Newsletter #9
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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.
13th Annual U.S. EPA Drinking Water Workshop
August 23-25 | Cincinnati, Ohio 
This workshop will provide in-depth information on various solutions and strategies for handling small system problems and compliance challenges and opportunities to connect with small system operators.  2017 International Symposium on Inorganics
March 21-22 | Detroit, Michigan 
Abstracts for this AWWA event are being accepted until July 7, 2016. 

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.
Developing a Better Understanding of Drinking Water Technology Approval: WINSSS Center Project B1

Steve Wilson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

When EPA in 2014 chose to fund the National Centers for Innovation in Small Drinking Water Systems, their vision for the Centers was much more than developing new drinking water technologies; they asked them to also consider facilitating acceptance of both new and existing technologies, improving relationships between stakeholders, fostering dialogue among regulators, and facilitating the development of uniform data collection approaches for new technologies. All of the non-treatment pieces of the vision have been incorporated into the WINSSS Center’s Project B1.
Project B1 has three objectives:
  1. Conduct a survey of the states to determine the barriers and data needs for technology acceptance.
  2. Develop a states workgroup and use the survey results as a starting point to discuss how to overcome those barriers and develop a set of uniform data needs.
  3. Take the workgroup results and apply them to the New England states to work toward multi-state acceptance.
The first objective has been completed, and the workgroup called for in the second has been meeting every other month since December.
Recognizing the importance of state buy-in to the project, the PI’s proposed to include the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA) as a partner in the survey implementation at the proposal stage. They have been a great partner, and the success of this project is a reflection of their involvement. It was also clear early on that both Centers had proposed work related to developing a better understanding of acceptance of technologies, so we joined forces. It proved instrumental in the development of the questions, and there were at least eight participants from WINSSS, ASDWA, and DeRISK, that had a hand in the question development.

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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.
Consolidation of UV Irradation and Membrane Filtration Processes for Water Treatment 

Josh Alvey and Aaron Dotson
University of Alaska Anchorage

Small drinking water systems in the United States deal with many challenges, but two of the most significant are failures in reporting non-compliance violations and failures to meet drinking water quality regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Commonly, water quality regulation violations result from the formation of disinfection by-products (DBPs) and biological contamination. Further, the smallest systems (i.e., less than 50 gpm of treatment) often have a difficult time installing and maintaining effective filtration and disinfection. Therefore, a combined filtration and disinfection treatment system has the benefit of a single process that can overcome both challenges. Additionally, using ceramic membranes and tried ultraviolet (UV) technologies in combination creates a robustness system with little opportunity for non-recoverable fouling or system degradation.

In response to some of these issues, we have designed a pilot-scale UV irradiation-ceramic membrane filtration system that can potentially reduce SDWA violations with minimal maintenance requirements. The UV-membrane system (Figure 1), designed for challenging waters (i.e., surface waters or challenging groundwaters as those found in Alaska), combines existing technology in a unique way to deliver robust filtration and disinfection and additional water treatment benefits, such as increased micropollutant destruction, than either process operating alone. The system consists of a tubular membrane with a UV lamp inserted into the inner diameter of the membrane that travels the entire length of the membrane (Figure 2). The robustness of ceramic membranes is vital to the existence of the system and potential water treatment benefits due to their ability to resist damage from UV light, a characteristic not shared by their polymeric counterparts.
Figure 1
The pilot-scale UV-membrane system is completed (Figure 1), only requiring connections to the influent, concentrate, and permeate tanks. The next phase will include programming a Beaglebone Black (a credit card-sized, open-source linux computer with analog and digital inputs and outputs common to industrial programmable logic controllers) to communicate with all of the pressure, flow, and temperature sensors on the system and eventually populate a database with system information so that the user has real-time access to operational data. We will also test the effectiveness of bacteria removal in the system as well as reduction of DBP formation potential. Further, we aim to determine the operational life of the the membranes and membrane flux recovery with and without the addition of UV lights. Since this combination of technologies has received little attention by other researchers to date, we plan to conduct experiments that will illustrate the advantages this system offers. Last, we plan to test the UV-membrane unit in Bethel, Alaska to understand how the system performs under real-world conditions, providing operators a hands-on opportunity to use the system. These tests will help determine the viability of implementing this technology into small, rural systems.
Figure 2

Recent Publications

Impact of Human Operational Factors on Drinking Water Quality in Small Systems: An Exploratory Analysis

Scheili, A., Rodriguez, M.J., and Sadiq, R. (2016). Impact of human operational factors on drinking water quality in small systems: an exploratory analysis. Journal of Cleaner Production, 133:1, 681-690. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.05.179. 

Why it's interesting: Observations of and individual interviews with operators of 21 small systems in two Canadian provinces combined with an analysis of raw drinking water quality and treatment revealed that while human operational factors such as staff experience do not explain global water quality, they do explain day-to-day variations in drinking water quality. 
Photoactive and Metal-Free Polyamide-Based Polymers for Water and Wastewater Treatment Under Visible Light Irradiation

Shen, J., Steinbach, R., Tobin, J.M., Kakata, M.M., Bower, M., McCoustra, M.R.S., Bridle, H., Arrighi, V., and Vilela, F. (2016). Photoactive and metal-free polyamide-based polymers for water and wastewater treatment under visible light irradiation. Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, 193, 226-223. doi:10.1016/j.apcatb.2016.04.015.

Why it's interesting: In the first example of photoactive polymers being applied in the concomitant decontamination and disinfection of water, this study indicates that novel photoactive metal-free polymers offer several advantages over conventional photocatalysts.
Mitigation and Degredation of Natural Organic Matters (NOMs) During Ferrate (VI) Application for Drinking Water Treatment

Song, Y., Deng, Y., and Jung, Chani. (2016). Mitigation and degredation of natural organic matters (NOMs) during ferrate(VI) application for drinking water treatment. Chemosphere, 146, 145-153. doi:10.1016/j.chemosphere.2015.12.001.

Why it's interesting: Bench-scale tests on ferrate (VI) decay and reactions with NOMs in a typical surface water matrix revealed that ferrate can effectively reduce UV254 and specific UV absorbance, but it removes dissolved organic carbons poorly. 


Industry News

University of Idaho Turning Wastewater Into Drinking Water
A researcher at University of Idaho has developed a trailer-mounted treatment system that uses biochar to get drinkable water and usable fertilizer from wastewater. 

EPA Head Cites 'Significant Challenges’ for Flint Water
An EPA-commissed evaluation by the Sleeping Giant Enviornmental Consultants of Montana has concluded that Flint operators lack the needed expertise to run a granular media surface water treatment plant. 

Scientists Raise Questions About How PEX Pipes Affect Water
A Purdue University researcher is studying the impact of cross-linked polyethyleneon pipes on the odor, taste, and quality of tap water. 

"Behind the Scenes," with James Earl Jones, Discusses Water Treatment and Clean Drinking Water for Public Television
An upcoming episode of the show Behind the Scenes with James Earl Jones feature interviews with water quality and system experts. 

Charles M. Murray of Fairfax Water Elected Chair of Water Research Foundation Board of Directors
Charles M. Murray, general manager at Fairfax Water, has assumed the position as chair of the WRF board of directors. 
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 © 2016, All rights reserved.

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