Newsletter #4
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News from the National Centers for
Innovation in Small Drinking Water Systems

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Online Resources for Small System Operators Get a New Home

Water and wastewater operators can now access thousands of tools and resources tailored to tribal and small community needs at Originally launched in 2010 under the name, the mobile-friendly web portal includes technical documents, links to training opportunities, information on the results of the National Centers for Innovation in Small Drinking Water Systems project, and certificate program resources. 

Upcoming Events

A listing of webinars, symposia, and conferences relevant to this work.
Sustainable Water Management Conference 
March 7-10, 2016 | Providence, Rhode Island
This AWWA-sponsored conference includes sessions on advancing new technologies and the connection between technology and policy. 
NGWA Groundwater Summit
April 24-27, 2016 | Denver, Colofado
This year's technical conference for the National Ground Water Association will focus on ways to solve groundwater challenges through research. technology, and practice. 

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.
Innovative Ion Exchange and Life Cycle Impacts for Small Water Systems
Treavor Boyer*, University of Florida, and Qiong (Jane) Zhang, University of South Florida 
(Corresponding Email:
Ion exchange has many of the characteristics that are needed in small water systems to produce safe and reliable drinking water. Ion exchange is a robust process that can selectively remove a wide range of chemical contaminants (e.g., dissolved organic carbon, bromide, nitrate, perchlorate, hexavalent chromium, and hardness), can perform effectively under changing water quality conditions, can operate intermittently for several hours per day or continuously, and can be used in different reactor configurations and at different locations in a water treatment train. Ion exchange is also a highly scalable process that can be used as a point-of-use device in households, as a point-of-entry process in distribution systems, or as a unit process in central water treatment plants.
Despite the advantages of ion exchange, the current approach to ion exchange regeneration is challenging for many water systems because it adds complexity and cost to the treatment process, and generates a high salinity residual stream that is difficult to manage and can have multiple adverse impacts on wastewater treatment, receiving waters, and landscapes. The proposed research seeks to create a more sustainable approach to ion exchange through the coupling of ion exchange pilot plant studies with life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle cost analysis (LCCA). This contribution is significant because it represents a new framework in water system design in which treatment efficiency is linked to life cycle impacts to ensure the new process is more sustainable than the old process. Greener ion exchange, in turn, will improve the sustainability of small water systems.
The current approach to ion exchange treatment uses sodium chloride (NaCl) for regeneration, which adds sodium or chloride to the treated water and creates a high strength NaCl waste stream. Sodium release to treated water via cation exchange process can be problematic in communities where elevated sodium in finished drinking water is a concern. Similarly, chloride release to treated water via anion exchange process can be problematic in terms of the potential to make the finished drinking water more corrosive. For both cation exchange and anion exchange processes, management and disposal of the NaCl waste stream is challenging due to harmful impacts on soil, receiving waters, and biological wastewater treatment. This research is designed to investigate the barriers to implementing innovative ion exchange technology, such as alternative regeneration chemicals and the combined use of anion and cation exchange resins in the same vessel, while quantifying and considering the life cycle impacts of the new process configuration.
The current project team includes graduate students and professors at the University of Florida and University of South Florida. During this past fall, graduate students at the University of Florida have been setting up and testing an ion exchange pilot plant in Cedar Key, FL (see figure below). The pilot plant is designed to evaluate ion exchange treatment and regeneration in fixed bed configuration considering both combined anion and cation exchange and alternative regeneration chemicals to NaCl including potassium chloride (KCl) and sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3). The data from the pilot plant tests will be used by researchers at the University of South Florida to construct LCA and LCCA models and calculations.
The small drinking water plant in Cedar Key, FL treats groundwater high in dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and hardness, which is the same water being used for the pilot plant tests. Two ion exchange columns are devoted to combined anion and cation exchange for simultaneous removal of DOC and hardness including a comparison of NaCl vs. KCl regeneration efficiency, and two ion exchange columns are devoted to DOC removal by anion exchange including NaCl vs. NaHCO3 regeneration efficiency and different service–regeneration techniques. This project is also expected to consider other problematic contaminants, such as bromide and nitrate, and especially mixtures of contaminants. In summary, the combination of ion exchange pilot plant testing with LCA and LCCA will allow for design decisions to be made that consider both contaminant reduction and life cycle impacts.      

Recent Publications

Rapid Removal of Organic Micropollutants from Water by a Porous β-Cyclodextrin Polymer

Alsbaiee, A., Smith, B.J., Xiao, L., Ling, Y., Helbling, D.E., & Dichtel, W.H. (2016). Rapid removal of organic micropollutants from water by a porous β-cyclodextrin polymer. Nature, 529, 190-194. doi:10.1038/nature16185

Why it's interesting: This study shows that a cyclodextrin polymer filters may be a low-cost, sustainable alternative to activated carbon filters. 
Laboratory Assessment of Ferrate for Drinking Water Treatment

Goodwill, J.E., Jiang, Y., Reckhow, D.A., & Tobiason, J.E. (2016). Laboratory assessment of ferrate for drinking water treatment. Journal of the American Water Works Association (In Press). doi:10.5942/jawwa.2016.108.0029

Why it's interesting: In 19 continuous flow experiments, the addition of a Fe(VI) preoxidation step was found to improve UV254 absorbance, turbidity, and DBP levels in finished water without causing negative water quality or operational impacts.
Development, Application, and Sensitivity Analysis of a Water Quality Index for Drinking Water Management in Small Systems

Scheili, A., Rodriguez, M.J., & Sadiq, R. (2015). Development, application, and sensitivity analysis of a water quality index for drinking water management in small systems. Environmental Monitoring Assessment, 187:685. doi:10.1007/s10661-015-4908-5. 

Why it's interesting: The drinking water quality index developed and tested in this study could help operators identify problematic periods and segments in the distribution system. 
Removal of Organic Micropollutants from Drinking Water by a Novel Electro-Fenton Filter: Pilot-Scale Studies

Plakas, K.V., Sklari, S.D., Yiankakis, D.A., Sideropoulos, G.TH., Zaspalis, V.T., & Karabelas, A.J. (2016). Removal of organic micropollutants from drinking water by a novel electro-Fenton filter: Pilot-scale studies. Water Research, 91, 183-194. doi:10.1016/j.watres.2016.01.013. 

Why it's interesting: Pilot testing revealed that the ‘filter’-type electro-Fenton device satisfactorily removed diclofenac and total organic carbon even under unfavorable conditions and after multiple filtration/oxidation treatment cycles.

Industry News

Oregon Turns to Ozone to Treat its Water
Oregon, Ohio is moving forward with plans to use ozone to eliminate cyanobacteria and other harmful bacteria. The new system is expected to be in place by 2017. 

Mobile Electroionization System Presents Cost-Effective RO Alternative
A new water purification and desalination system could be used in place of the large evaporation ponds used in many reverse osmosis systems. 

Algorithm Helps Utilities Monitor Water Networks
European researchers are designing a set of software tools to help water utilities respond to system concerns quickly. 

Study Shows Large Ecosystem Diversity in Water Pipes
Swedish scientists say that purification may also take place in water pipes thanks to connections between bacteria composition and water quality. 
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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