced the addition of Thomas E. Hudock as Vice President of Operations. He will focus on operations (specifically customer service), manufacturing, quality and supply chain. Hudock’s industry experience spans 26 years, previously holding management positions at Chicago Faucet Company and Elkay Manufacturing. The ProSystems Division appointed Mark A. Rolfes to the newly created position of Business Unit Manager. Rolfes assumes responsibility for both national and international sales efforts, including the development of new business opportunities. Previously, he was the Director of International Sales at a competitive water treatment OEM. Rolfes is a 15-year veteran of the water treatment industry.

Myers named Res-Kem Plant Manager
Res-Kem Corp. named Barry W. Myers to the production team as Plant Manager. In this role, Myers will grow the business through streamlined manufacturing processes and distribution of Res-Kem’s extensive residential, industrial, municipal and commercial product line. In addition, he will oversee the firm’s expansion into a significantly larger system manufacturing and product distribution facility in April 2007. Myers brings over 25 years of engineering, manufacturing and distribution expertise to serve customers worldwide in a variety of markets. Previously, he was General Manager of a Tyco/Grinnell division in Lubbock, Texas and held management positions at Ametek/US Gauge and Philadelphia Mixers Corporation. Myers is a graduate of Drexel University with a BS in mechanical engineering.

ANGUS names Whetten as Director
Alan Whetten has been named Director of R&D for ANGUS Chemical Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company. Located in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, his responsibilities will include running the global R&D and technical service organizations including product, process and applications R&D development. Whetten joined Dow in 1984, serving most recently as a Director for Dow Plastics Technical Service and Development. He was a key component in the Dow/Union Carbide (UCC) integration team and spent two years at the heritage UCC facility in New Jersey. Whetten holds several patents and was one of the recipients of the R&D Magazine 100 award in 2001 for the development and commercialization of INSPIRE™ Performance Polymers.  He holds an MS degree in chemistry from Kansas State University.

ITT appoints Taylor
ITT Corporation announced the appointment of William E. Taylor to the position of President, ITT China. Taylor will serve as a member of the Executive Council and will lead development and deployment of the overall China strategy for the company. He will also lead the firm’s commercial business interests throughout China, working closely with the motion, flow control and fluid technology business leaders. He will be based in Shanghai, China. Taylor joined ITT in 2003 as Vice President of the Process Products Division and Marketing and has served as President of ITT’s Industrial and Biopharm Group based in Seneca Falls, New York since 2004. Previously, he served as President of the Delta Companies and Sundyne Corporation. Taylor received a BS degree in technical management from Regis University (Denver, Colorado).

WC&P proudly presents
Peter S. Cartwright, esteemed member of WC&P’s Technical Review Committee, will be presenting several seminars on the Aquatech 2006 tradeshow floor at an assortment of venues, including the Aqua Stages booth (#07.538 Hall 7, Amstelhal). For a daily schedule of seminars, stop by WC&P’s booth (#05.304F Oost Hall) in the WQA Pavilion. Cartwright’s tentative schedule of presentations is as follows:
Tuesday, Sept. 26
POU/POE Treatment in North America—Market and Technology Trends. A discussion of the evolving POU/POE market opportunities and specific products becoming available to meet these trends.
Wednesday, Sept. 27
Water Reuse Technologies—The Wave of the Future. The application of membrane separation technologies to facilitate wastewater recovery and reuse.
Thursday, Sept. 28
The Latest in Water Treatment Instrumentation. Describing the latest instrumentation for water purification and wastewater treatment applications.
Friday, September 29
An Innovative Ozone Technology. A new electrolytic ozone production technology for oxidation and disinfection of water and wastewater supplies.

Cartwright, well known to WC&P readers, is President of Cartwright Consulting Co., Minneapolis and a registered Professional Engineer in Minnesota. He has been in the water treatment industry since 1974, authored almost 100 articles, presented over 125 lectures in conferences around the world and has been awarded three patents. Cartwright has chaired several WQA committees and task forces and has received the organization’s Award of Merit. A member of the WC&P Technical Review Committee since 1996, his expertise includes such high technology separation processes as reverse osmosis, ultrafiltration, microfiltration, electrodialysis, deionization, carbon adsorption, ozonation and distillation.

LaRose honored by CIPH
At the Chairman’s Annual Banquet held during CIPH’s 74th Annual Business Conference in Banff, Canada, Immediate Past Chairman and Founder of the Joseph K. Seidner Award, Mike Dennis (Moen) presented the sixth award to Carey LaRose of Alberta Municipal Affairs. The award acknowledges the outstanding commitment of plumbing industry volunteers who dedicate their time, knowledge and expertise to development of safer plumbing codes and standards through various Canadian Standards Association (CSA) International Standard writing committees and the Canadian Advisory Council of Plumbing. Carey is a current member and a past Chairman of the council; he serves on several CSA technical committees and has been with Alberta Municipal Affairs for the past 28 years.

Industry mourns loss
Water Specialist Emeritus Ray E. Cross passed away August 25, 2006, in Ann Arbor, Mich. He was born on October 29, 1912 in Pontiac and graduated from high school there in 1930. Cross earned BS and MS degrees (in chemical engineering and chemistry, respectively) from Michigan College of Mining and Technology, now Michigan Technological University, in 1935. For the first dozen years after graduation, he worked as a metallurgist in various foundries and served his country in a similar capacity during WWII.

Cross spent the better part of his life engaged in water quality treatment; he started a Culligan dealership in Ann Arbor in 1947. In 1960, he was named president of Water Conditioning Association International (WCAI), the precursor to today’s Water Quality Association (WQA). Cross was a strong supporter of both WQA and the Water Quality Research Foundation (WQRF). At his 60th consecutive convention last March, he announced the Ray Cross Challenge. Cross offered to match every new dollar contributed to WQRF (for a period of one year) up to $300,000. Money donated as part of the challenge goes toward an endowment that guarantees ongoing water quality research. The challenge fulfilled one of his lifelong dreams: to provide something within the water industry that would benefit all of mankind. As of July 31, 2006, the challenge has raised over $78,000 from 212 donors.

A memorial service will take place Friday, September 22, 2006, at 3 p.m., at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 506 North Division St. Ann Arbor, Mich. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Water Quality Research Foundation. As Cross had intended, all WQRF donations made by April 1, 2007, will be matched by his estate. Donation forms may be downloaded at www.wqa.org/pdf/RCC_Form.pdf, or call the WQA at (630) 505-0160 to have one mailed or faxed to you.

Coliphage: A Better Water Quality Indicator

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

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

From 1971 to 2000, seven percent of the 751 documented waterborne outbreaks in the U.S. were due to human viruses. In about half of these outbreaks, no causative agent was identified; however, the event characteristics were consistent with viral etiologies. Therefore, viruses are thought to be the primary agent of waterborne disease outbreaks. Yet today, monitoring our water supplies for human enteric viruses is not practical, as current detection methods are difficult, expensive and time consuming. A variety of indicators, including physical, chemical and biological markers, have been used to monitor water quality and treatment efficacy but have not always correlated well with human virus presence. A recent study adds to the mounting evidence that more reliable indicator systems are needed to protect human health. The recommended use of a group of bacterial viruses (coliphage) continues to gain momentum.

Waterborne viruses
More than 140 different types of viruses are known to infect the human intestinal tract and are subsequently excreted in feces. Enteric viruses associated with polluted waters include the enterovirus group (poliovirus, coxsackievirus and echovirus), hepatitis A virus, rotavirus, adenovirus and norovirus. These viruses are responsible for a wide range of illnesses including meningitis, paralysis, myocarditis, hepatitis, encephalitis, diabetes, respiratory illness and diarrhea.

Viruses and other pathogens find their way into the environment via many routes: municipal waste disposal, septic tank seepage, storm water runoff, wastewater reclamation practices and recreational bathers, just to name a few. Transmitted by the fecal-oral route into drinking water, low numbers are able to initiate infection in humans. In fact, the infectious dose may be as low as one culture-able organism. Therefore, virus monitoring tools must be able to detect low pathogen concentrations in large water volumes.

Viable human viruses have been detected in surface waters, ground waters and even treated drinking waters. A recent nationwide survey, using molecular detection methods, found that one third of all drinking water wells used by utilities tested positive for human enteric viruses.1 Although the molecular methods used do not determine if the viruses were infectious, their presence indicates a potentially increased level of exposure risk. Although other pathogens are also present in wastewater, viruses cause the greatest concern due to their small size and long-term survival. They have been documented to travel through the subsurface for up to 100 meters (328 feet), much further than fecal bacteria or other pathogens.

Post-treatment contamination of drinking water is also a concern where intrusion can occur, allowing viruses to enter the distribution system after which there are no additional barriers prior to consumption. During such events, residual chlorine levels in the distribution water are known to be ineffective at inactivating the introduced viruses and current monitoring methods often do not correlate with other health-related contaminants.

Reliability of indicators
Typical indicators used in water quality monitoring include nitrogen and phosphorous (markers for the presence of nutrients); chlorophyll-a (a marker for algal blooms); suspended solids and turbidity (water clarity indicator); dissolved oxygen (an indicator of the oxygen available to aquatic organisms); pH (a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of the water); conductivity (a measure of the salinity of water); and coliform bacteria, among others. Monitoring the physical, chemical and biological markers of a particular water source provides a means to determine the overall quality of the source water without directly monitoring the infinite number of potential toxicants that may be present.

Internationally, bacterial indicators, such as total and fecal coliforms, are used to monitor and predict drinking water quality related to microbial contaminants. Guidelines and standards have been developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the European Union (EU) and others. Coliform bacteria are used by drinking water laboratories for microbial analysis of potable water, but are also used to evaluate food, pharmaceuticals, distribution lines, treated effluents, bottled water, groundwater, marine water and other environmental samples. In June 1989, the U.S. EPA published the Total Coliform Rule (TCR), requiring all public water systems to monitor for the presence of coliforms in their distribution systems. Total coliforms are regulated by U.S. EPA standards where zero is considered the maximum contaminant level (MCL) goal. The enforced MCL is that no more than five percent of samples can be coliform-positive in a month. Every sample that’s positive for total coliforms must be analyzed for fecal coliforms. No fecal coliforms are permitted in any sample.

Bacterial indicators have been highly effective for indicating presence of disease-causing bacteria, such as those associated with typhoid, dysentery and cholera. The use of bacteria to ensure the safety of drinking water is questioned, however, in regard to predicting the presence of viral and protozoan pathogens (see On Tap, September 2003). This may be due to a number of factors including the different survival, transport and growth characteristics of viruses, bacteria and protozoa.

Promising phage indicators
Coliphages are viruses that infect E. coli bacteria (yes, bacteria get viruses, too). They tend to persist wherever their requisite host is found, thus coliphage, like E. coli (a classic fecal bacterial indicator organism) are consistently present in the guts of warm-blooded animals and excreted in feces. The bonus is that they are viruses and more closely mimic the characteristics of fate, transport and survival of human viruses in the environment, making them an attractive option for an indicator of such contamination in water. Even better, coliphage are much easier to detect in environmental samples than human viruses.

There are two types of coliphage: somatic phage, infecting via the bacterial cell wall and male-specific phage (also known as F+ coliphage), infecting via the bacterial pili (a tail-like extension). Identification of specific pollution sources is possible with F+ coliphage monitoring since predominant groups, differentiated genetically, are linked to either human or animal wastes.2

A recent study found that F+ coliphage were suitable for monitoring distribution system integrity, a major concern considering that 19 percent (n=120) or the 751 documented outbreaks from 1971-2000 were due to contamination in the distribution system. In the study, F+ phage were detected in 5.6 percent of the 2,471 samples collected during an intensive study of a single water company, compared to 0.01 percent positive for total coliforms and no samples positive for E. coli.4 Also of interest is that the vast majority of the coliphage positive results corresponded to main breakages documented within 72 hours prior. Viruses and other pathogens, potentially contaminate drinking water following negative pressure transients that occur frequently in distribution systems.3 Current monitoring requirements do not routinely include human viruses or coliphage. The authors express confidence that routine survey of coliphage indicators in the future will increase, considering that the U.S. EPA is in the process of approving standard methods for their detection in source waters.

Letting go of the past
No indicator has proven perfect, but routine use of alternative indicators, in particular specific coliphage, is long overdue. While coliforms will continue to be useful monitoring tools, the total coliform group lacks specificity with regard to health risk; fecal coliforms do not necessarily indicate recent fecal contamination or correlate with major of enteric pathogens. Although more specific and more indicative of fecal contamination, E. coli is a poor indicator of viruses and protozoa able to survive for much longer periods of time in the environment. Many scientists are calling for more reliable monitoring methods for the future.

References

  1. Abbaszadegan, M. 2002. Viruses in Drinking Water and Ground Water. Encyclopedia of Environmental Microbiology. John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY.
  2. Cole et al., 2003. Evaluation of F+ RNA and DNA coliphages as source-specific indicators of fecal contamination in surface waters.
  3. Federal Register. Guidelines Establishing Test Procedures for the Analysis of Pollutants; Analytical Methods for Biological Pollutants in Ambient Water. 68: 139. July 21, 2003: www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-WATER/2003/July/Day-21/w18155.htm
  4. LeChevallier et al., 2006. Colliphage as a potential indicator of distribution system integrity. Journal of the American Water Works Association. 98:7:87
  5. LeChevallier et al., 2003. Potential for health risks from intrusion of contaminants into distribution systems from pressure transients. Journal Water and Health. 1:1:3.
  6. Reynolds, et al., 1996. Detection of infectious enteroviruses by an integrated cell culture-PCR procedure. Applied Environmental Microbiology 62:1424.

About the author
Dr. Kelly A. Reynolds is an associate professor at the University of Arizona College of Public Health. She holds a master of science degree in public health (MSPH) from the University of South Florida and a 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 at reynolds@u.arizona.edu

 

The Case for Blowing Your Own PLA Bottles

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

By Bruce Kucera

The recent introduction of polylactide acid (PLA) into the packaging industry has grabbed the attention of consumers and bottlers alike—and for good reason. PLA is a corn-derived plastic polymer invented by NatureWorksLLC®, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cargill Inc. (see WC&P September 2005). The food and beverage industry, of which bottled water is a significant part, creates enormous amounts of waste material with its disposable packaging. Simply put, petroleum-based plastics are the backbone of the packaging industry. And PET (polyethylene terephthalate, the most popular petroleum-derived plastic) packaging takes several millennia to decompose. In contrast, PLA bottles, properly processed in a managed, compostable landfill, biodegrade in about 100 days. As an added benefit to the environment, the residue can be recycled as fertilizer for another year’s crop.

As bottled water sales climb dramatically worldwide, the amount of discarded PET bottles dumped into the environment is staggering. According to industry sources, per capita bottled water consumption in the U.S. in 2004 was 25.7 gallons. That amounts to a staggering 165 (20-ounce) bottles per person disposed in 2004. Add to the environmental issues the current economical and political aspects involved with petroleum-based products and you have a host of good reasons why packagers are looking for alternative materials.

No wonder the bottled water industry is looking at PLA! It’s a natural solution in an industry committed to its consumers’ health and well-being.

This article looks at two emerging trends in the bottled water industry: the emergence of PLA bottles as an intelligent alternative to PET bottles; and the growing desire of bottling businesses to cut costs by manufacturing their own bottles on location. How these two trends can come together with PLA-capable blow molders for the bottled water industry will follow.

On-site bottle manufacturing
On-site manufacturing of bottles has advantages. Whether you’re using PET or PLA bottles, the benefits are the same. Why take a do-it-yourself approach? Because it pays!
Manufacturing your own bottles on site can yield a dramatic cost-per-bottle savings, primarily by cutting out the shipping costs. Current petroleum pricing negatively impacts the price of transportation, of course. In some cases, bottlers can save up to 50 percent on their bottles by making their own. Actual savings varies business by business, based on distance from suppliers and other considerations.

On-site manufacturing also helps alleviate inventory problems. When bottlers make their own, they minimize required warehouse space. Additionally, they eliminate concerns about the timing of vendor deliveries. Preform purchase and shipping issues, of course, remain the same.

Blow molders specifically designed for use by small- to medium-sized bottling companies are now available. No longer are the bigger operations the only ones who can benefit from making their own bottles.

PLA bottle making
The technology of PLA, its origins and its general benefits were discussed in detail in WC&P’s coverage last September; you can re-read that article on their website. Here we address the issues involved in designing a blow molder capable of manufacturing bottles from PLA preforms. We also look at the added benefits to the bottlers who use PLA bottles in their businesses.

There is little difference between PLA and PET bottles in terms of appearance and performance. In most cases, what you can do with PET, you can do with PLA, including shape, size, color and other design features. Customers will not know the bottle is made of PLA unless you tell them. The difference is found in material characteristics. Hence, the requirement for PLA-specific blow molders, which must address special issues. Traditional PET blow molders cannot handle PLA successfully.

The primary issue is one of material temperature, which includes both preheating of the preforms before entering the stretch-molding process and subsequent cooling down of blown bottles.

PLA preforms must be heated to 75°C (167°F) before entering the stretch-molding process, as opposed to 100°C for PET. At the higher temperature, PLA starts to shrink, so the typical PET blow molder is problematic with PLA.

While PLA preforms heat up easily, the material is difficult to cool down; bottle deformation results when they are not adequately cooled before they exit the molds. Therefore, the freshly blown bottles must be cooled down quickly before they leave their molds. Consequently, special cooling techniques must be designed and built into each mold.

Additionally, precision process controls over all heating lamps and blowing sequences is a must. Fluctuation of a degree or two either way leads to finished bottle quality issues. PLA’s temperature sensitivity also requires enhanced airflow to ensure even heating in the heat tunnels. When multiple heat tunnels are involved, as is generally the case in blow molders, it is critical to precisely compensate for potentially different heat lamps and airflow so that bottles from each tunnel are consistently heated for optimal performance in the molds. This ensures a consistently high-quality finished bottle.

Precision controls over air pressure and flows are equally critical. This technology helps move PLA material down from the preform’s neck area to the bottom to make sure desired thickness is achieved in the bottle from bottom to top.

Marketing benefits
From a marketing perspective, there are several key advantages for bottlers to convert to PLA bottles.

The first is product differentiation. Let’s face it: there’s not much difference between one bottle of water and another. Brand name, methods of water purification and price are points of differentiation. PLA becomes another point to help bottlers distinguish their product from their competition, particularly from those still using PET bottles.

The bottled water market often targets a demographic that prides itself in healthy lifestyles. Typically, this also includes environmental concern and a proclivity for eco-friendly products. PLA offers a tangible environmentally friendly argument for its use. There’s publicity to be gained and media attention to be earned by announcing a switch to PLA and by promoting the product as using eco-friendly materials.

Following are points about PLA that capture attention of the market, and result in legitimate environmental benefits:

  1. The production process of NatureWorks PLA uses 68 percent less fossil fuel resources than traditional PET plastics. NatureWorks has found that producing 1,000 bottles from PLA resin requires 33 percent less fossil fuel resources and emits 42 percent less greenhouse gases than making 1,000 bottles from PET. (LCA Consultants Report).
  2. PLA is the world’s first greenhouse-gas-neutral polymer.
    Bottlers considering switching from PET preforms to PLA must be aware that preform selection and bottle design are critical to producing high-quality bottles. Make sure your blow molder supplier approves your preform supplier and bottle design for optimal performance.

Final thoughts
Remember, most standard blow molders are not capable of working with PLA. Such blow molders must have special modifications and specialized heating/cooling techniques built in to successfully blow bottles from PLA preforms.

Summary
PLA offers the bottled water industry a tremendous opportunity to make a positive statement about its concern for the health of the environment above and beyond the personal health considerations enjoyed by bottled water consumers. But consumers won’t know they’re using PLA bottles unless they’re told. That provides a strong opportunity to differentiate product from the competition. Combined, growing PLA popularity and the trend toward blowing bottles on site provide strong bottom-line incentives to eliminate the middleman. The combination of the two marketing trends can mean a stronger bottom line for many bottled water operations.

About the author
Bruce Kucera is Vice President of Norland International Inc. of Lincoln, Neb., a company that supplies complete bottled water operations to companies around the world. The company’s products range from turnkey bottling plants to a variety of components for the bottled water industry including distillers, bottle washers, fillers and cappers, blow molders and packaging equipment. Kucera can be reached at (402) 441-3737, (402) 441-3736 (fax) or email: bk@norlandintl.com

About the company
Norland International Inc. is the leading equipment manufacturer for small- to mid-sized bottlers in the United States. The firm is the complete source for bottled water equipment: complete bottled water production lines, water distillation systems and all related equipment such as commercial water distillers, carbon filters, ozone generating systems, bottle washers, fillers and cappers, case-packers and shrink-wrappers and blow molding equipment. In addition, Norland is known worldwide for its industry-leading customer support, including pre-sale consultation and plant design and after-sale service, including installation and maintenance. Contact the company at P.O. Box 67189, Lincoln Neb. 68506 or visit their website, www.norlandintl.com

 

What Makes Water Taste Best?

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

By Stephen Messinger

Consumers and their suppliers have realized that while five-gallon bottles of water taste great, there are shortcomings:

  • Lifting
  • Spilling
  • Storage
  • Reservoir contamination
  • Late deliveries
  • Security
  • Expense

The market’s response was a family of systems that filtered water as needed by connecting a water cooler with multiple filtration steps to the water supply coming into the building. The point of use (POU) water business is divided into two classes: bottleless coolers (a.k.a flat-tops and automatically replenished bottle systems (see Figures 1 and 2).

Both designs follow similar patterns of water treatment: microporous filtration to remove silt, dirt and bacteria and carbon filtration to remove chlorine and volatiles. Depending on the salt content and taste of the water, most companies also offer reverse osmosis (RO). This article looks at filtration and its impact on consumer perceptions of purity and taste.

The filtration spectrum
Webster’s Dictionary defines filtration as a process of separating solids, liquids or gases using a perforated or porous membrane. Membrane filtration covers a spectrum that ranges from removing materials of 100 µm to 0.0002 µm. The processes are summarized in Table 1.

Typical photomicrographs of membranes are shown in Figures 3 and 4. The UF/NF/RO membranes at the right are manufactured differently than the microporous membranes. The Figure 4 example could be any one of the three process membranes. Since they represent a continuum of pore size, there are not definitive cut-offs where one technology ends and the next begins.

Process modes
When membranes are used in process, water normally flows into the microporous membrane (dead-ended). For the other processes, water flows along the membrane surface (crossflow) although there are some applications within the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries where microporous filtration is also used in crossflow (see Figure 5).

When used in the dead-ended mode, water flows into the membrane. Silt, debris and bacteria (depending on the cut-off of the membrane) are removed, captured on the surface or within the interstices of the membrane structure. Water and all dissolved solids pass through the membrane.

The other membrane processes are used in a crossflow or tangential flow mode. The membranes are very thin with a spongy layer integral with a very tight skin. Any material that passes through a pore in the membrane surface freely passes out as product. The pores are very fine and limited in number. Attempts to flow dead-ended would cause a rapid accumulation of material too large for the pores. Filtration ceases quickly. This crossflow mode requires a continuous flow to drain (for water applications) of the rejected species.

Membrane processes
Microporous
Microporous filtration (Figure 6) is a process for suspended solids, emulsified oils and bacteria in liquids like water or organic solvents. Separation takes place based on size exclusion only; is independent of temperature and the specific weight of components. The process normally operates at low pressures; i.e., 10-50 psig, with high fluxes (liquid flow per unit area).

Absolute versus nominal filters
Microporous filters are typically rated in microns, ranging from 100 µm down to 0.1 µm. This reflects the particle size to be retained by the membrane. All filtration ratings are not equal, however. The industry has numerous definitions of membrane cut-off. Membranes are usually classified by absolute or nominal ratings. According to the Filters Manufacturing Council’s Technical Service Bulletin 89-5R2:

“The two most popular reported media ranges are a nominal micron rating (50 percent) and an absolute rating (98.7 percent). A nominal rating usually means the filter’s media can capture a given percentage of particles of a stated size…An absolute micron rating is a single-pass test and is usually obtained by passing a test fluid containing particles of a known size through a small, flat sheet of filter media. Any particles that pass through the media are captured and measured.”

Since all POU water systems have a minimum of microporous filtration, it is essential for the user to understand and question his supplier about the filtration capabilities of the filtration being used. A one µm nominal microporous filter will pass far more particles of that size than a one µm absolute filter. Typically, a one µm nominal microporous filter will be the equivalent of a five-10 µm absolute filter.

Ultrafiltration and nanofiltration
Ultrafiltration (Figure 7) is the next-more selective membrane process. It is a selective fractionation process that uses pressures up to 150 psig. Separation takes place as a function of size and/or shape of the species. Ultrafiltration flux is dependent on the velocity of the liquid along the surface of the membrane, the pressure drop from the process side (incoming) to the permeate side (product), temperature and sometimes pH and ionic strength. Ultrafiltration is used to concentrate and/or remove suspended solids, colloids, bacteria, viruses and solutes of molecular weights greater than 1,000 Daltons. Ultrafiltration was developed for (and is used primarily in) the pharmaceutical and biotechnology markets and the food industry to concentrate, separate and purify proteins in solution. While the process is seeing new uses in large-scale water treatment facilities, it currently has very limited application to POU.

Nanofiltration (Figure 8) is normally selected when ultrafiltration and RO are not the correct choice for separation. Nanofiltration can perform in separation applications such as demineralization, color removal and desalination. In the concentration of organic solutes, suspended solids and polyvalent ions, the permeate (what comes through the membrane) contains monovalent ions and low molecular weight organic solutions like alcohol. Like ultrafiltration, nanofiltration has seen limited use in POU.

Reverse osmosis
The key crossflow membrane process for use in POU is RO (Figure 9), a highly efficient technique for dewatering process streams, concentrating/separating low molecular weight substances in solution or cleaning wastewater. It has the ability to concentrate/remove all dissolved and suspended solids from water. While typically used in large scale desalination of brackish and sea water, RO has extensive use in POU where total dissolved solids (TDS) are high, typically less than 150 ppm.

Table 2 shows typical rejections by RO membranes and the percentage of those anions and cations in the water that will be consumed. In addition, RO will typically remove virtually all bacteria, dyes and sugars, though vendors normally do not guarantee a sterile permeate for POU applications.

Purity versus taste
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines purified water as, “Water that has been produced by distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis or another process that meets the definition of purified water in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia (USP) 23.” Therefore, by definition, water from an RO system is more purified than water from a microporous filtration system. However, this does not mean that water produced from these processes is more pure. A dictionary definition of purity is being undiluted with extraneous material. That is normally taken as free of impurities such as bacteria, chlorine and volatile off-taste or odorous materials. Here, both the basic filtration system and the RO systems will produce comparable products. The FDA specification for purified water limits is shown in Table 3.

Ultimately it all comes down to the individual consumer and their taste preference. Individuals who usually drink water produced by RO find filtered water salty even with low levels of TDS. Conversely, individuals who drink and enjoy water with low to moderate levels of TDS find water produced by reverse osmosis flat. Whether one water is better for one’s health than the other is the subject of numerous studies.

Who needs RO?
One of the most frequently asked questions by consumers is whether they need RO. The answer is largely one of personal taste. When the TDS are below 150 ppm, most consumers will choose basic filtration. The salts in the water increase the mouth feel and give water its taste. Some waters (e.g., mineral water) have very high TDS levels, yet taste good.

Conclusion
There will always be a value to the consumer in bottled water, especially for hand-held bottles. However, POU filtration, whether a bottle-less or a replenished bottled system, offers the consumer limitless quantities of pure, cool (or hot) water that will taste every bit as good as the bottled water.

References

  1. Cheryan, M. Ultrafiltration and Microfiltra-tion Handbook. Second Edition.
  2. Rozelle, L. T. Reverse Osmosis Process, Theory and Membranes, Parts I and II. Culligan Technology 1
  3. Lykins, B.W. Jr., R. M. Clark and J. A. Goodrich. Point-of-Use/Point-of-Entry for Drinking Water Treatment. Chelsea, Mich: Lewis. 1992.
  4. Filters Manufacturing Council. Technical Service Bulletin 89-5R2.

About the author
Stephen Messinger joined Pure 1 after over 30 years marketing and operational experience in membrane filtration. That included Romicon, Inc., which he helped found, Amicon, Millipore and Ionics. Messinger is a graduate of Columbia University, where he attained bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering. He may be reached via email at Messinger@Pure1.com, phone (978) 975-1800 or fax (978) 975-1400.

About the company
Pure 1 Systems was started in 1988 to develop answers to the problems with five-gallon bottles of water: lifting, spilling, storage, reservoir contamination and expense. The firm has sold over 60,000 systems for offices and homes around the world. Pure 1 is headquarted in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Visit the website www.pure1.com or call (978) 975-1800 for more information­­.

 

Sweet and Pure, All Year Long

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

By Denise M. Roberts

Mike and Sharon Higgins moved from Joliet, Ill. to Farmington, N.M. in 1993 with simple goals: make a living and provide for retirement. They encountered an elderly businessman willing to sell his one-year old bottled water store. The business needed an ambitious marketing program, something which was beyond the capabilities of the aged owner. Providing a much-needed product in the high desert community with little rainfall and few high-quality resources was appealing, with the potential for a great future. The husband-and-wife team seized the opportunity as an ideal pathway to fulfillment of their goal. “I developed the habit of eating early in life and have never given it up entirely,” joked Mike Higgins, the spokesman for the pair. “Since it takes income to purchase food and shelter, it’s a good idea to continue to work for a living. Being my own boss balances the daily stress with the pleasure of daily accomplishments.”

For the first three years, the couple worked full-time jobs in addition to running the store, giving the business a chance to grow without the strain of providing an immediate income. Mike drew on his 25-year career as an automotive mechanics teacher to learn the technical side of water treatment. He continued his education at the local community college, taking chemistry and water-related classes. These efforts have been rewarded as he has earned a reputation for technical expertise. Higgins, a member of the Colorado Water Quality Association said he planned to take certification tests later in the year.

What’s in a name?
The couple chose to call the company Clear Creek because it sounded cool, clean and refreshing and registered, “We take out everything but the wet!” as the company’s slogan. Later they learned that a county and rushing rapids in central Colorado share the same moniker. Neither has objected to the business using the same name.

Diligent and sustained effort by the Higgins to maintain the highest possible standards of quality has been rewarded. In 2003, the company was honored for producing the Best Tasting Water in the World in the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting Competition, an event held each February in historic Berkeley Springs, W.Va. (Berkeley Springs lays claim to being the U.S.’s first spa). Clear Creek Water surpassed Manitoba, Canada by a single point, earning the gold medal. Their dedication to providing the very best is symbolized in the name and that award and extends to all aspects of the business.

Business and town growth
The company has grown tenfold, generating a strong income in 2005. Clear Creek is now one of three water purifiers in a town of about 43,000, with a solid reputation, known for cooperating well with the competition. Without a fleet, their services are limited to the Four Corners area, where New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado intersect.

Higgins sees his customers on an appointment-only basis, usually for estimates and home service. He concentrates on outside sales of household water softening, filtration and RO systems as well as commercial applications. After determining what type of product is necessary, based on water samples taken from the location, Higgins works closely with a group of California manufacturing firms to acquire the needed systems and components. His relationship with Mike Colburn of Dime Water gained Higgins permission to market some of the residential treatment products and systems under his own brand name.

Purified water refills are the core element of the business; approximately 70 percent of their customers refill their own bottles at the store. Higgins compares the retail business to a local filling station. “While that statement indicates a very simplified version of a very complicated business, in many ways it is similar to the gas stations of the past,” he said. “They provided a place to refill the cars along with ancillary products and services. We do the same at Clear Creek.”

Several additional part- and full-time employees are hired as need dictates, though effective employees are hard to find. “Right now we don’t have the income to pay top wages, so that is probably our main drawback,” said Higgins. “Most of the tasks involve no more than minimum skills, yet the training period to teach the necessary procedures to top-notch employees is seldom finished before they move on.” Many of those hired only work for the summer months then leave for college. During the peak sales season, Higgins adds temporary help for special exhibitions and promotions.

A sweet future
While he keeps the physical plant operating, maintains the equipment and handles service calls, Sharon Higgins takes care of everything in the store, from general maintenance to customer service. Bottles, crocks, coolers and other products are sold through floor sales and service. “My wife’s contribution to the success of the business are a result of her extensive retail skills. She makes all the sales in the store. Sharon has incorporated her considerable cooking ability and favorite craft (making candy) into a 20-percent piece of the revenue stream which supplements the store’s annual income,” Higgins said proudly. In the fall, Sharon exhibits her specialties at craft fairs around the area.

Home Sweets By Sharon, a subsidiary of the water firm, features a product line any candy lover will savor. She makes 30 varieties of hard candy (using fruit and spice flavors) and adds chocolate specialties during holiday seasons such as Christmas and Easter. She uses no preservatives in her products, which limits the candy-making business primarily to the cooler months. Sharon makes brittle of many types: pistachio, cashew and almond to name a few. For select consumers, she is known for her jalapeño peanut brittle. The recent addition of a refrigerated candy display case means Sharon will have the ability to expand her inventory. She said, “We purchased the unit from a business that was closing but we didn’t get it ready for the store until recently. Now I’ll have to get back in the kitchen more often. Everyone keeps telling me to make more candy!”

One process for everything
The company uses a two-stage, six-step purification process for all of its water. The first stage is ion exchange, carbon filtration, sediment filtration and reverse osmosis. The second stage is carbon filtration (again) and ultraviolet light. Bottle customers may request a seventh step, ozonation, at the delivery point.

The firm purchased an ice block maker and six freezers for storage to capitalize on an idea Mike Higgins was introduced to at an exhibition. Block ice, made with purified water, is more solid, has fewer air pockets and lasts longer than regular ice. The blocks are sold in 10- and 15 lb.-boxes to dealers. Using the purified blocks, Hawaiian shaved ice is created and sold at the counter in a variety of flavors and snow cones are sold at local events. All are highly popular in the arid climate, generating nearly 40 percent of the couple’s sales in the heat of summer.

With their growth and success to date, Higgins is willing to expand into other areas, such as bottling, home delivery and additional home treatment systems. Poor health imposes some physical constraints, prompting him to think about retirement. “Our three children often come in for the fun of it but they have no interest in the business. They are involved in their own pursuits and quite happy with their choices. When the time is right, we will consider selling the business at the right price to someone who shows they have the willingness and ability to uphold our valued reputation,” he said. Until then, he and his wife will continue to offer customers the highest quality drinking water in the area, packaged with their friendly customer service along with the best candy in town!

Editor’s note: Home Sweets by Sharon are available by mail. Depending on the amount requested, orders are filled within one day and shipped by priority mail. Requests can be mailed to Clear Creek Water or sent via email to mike@clearcreekwater.com or sharon@clearcreekwater.com.

 

Global Spotlight

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

B&H Labeling Systems announced the expansion of its Mexico operation, B H Labeling Mexico S. de R. L. de C.V., created to provide in-country service, spare parts and training in the local currency. 💧

Calgon Carbon Corporation was awarded a contract by Tong Hsin Water Business Inc. to supply approximately 3.2 million pounds of granular activated carbon to the Fong Shan Water Plant in Taiwan. 💧

PHSI announced the BONaqua brand name has been changed to Purlogix™ and is now a separate division of the company. Since early 2006, all of the firms products have been manufactured at their ISO 9001 state-of-the-art facility in Pyeongtac City, Korea. 💧

The National Ground Water Association’s 21st Century Ground Water Systems Conference will be held Oct. 12-13, 2006, in Costa Mesa, Calif. It will target planning for future ground water systems and focus on areas with special emphasis on the use of groundwater resources. 💧

The Dow Chemical Company completed the acquisition of Zhejiang Omex Environmental Engineering Co. Ltd. in Beijing, China. 💧

Alco Chemical announced price increases on its aqueous polymers and rheology modifier product lines, effective Aug. 1, 2006. The price increases, ranging from five to seven percent, are due to continued increases in raw material and energy costs. 💧

Abstract submission for WEFTEC.07 is now open. A topic list, sample abstracts and general abstract review criteria are available at www.weftec.org. Submissions are due by Dec. 1, 2006. 💧

Register now for the Drinking Water Research Foundation 2006 Golf Tournament, held in conjunction with the 2006 IBWA Convention and Trade Show. Use the website, www.dwrf.info. The tournament will be held at the Painted Desert Golf Club in Las Vegas, Nev., on Oct. 3, 2006. 💧

Parker-ATO, formerly Atlantic Tubing, recently relocated to 4700 Lone Star Blvd., Fort Worth, Texas, 76106. Contact numbers remain unchanged: phone (800) 423-6551; fax (800) 438-9562). Orders may also be placed with the Ravenna, Ohio office at (330) 296-2871. 💧

The International Bottled Water Association’s Convention and Trade Show at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, Nev., will feature Jason Jennings as keynote speaker. His presentation will take place during the General Session on Thursday, October 5, 2006. 💧


North America

Calgon patent declared invalid
The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey ruled on a summary judgment motion that Calgon Carbon Corporation’s patent for the use of UV light to prevent infection from Cryptospo-ridium in drinking water is invalid. The company intends to vigorously appeal the ruling. Calgon Carbon appealed a similar ruling handed down by a Canadian Federal Court in 2005 and the lower court’s ruling was reversed. That case is still pending and offers no assurance that the same result will be obtained on the U.S. decision.

IBWA schedule released
The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) released its schedule for educational sessions to be held during the 2006 IBWA Convention and Trade Show at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada from Oct. 3-6, 2006. The association’s certified sessions provide the continuing education units (CEUs) required for Certified Plant Operator accreditation and provide innovative ideas and technologies specifically targeted to the bottled water industry. For more about the educational sessions and other information about the convention, visit the website at http://www.bottled water. org/public/conv2006 or call (703) 683-5213.

Innovations flood award competition
The Jury of the International Aquatech Innovation Award (IAIA) announced that a record number of innovations have been entered for the award. Amsterdam RAI, organizer of the competition, received 90 products from 81 companies. The award is given for the most innovative product on display at Aqua-tech Amsterdam 2006 (Sept. 26-29), the world’s leading trade exhibition on process, drinking and wastewater. The record number of entries for the competition emphasizes the highly innovative character of the show. The jury will announce the winner of the IAIA on Sept. 25.

Price increase announced
Dow Biocides, a business group of The Dow Chemical Company, announced a price increase for both list and off-list prices of its entire glutaraldehyde product portfolio of $0.010 cents per pound in North America and by 10 percent globally. The price increase became effective Sept. 1, 2006. Product trade names affected include GLUTEX™ sanitizers for animal housing biosecuri-ty, AQUCAR™ water treatment micro-biocides, UCARCIDE™ antimicrobial preservatives, UCARSAN™ sanitizers, UCONEX™ antimicrobials and ZOL-DINE™ oxazolidines. Glutaraldehyde is a common biocide that is frequently used as a disinfectant and sterilizing agent in a wide variety of markets and applications including high level disinfection and animal housing biosecurity.

News from U.S. EPA
States, territories and tribes will share more than $940 million (U.S.) from three U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant programs to support the quality and security of the nation’s drinking water. The water supplies for more than 270 million people will benefit from the funding. More than $837 million will support Drinking Water State Revolving Funds programs, which help finance infrastructure improvements to public water systems. Federal capitalization grants fund low-interest loans to public water systems. Eligible projects include upgrades to treatment facilities, certain storage facilities and distribution systems. Since the program began in 1997, public water systems have received more than $9 billion in low-interest loans. Concurrently, the agency has proposed allotting $841,500,000 in the proposed fiscal year 2007 budget.

The U.S. EPA also announced plans to tighten its rules on lead in drinking water. The proposed revisions affect the lead portions of the 1991 Lead and Copper Rule that required water utilities to reduce lead contamination by controlling the corrosiveness of water and, as needed, by replacing lead service lines used to carry water from the street to the home. The new proposal would revise monitoring requirements, clarify the timing of sample collection and tighten criteria for reducing the frequency of monitoring. It would also require that utilities receive state approval of treatment changes so that states can provide direction or require additional monitoring. Another aspect of the revision would require utilities to notify occupants of the results of any testing that occurs within a home or facility. In addition, systems would be required to reevaluate lead service lines (that may have previously been identified as low risk) after any major treatment changes that could affect corrosion control.

Illinois firm wins award
L.T.M. Water Treatment, Inc., of Loves Park, Ill. received Kinetico’s highly coveted Business Excellence Award for 2005, reported The Rock River Times. The award is presented to no more than 10 Kinetico dealers per year and only nine of 500 dealers met the qualifications this year. Criteria include excellence in customer service, overall business growth, market penetration, strong accounting practices, technical achievement and promotion of the Kinetico philosophy of efficiency and cost effectiveness in an environmentally friendly fashion. Gerald R. Guse, President, owner and founder of L.T.M., credited his talented and dedicated staff for qualifying for the award.

Ethos™ water distribution agreement
Starbucks Coffee Company and PepsiCo. signed a distribution agreement for Ethos water, reported CSRwire. The agreement significantly increases distribution to retail stores in the U.S. and Canada. By continuing to make a $0.05 donation for each bottle of Ethos water sold, both companies affirmed Starbucks’ contribution goal (set last year) to donate at least $10 million (U.S.) by the end of 2010 to help bring clean potable water to children around the world.

Canada

Nicotine water product questioned
The distributor of a new type of bottled water that contains nicotine (the addictive agent in cigarettes) said the product might soon be sold in Canada, reported CanWest News Service. The California-based seller says it is safe and non-addictive, but Dr. Daniel McGehee (a neurobiologist at the University of Chicago) disagrees, saying the product comes with risks. “There’s no question that nicotine has addictive effects. The addiction liability should be a major concern for anyone that decides to start taking it in any form,” he said. The water contains about two cigarettes worth of nicotine and is being sold as a dietary supplement in the U.S. even though the Food and Drug Administration recently said it’s an unapproved drug and its claim to be a supplement violates the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Jess Baker, Vice President of Sales for Nichonica, which markets the product, said the company is in the later stages of approval to sell nicotine water in Canada (see page 46).

CIPH sales higher in May
The Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating (CIPH) released sales information that indicated May was the best month of 2006. May Monthly Wholesalers’ Sales Results reported year-to-date-sales total of $1.753 million (CDN), up 12.7 percent compared to year-to-date May in 2005. Total sales for the month of May 2006 were $423.8 million CDN ($380.48 million U.S.), up $83.7million CDN ($75.14 million U.S.) compared to April 2006 and up 14.8 percent compared to May 2005. All regions reported increases, with British Columbia, Alberta and West (Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Thunderbay) leading the way. 

Europe

Coolers on the rise
Almost 100,000 new point of use (POU) coolers were installed in Western Europe last year, taking the total above 400,000, according to the 2006 West Europe Point of Use Coolers report from beverage consultancy Zenith International. For the sixth consecutive year annual growth exceeded 30 percent. Office installations represented 60 percent of European activity; the remainder was mainly in factories, hospitals and schools. Home use is beginning to emerge as well. The U.K. remained the largest national market by some distance, accounting for 37 percent of all POU units. Italy and France ranked second and third, with shares of 13 percent and 12 percent respectively. Ireland and Germany completed the top five.

Enviro-friendly bottles
Food Production Daily reported Belu Natural Mineral Water began the rollout of the U.K.’s first biodegradable and compostable plastic bottle. Made from a corn-derived plastic provided by NatureWorks, a Cargill unit, the bottle can be commercially composted back to soil in 12 weeks (See Harvesting the Future, WC&P September 2005). Over the past year, packaging suppliers have introduced various forms of biodegradable plastics made from a variety of plants, mainly corn, based on projections that consumers and recycling regulations will drive demand for environmentally friendly packaging. Some companies are predicting that the market will grow by about 20 percent a year (see page 42).

Cytec sells operations to Kemira
Helsinki-based Kemira acquired the water treatment chemical operations of U.S. firm Cytec Industries for €190 million ($240.06 million U.S.) The transaction nearly doubles the turnover of its water treatment unit. As part of the deal, Kemira has purchased five production plants in the U.S., the Netherlands and the U.K. Cytec generated sales of around €270 million ($341.13 million U.S.) in 2005 and employs some 480 staff.

Meters for millions by 2015
Five million homes in the southeast should be forced to have water meters within nine years, say government advisors. According to the Daily Mail, the Environment Agency wants a blanket introduction of meters in order to ration consumption. The proposals, which amount to rationing by price, will cost £1 billion ($1.83 billion U.S.) to implement—costs that will be added to customers’ bills. Metering would mean higher bills for large families, while bills for pensioners and singles should fall. However, the National Consumer Council opposes any shift to compulsory meters without a dramatic improvement in the pathetic system for helping poorer families who would be hit by higher bills. The government is expected to support the idea, a U-turn for the Labor party that opposed compulsory metering before it came to power.

Aquatech lands contract
A consortium led by Aquatech International Corporation received a contract valued at over €58,974,000 ($75 million U.S.) from Enel, Italy’s largest power company. Projects will include engineering, procurement and construction of zero liquid discharge (ZLD) facilities at five of ENEL’s coal-fired power plants. The plants are located in Brindisi, Fusina, Sulcis, Torrevaldaliga and La Spezia, Italy. Aquatech formed a joint venture with its consortium partner, Carlo Gavazzi Impianti Spa, (CGI), under the name Zenit S.c.ar.l. The projects will be implemented over two years and will also include an option for operations and maintenance of the facilities. The award signifies Aquatech’s second major win in zero liquid discharge (ZLD) for flue gas desulphurization waste market in less than six months.

Africa

Water not available to all
It was reported by The Tanzania Standard that the provision of potable water to all Tanzanians remains an elusive goal despite concerted effort by successive governments. Running water, in particular, is a luxury for many in both urban and rural areas. According to the Minister for Water, Stephen Wassira, the established water supply networks cover less than 54 percent of demand. People still have to walk long distances to the supply points and there is no guarantee for quality and availability. The government has launched a new drive to speed up development of water schemes throughout the country. Wassira said the program would see supply rising to 67 percent in the next five years.

World Bank funds Angola projects
The World Bank has made a total of $7.2 million (U.S.) available to the Angola Water and Energy Ministry for rehabilitation and extension of the drinking water supply network in the urban area of Malange City, reported the Angola Press Agency. In the first phase, the water transport system to the urban area will be rehabilitated. Plans to build an additional 41 kilometers (25.48 miles) of infrastructure are included.

Middle East

GE drops bid on desal plant
Haaretz reported that corporate giant General Electric withdrew from the contest to build a major desalination plant in Hadera, just hours before the tender deadline expired. The decision was a blow to the Finance and Infrastructure Ministries because only two contestants remain. GE had been considered a strong contender, possibly the strongest. The Finance Ministry said that it could not comment on a tender in process. Sources close to the tender committee blamed GE’s withdrawal on the government’s failure to respond to the American company’s request to postpone the deadline or even to bring the request up for discussion. Of the remaining contenders, one consortium includes a partnership between IDE Technologies and Housing and Construction (Shikun U’Binui). The other consortium pairs Israeli companies Granite Hacarmel Investments, Tahal Consulting and Ocif Investment and Development with Spanish firms Inima and Aquila.

China and Southeast Asia

Science disputes health benefits claim
The Standard reported that claims made by water treatment device manufacturers that the products can bring special health benefits or alleviate chronic diseases are scientifically invalid, according to the Consumer Council, which condemned the claims as irresponsible. The Department of Health urged consumers not to believe such assertions and advised them to never delay proper medical treatment. “We’ve checked five water treatment devices ranging from $3,000 HK ($385.81 U.S.) to $6,000 HK ($771.62 U.S.) with amazing health claims (water of smaller molecule clusters, activated water, healthy water, vitality water and alkaline ionic water),” said council spokesman Larry Kwok Lam-kwong. “We found them misleading.” A survey conducted by the council found that treated water could not alleviate symptoms and has no curative effect on chronic diseases.

Singapore

Development programs announced
Singapore’s Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council (RIEC) announced commitment of $1.4 billion SGD ($889 million U.S.) over the next five years to fund the development of three research programs: Biomedical Sciences Phase II; Environmental & Water Technologies and Interactive and Digital Media. With the three sectors, Singapore hopes to create a total of 86,000 jobs and $30 billion SGD ($19 billion U.S.) of value for its economy by 2015. In addition, RIEC approved establishing an international Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE) to foster joint research programs with the world’s top universities and Singapore-based research institutes. In conjunction with the new program, the Environment and Water Industry Development Council (EWI) was launched to spearhead growth of the industries, with research and development as the main driver. The organization will help Singapore become a global hub for business, investment, research and technology in the environmental and water sectors. The EWI plan will double jobs to 11,000 and triple value and investment in the water industry to $1.7 billion SGD ($1.1 billion U.S.) by 2015.

India

Packaged drinking water standards amended
The Union Health and Family Welfare Minister announced amendment of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules 1955, reported the Press Information Bureau. Standards for packaged drinking water (sea, underground and surface water sources) are affected by the action. Under the amendment, water derived from any source may be disinfected by means of chemical agents and/or physical methods to reduce the number of microorganisms to a level that does not compromise food safety or suitability, provided that seawater, before being subjected to the above treatments, would be subjected to desalination and related processes.

The Dow of Water

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

By Karen R. Smith

The first place to become familiar with The Dow Chemical Company is their informative website. “Dow is a diversified chemical company that harnesses the power of science and technology to improve living daily…” the text there begins. The site goes on to explain both its practices and its values: “This worldwide commitment helps consumers lead better lives, customers succeed, stockholders prosper, employees achieve and communities thrive.”

To acquaint WC&P with Dow, four managers of different operations sat down and put a human face on that philosophy—making it clear that the company’s commitment is one that is daily renewed and strengthened.

Jon T. Goodman, Eric Grates, Alan Greenberg and Brian Powers took a break from their trade show duties to share their insights with WC&P during WQA Aquatech last March. A diverse group of gentlemen with unique individual tastes, they share a deep-seated respect for the very special company they work for.

“Speaking for myself, Dow is a very professional organization,” said Grates as the others nodded. “The standards of treatment never vary, internally or externally—there is no difference, no lessening of respect, “ explained Powers. “The integration of what you’re expected to know and how you’re encouraged to share it and to use it for the greater good,” added Goodman. All this is very important at Dow, Greenberg summed up, noting that the company’s ethical standards—the treatment of customers—“Are so high that after many years they continue to stun me. There are no gray areas at Dow: there is white and there is everything else.”

“It’s that continued insistence on quality, reliability, consistency and innovation to better supply the market, for me personally, that makes me really happy to get up in the morning and say I work for Dow,” Goodman said.

Dow employees around the world are involved in a long list of services and with products that begin with agriculture and go straight on through the entire alphabet to water, which is this group’s area of specialization. In fact, Greenberg explained that when someone asks what he does for Dow, “My answer is I make clean water.”

As he noted upon reflection, looking at it from that perspective, where else would anyone want to work?

Flexibility of career
Powers believes that Dow’s strength comes from flexibility, allowing people to change career focuses or products without leaving the organization. “All of us have worked in at least two functions—some of us three—and that’s just so far!”

There’s no corporate typecasting at Dow—the company has achieved its excellence by providing employees with internal opportunities and the freedom to pursue them. In general, job functions are based in sales, technical services or product development.

Greenberg started as a bench R&Der developing ion exchange resins; Powers began in sales, moved to technical services, then product development and then to website marketing; Goodman was the third Dow employee at FilmTec, which Dow purchased in August of 1985.

“FilmTec was new to Dow and I didn’t know whether I wanted to go into tech services or sales. They told me FilmTec would allow me to do both; it has and it’s fun,” he explained, adding that FilmTec succeeds in part because of its blurred line between the technical and commercial sides.

Greenberg, Powers and Goodman have worn different hats at different times in the corporation and are now (in different divisions) in marketing positions. The flexibility noted earlier has allowed these three executives to serve in multiple capacities—Goodman for membranes (the Americas); Powers for resins (the Americas); Greenberg for business development and new opportunities in the Americas.

Greenberg and Goodman worked together for a dozen years; Powers and Greenberg worked together for 14 years.

“And now we’re here, at this point, so there is a level of trust between all of us.” That longevity translates into a sense of ease, internally, they agree. “And, since we’ve had more than a decade to sit over lunches and talk about everything—including what we think needs to be fixed —we can always bring that to the table,” Goodman adds.

Grates is younger than the others, newer to Dow. He doesn’t share those dozen years’ worth of camaraderie, of course. “But I was welcomed into the fold and I know any one of these guys is there for me. Where necessary, they have brought me up to speed,” he explains, adding that knowing he has their support increases both his confidence and his success.

Flexible strategies
Dow’s vaunted flexibility means constant evolution on many levels. Ask how Dow is structured and someone is bound to reply by glancing at their watch and asking what time it is—but it is done with both respect and laughter. Respect because it works—in the last 15 years there have been five or six major reorganizations—and laughter because there is a paternal quality to treating different businesses and product lines individually and letting them grow.

Generally speaking, the company has two portfolios: one of products/commodities (bulk chemicals, polyethylene plastics) and a separate portfolio of performance specialty products, which is where water products fit in. There is a huge range of models, plus specialty- and performance-grade products, complemented by Dow’s stand alone businesses like water treatment.

Goodman explained that Dow has never changed its focus on water purification: with resins, membranes, or emerging technologies, “Dow’s quest is how to continue to improve upon our strengths. We’ve had very enlightened management,” he added, noting that FilmTec has the manufacturing excellence necessary to produce the same membrane each and every time, thanks to innovative automation and quality control.

How many water technologies employees are there? Fewer than there would need to be if Dow made ion exchange resins and membranes like everyone else does. In the U.S. the largest concentration of employees is at FilmTec in Minneapolis, Minn. Ion exchange resin manufacture is a very capital-intensive business with a peculiar manufacturing process. Dow has three sites worldwide where resin products are made (with a relatively small staff) thanks to state-of-the-art automation. Greenberg explained that is not true of all resin manufacturers. “At Dow, we excel at automating process technologies.”

Goodman agreed, adding that automation has been a significant boon, with the modernization of the back end of the membrane manufacturing process being implemented at the same time as capacity expansion. The combination has made Dow a leader. “From home drinking water to desalination plants: we are the leader. We are the leader in membrane technology, from the RO membrane unit under the sink to the world’s largest desalination plant,” he said.

The way that FILMTEC® membranes are manufactured—the precision that is incorporated into that process—means that every square inch of membrane works better than that of a competitor’s membrane, according to Goodman. This in turn means that with the same pretreatment and the same design philosophy in any particular application, there is more uniform participation of every square inch, which minimizes operating cost and maximizes performance.

“If you look at unit cost we tend to be higher,” Goodman says. “But when you consider the quality, dependability and performance of FILMTEC membranes our products provide the lowest cost of operation. Every time.”

Greenberg held sessions on WQA Aquatech’s showfloor on why titanium oxides are better than iron media. “We are not bad-mouthing one technology over another. We share what we know, ethically,” he explained.

Arsenic removal
As you’re probably aware, in January 2001 the U.S. EPA said that effective January 2006 the maximum contaminant level for arsenic would drop from 50 ppb to 10 ppb. This affected approximately 3,300 community water systems; that number doesn’t even include private water systems or individual well users and the like using the same aquifers.

The challenge was simple—50 ppb is a really small amount—to have to take it down to 10 ppb (which is a lot smaller); the issue is cost. People don’t want to have to pay more. Large municipalities have several options; small ones have more challenges.

Greenberg, at the time, was marketing manager for ion exchange. “As we looked at the technologies within two weeks of the U.S. EPA regulation coming out, we put a statement up on our website: “Dow does not recommend the use of ion exchange resins for potable drinking water for arsenic removal”. We had two reasons: we are concerned about the capacity—it is relatively low capacity; with the necessary regeneration—you’re just putting that arsenic back into the environment. In addition, it has relatively low selectivity, compared to other ions. If you overrun the resin, you have the potential to dump that arsenic back into the water supply at higher concentration levels than at what you took out.”

In industrial processes with experienced, sophisticated resin users with enhanced monitoring and scheduling, that risk is internally managed successfully by our customers. For potable drinking water Dow did not feel this was the best answer.

“We looked at RO—which is good for removal of one type of arsenic—and is specified as a ‘best available technology’ by the U.S. EPA. By law they (EPA) cannot mandate removal without stating best technologies for accomplishing same. Due to cost and operational issues associated with meeting the regulations, we had concerns about promoting RO as our technology of choice.”

“We found technology developed by Stevens Institute of Technology and arranged to license their patents; ADSORBSIA™ GTO™ titanium-based arsenic removal media is the product we created from them. Dow has the best process engineers in the world. Arizona State University’s Dr. Paul Westerhoff has tested the product and determined that its kinetics are 10 times faster than the iron-based media currently on the market. ADSORBSIA media holds on to the arsenic and can be disposed of in 49 states as non-hazardous waste because it is locked in and cannot get back into the waste stream. In fact, it has passed TCLP and California’s WET test. That’s part of the beauty of this product,” Greenberg said.

Product advantages
As pH changes, all of the media will change how they perform; under most conditions, ADSORBSIA media will out perform its competitors. Phosphates and sulfates interfere with many products—not ADSORBSIA media. Operate at lower pH (6.5 instead of 8.5) and it can mean longer runs. In systems that have varying pH or are using pH adjustments, ADSORBSIA media holds removed arsenic without purging. That ability to be the best performing, under a lot of different water conditions, is significant. Tie in the kinetics and it means we can design a much smaller system. This makes it an ideal choice for places where space is at a premium—schools, prisons, libraries and the like.

When it comes to potable drinking water, we think it’s a better answer than ion exchange or RO. We searched for and found the right answer.

Flexibility in practice
“A seller came to us who had a customer who wanted an RO membrane to snap onto the end of a garden hose…for a spot-free rinse for cars and windows,” said Goodman. “While that was technically possible, it seemed like an ion exchange opportunity…we suggested that an ion exchange cartridge would be a far better solution for what the customer was seeking. Customer convenience and simplicity drive our decisions, not a requirement to use one product or another. And now we have several customers using those cartridges.”

“When someone comes to us with a problem we don’t try and fit them into some pre-determined solution box. We have a lot of different products and technologies. If you were to go to an ion exchange company with a problem, they would seek to solve it with an ion exchange solution. We don’t presuppose any one technology might be the answer—and we are free to find creative solutions across all the disciplines,” Goodman summed up.

 

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