World Water Day Offers Opportunity to Raise Awareness of Industry

March 1, 2007
• It’s March 22 as I write this column - World Water Day 2007.

by Carlos David Mogollon

It’s March 22 as I write this column - World Water Day 2007.

For the past week, we’ve been increasingly emailed about what various organizations, officials and companies are doing to celebrate the date. GE Water & Process Technologies planned an expert panel at the Cooper Union Hall in New York. The Millennium Water Alliance, Water Partners International and Water Advocates announced awareness initiatives. The AWWA and IBWA issued press releases, as did Procter & Gamble, which has won accolades for efforts to market simple, inexpensive filtration devices in developing areas of the globe where lack of access to clean water and sanitation affect a third of the world’s population.

But this event offers an educational opportunity that could be so much more if every company involved in water quality improvement made an effort to help raise awareness about the industry in their local communities. The challenges of clean water are ubiquitous and their breadth not fully comprehended by simply looking at your average water bill, residential or otherwise. This industry, however, from piping, valve and pump systems to more complex membrane, ion exchange and oxidation/disinfection systems offers solutions to a host of environmental problems. It can impact water scarcity as well as global warming by expanded deployment of water reuse and zero liquid discharge as well as heat exchange and power co-generation technologies, whether fueled by wastewater biogases or biosolids.

Along those lines, it was announced today that Stanford University Prof. Perry L. McCarty won the 2007 Stockholm Water Prize for work that’s led to more efficient biological treatment processes and water reuse, in particular anaerobic (oxygen-less) treatment systems for municipal and industrial wastewaters, biological nutrient removal, and development of biofilm reactors. With the explosion in use of these technologies in recent years, we owe a debt of gratitude.

Also in the past two weeks, it was announced that U.S. House of Representatives voted to expand funding for critical U.S. water and wastewater infrastructure with passage of the Water Quality Financing Act, Water Quality Investment Act and Healthy Communities Water Supply Act. The first would fund the EPA Clean Water State Revolving Fund to $14 billion over the next four years. The second authorizes $1.7 billion for CSO/SSO prevention grants. And the last authorizes $135 million for projects investigating alternative water sources. Comparing this with the Administration’s related budget requests is a refreshing turnaround, but it still has to make it through the Senate and past the President’s desk.

Lastly, I had an opportunity in February to attend PittCon for the first time. Covering analytical chemistry and applied spectroscopy, the event highlights the latest in monitoring, detection and analysis technologies for laboratories. Attendance was said to be down a bit due to rough weather in the Midwest that week, however, the exhibition aisles seemed fairly busy with foot traffic after the first day. Among event award winners, Waters Corp.’s Synapt High Definition Mass Spectrometry (HDMS) system took gold; Paraytec’s ActiPix D100 UV imaging detector, and ThermoFisher Scientific’s LTQ ETD linear ion trap shared the silver; and Bruker’s FT-IR and Horiba Instruments’ Activa CCD ICP spectrometers split the bronze. Not to be outdone, Labtronics announced the same day as Waters acknowledged its award that it won three Scientific Computing Product of the Year awards for its Nexxis qELN, LimsLink CDS and Collect lab data management systems. These are all crucial technologies, as the first step in prevention is identification of waterborne contaminants that may hinder processes or exceed discharge limits.

Carlos David Mogollón, Managing Editor

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