Newsletter #11
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News from the National Centers for
Innovation in Small Drinking Water Systems

Upcoming Events

A listing of webinars, symposia, and conferences relevant to this work.
2017 Membrane Technology Conference & Exposition
February 13-17 | Long Beach, California
Registration and program information for this event exploring the latest developments in membrane technology will be available mid-September.
2017 Annual Conference & Exposition
June 11-14 | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
AWWA is accepting abstracts for ACE17 until Thursday, September 15 at 4 p.m. Mountain. 

Project Update 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.
Pilot-Scale Evaluation of Bicarbonate-Form Anion Exchange for DOC Removal in Small Water Systems

Alysse Ness, University of Florida
Treavor Boyer, Arizona State University

Researchers at the University of Florida are working on WINSSS Research Project A: Implementation of Innovative and Sustainable Treatment Technology and focusing specifically on ion exchange (IX.) A new type of IX treatment for the removal of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from drinking water supplies is being evaluated through a pilot study at a small drinking water plant in rural Florida. Anion exchange is listed as a best available technology for removing DOC and has several advantages for use in small water systems. For example, IX can selectively remove a wide range of disinfection by-product precursors, operate intermittently, and perform reliably under a range of influent water chemistry. Despite these advantages, a key drawback of conventional IX treatment is the production of a high salinity waste brine that is difficult and costly to manage, particularly for small water systems.

Sodium chloride is the conventional salt used for anion exchange resin (AER) regeneration. This pilot study evaluates the performance of sodium bicarbonate compared to sodium chloride for AER regeneration. If bicarbonate salt is an efficient regenerant, it could be used as an alternative to reduce the environmental impacts associated with sodium chloride brine disposal. A regeneration brine with a high concentration of bicarbonate has potential beneficial reuse options, such as alkalinity addition to a septic system or a wastewater treatment plant.

The pilot-scale IX treatment system was operated for approximately seven months at the water treatment plant in Cedar Key, Florida. The pilot plant uses fixed-bed IX columns to treat raw groundwater drawn from the Floridan aquifer, which is characterized by high organic matter, iron, and hardness. A photo of the pilot plant is shown below.  

Data collected from the pilot plant will be used to determine the long-term treatment performance of sodium bicarbonate compared with sodium chloride. Additionally, a cost comparison of using sodium bicarbonate compared with sodium chloride will be performed.

When using bicarbonate-form IX, preliminary results indicate the following level of performance and operational characteristics: (1) DOC removal of 70-80 percent can be achieved using both chloride-form AER and bicarbonate-form AER; (2) sodium chloride shows a higher regeneration efficiency compared with sodium bicarbonate; (3) mineral precipitation occurred during treatment using bicarbonate AER, which resulted in increased backwash frequency. A cost comparison of brine disposal options, including deep-well injection, hauling to a wastewater treatment plant, and off-site landfill disposal is being performed. This research provides new insights on the feasibility of using bicarbonate-form AER technology. 
In the pilot study, one column is filled with bicarbonate-form resin, the other column is filled with chloride-form resin. Both columns have the resin volume, flow rate, and empty bed contact time.

Project Update 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.
Developing and Implementing Tools for Small Systems to Evaluate and Select Appropriate Treatment Technologies
Chad Seidel, John Meyer, Sherri Cook, Elizabeth Shilling, Christopher Jones, Pablo Cornejo, University of Colorado Boulder
Bill Hogrewe and Jeff Oxenford, Rural Community Assistance Partnership
Jim Malley, University of New Hampshire
Water utilities can struggle to know which treatment technologies to consider and then which one to select and implement to solve their water quality and compliance challenges. This is particularly challenging for small water systems without resources to stay up-to-date on the range of appropriate technology options and their associated treatment and operational performance. The DeRISK Center is dedicated to addressing this challenge by developing and implementing tools for small systems to evaluate and select appropriate treatment technologies. These tools are designed to help utilities, states, consultants, and technology providers make technology selection decisions based on public health protection and sustainability beyond just regulatory compliance.

A conventional analysis of technology alternatives is typically performed when water systems need to upgrade or replace major treatment facilities. This analysis consists of identifying the feasible alternatives that will accomplish the treatment goals, comparing the alternatives based on some criteria, and selecting the “best” alternative. The criterion most used is cost—capital cost, operation and maintenance cost, or an engineering life-cycle cost analysis that includes the anticipated life-span of major equipment.
The DeRISK Center tools employ a decision support methodology that improves on this conventional approach. The major steps in the methodology are deciding what criteria are most important to stakeholders and providing and easy way to compare technology alternatives to each other with respect to each criterion. Our approach strives to go beyond just a comparison of costs. As shown in Figure 1, the decision support methodology expands on the conventional analysis of alternatives process by including:
  • Facilitated methodology that incorporates stakeholder input
  • Data on innovative treatment technologies
  • Relative health risk protection of treatment approaches
  • Sustainability measures of treatment approaches
  • Stakeholder preferences
  Continue reading at
Figure 1. Overview of Decision Support Methodology

Recent Publications

Framework for Continuous Performance Improvement in Small Drinking Water Systems

Bereskie, T., Haider, H., Rodriguez, M.J., and Sadiq, R. (2016). Framework for continuous performance improvement in small drinking water systems. Journal of the Total Environment (In Press). doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.08.067. 

Why it's interesting: The framework discussed in this study is designed in part to help small drinking water systems track performance improvements from the implementation of new technologies. 
Removal of Disinfection By-Product Precursors Using Hybrid-Coagulation Ceramic Membrane Systems

Alansari, A., Selbes, M., Karanfil, T., and Amburgey, J. Removal of disinfection by-product precursors using hybrid-coagulation ceramic membrane systems. Journal of the American Water Works Association, 108:10 (In Press). doi:10.5942/jawwa.2016.108.0140.

Why it's interesting: The results of this pilot-scale studey showed that the implementation of an optimized coagulation pretreatment stage reduced the rate of membrane fouling while providing some removal of regulated halogenated carbonaceous DBPs.
Evaluation of Seasonal Performance of Conventional and Phosphate Amended Biofilters

Selbes, M., Amburgey, J., Peeler, C., Alansari, A., and Karanfil, T. (2016). Evaluation of seasonal performance of conventional and phosphate amended biofilters. Journal of the American Water Works Association, 108:10 (In Press). doi:10.5942/jawwa.2016.108.0151.  

Why it's interesting: This case study revealed that biologically active filters can be an effective strategy for utilities to comply with DBP regulations, especially in warm weathers, and their amendment can further improve water quality and operation. 


Industry News

Discovery Grant Research Reveals that X-Ray Chemical Turns Toxic in Disinfected Drinking Water
A geneticist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has discovered that a non-toxic medical diagnostic chemical can become toxic during the disinfection process. 

More Toxic Chemicals Allowed in Florida Waterways
In a controversial decision, Florida's Environmental Regulation Commission has approved a plan that imposes new standards on 39 currently unregulated chemicals while revising the regulations on 43 other toxins, many of which are carcinogens. 

Dirty to Drinkable: Novel Hybrid Nanomaterials Quickly Transform Water
Engineers at Washington University in St. Louis have discovered a way to use graphene oxide sheets to transform contaminated water into drinking water. 

Hotel's Cooling Tower ID'd as Source of New York Legionnaires' Outbreak
The New York City Health Department has identified and eliminated the source of a deadly Legionnaires' disease outbreak that killed at least 12 people. 

Tiny Stanford Invention Purifies Water in Minutes Using the Sun
Smaller than a postage stamp, the decontamination tablet created by the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University uses visible light to clean water in minutes. 

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.
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