Clean water is always good. And a Colorado company is creating a system to provide it to #Ebola stricken countries — Denver Business Journal

October 28, 2014


EPA awards CU $4 million grant for research of drinking water purification

October 27, 2014
The water treatment process

The water treatment process

From CUIndependent.com (Gabriel Larsen-Santos):

In early September, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted $4 million to CU Boulder’s engineering department to establish a national center to improve drinking water treatment facilities for small towns and rural communities.What do you think?

Known as DeRISK, or Design of Risk Reducing, Innovative Implementable Small System Knowledge Center, this new center will develop sustainable methods to reduce water contaminants.What do you think?

“In order to create more natural and cost-efficient water treatment systems, we’re focused on improving how these systems are implemented, as well as developing technologies that don’t require any chemical addition,” said Professor R. Scott Summers, director of DeRISK and an engineering professor at CU.What do you think?

Hundreds of various contaminants are legally discharged into rivers and aquifers across the United States every day, causing harmful chemicals to flow into drinking water.What do you think?

“This center will facilitate public health for the rural communities that don’t have access to low-cost treatment options,” Summers said.What do you think?

DeRISK has two major focuses — a front end of outreach and ease of communication, and a back end of developing non-conventional technologies for public use.What do you think?

“Part of what we’re doing is evaluating sustainability,” said Elizabeth Shilling, a 22-year-old graduate student researcher and environmental engineering major. “This includes the cost of building facilities, the ongoing cost of operations, and also environmental factors — waste and emissions management.”What do you think?

It’s more difficult for rural communities to afford the scientists and technicians that larger urban water treatment facilities employ. But other resources, such as cheaper and more plentiful land, put some rural communities in a unique position over cities to benefit from non-conventional water purification systems.What do you think?

Examples of non-conventional systems that minimize overall costs include using the sun’s ultraviolet radiation to purify water in ponds, or using bacterial filters that reduce chemical contaminants. Conventional water treatment includes methods like water chlorination, which may be right for some communities, but produces chemical byproducts.What do you think?

Most importantly, DeRISK is developing a uniformed approach to make it simpler and more affordable for rural communities to implement the water treatment technology that suits their environment. Small towns might have miles of pipeline between two houses, so water quality is more likely to degrade in rural areas as it stagnates in the pipes and develops bacterial contaminants.What do you think?

“In order to make it easier for smaller drinking water plants to figure out the best treatment system for their parameters, we’re developing a sustainability index,” Shilling said. “Basically, it will show these small town facilities which technology would be best for them in terms of long term costs and environmental impacts.”What do you think?

One of the many goals of DeRISK is to develop technologies that can be installed in the distribution systems themselves, instead of in centralized water treatment facilities, which is the solution typically utilized across the United States. This would ensure that water remains drinkable no matter how far it travels from the primary treatment center.What do you think?

“We see it as a service to public health,” Summers said. “So that when you stop at a gas station someplace out in the country and you drink from the water fountain, you won’t have to worry if the water’s safe to drink, because that gas station could double as a water treatment facility.”

More water treatment coverage here.


Loveland’s Utilities Commission to examine issue of fluoride dosing

September 25, 2014
Calcium fluoride

Calcium fluoride

From the Loveland Utilities Commission via the Loveland Reporter-Herald:

Loveland’s Utilities Commission will take a look Tuesday at an issue that has been pretty low on the city’s radar for the past 60 years: fluoridation of city water.

At a meeting slated for 4 p.m. at the Police and Courts Building, 810 E. 10th St., a pair of presentations is planned for commissioners: one seeking the reinstatement of fluoride additives to the city water supply at least to pre-2010 levels, and another seeking the removal of all fluoride.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend to learn more.

At issue is an apparent change in the city’s fluoridation process in the past few years, according to Larry Sarner of Loveland. In an interview Tuesday, he said that state-mandated reports in the past four years showed the city periodically discontinued fluoridation of the city’s water in 2010 because of maintenance at the treatment plant and didn’t resume them until 2013. However, when the city resumed fluoridating the city’s water, it was at about half of the level previous to 2010, Sarner said. According to city figures, only in the past couple of months has it returned to pre-2010 levels.

More water treatment coverage here.


Aspen drinking water tour recap

September 23, 2014

Aspen

Aspen


From the Aspen Daily News (Collin Szewczyk):

Through a program by the Roaring Fork Conservancy, a group of over 20 people seeking to quench their intellectual curiosities concerning the city’s water, how it’s treated and where it comes from, toured the city of Aspen’s drinking water treatment facility this week led by water treatment supervisor Charlie Bailey and Laura Taylor, an operator at the facility.

Christina Medved, watershed education director of the Roaring Fork Conservancy, pointed out the parameters of the Roaring Fork watershed, noting that local rivers and streams are fed from an area the size of a small Eastern state.

“Our watershed is about the size of Rhode Island,” she said. “And over 30 percent of it is in designated wilderness areas.”

She praised the relationship that the conservancy has with local government entities such as the city water department, that allows visitors to check out local facilities, which are normally closed to the general public.

“What’s really exciting is we get access to places like this,” Medved said. “We have really wonderful partners that will say, ‘yeah, we’ll open up the gate for you,’ when you normally can’t get in here and have an audience with Charlie and Laura because they’re busy bringing water to Aspen.”

Aspenitus
The plant was completed in December 1966 after Aspen endured a major waterborne epidemic of giardia in the mid-1960s. Giardia is a microscopic parasite that is found in soil, food or water that is contaminated with feces. Another parasite, cryptosporidium, has yet to appear in the Aspen area.

“That was 1964-65; it was the first documented public health problem in the United States,” said Bailey. “There was a documented waterborne problem and that was giardia. There were two redwood tanks up on the hill here that were used for the hydro plant that was down the street, but the Aspen Water Company provided water to the pipes and there was no treatment at all … It was a big hit, they called it ‘Aspenitus.’”

After the outbreak, the city got money together, bought bonds and broke ground on the treatment plant in 1965. There’s been no cases of giardia in the city’s water since the building of the facility, Bailey said.

“There’s lots of giardia in the water and none of it comes out of the pipeline here,” he said. “We’re required to do testing once a year on the performance of our filters and our clear well (a reservoir used for storing filtered water, which flows through a series of baffles, allowing contact time with chlorine for disinfection).”

Beavers were the main culprit for the giardia epidemic, and the area up Maroon and Castle creeks was teeming with them at the time.

“There was a huge beaver population up there,” Bailey said, but added that it’s good to have them in the area. “They’re animals that let us know that the environment is healthy.”

The water plant also checks the water for mining tailings and other non-natural pollutants.

“We’ve requested extra testing of our water sources,” Bailey said. “We’ve done heavy metal testing and we actually do [pharmaceutical] testing, too.”

He added that no traces of either have been found in Aspen’s drinking water.

“Ever since I’ve been here, and even before, there’s been no problem with city water,” he said. “No public outbreaks, no boil orders, because I will not let it happen on my watch.

“We make the water, and the best thing about making the water here is that it’s clean,” Bailey continued. “The water comes from wilderness areas and there is nobody up above us that has dumped back [into the creeks] after industrial processes or anything like that. We get water coming through the geology, through the snowmelt, we are stewards of the water so we really keep track of everything above us and below us.”[...]

The water here is pumped in from Maroon and Castle creeks and begins its journey through the treatment facility and into Aspen taps. He noted that the city has water rights of 142 cubic feet per second (cfs) in Maroon Creek and about 90 cfs in Castle Creek, even though the streams only hit that level during spring runoff…

The purification process
The reservoir, which holds about 4 million gallons in the summer, is the first stop in the purifying process as sediment in the water begins to settle here.

“This is one of our processes,” Bailey said. “We basically bring the water in here and we slow it down. This helps so much during [peak] runoff … the dirt is tumbling, it’s coming in and all the sudden it settles out here and we’re able to draw off the surface and it’s much, much cleaner.”

He added that the water is usually at about one turbidity unit (TU) — the measurement of cloudiness caused by particulates — when it enters the reservoir. When it leaves it’s at .5 TU; during peak runoff it can be as dirty as 60 TU.

“We get reduction in here,” Bailey said. “That’s just a natural tumbling process, we slow it down and that stuff just falls out.”

The nutrient-rich sediment has to be periodically dug out, but it gets spread around the site making the soil perfect for plant growth.

To the north side of the reservoir lies the remnants of the old Maroon Creek flume that was used to divert water to the “tent city” in the late 1800s. As the group was looking down on the wooden channel one observer noticed a bear hanging out in a nearby tree, adding to the natural feel of the site.

The water next goes into large flocculation tanks — which look like UFOs — that, with the aid of chemicals, coagulate the particulates, churn them about and make the sediment again settle to the bottom.

After settling twice, the water makes its journey to a filtration section of the facility. Here, it’s pushed by gravity through a filter that consists of 18 inches of anthracite (coal) and a foot of sand. It next heads to the clear well for 14 to 15 hours to ensure all giardia is killed.

The state’s regulation allows for drinking water to reach one TU and still be acceptable to drink, but on this day Aspen’s drinking water was a pristine 0.037 TU.

More water treatment coverage here.


EPA Announces Funding to Create Two New Drinking Water Innovation Centers

September 15, 2014

The water treatment process

The water treatment process


Here’s the release from the Environmental Protection Agency:

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues its commitment to improving America’s drinking water by providing over $8 million to create two national centers for research and innovation in small to medium sized drinking water systems.

“These centers will help to develop innovative and practical solutions for challenges faced by smaller drinking water systems, which make up the majority of public water systems in the United States,” said Lek Kadeli, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “Providing cost effective solutions to help these systems deliver safe, high quality drinking water will help improve the health, economy and security of our nation’s communities.”

The recipients are the University of Colorado Boulder’s Design of Risk Reducing, Innovative Implementable Small System Knowledge (DeRISK) Center [ed. emphasis mine], and the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Water Innovation Network for Sustainable Small Systems (WINSSS) Center. These two EPA funded centers will develop and test advanced, low cost methods to reduce, control, and eliminate groups of water contaminants that present challenges to communities worldwide.

Ninety seven percent of the nation’s roughly 160,000 public water systems serve fewer than 10,000 people each. These drinking water systems face many obstacles including limited resources, aging infrastructure, and complying with a variety of regulations These centers will help strengthen the technical, managerial, and financial capacities of drinking water providers throughout the country. Both centers will collaborate with a range of stakeholders to support problem-oriented research on groups of water contaminants and their origins. This research marks a move towards developing trans-disciplinary results that will be nationally acceptable and applicable.

These grants, part of EPA’s research on safe and sustainable drinking water, support the development of water clusters– networks of businesses, researchers, and others involved in water technology. Colorado and Massachusetts are both home to water cluster organizations. These organizations are leading the way in developing cutting-edge technologies and bringing them to the market, where they can solve water challenges that threaten health and daily activities while promoting technological innovation and economic growth.

More water treatment coverage here.


Ute Water receives the “10 Year Directors Award of Recognition” from the Partnership for Safe Water

August 29, 2014

Barr-Milton Watershed Association video: EPA Urban Waters Grant #SouthPlatte

August 21, 2014


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