Reclamation: Bureau of Reclamation’s Desalination and Water Purification Research Program Seeks Proposals to Improve Water Treatment Technologies

December 17, 2014
The water treatment process

The water treatment process

Here’s the release from Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking proposals within two funding opportunity announcements to improve water treatment technologies aimed at increasing water management flexibility through new usable water supplies in the United States. The first is for research, laboratory studies and the second is for pilot projects.

Reclamation will make a total of up to $1.4 million available for the funding opportunities. Research and laboratory studies may request up to $150,000 and pilot projects may request up to $400,000. Applicants are required to provide at least a 50 percent cost-share utilizing non-federal dollars. Institutions of higher education are not required to provide a cost-share for research and laboratory studies, but it is encouraged.

The funding opportunities are available at http://www.grants.gov by searching for announcement number R15AS00019 for research and laboratory studies and R15AS00021 for pilot projects. Applications are due on February 16, 2015, at 4:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.

Eligible applicants include individuals, institutions of higher education, commercial or industrial organizations, private entities, public entities and Indian Tribal Governments.

The Desalination and Water Purification Research Program is helping Reclamation and its partners confront widening imbalances between supply and demand in basins throughout the west through testing and development of new advanced water treatment technologies.

The DWPR Program priorities in 2015 are: (1) overcoming technical, economic and social barriers for direct and/or indirect potable reuse treatment, (2) novel processes and/or materials to treat impaired waters, and (3) concentrate management solutions leading to concentrate volume minimization for inland brackish desalination.

To learn more about Reclamation’s Advanced Water Treatment activities, please visit: http://www.usbr.gov/awt/.


Loveland will increase fluoride in water — the Loveland Reporter-Herald

December 9, 2014
Calcium fluoride

Calcium fluoride

From the Loveland Reporter-Herald:

City officials will increase the amount of fluorine added to the city’s water by nearly 30 percent in the coming weeks, according to a release issued late Monday from Loveland’s Water and Power Department.

The fluoridation of city water had come under scrutiny after a resident noted it had been removed for more than two years because of maintenance at the water treatment plant. When fluoride supplementation resumed in 2013, it was at a lower level than when the plant went into maintenance.

In the statement issued Monday, department spokeswoman Gretchen Stanford said Water and Power Director Steve Adams chose to increase the fluoridation rate of Loveland water from 0.7 milligrams per liter to 0.9 milligrams per liter, a 28.6 percent increase, but not to the original levels before 2010.

Costs of the increased supplementation were not disclosed by the department.

In late September, members of the Loveland Utilities Commission took public testimony, both written and verbal, on the desired level of fluoridation in city water. In October, members recommended the city keep its fluoridation, but their decision was not binding.

“(Adams’) decision is based on information provided to the Loveland Utilities Commission from local health and dental authorities, including the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and public comments,” Stanford said in the release.

Currently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and other agencies recommend fluoridation levels between 0.7 and 1.2 milligrams per liter based on the average air temperatures of the site. Loveland is in the 0.9 milligram per liter area. Fluoride in municipal water supplies is linked to decreases in tooth decay and other dental problems.

The ruling appears to be consistent with a Loveland City Council directive from 1952 that required the city to maintain fluoridation “to proper amounts as recommended by health and dental authorities.”

Loveland is not the only community in Larimer County to have discussions about its level of fluoridation.

In 2005, Fort Collins voters had to decide whether to eliminate fluoridation altogether, based on some reports that link the element with health problems. However, that vote failed on a roughly 2-1 margin on 30,000 votes cast.


@AmericanWater’s Mark LeChevallier discusses water utility innovations and treatment technology

December 5, 2014


Water reuse: “It’s not a question of ‘Can we do it?’ We can do it” — John Rehring #COWaterPlan

November 23, 2014

Reverse Osmosis Water Plant

Reverse Osmosis Water Plant


From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

Colorado water providers facing a shortfall…are turning to a long-ignored resource: wastewater.

They’re calculating that, if even the worst sewage could be cleaned to the point it is safe to drink — filtered through super-fine membranes or constructed wetlands, treated with chemicals, zapped with ultraviolet rays — then the state’s dwindling aquifers and rivers could be saved.

Colorado officials at work on the first statewide water plan to sustain population and industrial growth recognize reuse as an option.

“We need to go as far and as fast as we can on water-reuse projects,” Colorado Water Conservation Board director James Eklund said.

But there’s no statewide strategy to do this.

Other drought-prone states, led by Texas, are moving ahead on wastewater conversion to augment drinking-water supplies.

Several obstacles remain: huge costs of cleaning, legal obligations in Colorado to deliver water downstream, disposal of contaminants purged from wastewater, and safety.

Local water plans recently submitted by leaders in five of Colorado’s eight river basins all call for reuse, along with conservation and possibly capturing more snowmelt, to address the projected 2050 shortfall.

Front Range utilities will “push the practical limit” in reusing water, according to the plan for the South Platte River Basin, which includes metro Denver. The Arkansas River Basin plan relies on reuse “to the maximum potential.”

Western Slope authorities in the Gunnison, Yampa and Colorado river basins contend Front Range residents must reuse all available wastewater as a precondition before state officials consider new trans-mountain projects.

The emerging Colorado Water Plan, to be unveiled Dec. 10, remains a general guide, lacking details such as how much water is available. Nor does this 358-page draft plan specify how much of Colorado’s shortfall can be met by reuse.

Water industry leaders urge an aggressive approach. Colorado officials should determine how much water legally can be reused and analyze how this could boost supplies, WateReuse Association director Melissa Meeker said in a letter to the CWCB. Colorado’s strategy “should be crafted to encourage innovation and creativity in planning reuse projects.”

Cleaning up wastewater to the point it can be reused as drinking water long has been technically feasible. Water already is recycled widely in the sense that cities discharge effluent into rivers that becomes the water supply for downriver communities.

Cleaning systems

In 1968, utility operators in Windhoek, Namibia, a desert nation in Africa, began cleaning wastewater and pumping it into a drinking-water system serving 250,000 people.

Denver Water engineers in the 1980s pioneered a multiple-filter cleaning system at a federally funded demonstration plant. From 1985 to 1991, Denver Water used wastewater to produce 1 million gallons a day of drinking water, which proved to be as clean as drinking water delivered today.

Delegations of engineers from Europe and the Soviet Union visited.

“There was a sense we were ahead,” said Myron Nealey, a Denver Water engineer who worked on the project.

But utility leaders scrapped it, partly out of fear that customers would object to drinking water that a few hours earlier might have been flushed from a toilet. They also were struggling to dispose of thousands of gallons a day of purged contaminants — a super-concentrated salty mix that must be injected into deep wells or buried in landfills. [ed. emphasis mine]

So Denver Water has focused instead on recycling wastewater solely for irrigation, power-plant cooling towers and other nonpotable use. An expanding citywide network of separate pipelines distributes this treated wastewater — 30 million gallons a day.

“Reuse is definitely a way to maximize the use of the water we have,” said Jim Lochhead, manager of Denver Water and former natural resources director for the state.

“We’re in the exploration stage of trying to analyze what are the options for various types of reuse,” Lochhead said. “What’s the most effective? What’s the least costly? What’s the most secure?”

Meanwhile, drought and population growth in Texas have spurred construction of water-cleaning plants at Wichita Falls and Big Spring. Engineers have installed water-quality monitoring and testing systems sensitive enough to track the widening array of pathogens, suspended particles and hard-to-remove speciality chemicals found in wastewater.

A Texas state water plan calls for increasing reuse of wastewater eightfold by 2060. The New Mexico town of Cloudcroft is shifting to reuse as a solution to water scarcity. And California cities hurt by and vulnerable to drought, including San Diego, are considering wastewater conversion for drinking water.

Costs can be huge, depending on the level of treatment. Water industry leaders estimate fully converted wastewater costs at least $10,000 per acre-foot (325,851 gallons).

By comparison, increased conservation, or using less water, is seen as the cheapest path to making more water available to prevent shortages. The most costly solution is building new dams, reservoirs and pipelines that siphon more water from rivers.

Colorado also faces legal constraints. The first-come-first-serve system of allocating water rights obligates residents who rely on diverted water from rivers to return that water, partially cleaned, to the rivers to satisfy rights of downriver residents and farmers.

However, much of the Colorado River Basin water diverted through trans-mountain pipelines has been deemed available for reuse. Western Resource Advocates experts estimate more than 280,000 acre-feet may be available. In addition, water pumped from underground aquifers — the savings account that south Denver suburbs have been tapping for decades — is available for reuse.

Indirect reuse

While nobody in Colorado has embarked on direct reuse of treated wastewater, Aurora and other cities have begun a form of indirect reuse that involves filtering partially treated wastewater through river banks. This water then is treated again at Aurora’s state-of-the-art plant. Cleaned wastewater then is blended with water from rivers to augment municipal supplies.

The most delicate challenge has been dealing with safety — making sure engineered water-cleaning systems are good enough to replace nature’s slow-but-sure settling and filtration.

While industry marketers focus on semantics to try to make people feel more comfortable — rejecting phrases such as “toilet to tap” to describe reuse — engineers are honing the systems.

They envision early-detection and shut-off mechanisms that quickly could stop contaminants left in water from reaching people. They aim for filtration and other advanced treatment sufficient to remove the multiplying new contaminants found in urban wastewater. Cleaning water increasingly entails removal of plastic beads used in personal-care products; mutating viruses; resistent bacteria; synthetic chemicals such as herbicides; ibuprofen; birth control; anti-depressants; and caffeine.

“That’s the whole job of treatment and monitoring, to remove pathogens and other contaminants to where it is safe to drink,” said John Rehring of Carollo Engineers, a Denver-based expert on water reuse.

“It’s not a question of ‘Can we do it?’ We can do it,” he said. “And because of growing affordability and public acceptance, we’re starting to see it implemented.”


Sterling water treatment system wins award — Sterling Journal Advocate

November 12, 2014
Reverse Osmosis Water Plant

Reverse Osmosis Water Plant

From the Sterling Journal Advocate (Sara Waite):

Last week, the American Council of Engineering Companies of Colorado announced the project was one of four to receive a 2015 Engineering Excellence Award for “outstanding engineering accomplishments.”

The water treatment system came online about a year ago, five years after city received an enforcement order due to levels of uranium and trihalomethanes above the drinking water standard allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency. To address that issue, as well as high levels of sulfate and total dissolved solids, the city opted to construct a new reverse osmosis water treatment plant. The plan featured a challenge because of the uranium — the result of runoff over naturally occuring uranium deposits upstream — that would end up in the treatment brine.

Engineers with Hatch Mott MacDonald came up with a solution: coupling the reverse osmosis system with EPA Class 1 deep injection wells to dispose of the waste water.

“The result enabled the city to meet its water quality goals to provide 14,000 residents with safe, clean and aesthetically pleasing drinking water — and building a 9.6 million gallon per day water treatment plant without incurring the costs and risks associated with the disposal of uranium contaminated waste,” the award announcement states.

The 7,000-plus foot wells pump the contaminant deeper than water that is used for drinking water.

The project was funded with a voter-approved $29 million loan from the Drinking Water Revolving Fund through the Colorado Resources and Power Development Authority.

City Manager Don Saling called the award “quite an honor for the engineers.” He added that the well drilling company has asked to use the wells for a case study.

He said the water treatment system was an example of a “great plan” using “great technology.”[…]

According to the ACEC-CO release, the winning projects are ranked by a panel of judges representing a cross section of industry, academia and media, assemble to rank the submissions on engineering excellence. Projects in the competition are rated on the basis of uniqueness and innovative applications; future value to the engineering profession; perception by the public; social, economic, and sustainable development considerations; complexity; and successful fulfillment of client/owner’s needs, including schedule and budget. The other projects receiving top honors were the Denver Union Station Redevelopment, new Transit Center, and Pecos Street over I-70 Bridge Replacement.

2015 Engineering Excellence award-winning projects will advance to ACEC’s national competition in Washington D.C., which will be held in April next year.

For more information, visit http://acec-co.org.

More water treatment coverage here.


Telluride: New Pandora treatment plant awaiting final state approvals to go online

November 3, 2014

From The Telluride Daily Planet (Mary Slosson):

The Pandora Water Treatment Plant valves were opened up on Oct. 24 and everything worked, Telluride Public Works Director Paul Ruud said. The plant will not plug into the municipal water supply until a few remaining state certifications are completed, he added. Those final approvals from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will probably be finalized in the new two weeks, Ruud said. Town officials were obligated to have the plant functional by a Nov. 1. deadline.

But the plant works, a fact that Ruud and members of the Telluride Town Council and town staff have heralded this week.

“We’re quite pleased after 20-some years of working on it, we finally have a functional water plant,” Ruud said. “It’s been quite an undertaking. We’re happy to be at the place we are now.”

The facility, located off Bridal Veil Road on the east end of the box canyon, has been under construction for three years. The plant can produce one million gallons of water per day, and has the capacity to be expanded to double that – two million gallons of water per day – if the need ever arises in the future, Ruud said.

“It is our expectation that once the Pandora Water Plant comes online and is functioning as it is designed… we will basically be in a very good position with water for the foreseeable future, possibly the next 50 years,” Ruud said.

City planners realized 20 years ago that neither Corner Creek nor Mill Creek would be sufficient sources of water, Ruud said, especially if the region went into a drought scenario.

“We’re very, very fortunate that our elected officials 20 years ago got the ball rolling. Projects this big take 20 years to accomplish. They had a lot of foresight to start thinking about this way back when,” Ruud added. “For a small town like ourselves, that’s a fairly ambitious undertaking.”

They began working to acquire water rights in the Bridal Veil Basin and converting those rights to municipal water rights. But that effort sometimes caused delays.

After voters approved a $10 million bond in 2005 to fund the construction of the project, it stalled for years as the town and Idarado Mining Company, which owns much of the land and infrastructure involved, tussled over water rights.

Work on the project finally began in earnest in the summer of 2011. In 2013 the town had to add around $4.7 million to the project after a budgetary shortfall.

Now the town will be able to take water out of Blue Lake, Lewis Lake or even Bridal Veil Creek.

The San Miguel Power Association has agreed to purchase electricity generated by a hydropower generator in the treatment plant, Ruud added, so the facility can also contribute to the electrical grid.

“It’s very, very exciting. Anytime a community can take care of some of their really, really important infrastructure needs, it’s a tremendous milestone for the community,” Ruud said.

More infrastructure coverage here.


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


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