Newsletter #1
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News from the National Centers for
Innovation in Small Drinking Water Systems

On September 9, 2014, the U.S. EPA announced that the University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst were selected to lead two parallel research efforts to identify, develop, demonstrate and facilitate widespread acceptance of innovative technologies by small drinking water systems. The DeRISK and WINSSS centers are the two National Centers for Innovation in Small Drinking Water Systems.

The team from the University of Illinois behind is pleased to bring you the first edition of a newsletter for these centers. Our goal is to connect state program staff, technical assistance providers, engineers in the private sector, and our fellow academics with plain-language information about the research activities at each center - and beyond. While we will focus on the efforts of the DeRISK and WINSSS teams, we specifically hope to highlight work being done across the country (and the world) by our broader community of colleagues.

Tapping into Expertise Nationwide and Beyond

The charge delivered to these centers via USEPA is lofty and the price-tag, equally so. The $4.1 million offered in the RFA, for one center, was doubled to $8.2 million upon announcement of the two award recipients. 
Locations of organizations affiliated with the two national centers. (click image to enlarge)
Creating effective programs of both depth and breadth thus required each center to assemble a team of researchers and programmatic staff. With more than 30 named partners in 13 locations - and an even-larger suite of colleagues worldwide - the Centers have positioned themselves to lead a multi-disciplinary effort to improve the sustainability of small drinking water systems. Our goal with this newsletter is not only to highlight the work of the centers and it's team members, but to make important connections between the researchers, consultants, technical assistance providers, and regulatory staff who all serve and care about small systems.

Project Updates from the WINSSS Center

The Water Innovation Network for Sustainable Small Systems (WINSSS) Center at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst is led by Dr. David Reckhow.
The WINSSS Center brings together a national team of experts to transform drinking water treatment for small water systems to meet the urgent need for state-of-the-art innovation, development, demonstration, and implementation of treatment, information, and process technologies in part by leveraging existing relationships with industry.
Development of a mobile pilot plant for evaluation of innovative technologies
PIs: Dave Reckhow1

1University of Massachusetts-Amherst
The objective of this project is to design and build a mobile pilot unit consisting of two treatment trains. This activity is being conducted in collaboration with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the New England region's water cluster. The pilot unit will be easily transported to treatment plants in the New England region to evaluate new and innovative technologies which may be of interest to small systems. The 36’ trailer will consist of conventional treatment methods as well as new technologies which can easily be interchanged into the treatment train to evaluate their effects on treatment. Some of the technologies which will be tested using the trailer include ferrate, ozone and ion exchange treatments. The trailer is planned to be fully outfitted with monitoring equipment and a small lab space. The trailer is expected to be completed by September 2015.

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Developing a standardized approach for state acceptance of innovative technologies for small systems
PIs: Steve Wilson1, Bruce Dvorak2, Dave Reckhow3

1Illinois State Water Survey, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
2University of Nebraska-Lincoln
3 University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Developing a more standardized approach to technology acceptance by states might seem impossible, because of varying state statutes, programmatic approaches to acceptance, and variability in state funding to deal with new technology acceptance. But, what if we were able to take the model started by Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, to agree to work together on technology acceptance, and develop that for specific groups of states around the country. The benefit would be great for those states involved, both eliminating the re-venting of the wheel, as well as, significant cost savings for both states and treatment technology developers. This project is an effort to do just that. The program consists of first asking the states about how they approve new technologies, what are the barriers, what are their past experiences, etc. That is being accomplished through an online survey, with significant help from ASDWA. Those data will then be the seed for a national workgroup of state staff to come together to develop a common set of requirements for vendors, identify barriers to acceptance, and most importantly, identify where differences can’t be settled. Lastly, using that information, we will work with the New England states, EPA Region 1, and ASDWA, in an effort to develop areas where it makes sense for a common approach to technology acceptance. The initial results will be presented at the Small Systems workshop put on by EPA and ASDWA in Cincinnati the week of August 24th and at the ASDWA Annual Conference in October.

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Project Updates from the DeRISK Center

The Design of Risk-reducing, Innovative-implementable Small-system Knowledge (DeRISK) Center at the University of Colorado-Boulder is led by Dr. Scott Summers.
The DeRISK Center’s overall objectives focus on applying principles of risk reduction, sustainability and new implementation approaches to innovative technologies that will reduce the risk associated with key contaminant groups and increase the chance of adoption and sustainable use in small systems.
Applying the Relative Health Indicator (RHI) metric to Water Treatment Plant (WTP) model predictions to discern differences in public health protection among alternate drinking treatment technologies
PIs: John Meyer1, Chad Seidel2, Scott Summers1,2
1Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado-Boulder
2DeRISK Center, University of Colorado-Boulder
As national drinking water regulations continue to evolve and convalesce, small drinking water providers often face challenges when identifying where best to invest in system capital improvements that will meaningfully reduce public health risk. As part of the DeRISK Center’s overall mission, this research applies the Relative Health Indicator (RHI) metric developed in the Water Research Foundation (WaterRF) project 4310, Identifying Meaningful Opportunities for Drinking Water Health Risk Reduction to the predicted outcomes of the USEPA Water Treatment Plant (WTP) models. Applying the RHI metric to WTP models allows for relative health risk comparisons of treatment alternatives to be made for both carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic health outcomes. We are currently in the process of developing a spreadsheet-based tool which will allows users to compare disinfection by-product (DBP) pubic health risks for alternative treatment technologies and source water parameters. Upon completion, this tool will be available as a decision making resource for small drinking water providers. 

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A Comparison of Life Cycle Costs and Environmental Emissions from Disinfection Technologies for Small Drinking Water Systems
PIs: Elizabeth Shilling1, Karl Linden1, and Sherri Cook1
1Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado-Boulder
Small drinking water systems (SDWSs) struggle to identify and select which innovative technologies can improve their treatment performance. The goal of this work is to develop and apply a model that quantifies and compares the environmental impacts of a variety of treatment technologies and identify the most effective and sustainable SDWS treatment options. So far, the relative environmental impacts of chlorine disinfection, and low pressure and medium pressure UV disinfection technologies have been evaluated. Comparative life cycle assessment methodology was used to quantify relative life cycle environmental emissions and impacts. For a specified set of SDWS characteristics, the results show that LP-UV had the lowest relative impacts for all of the TRACI impact categories, which include global warming and smog. Treatment of water with chlorine in a concrete basin had the highest overall levels of emissions. The results highlight some of the major environmental benefits and tradeoffs of each disinfection technology and will be applied to a larger overall project to assess every aspect of applying a new treatment system. 

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Distribution System In-Line Pressurized Diffused Aeration for THM Removals
PI: Robin Collins1

1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New Hampshire

The overall goal of this project is to explore, develop, and model technologies that will offer a better understanding of the distribution system and will reduce preformed DBPs at the most problematic locations. The objective of this specific activity is to evaluate the efficacy of using a readily adaptable horizontal in-line diffused aeration (HILDA) system to remove THMs and other VOCs from distribution water piping. The funding from DeRISK has gone into (i) the development of a pilot-scale horizontal reactor configuration that facilitated air and water mixing so that saturation removal conditions could be achieved. The funding has also resulted in (ii) the development of a model that could reasonably predict THM removals as a function of mixing intensity design variables. A schematic of the HILDA reactor using multiple air injection and air release points is depicted in the attached figure. This activity is now at the stage where a field-scale design and demonstration of this innovative treatment technology is appropriate and where potential operational issues could be resolved. Please contact the PI for this activity if interested in participating in the field evaluation program.

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Evaluate the Impact of EBCT for In-Plant Rapid Media Filters
PIs: Scott Summers1,2 and Leigh Gilmore1

1Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado-Boulder
2DeRISK Center, University of Colorado-Boulder
Pilot filters are set up at the City of Boulder’s Water Treatment Plant to evaluate the effect of increasing the empty bed contact time (EBCT) for in-plant rapid media filters on controlling surges in particulate matter associated with water and coagulation process perturbations. We modified the influent system and fabricated two new filter columns with taps at depths that represent 5, 15 and 30 minute EBCT. Filter 1 was packed with ‘fresh’ anthracite and Filter 2 was packed with ‘acclimated’ anthracite from Longmont Water Treatment Plant.  The filters have been online for 11 weeks and are capturing surges in turbidity and NOM during spring runoff, in addition to temperature fluctuations.  Biomass activity and filter performance has been measured at each EBCT. Extended biofiltration will improve the sustainability of small drinking water systems by providing additional NOM removal.  

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Upcoming Events

A listing of webinars, symposia, and conferences relevant to this work.
12th Annual U.S. EPA Drinking Water Workshop
August 25-27, 2015 | Cincinnati, Ohio
This workshop will provide participants with in-depth training and information on various strategies for handling small systems problems and compliance challenges.
Small Municipal Membrane Challenges
August 25, 2015 | Arch Cape, OR

A one-day workshop offering solutions for common issues facing small-scale membrane treatment technology installations.
WQTC - Water Quality Technology Conference
November 15-19, 2015 | Salt Lake City, Utah
This established and highly regarded conference provides a practical forum for a wide range of water professionals to exchange the latest research and information.

Recent Publications

The costs of small drinking water systems removing arsenic from groundwater

Sorg, T. J., Wang, L., & Chen, A. C. (2015). The costs of small drinking water systems removing arsenic from groundwater. Journal Of Water Supply: Research & Technology-AQUA, 64(3), 219-234. doi:10.2166/aqua.2014.044

Why it's interesting: U.S. EPA's Arsenic Research Demonstration program provided capital and O&M cost data for full-scale innovative arsenic removal technologies such as adsorptive media, compared with the "Best Available Technology" listed in the arsenic regulation.
Water compliance challenges: how do Canadian small water systems respond?

Kot, M., Gagnon, G. A., & Castleden, H. (2015). Water compliance challenges: how do Canadian small water systems respond?. Water Policy, 17(2), 349-369. doi:10.2166/wp.2014.172

Why it's interesting: This study used in-person interviews to provide policy-making recommendations for small communities facing drinking water compliance hurdles.
Waterborne Viruses: A Barrier to Safe Drinking Water

Gall, A. M., Mariñas, B. J., Lu, Y., & Shisler, J. L. (2015). Waterborne Viruses: A Barrier to Safe Drinking Water. Plos Pathogens, 11(6), 1-7. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004867

Why it's interesting: Viruses in drinking water are less well understood compared with bacterial pathogens. This short paper provides a high-level "state of the science" and highlights research needs.
Seasonal and spatial variations of source and drinking water quality in small municipal systems of two Canadian regions

Scheili, A., Rodriguez, M., & Sadiq, R. (2015). Seasonal and spatial variations of source and drinking water quality in small municipal systems of two Canadian regions. Science Of The Total Environment, 508514-524. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.11.069

Short-term spatial and temporal variability of disinfection by-product occurrence in small drinking water systems

Guilherme, S., & Rodriguez, M. J. (2015). Short-term spatial and temporal variability of disinfection by-product occurrence in small drinking water systems. Science Of The Total Environment, 518/519280-289. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.02.069

Why it's interesting: Variations in water quality across time and space can impact how water is treated by the utility.These case studies provide new insights on simultaneous compliance challenges related to disinfection and disinfection byproducts.

Industry News

High-intensity pulsed light as a novel technology for disinfecting drinking water
Researchers in Ireland have developed an innovative technology that addresses a key challenge and at the same time provides green economic opportunities.

California’s rural poor hit hardest by massive drought
This Washington Post article highlights how California's drought has impacted rural water supplies and the people who rely on them.
The two National Centers for Innovation in Small Drinking Water Systems, based at the University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, are collaborative research groups charged with examining and reducing the barriers of innovative treatment technology implementation at small drinking water systems. The funding for the centers comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program.
Copyright © 2015, All rights reserved.

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