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Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

EWQA Board announced
The Eastern Water Quality Association (EWQA) announced the appointment of four new members to its Board of Directors, during the Opening General Session of the EWQA Annual Convention in September. Each of the new Directors assumes responsibilities effective immediately. Kevin Osborn of Water-Right Corporation (Appleton, WI) is the Northeastern Regional Sales Manager for Water-Right, which is a full-service manufacturer and distributor of brand-name water treatment equipment. Water-Right has been serving the water quality improvement industry since 1959.

Donny Greene, CWR of the Blake Equipment Group (East Windsor, CT) is the Blake Water Solutions Division Manager for Blake Equipment, which is a manufacturer of water treatment equipment.

Candice Wentling, MWS of Certified Action, is the Director of Certified Action (Nashville, TN) and is a Selling Coach and distributor to the water treatment improvement industry. She has been conducting sales training seminars, field coaching and leadership accountability for the last 13 years.

Josh Wenzel, President of Lancaster Water Group, (Lancaster, PA), a full-service manufacturer and distributor of brand name water treatment equipment, was also elected to the board.

 

Winsupply promotions announced
Winsupply Inc. has named Eric Roush VP, Supply Chain. Previously Director of Sourcing Services, Roush will lead Winsupply Sourcing Services in fulfilling its mission of providing supply-chain expertise in support of the growth and prosperity of Winsupply’s nearly 600 locations. Roush’s areas of responsibility include the operation of Winsupply’s five distribution centers, central accounting and pricing, vendor incentive program administration, customer care and regional distribution center purchasing. Monte Salsman was appointed President of the newly created Winsupply Acquisitions Group. He was previously President of the Winsupply Local Company Group. The Board of Directors also announced the promotion of Rob Ferguson as President of the Winsupply Local Company Group to fill Salsman’s former role. He was previously VP of Operations and will also be added to the Winsupply Inc. Board of Directors.

Mollenkopf named IWA President
The International Water Association announced Tom Mollenkopf as President-elect of the Association for the period October 2020 until August 2022. He will take office at the end of the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition 2020 in Copenhagen, Denmark. An Australian national, Mollenkopf has been an active member of the IWA for many years. He became a member following an early professional career in law and he has spent the past 25 years in the water sector. Mollenkopf has been a member of the IWA Board of Directors for the past five years; was Deputy Executive Director of IWA in 2005 and following that, was elected Senior VP twice, in 2014 and 2016. He was invited to serve a further term on the Board in 2018. Mollenkopf takes over the role of President from Diane d’Arras, who has served two terms.

WEF Trustees, Fellows named
The 2019-2020 Board of Trustees was confirmed by WEF’s House of Delegates during WEFTEC® 2019. The WEF gavel of leadership was passed to President Jackie Jarrell, Operations Chief at Charlotte (NC) Water. In her role at Charlotte Water, Jarrell is responsible for the overall management of the operation and maintenance of five wastewater treatment facilities consisting of a total capacity of 123 million GPD. Jarrell also has oversight of regulatory functions, process control, industrial pretreatment and continuous improvement programs within the operations areas. In addition to Jarrell, the 2019-2020 Board of Trustees includes: Past-President Tom Kunetz; President-Elect Lynn Broaddus; Vice President Jamie Eichenberger; Treasurer Keith Hobson and Secretary and WEF Executive Director Walt Marlowe. Trustees are Rajendra Bhattarai; Howard Carter; Aimee Killeen; Mark Poling; John Trofatter and Ifetayo Venner. Three WEF employees were recognized and honored during the Empowering Women in Industry Gala: Morgan Brown, WEF’s Technical Programs Manager, was named Industry Advocate of the Year and was a nominee for Emerging Leader of the Year; Lisa McFadden, WEF’s Director of Integrated Technical Programs and Associate Director of WEF’s Water and Science Engineering Center, was nominated for Industry Advocacy, Mentor of the Year and Leadership in STEM and Brianne Nakamura, Senior Manager in WEF’s Water Science and Engineering Center, was nominated for Industry Advocacy and Emerging Leader of the Year.

Wastewater odor guide

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

DESTech Publications introduces Wastewater Odor Production and Control: An Operator’s Guide by Michael Gerardi and Jon Gerardi with illustrations by Brittany Lytle. Some highlights of the book include ready-to-use operational procedures to solve specific odor problems; proven biological, chemical and physical methods for preventing and controlling odors in plants, sewer systems, tanks and lagoons; how daily plant variables like flow, water temperature, sludges, fats and grease affect odor generation and dictate strategies to combat it; explanation of field and lab tests needed to detect odor-causing situations and detailed investigation of the chemical and bacterial processes that cause odors from ammonia, sulfides, methane and many other compounds.
https://www.destechpub.com/product/wastewater-odor-production-control/

Water conditioners

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

The BroadHead H2O water conditioner prevents scale build-up, reduces existing scale and helps reduce corrosion in the home, irrigation system, swimming pool and more. These units work by subjecting calcium in water to alternating reversing-polarity permanent magnetic fields that alter the minerals’ ionic charge. Instead of attracting one another to create scale, they will repel each other and pass harmlessly through the system. It also reduces the water’s surface tension, enabling it to dissolve existing scale as well. The units are proudly made and manufactured in the USA.
www.broadheadh2o.com
(830) 570-6764

Liquid pumps

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

Smart Products USA’s Series 3000 liquid pumps feature built-in check valves with customizable components. For optimal sealing in a wide variety of environments, customers can choose from four O-rings to include: Buna-N, EPDM, Viton® and Silicone. Other options include port size of 0.25-inch (6.35-mm) or 0.125-inch (3.175-mm) size, voltage of 12 or 24 VDC and more. Additionally, Series 3000 pumps are high-capacity, self-priming and non-polarized. They run wet or dry and feature a single diaphragm, positive displacement design.
https://smartproducts.com/pumps_series_3000_liquid_pumps.php

Stop valves, half cartridges and connectors

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

John Guest’s Speedfit® angle stop valve provides an extra line off of an existing stop, giving the user independent water flow control and the ability to upgrade or repair accessories without shutting off the main water supply. The valve is offered in white polypropylene with food-grade EPDM O-rings. The plastic half cartridge provides a quick, efficient and easy way of securing a Speedfit push-in connection into a wide variety of original equipment.
As the cartridge requires low insertion loads, it is suitable for many different housing materials. Twist-and-lock male and elbow connectors provide reliable and convenient connections for plastic and copper pipe. Simply push the fitting fully onto the pipe and twist the plastic nut clockwise to lock in place.


https://www.johnguest.com/

Using a Smartphone to Monitor Water Quality

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

By Kelly A. Reynolds, MSPH, PhD

News of a new virus detection method has ‘gone viral’ so to speak. Researchers from the University of Arizona have developed a way to use a smartphone to monitor water supplies for the elusive norovirus, the causative agent of numerous food and waterborne outbreaks. The new monitoring tool provides water quality data in seconds and is more cost-effective than current methodologies.

Norovirus health burden
Often referred to as the stomach flu, norovirus is one of the most common causes of food and waterborne disease outbreaks in the US, responsible for up to 21 million illness cases, 71,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths annually. All ages and socioeconomic status groups are susceptible to the disease but the most severe health outcomes occur among children and the elderly.1 Experts estimate that one in six children will receive medical care for a norovirus infection before reaching the age of five and that half of the US population will receive medical care for norovirus symptoms at some point in their lifetime.

Globally, the disease burden of norovirus is estimated at 685 million cases, earning the pathogen status as the second most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the world (rotavirus is number one). Every year, about 200,000 deaths, including more than 70,000 child deaths in the developing world, occur from norovirus infection, resulting in an estimated cost to society of $60 billion.2

There are at least 32 norovirus genotypes able to infect humans. Due to incomplete or temporary immunity and the variety of strains in circulation, individuals can be infected by noroviruses multiple times over the course of their lifetime. New strains consistently emerge, leading to a surge in norovirus outbreaks worldwide. Development of a vaccine has been complicated by the need to target multiple strains and also the fact that norovirus is extremely difficult to culture in the laboratory.

Norovirus spreads rapidly among populations, is highly contagious and has a very low infectious dose. Infected individuals can shed billions of norovirus particles but as few as 10 particles can cause disease in exposed persons. The most common symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and nausea but fever, headache and body aches can also occur. Illness typically sets in within 12-48 hours following exposure and lasts an average of one to three days. In a small percentage of people, long-term health consequences, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), also persist. Notoriously, the absence of norovirus illness does not necessarily mean the lack of norovirus infection. Infected persons may continue to spread the disease for two or more weeks after symptoms have resolved. In addition, some individuals have asymptomatic infections, i.e., never become ill but can still infect others.

Drinking-water contamination
Contamination of drinking water with norovirus occurs due to intrusion of human waste via septic tanks, wastewater distribution leaks, stormwater runoff, sewage overflows or other improper waste disposal practices. Improperly treated water is another source of outbreaks. Private drinking-water wells have the additional concern of shallow designs that are more susceptible to contamination and the likelihood that they are not monitored as frequently a municipal supplies under regulatory oversight.

The latest waterborne disease and outbreak surveillance system report from the CDC was published in 2017 and noted two norovirus outbreaks in the US, in 2013-2014.3 Numerous researchers have shown noroviruses susceptibility to typical drinking-water treatment doses of free chlorine but slightly more resistance than other bacterial or viral pathogens. One study, however, tracked the persistence of norovirus genomes in wastewater-contaminated drinking water sources in Finland and found that sand-filtration systems were 2-3 log10 less efficient at removing noroviruses, compared to bacterial hazards. Another groundwater site proved difficult to purge of norovirus genomes following chlorine treatment of the well and distribution network, where the virus remained detectable for over 108 days.

Improved monitoring with a Smartphone app
Currently, municipalities are not required to routinely monitor for norovirus. Those that do often utilize a molecular monitoring approach, which typically requires collection of water samples in the field, transport to the laboratory and several hours of analysis before a final result is obtained. Sampling and molecular analysis equipment can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Monitoring private wells is even more complicated. Private well owners are advised to consult their state certification officer to identify local laboratories with norovirus testing capabilities and test their wells at least annually. Such infrequent monitoring and the time needed to arrange for and complete testing could result in missing possible contamination events.

Rapid methods are needed that are also highly specific and sensitive (i.e., able to detect norovirus concentrations down to a single particle). For more than three years, my laboratory at the University of Arizona’s Zuckerman College of Public Health, in collaboration with Dr. Jeong-Yeol Yoon from the U of A’s Department of Biomedical engineering and Dr. Soo Chung, a recent PhD graduate from Yoon’s Biosensor’s lab, have been developing a smartphone-based device for detection of norovirus in drinking-water supplies. Support for the project was provided by Tucson Water and the National Science Foundation Water and Environmental Technology Center at the University of Arizona.

Our goal was to develop a simple, portable, low-cost, effective, real-time monitoring tool that anyone could use. The solution was to utilize a smartphone enhanced with an attached microscope designed to scan photographed images of water samples applied to a paper chip.4 Using a custom app, images can be analyzed to determine how many norovirus particles are present. The best part is that the phone and app do all the work. Results are reported automatically and you don’t have to be an expert to use the device. After an initial investment of about $50 for the smartphone microscope attachment, individual sample analysis costs a couple of dollars or less and can be completed in less than 30 seconds each.

Recently, NPR news, Forbes and numerous other media outlets highlighted the new smartphone norovirus technology, stating it’s potential usefulness in monitoring water quality, food safety and even cruise-ship hygiene.5,6,7,8 Efforts are currently underway to transfer the smartphone water quality monitoring tool from the laboratory to the real world via internal field trials. Later this year, field trials will be extended to Tucson Water employees who will test the method’s ease of use, specificity and sensitivity on a wide range of water supplies.
Similar use of smartphone monitoring for environmental contaminants or quality indicators (i.e., E. coli, Salmonella, chromium 6, chlorine, caffeine, etc.) have also been developed. Researchers anticipate that smartphone technology will continue to improve and enhance real-time monitoring approaches, which promises to improve response times for preventing future food and waterborne disease outbreaks.

References

  1. CDC. Burden of norovirus illness in the U.S. (2018). Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/trends-outbreaks/burden-US.html. (Accessed: 16th September 2019).
  2. Lopman, B. Global Burden of Norovirus and Prospects for Vaccine Development. (2015).
  3. Benedict, K.M. et al. Surveillance for Waterborne Disease Outbreaks Associated with Drinking Water—United States, 2013-2014. MMWR. Morb. Mortal. Wkly. Rep. 66, 1216-1221 (2017).
  4. Chung, S. et al. Smartphone-Based Paper Microfluidic Particulometry of Norovirus from Environmental Water Samples at the Single Copy Level. ACS Omega 4, 11180–11188 (2019).
  5. Lee, B.Y. Is Norovirus In The Water. Can A Smartphone Test Help. Forbes (2019). Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2019/09/01/is-norovirus-in-the-water-can-a-smartphone-test-help/#624ea1956abe.
  6. Palca, J. A Newer, Faster Way To Detect Norovirus In Water Supplies. NPR (2019). Available at: https://www.npr.org/2019/08/27/754617708/a-newer-faster-way-to-detect-norovirus-in-water.
  7. Desk, N. Researchers develop method to detect low levels of norovirus. Food Safety News (2019). Available at: https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2019/09/researchers-develop-method-to-detect-low-levels-of-norovirus/.
  8. Kumar, K. Cruise Ship News: Scientists Develop Smartphone-Based Norovirus Detector For Cruise Vacations. International Business Times (2019). Available at: https://www.ibtimes.com/cruise-ship-news-scientists-develop-smartphone-based-norovirus-detector-cruise-2818836.

Link to ACS video for online format: https://axial.acs.org/2019/08/28/turning-cell-phones-in-norovirus-detectors/

Photo source: Chung et al., ACS Omega, 20194

About the author
Dr. Kelly A. Reynolds is a University of Arizona Professor at the College of Public Health; Chair of Community, Environment and Policy; Program Director of Environmental Health Sciences and Director of Environment, Exposure Science and Risk Assessment Center (ESRAC). 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 is WC&P’s Public Health Editor and a former member of the Technical Review Committee. She can be reached via email at reynolds@u.arizona.edu

PFAS Update

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

By Rick Andrew

PFAS, which as many of us have learned is short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, continues to be a major topic in the news media and in industry discussions. PFAS compounds are man-made chemicals that are highly persistent and slow to degrade in the environment. They are considered to be emerging contaminants by US EPA. The two most common of them are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). There are actually thousands of PFAS chemicals, however, that have been created and are being detected in the environment.

PFAS has historically been used in the manufacturing of fluoropolymers. These chemicals have a unique ability to withstand water and grease, as well as high temperatures. These properties make them especially useful for certain applications, including paper and cardboard food packaging, insecticides, electronics, stain repellants, paints, plumbing tape, firefighting foam and non-stick cookware coatings.

Production of PFOA and PFOS was phased out in the early 2000s, by which time large quantities of these chemicals had been released into environments surrounding the locations where they were manufactured. PFOA and PFOS were added to US EPA’s Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 3 (UCMR3), which was promulgated in 2012. Monitoring activity conducted under UCMR3 has revealed detectable levels of PFOA and PFOS in drinking water supplies across the country. Other PFAS compounds, however, continue to be manufactured and used, with some coming under scrutiny for possible health effects, as well.

Next steps with standards development
As reported in this column in July, the requirements (including test protocols) for evaluation of activated carbon systems for reduction of PFOA and PFOS have been added to NSF/ANSI 53 and to NSF/ANSI 58. Work continues to develop a test protocol for treatment by anion exchange resin, which will be added to NSF/ANSI 53 in the near future.

In addition, at the May 2019 meeting of the NSF Joint Committee on Drinking Water Treatment Units, the Joint Committee unanimously approved a motion to expand the scope of the DWTU Task Group on PFAS to consider removal of other PFAS contaminants under NSF/ANSI 53 and to NSF/ANSI 58. This group has developed an agenda to help guide them forward. The group is considering requirements for six additional PFAS chemicals, including four that are in UCMR3 along with PFOA and PFOS, plus two more PFAS chemicals. All of these chemicals are under consideration by various states for setting regulatory levels in drinking water. See Figures 1 and 2 for the identifications of these six PFAS chemicals.

While technology-specific test protocols are generally established under NSF/ANSI 53 and to NSF/ANSI 58, the real questions being considered with respect to the PFAS chemicals are how much of them to require in the challenge water and what level should constitute the maximum allowable product-water concentration. Generally, the approach regarding challenge-water concentrations is to review occurrence data of the chemical in drinking water and establish the challenge concentration at the 95th percentile of occurrence, such that 95 percent of people who have that chemical present in their drinking water will have it at the challenge concentration or lower. In cases where the occurrence data suggests a low challenge level, it is typically set at three times the regulated level.

In the case of PFAS, part of the complication of developing standard requirements is that right now other than PFOA and PFOS, there aren’t any US national regulatory levels for any of the chemicals. As mentioned previously, several states are considering their own regulatory levels, but these may conflict with each other. This lack of regulatory levels will be a major consideration for the task group, both in terms of setting the maximum allowable product-water concentrations, but also potentially in terms of setting the challenge levels. In addition to considering potential tests for reduction of these additional PFAS chemicals, the task group is also examining the question of surrogate development.

Surrogates for chemical reduction
In terms of the NSF/ANSI DWTU Standards, a surrogate for chemical reduction is a specific chemical that is more difficult for a given technology to treat than a defined group of related chemicals. For example, NSF/ANSI 53 includes requirements for testing reduction of chloroform in drinking water as a surrogate for 51 other organic compounds, when the water is treated with activated carbon. Chloroform is difficult to separate from water using activated carbon, so chloroform was considered as a surrogate chemical by the joint committee. After initial consideration and evaluation, extensive research studies were conducted over a period of several years back in the 1990s, comparing reduction of chloroform by several different activated carbon technologies to reduction of each of the compounds in the surrogate list.

At this time, it is unknown whether one of the PFAS chemicals could potentially serve as a surrogate chemical for determining effectiveness of reduction of other PFAS chemicals. This question will be examined by the task group using a variety of approaches, potentially including a comparison of chemical structure and properties (length of carbon chain, molecular weight, solubility in water, etc.), a review of published literature regarding studies of treatment of PFAS chemicals in water, etc. If the initial examination appears to suggest a potential surrogate chemical, the task group may then possibly consider beginning research studies similar to those used to develop the chloroform VOC surrogate in NSF/ANSI 53.

In any case, even if the initiative to develop a PFAS surrogate chemical is successful, it will likely require several years of effort and some considerable funding to see it through to completion. In the more near team, it seems likely that the task group may first develop reduction requirements for the individual PFAS chemicals being considered.

Ongoing work
The field of drinking water and drinking water treatment research is one that evolves quickly and continuously. New information is being presented at conferences, in publications and through interactions of scientific groups. This new information is very important to the NSF Joint Committee on Drinking Water Treatment Units. The joint committee uses this information to continually consider updates, improvements, expansions and other changes to the standards on an ongoing basis. PFAS is an emerging group of chemical contaminants in drinking water that is a key focus not only for consumers and for the water treatment industry, but also for the joint committee. Look for continuing updates regarding the joint committee’s activities in future columns.

About the author
Rick Andrew is NSF’s Director of Global Business Development–Water Systems. Previously, he served as General Manager of NSF’s Drinking Water Treatment Units (POU/POE), ERS (Protocols) and Biosafety Cabinetry Programs. Andrew has a Bachelor’s Degree in chemistry and an MBA from the University of Michigan. He can be reached at (800) NSF-MARK or email: Andrew@nsf.org

‘Consistently Great Water Quality’

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

By Donna Kreutz

For years, Mark St. Hilaire worked as a licensed plumber in New England, where he routinely encountered an array of challenging water quality issues, particularly with customers who had private wells. The region is known for high levels of iron and manganese, plus other potential problems including turbidity, salt-water intrusion, hardness, radon, arsenic, trihalomethanes and PFAs. St. Hilaire began taking courses and learning on the job how to find solutions to fix those problems. That was 30 years ago.

“Every system has to be customized to the water test results, volume needs and other concerns of the customer. It can vary greatly. It’s difficult to ‘cookie-cut’ this business,” St. Hilaire said. He is President and a major stockholder of H2O Care, which has 22 employees and offices in Middleton and Hudson, MA. There are three other stockholders: one is an advisor to the company and the other two are employees. Two of St. Hilaire’s family members are on staff: his wife Joyce, who works in customer service, and son Matt, who installs and services systems.

St. Hilaire’s team of water quality experts is proud to fix water problems that other firms have been unable to address. H2O Care is often cited in industry magazines for its creative water quality solutions, as well as its high customer retention and satisfaction, he said. The company’s website features some of those customers. For example, one family with a private well experienced severe orange staining and corrosion throughout their home. The cause was a high concentration of iron in the water, combined with a low pH level. The homeowner said: “We could never wash white clothing at home because the water contained such a high level of iron it turned everything orange. The water was undrinkable and our sinks, toilets and washing machine were rusted and stained. The H2O Care home system resolved all these issues and alleviated a great deal of stress for us.”

In another family, a child experienced skin irritation and sensitivity as a reaction to the impurities in the town-supplied municipal water, caused by hard water coupled with a relatively high chlorine level. “The water in our home was so awful it was causing my young daughter’s eczema to get progressively worse. We knew there was a serious problem and were so relieved when H2O Care came to help.” H2O Care also designed a whole-house RO system for a customer who had immune-system issues and wanted the best possible water throughout the home.

Whole-house RO system

The company serves clients in four states: eastern Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire, southern Maine and parts of Rhode Island. St. Hilaire said: “In this region, it’s important to know that water testing results from the well across the street can be very different than your own private well’s results. Also, the groundwater sources supplying your well may change in terms of quantity and quality of water supplied over time. For this reason, routine system maintenance should always include water testing to make sure your water softener or filtration system is continuing to create the desired water quality levels. Water tests will reveal multiple contaminants that need to be addressed. A complete resolution may require multiple pieces of equipment to eliminate the problems.”

St. Hilaire said one business challenge is the Internet. “Potential customers want us to install cheaper systems. For Internet sales, we have to sell our company, not the product, because the average person has no idea of what they really need, how to maintain it, appropriate service intervals or how to troubleshoot equipment when there is a problem. We tell people they’re buying us as a dedicated company to support what gets installed, not just a piece of equipment. Our employees take pride in providing customers with consistently great water quality.”
Another challenge is staffing. “We treat existing employees well and keep looking and interviewing to find qualified, dedicated new employees. We do mostly hands-on training in the field with experienced technicians. It’s a long, in-depth process. We have licensed plumbers on staff to ensure installations are completed properly and to assist in the training of the service staff.

In 1989, after working several years in the industry and completing numerous water quality courses and other training, St. Hilaire formed Aqua Tech Water Systems and over the next 10 years, designed and installed a wide variety of water filtration and water softener systems to resolve many different water quality issues. In 1999, Aqua Tech merged with Atlas Water Systems, combining the commercial water quality expertise of Atlas with the residential expertise of Aqua Tech. In 2014, that company was acquired by Quench USA, which integrated the commercial drinking water and high-purity water operations that aligned with its existing core business. Four months later, H2O Care Inc. was formed to purchase Atlas’ Residential Systems Group from Quench.

Over the past 30 years, St. Hilaire and his team have installed thousands of water treatment systems. The H2O Care team supports and services the systems they have installed, along with thousands of systems installed by other companies that do not provide maintenance services or are no longer in business.

Looking ahead, St. Hilaire said the company plans to continue “to increase customer density in towns to lower our travel time between service appointments and open new offices as it becomes appropriate. We will continue to find and train new staff to install and service, and we will continue to look for new and better equipment and reliable vendors who maintain high-quality standards. H2O Care remains committed to what brought us successful growth over the years: our customers and our outstanding staff that is focused on delivering outstanding service to our customers.”

Can Your Dealership Help Solve the World’s Water Crisis?

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

By Dale Filhaber

I spent a week in northern Rwanda this past summer. As I watched people going about their daily lives, I saw that so much of their time was devoted to getting water, including that of a young boy trudging to the communal well in the Prefecture of Ruhengeri. The well was where all the people from several kilometers around would walk to fill up their yellow jerry cans with water. (By the way, a five-pound jerry can filled with water weighs about 44 pounds.) Around 40 percent of the world’s population faces water shortages. That includes some two billion without safe drinking water and over 4.5 billion living without proper sanitation. Is there a global solution?

Walking to the well to get water is a daily activity, which could easily take several hours each way. It is an integral, absolutely imperative activity of the day. These villagers have no other source of water for drinking, cooking or bathing. So, they trudge to the communal well, more formally referred to as a water station. Basically, this water station is a roofed brick structure, open at the sides. In the front are three spigots, which people would use to fill their containers with water. This water station was provided and built by the government. I learned from my guide that 20 percent of the cost to visit the mountain gorillas is turned back to the community, mostly for creating infrastructure. These water stations are much better than using the water from local streams.

When I saw children filling up their water cans from the brown stream, I would cringe. I am not saying the water was polluted; it’s just the ground in this area is volcanic soil and very fertile, and must be boiled before drinking. I also saw someone urinating into that same stream a little higher up the hill where kids were filling their buckets.
In today’s world, 663 million people on our planet do not have access to clean, safe drinking water. Every 21 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease. The job of collecting water tends to fall on women and children between the ages of eight and 13. As a result, women are often unable to get jobs or contribute financially to their households. Children are often unable to go to school to get an education due to the thousands of hours they have to spend annually just hauling water. There are many private initiatives that have been created as a response to the scarcity of water. In this article, I will talk about three: using solar panels to power a well; harvesting fog and installing hand pumps for freshwater wells.

Harnessing solar power
Innovations Africa installs solar, water and irrigation systems in poor villages in Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Senegal and Cameroon. Sivan Yaari, Founder and Chief Executive of an Israeli charity, was drawn to this effort after seeing children during a visit to drought-stricken Africa over 10 years ago. She saw people living in total poverty. Children weren’t able to go to school. Former farmlands were dust due to scarcity of water. There was no hope. “Africa is still in poverty because of the lack of energy,” said Sivan. “And because there is no energy, people are still searching for water, because there is no energy to pump water.” Many children don’t attend school. Lack of food and, more important, water had rendered them “too weak to walk.” People were weak and unhealthy because the water was making them sick.

There is water in Africa in the aquifers. What people need is energy to pump it up. By bringing in and installing solar panels, Innvoation Africa (https://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/africa-gains-from-israels-solar-system/) was able to not only pump water in a village so villagers did not have to walk for miles to get water, but by adding drip irrigation, they can grow food with it. Said Yaari: “No more famine. Just by bringing them water, we changed the village.” Innovations Africa has installed solar technology in more than 170 African villages. For businesses interested in sponsoring a well in rural Africa, it costs about $25,000 to bring both power and water into a village.

Cloudfisher netting captures fog. (Photo courtesy of Rebecca Rosman/PRI)

Fog harvesting in Morocco
Scarce water, compromised wells and climate change-induced droughts have destabilized traditional Amazigh communities in Morocco. Rural poor families in Aït Baamrane live in ecologically fragile zones where water is scarce. This region is only 20 miles from the Sahara Desert and it receives just about five and a half inches of rain a year—barely 10 percent of the global average. Women and children devote 3.5 hours daily to the chore of fetching water, which keeps children from attending school.

The lack of rainfall water was a major concern for survival, especially during the dry season, not only for humans but for livestock. People who could, moved to cities; farming stopped and traditional culture suffered. An organization called Dar Si Hmad (http://darsihmad.org/en/) researched the possibility that fog would provide a source of water to support this region. The area boasts an average of 143 foggy days a year in the nearby mountains. At the top of nearby Mount Boutmezguida, Dar Si Hmad has installed 15 honeycomb-shaped nets that have the capability of turning fog into as much as 5,000 of gallons of water a day. This is enough to service all the local villagers, whose average use is just under seven gallons of water a day.
Paris journalist Rebecca Rosman reported on a German technology called Cloudfisher (https://www.aqualonis.com/), a series of nets installed at the top of Mount Boutmezguida that capture fog as it rolls off the Atlantic Ocean. This method can harvest thousands of gallons of water from the sky on foggy days and can withstand winds of up to 75 miles an hour. Droplets condense on the nets, fall into a basin and then through a filtration system before descending through pipes to the surrounding villages. Now, all 1,200 villagers living there have access to safe drinking water. Village traditions are coming back, children are able to attend school, farmers can farm and the area is stable and secure.

The fog harvesting process can only work in certain parts of the world. First, there has to be a mountain range. And second, there needs to be a nearby body of water. This particular area, Ait Bamraane, has both. While fog harvesting isn’t a solution that can work everywhere, similar projects are underway in the mountainous regions of Yemen, Chile, Mexico and South Africa.

Installing hand pumps in El Salvador
El Salvador, with a population of 6.29 million people, is located on the Pacific coast between Guatemala and Honduras and is the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America. The life expectancy is 72 years and the mortality rate of children under age five is 16/1,000. The average annual income (GNI) per capita is $3,580 (USD). El Salvador has the second-highest number of homicides in the world, registering 69.2 violent deaths per 100,000 people. Forty percent of the population is made up of children and 50 percent of the people live in extreme poverty. More than 25 percent of children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition.
The Thirst Project (https://www.thirstproject.org/water-crisis/) is currently working in five countries, including El Salvador. Their goal is to provide access to a clean, safe water supply. This will enable children to go to school, women to have a job and allow farmers to develop sustainable agriculture production for food security. This can break the cycle of poverty. The Thirst Project preferred method of implementing in the field is to build hand-pumped, freshwater wells. After workers install the well, they undertake a program to train community members to maintain and repair these projects themselves for decades to come. According to the people at The Thirst Project, these wells should last 40+ years. For $12,000 (https://www.thirstproject.org/donate/), a dealership can fund a well and change a whole village forever, giving women hope, children good health and the entire community a future.

Impact is a two-way street
We feel good about ourselves when we make an impact helping people. We also know that consumers place tremendous importance on the causes a brand supports. Studies continue to show that Millennials and Baby Boomers prefer to do business with companies because of their ethics and social commitment. This is an opportunity for a dealership to become bigger than themselves by reaching out. Consumers look favorably on those dealerships who are branded as investing in solutions to the world’s water crisis.

About the author
Dale ‘DataDale’ Filhaber is President of Dataman Group Direct, a Florida-based, direct-marketing company founded in 1981. She is an author, lecturer, Listologist and direct-marketing innovator. In the past 35+ years, Filhaber has trained many water quality dealers in direct marketing and lead generation techniques, ranging from direct mail to telemarketing to social media. Her latest book, Lead Generation for Water Quality Dealers–2019 Edition, has received rave reviews and can be purchased on Amazon. Filhaber is also the author of Pure Water Profits, a blog on marketing, focusing on the water treatment industry. She is also a frequent guest lecturer at the annual WQA conference. Filhaber can be reached at (800) 771-3282 or dale@datamangroup.com or visit the website, www.datamangroup.com.

About the company
Dataman Group Direct is proud to showcase WaterProspects.com, https://www.datamangroup.com/water-conditioning, a dedicated website focusing on lead generation and direct marketing for the water quality industry. The company provides direct mail, telemarketing and email lists for the water quality industry. Call (800) 771-3282 for more information or email dale@datamangroup.com.

Scare-Tactic Demonstrations

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

By Kelly R. Thompson, MWS, CI

  • “Residents Say New Flint Lead Data a ‘False Sense of Security” NBC News“Study: Public water supply is unsafe for millions of Americans” CNN
  • “Trump Administration Rolls Back Clean Water Protections” The New York Times
  • “New study claims 43 states expose millions to dangerous chemical in drinking water” CBS News
  • “Four billion particles of microplastics discovered in major body of water” Science Daily

There is plenty for us to be worried about and the media makes sure that those of us in and out of the industry know it. A quick glance at any newspaper (yes, they do still exist in places) or an Internet search will bring up countless stories. It can be hard to decipher which news outlets have succumbed to the polarized nature of today’s political environment, but nearly all of them have scary headlines. The reality is that we do have some serious problems in this country (and around the world) with our drinking water, with naturally occurring substances such as arsenic or man-made emerging chemicals like PFAS. We will continue to see more of these problems as our infrastructure continues to deteriorate and the technology continues to improve our ability to test for the stuff we’ve been dumping into the ground and our water supplies.

It is no secret that our industry has long been plagued with a fair amount of unscrupulous individuals who prey on the elderly or most naïve, as they peddle their over-priced equipment. Many of our test kits are designed to build the emotional level high enough that the customer will write a check for any amount we ask. But I strongly believe that it is not the demonstrations in these kits at fault but rather, the way these demonstrations are presented. Many of the tools in demonstration water test kits that we use in the home come with both tests and demonstrations. A test is something that gives you quantifiable results and tells you what type and size of equipment you might recommend. Hardness, iron, pH or TDS tests are examples of this.

A demonstration is a way of taking these results and making them mean something relatable to the customer. They also are a great way of showing the difference in varying types of water, like RO versus tap or soft versus hard water. We can show how much less soap is needed by shaking soap flasks. We can show how TDS makes a difference by making tea and we can help the customer visualize how much five grains of hardness is by showing them an aspirin tablet. These are valuable and often necessary tools in the sales process.

The problem with demonstrations though is that they are often poorly explained and misused, especially when there is a customer who is already nervous about the quality of their water supply. One of the most commonly misused or misinterpreted demonstrations is the precipitation demo. This demonstration is a very effective and legitimate tool for showing the customer what happens to the dissolved rock in the water when it’s heated up in the water heater. This is done by coloring the water a yellowish green color and then chemically heating the water. The result is often a disgusting-looking mass of precipitated calcium on the bottom of the test tube with hard water in it and the other one is a clear, albeit green water.

There is nothing unethical about this demonstration but the emotionally visual impact it can have will often overpower even a proper explanation of what it is demonstrating. This demonstration has nothing to do with whether the water is safe or unsafe, yet customers will often exclaim something like: “Eew…that’s what we’re drinking?” This is the part where sales people often fail to correct the impression. This demonstration is a ‘water that goes on you’ not a ‘water that goes in you’ tool.

I don’t believe that most sales people who are doing these demonstrations are necessarily malicious or unscrupulous, though as I mentioned, there are a few. Just recently a customer showed me a softener brochure from a company on Long Island where the sales person had actually drawn a skull and cross bones on it, and we’ve all seen the hidden camera exposés on TV. We are water treatment professionals and we do have the solutions to address many of these issues. But how do we balance the line of educating our customers without trying to scare them into buying our products?

First and foremost, WQA members should become aware of and abide by the WQA Code of Ethics, Marketing Guidelines and Best Practices, which can be found at www.wqa.org. Of course, competitors who are not members do not have to abide by these rules, which is a strong argument for marketing your membership to your customers as a way to differentiate you from them. Next, my rule-of-thumb when it comes to what demonstrations I use is whether or not it can be duplicated by the customer without special chemicals and with the equipment they had installed.

For example, if two weeks after the customer has installed a reverse-osmosis system they are laying in bed in the middle of the night wondering if they got ripped off, I want them to be able get up and duplicate the tea demonstration I did during the sales presentation (for tea demonstration instructions, visit www.moti-vitality.com). They can easily do this with their tap water and the water from the new RO and they will get the same results. They cannot duplicate the precipitation demo without my special chemicals. I recommend doing your demonstration in front of your friends and family or even your co-workers. Ask them to alert you of anything that might say comes across as a scare tactic and if it does, then I’d suggest eliminating that from your presentation or finding another way to present the information.

Conclusion
The bottom line is that there are plenty of resources to which we can direct customers, to find information about their water. We will increase our credibility far more by erring on the side of caution with what we say or show them and instead, directing them to third-party resources. I often advise sales professionals that if you wouldn’t say or do it it in front of a Dateline camera crew, don’t say or do it.

About the author
Kelly Thompson MWS, CI, has more than two decades in the water treatment industry, starting as a straight-commission sales professional. He is now the owner of Moti-Vitality. Thompson’s book, Flowing to Success (An Excellent Book with a Cheesy Title for the Water Treatment Sales Professional) has sold over 5,000 copies in eight different countries. He is also a WQA Award of Merit recipient.

About the company
Moti-Vitality specializes in hiring and training sales and management professionals specifically for the water treatment industry. The e-commerce division of the company provides affordable test kits and water treatment dealer specific supplies. Visit the website at www.moti-vitality.com

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