The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved Hach Company’s m-ColiBlue24 method of total coliform and E. Coli detection for use in reporting water testing results to the federal regulator, which requires levels of both microbial contaminants in drinking water to be zero. To reach that goal, water must be tested before and after disinfection and also during the distribution cycle. ?

The National Safety Council’s new safety, health and environmental search engine at enables users to search chemical websites and get direct links to MSDS databases. Also posted are injury statistics, hazardous chemical profiles, expert Q&A and more. ?

A Sanitary Pump Task Group has been established by the Hydraulic Institute, Parsippany, N.J., and will conduct its first meeting to explore the development of standards and statistic requirements for this industry sector. ?

Waterlink/Barnebey Sutcliffe, Columbus, Ohio, has added seven service centers with its purchase of certain assets of CETCO Filtration Service Group, significantly expanding its retail line of portable adsorbers for treatment of industrial wastewater. ?

The Minnesota High Technology Association presented Osmonics, Minnetonka, the “Member’s Choice—Web Award” for its website at, an e-commerce venue for scientists and researchers looking for filters, filter materials and related lab products online. ?

February is the first month of publication scheduled for the National Ground Water Association’s new Drilling Marketplace, an internationally distributed tabloid sized publications for the water well industry. ?

Grand Am Inc. has moved to 220 Venus St., No. 6., Jupiter, Fla., 33458. The phones are (561) 746-3820, (561) 746-3863 (fax). ?

Bel-Art Products, Pequannock, N.J., and Ricca Chemical Co., have made a strategic business alliance to build a new manufacturing and distribution facility in Pocomoke City,MD. ?

Water filtration systems maker Osmonics Inc. said it sold two product lines to New Jersey-based ResinTech Inc., effective Dec. 30, 1999. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. The two lines, the Aries DI Loop and the associated disposable cartridges, were manufactured at Osmonics’ Rockland, Mass. facility.?

Filtration + Separation magazine awarded Filtration Model MF620CC from Selecto Scientific, Suwanee, Ga., two prestigous awards at the end of 1999: its Cartridge of the Year award and runner up for Filtration System of the Year. Considered exemplary was the model’s performance in water purification with organic, inorganic and microbiological reductions at high flow rate. ?

Price Pfister, Pacoima, Calif., has made significant improvements to its replacement parts program with improved packaging and a more comprehensive assortment, including parts to support recent new product additions. ?

The online laboratory store of A. Daigger & Co., Lincolnshire, Ill., was honored as one of the nation’s Top 50 Business-to-Business websites by Business Marketing magazine, which called the site at quick, with clear information and easy shopping.?

Vital Living Products Inc. d.b.a. American Water Service, Matthews, N.C., is expected to double its manufacturing capability with the operation of its new foiling machine.?

Nalco Chemical Co., a subsidiary of Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux, Paris, has formed a new business unit called Nalco Industrial Outsourcing (NIO), to address the market trend of consumers outsourcing their non-core business operations.?

“Accomplishments to Date: Opportunities for the Future” will be the theme of the Water Environment Federation’s 14th Annual Residuals and Biosolids Management Conference, Feb. 27 to March 1 in Boston, Mass.?

Calgon Carbon Corp., Pittsburgh, Pa., announced an end of year quarterly dividend of $0.05 per common share. ?

Dr. William H. Cover of PurePulse Technologies Inc., San Diego, Calif., will speak on potential uses of its PureBright® Broad Spectrum Pulsed Light (BSPL) technology in virus inactivation applications at Cambridge Healthtech Institute’s Sixth Annual Blood Product Safety Conference, Feb. 13-15 at the Ritz Carlton in McLean, Va.?

SPECIAL REPORT—Tucson contests new USPEA radon rules

As the only U.S. city that would be forced to shut down drinking water wells because of proposed radon rules and conflicts with a citizen initiative passed five years ago restricting delivery of treated water, Tucson is contesting new standards from the USEPA.

A Dec. 13 letter from the city manager to the mayor and council noted the agency published its radon proposal Nov. 2 with public comment open until Jan. 2, extended to Feb. 4. Tucson Water has been restricted from serving customers “contaminated” water—regardless of whether it’s treated—by a proposition voters passed in November 1995 to halt direct delivery of Colorado River water to the tap because of color, taste and odor problems with initial delivery earlier in the decade.

As recommended by the utility, Tucson is contesting the manner that national compliance costs were estimated and lack of specificity in alternatives under “multi-media mitigation” (MMM) programs, proposed as an option for communities having difficulty reaching the new maximum contaminant level (MCL). The USEPA’s rules propose a new MCL of 300 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) for radon in water with an alternate standard or AMCL of 4,000 pCi/L for those communities that implement a MMM program—which involves public education programs and watchdog measures, such as testing homes for radon.

At 300 pCi/L, Tucson estimates at least 38 percent of points-of-entry (POE) to its system, or 58 of 153 active wells, at a minimum, would be affected by the proposed MCL. Those wells account for 43 percent of production capacity or 66 million gallons a day. The city estimates compliance costs for treatment at $9-to-12 million annually, nearly 3 percent of the USEPA’s national cost estimate of $180 million. The American Water Works Association, which represents U.S. water utilities, estimates real national costs for compliance at $2.5 billion, dismissing the agency’s cost-benefit ratios for the new rule.Further, Tucson Water notes:

  • There are very few qualified and/or certified labs nationwide to support required radon analyses (only two in Arizona).
  • The USEPA hasn’t addressed disposal of spent carbon containing radioactivity.
  • MMM programs are poorly defined on a number of levels—such as offering no guidelines on how a community water system (CWS) can demonstrate how it’ll achieve equal or greater risk reduction benefits to those expected if all CWSs in a state complied with the MCL.
  • Without more explicit criteria to follow in reviewing local MMM programs, states appear to be given undue authority over these programs. And, should a state MMM program be revoked, a year is too little time for a CWS to achieve compliance with MCL.

It also claims inadequate response to 1991 comments to the USEPA when the initial proposal to tighten radon regulations was made and a lack of scientific evidence to support an MCL of 300 pCi/L. Instead, the city reiterates earlier suggestions for a 1,000 pCi/L MCL, noting this would be only a fourth of the average ambient (outdoor) radon concentration.

In its comments submitted to the USEPA, the city points out that the agency is leaving itself wide open for litigation, based on recent experience in California and highly restrictive water quality standards under its Prop. 65.

“EPA’s focus on reducing airborne radon in homes is on target, as the risk from radon in air is substantially higher than the risk from radon in water. However, establishing a drinking water regulation with a low MCL as a ‘hammer’ to coerce water utilities to adopt MMM programs to reduce radon in indoor air is not appropriate,” the letter states.

“EPA should attack the problem directly, by developing air quality regulations (and obtaining from Congress the appropriate enforcement authority for such regulation). Otherwise, EPA is using drinking water regulations as a ‘tail to wag the dog’ of air quality, shifting an expensive responsibility for indoor air quality to water utility ratepayers.”

And this when water is only a minor contributor of radon to air and ensuing mortality statistics, as is documented by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). A cancer-causing agent, radon is credited with being responsible for 19,000 deaths per year—of which only 168 are attributable to radon released from water, according to NAS.—Carlos David Mogollón

Self-study ozone course
RGF O3 Systems Inc. offers an ozone technology self-study certification course, first developed in 1989 and previously offered only to its distributors. The course has been updated to include ozone air, water and food sanitation, associated technologies such as UV radiation, catalytic oxidation, and photoionization. The course represents over 15 years of information gathered by RGF in the design, manufacture and application of ozone systems and its equipment.

Cruise line filters gray water
Rochem Environmental Inc. of Houston won a $2 million contract from Celebrity Cruises for installation of its Rochem FM-Module gray water membrane filtration system on two cruise ships. Celebrity Cruises, owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., also has an option to purchase three additional systems over the next year. Almost 90 percent of ships’ gray water comes from sinks and showers and can legally be discharged in most places, but the cruise liner elected to purify the gray water it releases to help set an industry trend.

California authorities bust dealer in sales scam
Employees of a water filtration dealership in Modesto, Calif., who are alledged to have scammed as many as 50 consumers were caught in an undercover sting conducted by cooperative California authorities, including its Contractors State License Board. Juan Abanto and Laura Ortega—employees of Everclear Water Systems—are charged with conspiracy to commit felony grand theft, false and misleading representation, and contracting without a license. Company owner Aurora Elizabeth Vergara was cited for lack of contractors license.

The Everclear employees are charged with soliciting Hispanic residents with 2-to-4-hour home presentations that involved scare tactics to sell filtration systems—including stories of children dying from drinking the local tap water. In one instance, they told a pregnant woman that her children would be disabled if they drank tap water. Written contract violations are also alleged, including use of a statement that said interest charges should be ignored. Once the contracts were signed, if consumers tried to contact the company to cancel, their calls were either not returned or they were told they could not cancel without a $150 cancellation or presentation fee. Additionally, sales pitches were given in Spanish, but the contracts—for anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000, payable out over approximately five years—were in English, a violation of the state’s Civil Code.

American now largest utility
American Water Works Co. Inc. has made a number of recent acquisitions, including the largest buy of a water utility by a company last June and two more deals in October. A report by Barron’s attributes a company official as saying the acquisitions would bring the company’s traditional EPS growth above 5.5 percent, to 6.5 percent. The report also advised that there’s a price for rapid growth through acquisitions and refers to an expected dilution of earnings by several cents per share. When the buys are finally completed, American Water’s total customer count will rise more than 30 percent to three million, making it the largest investor-owned water utility in the United States.

MWD: from SUVs to sedans
A new, economy-minded management at Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) has instilled a massive reorganization and cost-cutting campaign, starting with the elimination of 42 sport utility vehicles (SUVs) from the company fleet and putting them on the auction block. “The type and number of these vehicles was inappropriate and excessive,” said new MWD General Manager Ronald R. Gastelum. The SUVs were expected to bring $500,000 to $600,000 at auction. When Gastelum arrived at his position last April, he declined use of one the four-wheel-drive SUVs and chose a used Ford Taurus instead. “As a public employee, I didn’t think it was appropriate to drive such a high end vehicle,” he said.

Water wars continue in S.E.
Representatives from Alabama, Georgia, and Florida were unable to settle their water wars out of court and have extended their water sharing agreement deadline to May 1. Alabama and Georgia share the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers as common water sources, while Georgia and Florida share a separate river system farther to the east. Alabama and Florida have filed suit against Georgia, alleging that the state was getting more than its fair share of available water.

Bug bioengineering
The bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans already can survive an atomic blast. But dissatisfied government geneticists have now bioengineered it into a “superbug” able to digest the toxic leftovers of the nuclear age by inserting genes from another form of bacteria, enabling it to breakdown toxic mercury compounds normally found at nuclear weapon production sites.

Conventional bacteria normally used to gobble up solvents, metals and other forms of contamination are killed by radiation from plutonium and uranium. Scientists added genes from a strain of E. coli bacteria resistant to particularly toxic forms of mercury. The development shows how bacteria can be customized to attack the heavy metals, radioactive wastes and other substances that pollute the soil and groundwater at nuclear sites. Details of the research were published in the January issue of the scientific journal Nature Biotechnology.

Fish help identify PCBs
Research at the University of Cincinnati is trying to prove glowing zebrafish could be used to identify pollutants in drinking water supplies. The fish’s glow comes from firefly genes inserted into the DNA of zebrafish, causing the fish to light up when exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are known carcinogens. These fish would be more sensitive than current testing systems, and would cost less and take less time than taking samples of water, mud or fish. The zebrafish are not harmed and eventually lose the glow when removed from the polluted area, but they could be de-toxed and used again. The plan is scheduled to start in late spring.

Survey finds VOCs in wells
Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey estimate 42 million Americans use groundwater vulnerable to low level contamination by volatile organic compounds (VOCs), an estimate based on the first nationwide assessment of untreated groundwater aquafers. The survey found VOC levels in excess of federal drinking water criteria in about 6 percent of urban wells and 1.5 percent of rural wells, and involved water samples collected between 1985-1995 from nearly 3,000 U.S. wells. It was published by the American Chemical Society in the online edition of Environmental Science & Technology in November, and appeared in the printed version in December.

Boston’s $90 million contract won by Swedes
A U.S. subsidiary of Sweden’s largest construction company was awarded a $90 million contract to design and build a water storage facility in Boston by the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority. The storage unit was being built to comply with new state guidelines regarding delivery of drinking water to the city, which no longer allows open-air water storage. The new storage will be a buried concrete tank that will hold 115 million gallons and scheduled for 2002 completion. The company is also involved in building a large water supply tunnel under the Manhattan district of New York City, a project worth $36 million.

Osmonics filters beach well
Osmonics won a desalination contract with the Skagit Public Health Utility after Washington State’s health department discovered chloride levels in the water on Guemes Island at three times the maximum state guidelines. The utility had already drilled a 40-foot beach well, pictured, but had complications with sand density. Engineers tacked an 80-foot perforated pipe at a T-angle to the original well pipe, to allow salt water to seep in before transport up the hill to
the system, which consists of dual media filtration, 5-micron Hytrex® prefiltration, desalination reverse osmosis and a calcite contactor to raise the permeate pH. The RO is a series of polyamide membrane elements with a 99.5 salt rejection rate. Thirty-two families live on the island

New ISO covers pumps
The Hydraulic Institute will host the first U.S. meeting of the International Standards Organization Pump Installation and Special Application committee, called the ISO/TC-115 SC3 group, Feb. 11 in St. Petersburg, Fla. This will also mark the first meeting for the new SC3 subcommittee, which covers pumps and special applications. The scope of the meeting will be the development of international standardization requirements for the proper installation of pump equipment. The Hydraulic Institute, based in Parsippany, N.J., has agreed to serve as the subcommittee’s secretariat.

Citizens can sue polluters
In a 7-2 decision, a citizens groups’ right to sue alleged polluters under the Clean Water Act was upheld Jan. 12 by the U.S. Supreme Court to “deter future violations,” wrote majority opinion author, Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

This is despite the fact any financial damages awarded would be paid to the federal government. Further, polluters sued by private citizens under federal environmental laws can’t avoid paying damages by stopping their misconduct while the case is ongoing.

The case, which involved a South Carolina company sued by Friends of the Earth (among others) in 1992 over discharges into a river from a hazardous waste incinerator, was a test of the Clean Water Act’s provision letting private citizens file lawsuits to help enforce the law. Under the law, citizens can seek court orders requiring an end to misconduct, plus financial penalties to be paid to the federal government.

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented, with Scalia writing that the ruling “violates traditional principles of federal standing—thereby permitting law enforcement to be placed in the hands of private individuals.’’


Aqua-Pure buys AOT
Aqua-Pure Ventures Inc. of Kelowna, B.C., Canada, has agreed to buy Applied Oxidation Technologies Inc. (AOT) of Ladysmith, B.C., for US$3.1 million in stock and cash. AOT manufactures and sells water purification equipment compatible with Aqua-Pure. The closing will be subject to normal conditions including all necessary regulatory approvals. Lawrence Lambert will remain AOT president and will manage the facilities in Ladysmith; Aqua-Pure will assume marketing responsibilities and will incorporate AOT’s technology into its Envirowaste facility in Calgary.

Argentina: remodeling plans
Argentina plans to spend US$12 billion on new homes, water treatment plants and new cargo routes by 2004, with partial funding from international development banks. South America’s second largest economy is currently recovering from its worst recession in 10 years. Argentina is a member of the world’s third largest trade bloc, Mercosur, which includes Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay and features 200 million people producing more than US$1 trillion in goods and services each year.

Some $8.2 billion is budgeted for highway, railway, waterway, port and airport upgrades; while $3 billion will go to low-cost housing and $800,000 to new water treatment plants.

Norit wins Dutch award
A book compiled and published in honor of the 80th anniversary of Norit N.V. of Amersfoort, The Netherlands, received an award as one of the best Dutch book designs for the year. The book, titled “Pure to the Core,” by Mathieu Jacobs and Wim Maas, was among 48 out of 385 nominees to receive the award. Norit is one of the largest producers of activated carbon in the world with nine subsidiaries. It started business in 1918 with one production facility in The Netherlands.

Like water from plastic
The new Cebu Potable Water Project approximately 350 miles from Manila involves remote, solar powered and self-contained pumping of potable water using “smart card” systems of accounting similar to credit cards. When the card is inserted into solar pumps, which can be installed even in the most remote locations, they vend a liter of clean water delivered from the well. This remote water solution, designed by New Jersey-based WorldWater Inc., simplifies both the distribution and payment collection process, and allows use of solar energy in real time instead of via batteries. Water customers buy the cards for specific numbers of liters or gallons, like telephone charge cards.

Six in Singapore desal bid
Singapore’s first large-scale desalination plant planned for 2005 has attracted six bidders to oversee its construction and operation. Tenders for the desalination plant and a related power plant, both to be built in Tuas, were under evaluation by the Public Utilities Board. The desalination plant is to produce 136,000 cubic meters (30 million gallons) of fresh water daily. Singapore currently imports the bulk of its water from Malaysia under two water agreements that expire in 2011 and 2061. The two countries are still negotiating a new supply agreement.

Venezuelans get relief
Venezuelans drew hope from the arrival of American water purification plants after mudslides and flooding smothered much of their country’s Caribbean coast, killing thousands just before Christmas. Millions of dollars in aid is promised from Washington. The relief effort included U.S. military planes that brought two purification machines to purify water from the ocean and contaminated rivers. An estimated 5,000-to-30,000 died when tons of boulders and dirt crashed down from Mount Avila, which separates the capital of Caracas from the Caribbean Sea. Most victims were buried under huge piles of dirt and debris.

Lenze buys U.S. AC maker
Lenze GmbH of Hameln, Germany, a privately held manufacturer of AC drives, has acquired AC Technology Corp. of Uxbridge, Mass., for an undisclosed amount. Lenze and AC Technology have had an ongoing partnership since they established a private label relationship 1991.

Zenith wins e-grant
Zenith International was awarded a US$113,000 grant from the U.K. government to develop e-commerce activities. The London-based beverage consultant will begin a two-year joint project with the University of Bath as part of a program backed by the U.K. Department of Trade and Industry, whose goal is to bring academia and business closer with projects designed to apply new technologies and create employment opportunities. Zenith’s goal is to transfer its existing beverage industry global market database into a dedicated Internet service.


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