Water Briefs

Oct. 1, 2015
News from the nation.

Filtration favored for ballast water treatment, study finds

New research conducted by the Analytical BioGeoChemistry (BGC) research unit at the Helmholtz Zentrum München in Germany, working in close collaboration with colleagues in the United States, shows that filtration - rather than disinfection - can potentially serve as a more efficient method for treating ships’ ballast water.

In order to prevent the transfer of harmful organisms, ballast water is often subjected to electrochemical disinfection. “However, our analyses show that electrochemical disinfection creates numerous so-called disinfection byproducts (DBPs),” explained Professor Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin, who led the study.

He and his team compared samples of treated and untreated ballast water. Using high-resolution mass spectrometry, they discovered that treatment led to the formation of 450 new, diverse compounds - some of which had not previously been described as disinfection products or been structurally categorized.

“Until the toxicological features of these compounds are fully clarified, we recommend a cautious approach to disinfecting ballast water,” Schmitt-Kopplin said. According to the scientists, the study - the first in-depth analysis of DBPs in ballast water - revealed the high degree of complexity of the resulting products.

Analysis shows water treatment market for fracking worth $1.9B

According to new research conducted by Lux Research, the market for hydraulic fracturing (frack) water management is still estimated to be worth $1.9 billion, not including water transportation and disposal, despite a precipitous decline in fracking activity following a dramatic decline in global oil prices.

While fracks have fallen from about 2,300 in October 2014 to 1,350 in February 2015, the water treatment market remains strong for companies that know how to play the opportunity. As oil and gas companies cut spending, operators are tapping new technologies to tighten up water management strategies and lower costs. In addition, new regulatory momentum in the U.S. could usher in stricter oversight of water transportation and disposal and facilitate more extensive water recycling.

“No single technology or water management approach will win in the frack water treatment space. Rather, companies will employ a mixture of water disposal, centralized treatment and on-site treatment using physical, thermal and electrochemical methods,” explained Brent Giles, Lux Research director and one of the authors of the report, titled “Surviving the Shakeout in Frac Water Treatment Technologies.”

Proposed Stream Protection Rule to protect waterways from coal mining

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Janice Schneider, and Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) Director Joseph Pizarchik recently released proposed regulations to prevent or minimize impacts to surface water and groundwater from coal mining.

The rule would protect about 6,500 miles of streams nationwide over a period of 20 years, preserving community health and economic opportunities while meeting U.S. energy needs.

The proposed Stream Protection Rule would revise three-decades-old regulations for coal mining in order to avoid or minimize impacts on surface water and groundwater, fish, wildlife, and other natural resources.

The proposed rule would require companies to avoid mining practices that permanently pollute streams, destroy drinking water sources, increase flood risk, and threaten forests. Further, it would require coal companies to test and monitor the condition of streams that their mining might impact before, during and after their operations.

Duke Energy initiates thorough groundwater assessment reports

Duke Energy has begun submitting comprehensive groundwater assessments to the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) for each of the 14 coal plants in the state. The company and NCDENR will use this science and engineering, along with other information, to determine how best to continue to protect groundwater as ash basins are closed.

Generally, the data gathered through the installation of about 900 new monitoring wells and more than 5,000 soil and water samples across the state have been consistent with historical data provided to state regulators over many years. The first three assessments address operations at the H.F. Lee Energy Complex (Goldsboro), L.V. Sutton Energy Complex (Wilmington) and W.H. Weatherspoon Plant (Lumberton).

Comprehensive site assessments for the other 11 facilities were filed with regulators in mid-September, which is consistent with the requirements in the N.C. Coal Ash Management Act. Duke Energy also has ash excavation in progress at three Carolinas coal plants and recently announced its recommendation to excavate an additional 12 basins in North Carolina for technical reasons unrelated to groundwater.

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