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New Research Touts Wastewater Reuse Innovations

With recent advances in technology and design, treating municipal wastewater and reusing it for drinking water, irrigation, industry and other applications could significantly increase the nation’s total available water resources, particularly in coastal areas facing water shortages, says a new report from the National Research Council. It adds that the reuse of treated wastewater, also known as reclaimed water, to augment drinking water supplies has significant potential for helping meet future needs. Moreover, new analyses suggest that the possible health risks of exposure to chemical contaminants and disease-causing microbes from wastewater reuse do not exceed, and in some cases, may be significantly lower than, the risks of existing water supplies. 

“Wastewater reuse is poised to become a legitimate part of the nation’s water supply portfolio given recent improvements to treatment processes,” says R. Rhodes Trussell, chair of the committee that wrote the report and president of Trussell Technologies, Pasadena, Calif. “Although reuse is not a panacea, wastewater discharged to the environment is of such quantity that it could measurably complement water from other sources and management strategies.”

The report examines a wide range of reuse applications, including potable water, non-potable urban and industrial uses, irrigation, ground water recharge, and ecological enhancement. The committee finds that many communities already have implemented water reuse projects – such as irrigating golf courses and parks or providing industrial cooling water in locations near wastewater reclamation plants – that are well-established and generally accepted. Potable water reuse projects account for only a small fraction of the volume of water currently being reused. However, many drinking water treatment plants draw water from a source that contains wastewater discharged by a community located upstream; this practice is not officially acknowledged as potable reuse.   

The report outlines wastewater treatment technologies for mitigating chemical and microbial contaminants, including both engineered and natural treatment systems. These processes can be used to tailor wastewater reclamation plants to meet the quality requirements of intended reuse applications. The concentrations of chemicals and microbial contaminants in reuse projects designed to augment drinking water supplies can be comparable to – or lower than – those commonly present in many drinking water supplies. The committee emphasizes the need for process reliability and careful monitoring to ensure that all reclaimed water meets the appropriate quality objectives for its use.

Costs of water reuse for potable and non-potable applications vary widely because they depend on site-specific factors, the committee notes. Water reuse projects tend to be more expensive than most water conservation options, and less expensive than seawater desalination and other new supply alternatives. Although the costs of reclaimed water often are higher than current water sources, the report urges water authorities to consider other costs and benefits in addition to monetary expenditures when assessing reuse projects. For example, water reuse systems used in conjunction with a water conservation program could be effective in reducing seasonal peak demands on the drinking water system. Depending on the specific designs and pumping requirements, reuse projects also could have a larger or smaller carbon footprint than existing supply alternatives or reduce water flows to downstream users and ecosystems. 

John Wolfe Named Atlas Copco's Technical Support Manager

John Wolfe has been appointed to the position of technical support manager for Atlas Copco’s geotechnical drilling and exploration business line. In his new role, Wolfe will report directly to Scott Slater, business line manager – GDE (Geotechnical Drilling & Exploration). He will provide training and technical and product support for all Atlas Copco store branches in the United States.

Wolfe joined the company in 2003. In 2007, he moved to Elko, Nev., to accept a technical sales and support position with Atlas Copco CMT USA. In 2008, he accepted responsibility for exploration equipment and consumable sales, and achieved record sales.

According to Slater, “John’s vast experience and technical expertise makes him the ideal person to join the GDE business line, with the responsibility of sharing his GDE technical knowledge with our nationwide store and customer base.”

Wolfe will be based out of his office in Salt Lake City.

In Memoriam

Carl Mason of Bedford, Pa., died Dec. 24, 2011. He was 83 years old, and is survived by four children. Mason was a 40-year veteran of the water well drilling industry, working at Sanderson Cyclone Drilling Co. in Orrville, Ohio, and Baroid IDP out of Houston. He was a world-renowned expert in the field, traveling all over the world to help resolve issues on water well drilling sites. He developed techniques and equipment to improve the success rate for drillers. Over the years, Mason taught thousands of seminars and conducted field demonstrations across the United States, Canada and Africa. Carl was a life member of the National Ground Water Association, Pennsylvania Ground Water Association, and numerous ground water organizations in the northeast United States.