By D.J. “Duke” Shannahan, Sr., CWS-VI, CI, CSR

Over 20 percent of U.S. regulated community water systems fail to meet requirements. Most of these failures can be traced to a problem of not being able to afford or find well-trained and knowledgeable operators. The Water Quality Association’s (WQA) new certified contractual operator (CCO) certification can provide qualified personnel and the most up-to-date equipment with “hands-on” knowledge of their applications.

Getting the word out
One of my primary goals as the new chairman is to encourage more people to apply and receive this classification. I am proud that my son, D.J. Jr., (vice president and general manager of Sharp Water Delmarva) has recently earned his CCO certification and I plan to be the second here to get it. There are some complications, however, in getting the classification due to some states (including Maryland) which that have policies not complimentary to water treatment service personnel meeting their requirements.

Orville Schaefer, a member of the Small Systems Committee, and WQA are working very closely with the state of Illinois to provide a universally accepted program which, if passed, could be approved by all states (see “Drafted for Certified Operator Training: WQA/State of Illinois Joint Venture Highlights Opportunities for Dealers Nationally,” WC&P, May 1999). More importantly, we’ll need a great deal of help from other WQA members and their contacts within every state to make this happen. If you or someone you know in your state has some influence with regard to local water laws and regulations, please let us know.

Bill Prior, the well-respected former committee chairman and Kinetico co-founder, has done a great deal to open doors and ears to our cause. Because of his efforts—as well as those of WQA technical director Joe Harrison and the NSF-USEPA Environmental Technology Verification Program—many regulatory agencies and communities are now open to “joint venture” with some new and proven technologies to complement existing systems. More work needs to be done to build bridges between these groups, the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators, National Rural Water Association, National Small Flows/Drinking Water Clearinghouses and manufacturers and distributors of related equipment. We all have a stake in a joint effort to help small system operators improve water quality to meet the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act.

I look forward to building on the mutual respect between the private and public sectors with a “win-win” philosophy. I know we can help each other make water better and safer while providing the “iron-clad” assurance that regulators require.

Metering use
One idea for small system that seems promising is called “metered water.” The principle, developed from portable exchange (PE) tanks, involves placing a meter at the discharge of the tanks and the customer was charged based on the number of gallons treated rather than a regular 28-day cycle. This is very labor intensive and costly. Noting that resin is smooth, perfectly round and, therefore, very pumpable, experiments used larger tanks (5 and 20 cubic feet) and left them at the customer locations. Now, all that was needed was for truck tankers (similar to propane delivery trucks) to transport resin regularly from customer to the “community-approved” regeneration facility.

In the end, the city or wastewater regulators are happy since they can effectively monitor thousands of gallons of discharge that might otherwise go uncontrolled into our groundwater and waterways. The customer is happy since he doesn’t have to do anything other than pay a tax-deductible charge as an operating expense. Further, the contract can be expanded to cover the additions of chlorine, backwash of carbon filters and other procedures as well as filling out and mailing all necessary regulatory forms. Here’s where you can see the value of a state approved WQA-CCO certification.

Another benefit goes directly to the WQA (or otherwise certified company) who provides this valuable system and service. But the biggest winner of all is John Q. Public who can now rest happily knowing that he or she is using the safest water possible and has access to water enhancing products and services over and above the standard.

There are many other products and technologies that are currently being test marketed within community systems and many show great promise. Another job of WQA’s Small Systems Committee is to review and identify the applications and successes of “what’s new” and “what’s proven.” I am very pleased to receive the support and encouragement of WC&P to help make this possible. Stay tuned.

About the author
Duke Shannahan is chairman of the WQA Small Systems Committee and president of Sharp Water of Salisbury, Md. He holds the WQA designations of Certified Water Specialist, Level 6; Certified Installer and Certified Sales Representative. He can be contacted at (410) 742-3333, (410) 543-2222 (fax) or email: [email protected].

FYI—Small Systems
For more information on water treatment for small systems, see the following:


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