AQUALOOP NSF 350 Certified for Greywater Recycling
- 2015 International Residential Code
- 2015 International Plumbing Code
- 2015 Uniform Plumbing Code
- 2105 International Green Construction Code
From: Supply House Times
1 April 2016
To help address water scarcity and drought issues, four international plumbing and building codes — 2015 International Residential Code, 2015 International Plumbing Code, 2015 Uniform Plumbing Code and 2015 International Green Construction Code — now require that water reuse systems used for toilet and urinal flushing comply with NSF/ANSI 350 to ensure proper treatment of graywater.
NSF International, a global public health organization, developed NSF/ANSI 350: Onsite Residential and Commercial Water Reuse Treatment to standardize the material, design and performance criteria for water reuse systems.
Water reuse systems reduce costs associated with energy and water use by treating water onsite. In areas such as California, where water scarcity is a growing concern, these systems can provide an additional source of critically needed water and reduce the strain on municipal resources.
Under these codes, should a builder choose to use an onsite water reuse system, certification to NSF/ANSI 350 is either required or constitutes a path to acceptance under these codes. NSF/ANSI 350 certification ensures that water for toilet and urinal flushing (and in some codes for surface irrigation) is properly treated for use in these applications.
NSF/ANSI 350 establishes material, design, construction and performance requirements for onsite residential and commercial water reuse treatment systems. It also sets water-quality requirements for the reduction of chemical and microbiological contaminants for nonpotable water use. Treated greywater can be used for restricted indoor water use such as toilet and urinal flushing, and for outdoor unrestricted water use such as lawn irrigation.
The standard requires 26 weeks of continuous testing with regularly scheduled sampling throughout, typically three days a week. This lengthy testing time with high sampling volume is designed to assess the reliability of the treatment system product over time.
“The inclusion of NSF/ANSI 350, the American National Standard for water reuse treatment systems, in these important international plumbing and building codes is further recognition of the rigor of the NSF International standard and its effectiveness in helping these technologies gain use and acceptance in the marketplace,” said Jessica Evans, director of standards development at NSF International. “Water scarcity is a growing global issue and ensuring certified water reuse systems properly treat greywater will be an essential part of the solution.”
From Green Hotelier: http://www.greenhotelier.org/
Water re-use is becoming core to many companies’ sustainability efforts and it’s never been more important. Freshwater withdrawals have increased globally by about 1% per year since the 1980s (UN, 2016) and it is estimated that water scarcity now affects 40% of the global population (CAWMA, 2007). Even in the UK some areas are reporting difficulties in meeting demand.
Hotels often do a lot to manage water consumption. Low flow taps and showers or aerators, reduced flush toilets or no flush urinals, sensor activation and good housekeeping practices all help to reduce the amount of water per guest, per room and per stay. But, even with these measures many guests admit to using much water during a hotel stay than they would at home, and in some water scarce areas, the difference in consumption between a hotel guest and the local population can be up to 20 times and dozens of litres.
Anything hotels can do to better manage their water consumption is a good thing, but how many look at recycling water?
Significant water consumption savings can be made from re-use initiatives. Rainwater harvesting can reduce mains water consumption by up to 30% whereas greywater recycling can save as much as 40%. Aside from lower metered water bills, companies can also benefit from reduced risks of storm water flooding, decreased sewerage charges and lower energy costs associated with water supply.
New water re-use solutions offer commercial organisations a variety of cost-efficient, reliable and highly effective options to help achieve their sustainability goals. Claire Yeates, a Director at Waterscan said: “Many companies are aware of the benefits of water re-use but are naturally concerned about payback times and the potential operational impacts of installing new technologies. Add to this reliability issues from early-to-market systems and it’s easy to see why widescale uptake of water recycling has been hindered. We firmly believe that greywater recycling and rainwater harvesting can play a significant role in many company’s water strategies and that is why we are bringing new best-in-class technology to market.”
The various water recycling systems have been developed to give greater system design flexibility in line with customer priorities and requirements, plus a 30% faster return on investment. Waterscan systems now feature:
Barry Millar, Operations Director at Waterscan, said, “Our new water re-use systems are now designed and largely built in the UK using modular components. This enables us to meet clients’ exact specifications in line with individual business strategies and site requirements. Our complete service involving design, supply installation and maintenance of water-saving systems, along with our consultative approach, gives us a unique ability to deliver optimum results across varied client property portfolios. All of this means that our clients will benefit from a faster return on investment and still have complete confidence in their operations.”
Greywater Recycling in Action at Premier Inn
In partnership with its client Premier Inn, Waterscan installed a greywater recycling system in water-scarce Abu Dhabi. The initiative is vastly reducing mains water consumption, saving an average of 735,000 litres (24%) of mains water each month – 60 litres per guest. Over the course of a year, this is the equivalent of 110,000 baths. 100% of toilet flushing at the hotel now uses recycled water.
Greywater recycling captures the water used for showering or bathing and, after treatment through an ultra-filtration membrane system, is fed back into the property for non-potable purposes such as flushing toilets, irrigation and laundry.
Rainwater is collected, filtered and fed back into the property through a robust treatment system ensuring that only the cleanest water is utilised for non-potable purposes like vehicle washing, toilet flushing and irrigation. A rainwater harvesting system is suitable for all commercial applications where there is adequate roof space to harvest sufficient water to achieve a good return on investment.
ITP members are acting on water on behalf of the industry by collaborating with member hotel groups to develop the Hotel Water Measurement Initiative. This universally recognised tool and metric will help all hotels of any size, anywhere in the world measure in a consistent manner. The HWMI is currently in the testing phase and will be released as a free tool for the industry in World Water Week at the end of August 2016.
(3BL Media/JustMeans) Water is not something that should ever be wasted. Just ask Californians who are suffering through their fifth year of drought. General Motors clearly understands that water conservation is essential as the company’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant, where the Chevrolet Volt is manufactured, now has a a rainwater capture system.
It took two years to complete the rainwater capture project which allows rainwater to be reused in manufacturing. The assembly plant, which is four million square feet, already had two rainwater retention ponds on its grounds, but it paid to send the excess water to the city’s treatment plant.
The fees it paid accounted for 14 percent of the assembly plant’s utility bill, so adding a third pond allowed the site to hold 47 million gallons of water, which is equivalent to a once in a 100 years storm event. The rainwater capture system allows GM to save $1.64 million a year while reducing its environmental impact. The rainwater project will pay for itself in a little over a year.
Rain comes into storm drains and then flows to the ponds. Floating pumps then transfer the captured rainwater to the plant’s power house and the power house treats the water with sand filters. The treated water is fed into the plant’s cooling towers, which reduces water use by 20 percent and saves $140,000 a year. The rest of the water is purified with carbon filters and reverse osmosis. Detroit Renewable Power plans to turn the water into steam to heat and cool the GM plant, plus 145 other Detroit area businesses. Any of the reject water from the purification process is used to help break down the paint sludge remaining from painting cars, which saves $75,000.
GM is committed to reducing water intensity by 15 percent by 2020 from a 2010 baseline at its global facilities. So far, GM has reduced water intensity by almost 10 percent over the past six years. The rainwater project at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly is one way that GM plans to meet its goal.
GM has other water saving projects in its facilities around the globe. In Joinville, Brazil GM uses reverse osmosis to filter water from recycled wastewater and use it for flushing toilets and industrial uses at its engine plant. It is the first automotive facility to use treated wastewater and saves the plant 22.9 million liters a year, equivalent to nine Olympic-sized swimming pools. GM has a number of water conservation projects at its two plants in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The company held two full-day workshops with employees at the two South African plants and identified 7,360 kiloliters of water savings.
GM also works to protect watersheds with its watershed education program, called GM GREEN (Global Rivers Environmental Education Network). The 26 year-old program helps young people understand how they impact local watersheds. The program is the longest running conservation education program run by an automaker and reaches 150,000 young people. There are 50 facilities that are part of the program, including all of GM’s U.S. and Canadian manufacturing plants. GM now includes dealers in the program in order to spread awareness.
“When rainwater flows into the sewers, it turns into a flood. If you collect it, it becomes a resource.” This is the view of Makoto Murase – Japan’s rainwater collection pioneer.
For Makoto Murase, rainwater is a tremendous resource – and given the global scarcity we can’t afford to waste it.
In Tokyo in June the hot and humid Japanese summer emerges with the “tsuyu” – the first rainy season, which lasts about six weeks. The autumn rain (“akisame”), falling in September and October, marks the second rainy season. Between July and October and sometimes earlier, Tokyo – like the rest of Japan – is often hit by typhoons, which bring their share of rainfall and storms.
The problem is that the Japanese megalopolis is a densely packed and complex concrete jungle that isn’t always able to handle these heavy rains. Concrete is waterproof, which stops water being absorbed by the soil. Municipal sewers quickly overflow, causing heavy flooding. Tokyo city therefore needed a solution. And it was Makoto Murase who found it the early 1980s.
Makoto Murase was then employed in the wastewater department of the district of Sumida-ku, northeast of Tokyo. With the help of his team, he designed a system that collects rainwater from roofs, filters it through ingenious systems placed in the gutters, and then stores it in large underground tanks. At this point, it is not drinkable but can be used to water green spaces, flush toilets, run washing machines, and extinguish fires. Although Makoto Murase is not the only one who has thought of a rainwater collection system, he was the first to design it on an urban scale.
Meanwhile, Sumida-ku was preparing to become home to largest sumo stadium in Tokyo, the famous Ryōgoku Kokugikan. Makoto Murase saw the perfect opportunity to test his idea. After a first refusal from his bosses, he managed to convince Japan’s conservative Sumo Wrestling Federation of the project’s economic viability. The project proved to be such a success that it profoundly changed the way urban planners, engineers and architects design buildings.
The system invented by Makoto Murase, now nicknamed “Dr. Skywater”, has many advantages: it limits the impact of floods, it achieves significant water and energy savings, it offers the municipality a widely available and “green” reserve of water that it can use in a multitude of ways, and finally, it helps to change perceptions about rainwater. Makoto Murase views this “sky water” as a tremendous resource – and given the global scarcity we can’t afford to waste it.
With this conviction, Makoto Murase now travels Japan – and the world – taking his model to other cities, such as Bangladesh where he participated in the Amamizu project. In 1995, Sumida-ku, followed by Tokyo, made it obligatory to construct underground rainwater tanks for every new building.
The author of several publications, including the Rain Encyclopedia, Makoto Murase is now head of an organization that promotes relatively simple and inexpensive sustainable technology which according to him, could help to solve the water crisis.
Folsom Lake, Calif.After months of El Niño rainfall, Folsom Lake became so full that excess water was being released over Folsom Dam, above. But reservoirs in Central and Southern California remain well below their averages. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
By Michael Hiltzik Contact Reporter LA Times
4 April 2016
On March 23, the San Juan Water District, which serves upper-crust residential estates in the Sacramento area, declared that the drought is over.
After months of El Niño rainfall, Folsom Lake, the district’s chief water source, had become so full that excess water was being released over Folsom Dam. “That was a very visible signal,” says Lisa Brown, customer service manager for the district. Customers, some of whom own spreads as large as 10 acres, “wanted to know why they were still being held to drought restrictions.” So the district board lifted them, replacing a 33% mandatory conservation cutback with a 10% voluntary cut and eliminating a 10% drought surcharge on water rates, effective April 1.
The abundance of water, says Assistant General Manager Keith Durkin, made it “very difficult to defend a continued 33% reduction in use.” Across Northern and Central California, brimming reservoirs and a recovering mountain snowpack are prompting water users to pressure Gov. Jerry Brown and the State Water Resources Control Board to ratchet back restrictions that have made California a national leader in conservation.
The Placer County Water Agency on March 18 asked state authorities to rescind emergency drought regulations on the grounds that its supply is “robust enough to meet demand” from its customers through 2017. The Nevada Irrigation District, east of Marysville, cited “well above average precipitation, full reservoirs and a mountain snowpack” in rescinding its own drought declaration and calling on the state to ease its restrictions.
Districts such as San Juan have taken matters into their own hands by unilaterally removing the most stringent regulations on their own customers. San Juan says its customers met their conservation obligation by reducing usage by 34% from June through February. Not all the protesting districts managed that; the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District in El Dorado County, which last month lifted a drought-inspired moratorium on new water connections, acknowledges that it was upbraided by the state board in January for failing to meet its goal.
The Water Resources Board is looking for ways to ease pressure on water-rich districts without giving them a free hand. It has scheduled to consider relaxing some restrictions at a meeting in May, following a workshop at which those districts will be asked to make the case for more flexibility. “In the eyes of Placer County and San Juan the job is over,” says George Kostyrko, a spokesman for the board. But water conservation “isn’t a regional or a siloed issue,” he says. “It’s a statewide issue.”
Policymakers are getting the uneasy feeling that public impressions of newfound abundance could undo much of the progress of the last few years. “Droughts are really a matter of signals,” Jeanine Jones, deputy drought manager for the California Department of Water Resources, told me. “When it has rained a lot, people get comfortable.”
That would be a mistake. Experts reckon that even if 2016 represents a break from the record dry conditions of the last four years, the damage done by the drought to the state’s water supply will be lasting. Long-term reserves in groundwater have been drained to the point that years, even decades, of wet weather would be required to replenish them. “We’ve depleted our savings account in reserves and groundwater storage,” Jones says.
A more likely scenario for the future is a change in climatic conditions requiring a permanent change in water usage habits. “In the water community, people talk about a new normal, with dry conditions becoming more frequent and more lasting,” says Matt Heberger, senior research associate at the Pacific Institute, an environmental think tank in Oakland.
These conditions create a quandary for policymakers, who must tread a fine line between enforcing restrictions that people may feel are no longer necessary while guiding residents, growers and businesses toward enduring changes in usage patterns. “Messaging is important,” says Ellen Hanak, a water expert at the Public Policy Institute of California. “It doesn’t make sense to tell people conditions are terrible when they’re not, but it makes sense to tell them that the precipitation we’ve gotten hasn’t put us in a safe spot.”
RELATED: Californians fall a bit short of Brown’s call for 25% cut in water use after 9 months of conservation
The habits born in the last few years, if they take root, could produce lasting gains in water sufficiency for the future. The emergency atmosphere of the last couple of years has a lot to do with that: In the same sense that $3-a-gallon gas starts turning people off gas-guzzling SUVs, the best weapon against water shortages in the future is a sensation of crisis today.
Since January 2014, when Gov. Brown declared a drought emergency, Californians have met the challenge. They’ve replaced tens of millions of square feet of turf with drought-tolerant landscaping (coaxed by hundreds of millions of dollars in utility rebates) and installed water-thrifty indoor fixtures. The results are remarkable: Statewide average residential consumption of 61 gallons a day in January was nearly 15% below the same month a year earlier. Last summer’s usage was more than 23% lower than a year earlier.
Indications abound that the regional drought is far from over. The water level of Lake Mead, the reservoir behind Hoover Dam that stores Southern California’s Colorado River supply, stood last week at 1,081.32 feet above sea level — a recovery of about 6 feet since it reached a recent low point in June. But that’s still the lake’s lowest level in any March since 1937, when it was still filling for the first time. Mead is currently at about 39% of capacity.
Although three major Northern California reservoirs — Shasta, Lake Oroville and Folsom Lake — are currently above their average historical levels, they’re the exceptions, according to the Department of Water Resources.
Reservoirs in Central and Southern California remain well below their averages, with Don Pedro Reservoir in the Sierra foothills at 82% of its average and 60% of capacity, and Perris Lake in Riverside County at 43% of its average and 36% of capacity. While the snowpack is calculated at 87% of normal overall, its depth varies widely across the state — rising over recent months to roughly 100% of the average in the far north of the state, but reaching only about 75% of the average toward the south. The U.S. Drought Monitor still shows much of Southern and Central California to be facing long-term “exceptional drought.”
The problem with giving some parts of the state a pass on water rules while maintaining them elsewhere is that California’s water supply system binds north and south together. The long-term water crisis can only be solved as a statewide effort.
The state has begun to make changes that may well be lasting. “There will be a different-looking outdoor space 10 or 20 years from now than there was 10 or 20 years ago,” Hanak says. But the mind-set producing those changes could be fragile. The message needs to be that “the fact that we’re easing up doesn’t mean we’re out of drought mode.”
Keep up to date with Michael Hiltzik. Follow @hiltzikm on Twitter, see his Facebook page, or email email@example.com.
In another post we showed how to size a PURAIN self cleaning Jump Filter. In this post we show that once you have selected a filter, how to estimate the expected capture efficiency.
As reference, please check out our post on sizing. Here is a summary:
Download this handy sizing chart! It shows recommended sizing for a wide number of US cities using the method above.
The message is that it is not possible to give a blanket square footage rating for a filter because rainfall intensity varies so widely throughout the US and throughout the world. Many other filter manufacturers erroneously give roof square footage ratings based on intensity rainfall rates in Germany! There are places in the US and elsewhere in which these guidelines work, but there are many more that do not.
Once you have selected a PURAIN filter, you can estimate how much water it will collect. To do this, I take a 9,000 square foot small commercial roof and place it in 3 separate locations, Boston, Miami, and San Francisco.
Based on 1 year, 5 minute intensities, the following PURAIN filters are recommended:
Boston – PURAIN DN 200 8″ Inlet Filter
San Francisco – PURAIN DN150-S 6″ Inlet Filter
Miami – PURAIN DN300 12″ Inlet Filter
There you have it, different filter sizes are recommended in different location even though the roof size is exactly the same. It tends to rain harder in Miami than in Boston and harder in Boston than in San Francisco. This means you need a different sized filter for each location. So, how does each filter perform?
To figure this out, we use actual 5 minute rainfall data over the course of a year. I chose near average years for each city which turned out to be 2014 for Boston and Miami and 2015 for San Francisco. There are actually over 106,000 data points in a single year so the spreadsheet gets a little cumbersome. Nevertheless, there “only” a few thousand five minute periods in any of these 3 locations in which it actually rained, so that cuts it down a bit. If flow rate in any 5 minute period exceeds what the filter screen can accept, then a portion is rejected in a hydraulic jump. We simnply add up all the water that is captured and all the water is rejected to figure out capture efficiency. The website used for this is in this link if anyone wants to check it out. there is data from all over the US. A nice guy at NOAA showed me how to extract the data. http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/uscrn/products/subhourly01/2014/
The results raise a few questions:
Inquiring minds want to know, so here are the results:
From the Drexel University press release:
If you live in one of four major U.S. cities chances are you’re letting the benefits of a ubiquitous natural resource go right down the drain — when it could be used to cut down your water bill. Research by a team of Drexel University environmental engineers indicates that it rains enough in Philadelphia, New York, Seattle and Chicago that if homeowners had a way to collect and store the rain falling on their roofs, they could flush their toilets often without having to use a drop of municipal water.
Toilet flushing is the biggest use of water in households in the United States and the United Kingdom, accounting for nearly one-third of potable water use. But there is no reason that clean, treated, municipal water needs to be used to flush a toilet — rainwater could do the job just as well.
“People have been catching and using rain water for ages, but it’s only been in the last 20-30 years that we have realized that this is something that could be done systematically in certain urban areas to ease all different kinds of stresses on watersheds; potable water treatment and distribution systems; and urban drainage infrastructure,” said Franco Montalto, P.E., PhD, an associate professor in Drexel’s College of Engineering, and director of its Sustainable Water Resource Engineering Lab, who led the research effort. “The study looks at four of the largest metropolitan areas in the country to see if it rains enough to make implementation feasible and, if everyone did it, what effect it would have on domestic water demand and stormwater runoff generation in those cities.”
The process of collecting and using roof runoff, which researchers call rainwater harvesting, has been working its way into vogue among urban planners and water managers over the last couple decades and has been implemented widely in California in the wake of its water crisis. This study, which started as the graduate thesis of Drexel alumnus Nathan Rostad, was recently published in the journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling, and is one of the first to crunch the numbers and sort out just how feasible, and beneficial, it would be as a way of offsetting potable water use for non-potable purposes while at the same time reducing generation of undesirable urban stormwater runoff.
“When the natural landscape is replaced by a building, rain can no longer infiltrate into the ground,” Montalto said. “It runs off, is captured in drains, where it can cause downstream flooding, carry pollutants that settle out of the air into local water bodies or — in the case of a city like Philadelphia or New York — cause the sewer to overflow, which leads to a discharge of untreated wastewater into local streams and rivers. So capturing rainwater can help to reduce the demands on the water treatment system and ensure that it will still function properly even during heavy rainfall events.”
Taking into consideration the cities’ annual rainfall patterns, residential population and roof areas, the team calculated that, with enough water storage capacity — a little more than a standard 1,000-gallon home storage tank — a three person family in a home with the city’s average roof size would have enough water to cover over 80 percent of its flushes throughout the year simply by diverting their downspouts to collect stormwater.
This would reduce overall household potable water demand by approximately 25 percent, which could mean slashing the municipal water bill for an average-sized home by as much as one-fourth. But even without installing a storage tank capable of holding a year’s worth of flushing water, a scaled-back version would still help chip away at the water bill.
“In general, greater potable water savings are estimated in cities with either larger roof areas or lower population density. However, such savings would be accompanied by smaller reductions in runoff,” the authors write. “Philadelphia and Seattle are the two cities where percent water savings would be greatest if residential neighborhoods were all equipped with rainwater harvesting systems.”
From a stormwater management perspective, an average residence with a 1,000-gallon rainwater harvesting system could reduce runoff by over 40 percent, according to the study. Obviously this would vary by residence — with the size of the water storage container and the water demand for toilet flushing — but as a whole, cities could see a significant reduction in the amount of stormwater their infrastructure would have to handle during each storm.
Among the cities studied, Philadelphia would see the largest percentage of runoff reduction if rainwater-harvesting systems were installed in residences citywide. This is because the average roof size in Philadelphia is the smallest of the cities surveyed, so there is less runoff to manage from a single roof. The researchers found that larger percentages in runoff reduction from a rainwater harvesting system can be the result of either small roof sizes or high population densities. But managing stormwater is a concern for all urban areas.
“Think of it this way. Before the building was on the site, the rain was intercepted by vegetation canopies, and/or infiltrated into natural soils. Either way, the rain ended up replenishing soil moisture, allowing the plants to grow, and recharging the local groundwater aquifer,” Montalto said. “The more buildings that go up, the more we need to consider how to manage the water that would have landed in the drainage area they’re displacing.”
Stormwater recycling programs are already being offered by water departments in urban areas across the U.S., including Philadelphia. For more information about stormwater recycling in your area visit:http://www.epa.gov/soakuptherain.
ANDREW FOLLETT – The Daily Caller
Energy and Environmental Reporter
2:26 PM 04/03/2016
Women walk near the arches of Sio-se Pol (Thirty-three Arch Bridge) over Zayand-e Rud river in Isfahan ahead of the March 14 parliament elections in this picture taken March 11, 2008. The Zayand-e Rud river which was built in the 17th century, has been dammed to ensure adequate flowing water during the Iranian new year holiday which is celebrated on the first day of spring. Picture taken March 11, 2008. REUTERS/Steve Crisp (IRAN)
Iran’s government admits that the country will face a serious water crisis this summer, putting 37 million people at risk of dehydration over the summer.
Iran’s vice minister of energy for water announced Wendesday that several of the country’s major cities will have a water crisis this summer and that little could be done to prevent it. The minister pointed out that Iran’s per-capita water consumption is nearly twice the global average. The crisis has been largely caused by improper use of groundwater resources, a rapidly growing population, and decades of mismanagement by the government.
“Iran’s environmental issues are getting worse, and they’re a serious political problem,” John Gay, an editorial staffer at The National Interest who covers Iran, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The real question is how much worse they can get before they start becoming a stability problem, too.”
The water issues are already harming stability, as Iranian farmers began protesting over water rights earlier this month, according to the Iranian branch of the American-funded Radio Liberty. The Iranian government heavily subsidizes the water its farmers uses and needs to halve its annual water consumption to be sustainable and 92 percent of water in Iran is used for agricultural purposes.
Rainfall in Iran generally only occurs between October and March, leaving the land parched for the remainder of the year. Iran has been suffering the consequences of this environmental situation for its entire history, but the country’s system of dams has decayed for decades, causing a water crisis in 2014 and last year. The crisis got so bad that it escalated to the point that many Iranians were forced to migrate to other parts of the country.
“Our water usage is twice the world standard, and considering the situation in our country, we have to reduce this level,” Massoumeh Ebtekar, head of Iran’s environmental department, said in 2014 speech. In 2014, Iran was using 70 percent of its total renewable freshwater, far above the upper limit of 40 percent recommended by scientists. As a result, the country’s lakes are rapidly shrinking a slow rolling environmental crisis is brewing. The same scientists estimate that 37 million Iranians could face dehydration and that the country’s agricultural industry will be seriously disrupted. “In less than 50 years, we’ve used all but 30 percent of our groundwater supply, which took a million years to gather, and it’s getting worse and worse due to unsustainable development,” Nasser Karami, an Iranian physical climatologist who is an associate professor at the University of Bergen in Norway, told The Washington Post.
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Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2016/04/03/iran-faces-a-huge-water-crisis-37-million-at-risk-of-dehydration/#ixzz44rhRw2r2
Michigan is a state that is fortunate to be surrounded by four of the Great Lakes where a majority of the world’s fresh water is contained — Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Huron and Lake Erie. Now, for a trivia question: Which Great Lake does not have shorelines on Michigan borders?
If you guessed Lake Ontario, give yourself a gold star in geography. Let’s study some current events in chemistry, biology and metallurgy. Recent news reports have been circulated all around the country about a water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The water crisis in Michigan made national news and was a topic of discussion on “Meet the Press” as they talked about elected officials’ failures in the Flint water crisis. There have been many news stories about the issue for the last year and a half. The story has gone viral recently because the Michigan governor declared a state of emergency in Flint.
The crisis involves contaminated water with high lead levels, sediment and other debris in the public water mains. The water from the Flint River is so contaminated that many years ago city officials decided to connect to the nearby Detroit Water System because Detroit’s water was clean. The city of Flint’s water came from the Flint River, and it was very contaminated. The Flint water department had to use high amounts of chlorine to kill bacteria. But, water treatment chemicals cause corrosion, and high levels of chlorine can cause cancer and other health hazards. So, Flint water department officials chose to buy water from Detroit.
The problems began several years ago when automotive factories closed and many people became unemployed. Soon after the massive loss of jobs, the population started to migrate away from the city to look for jobs elsewhere. This caused home prices to fall sharply, and the corresponding property values declined. Lower property value meant lower taxes and many people walked away from their homes because they owed more than they were worth. With many abandoned properties, it left the city with a major tax shortfall and serious budget deficit situation that the city leaders did not keep up with.
Many years later, the city was not able to stay afloat financially so the state took over the city because of a state law that allowed the state to come in and take over cities that were in a budget deficit condition. The State of Michigan Public Act 4 of 2011 amended and expanded the Public Act 101 of 1988, which provided certain triggers for an initial financial review of troubled state governments. Triggers included: failure to pay debts, failure to pay employee salaries, a request by local residents or officials, or request by a state legislator or state treasurer. If the review found that a financial emergency existed, the Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board would make the appointment of an emergency financial manager for the governmental unit. The Michigan Department of Treasury would conduct a preliminary examination of troubled local governments. If “probable financial stress” was found, a financial review would be ordered.
The governor of Michigan and other officials would appoint eight members to a financial review panel, which could report back to the governor indicating that the local government is in, “mild financial stress, severe financial stress or a financial emergency,” within 60 days. If a financial emergency existed but local officials had a viable plan to correct the situation, then the panel could recommend a consent agreement. Otherwise, the panel could recommend an emergency manager to take control of the local government. The governor was given 10 days after the panel reported its findings to choose an option. The local government had seven days to request a hearing by the governor or his designee to appeal the decision. Local governments were required to pay the emergency manager if one was appointed. The state appointed someone to manage the Flint to help bring it back into a financially stable position.
Some of the decisions to manage the city out of a deficit condition were to cut spending, lay off workers, cut services and review all city expenditures. One of the expenditures was the Flint’s water department had been buying clean water from Detroit, because the Flint River was determined to be contaminated a long time ago. The Flint Water & Sewer Department had already determined that refurbishing their water treatment plant would be very expensive to bring the plant up to meet EPA standards for safe drinking water. So, they struck a deal to purchase clean water from Detroit Water Department. One of the state-appointed emergency manager’s decisions was to stop spending money to buy water from the Detroit Water & Sewer Department and switch to drawing water from the Flint River. There were communications warning about poor water quality and recommendations against making the switch. But, it appears the complaints, phone calls and emails fell on deaf ears and were explained away as the water meets drinking water standards. The problem was the emergency manager’s appointees and Department of Environmental Quality officials used an outdated standard to justify the poor water quality levels.
There is now a federal probe. The old pipes and the water treatment facilities for Flint weren’t used for a while, and when they put them back into service it was said that the Flint River water was corrosive with a low PH. This caused the water to dissolve the scale and sediment build-up on the pipes, which led to the cloudy water. High levels of chlorine are corrosive and cause biofilm and sediment on the walls of the water mains to de-laminate and dissolve from the walls of the pipe to the point where the lead joints and service pipes were exposed and leached high levels of lead into the water. In the late summer of 2015, numerous children in the Flint area started to show signs of lead poisoning. State officials approved the purchase of water filters and bottled water for residents. The city has over 1,000 residents so that was probably a monumental task.
In hindsight, the amount of money saved will be pale in comparison the cost of cleaning up the mess. The state will now have the burden of cleaning up the lead contaminated pipes. Some estimates for corrective measures have been as high as $1.5 billion, and that did not include medical or litigation costs. Although most of the time the government is immune from prosecution, the investigation in this case could find there was knowledge of a problem. It could lead to criminal charges if someone is found to have intentionally harmed people. So far, the state’s emergency manager has spent a lot of money buying water filters; they knew the water was contaminated. It makes you wonder if the emergency manager had actually been from or lived in Flint, would he have switched back to using Detroit Water sooner.
The decision to purchase water filters was made last year. Yet, they continued to pump contaminated water. The temporary emergency manager decided to switch back to Flint River water, and save the money that was being spent to purchase water from Detroit. The water flowing from Flint residents’ taps was soon cloudy and tasted bad, prompting many complaints. The complaints seemed to fall on deaf ears. During this time, water quality testing was done and the results were recorded.
The Michigan governor has apologized for the state’s role in the Flint water crisis, and high-level officials at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) have stepped down. The Detroit News reports that those actions might not be enough change for a department that has clearly proven itself lacking. The Detroit News also reported that the U.S. Attorney’s office is now investigating what happened in Flint, as is the EPA. The U.S. Department of Justice won’t say whether its investigation is criminal or civil. The governor has also declared a state of emergency in Flint in hopes of speeding federal assistance to the city.
The number of children with elevated levels of lead has more than doubled this year from before the city began using water from the Flint River, an unacceptable increase that developed on the MDEQ’s watch, while the city was under state oversight. The Michigan governor requested a report that shows the department made several mistakes that led to increased levels of lead in the drinking water after the city moved from Detroit’s water system. Emails released through Freedom of Information Act requests show several MDEQ staffers talking with EPA officials, who questioned and warned the department about elevated levels in the water. The threat was downplayed department-wide. That suggests a problem with the MDEQ’s culture that must be addressed.
Emails released to local newspapers show the MDEQ may have tried to influence the collection of water samples to produce more favorable results. Other emails appear to show employees gave false information on Flint’s corrosion control system, which didn’t exist. It now seems there was confusion between EPA and MDEQ employees, according to a report from the state’s auditor general. That report said the department, however, agreed that they were allowed to throw out several water samples from water sources that didn’t meet federal standards for safe drinking water. News of testing until the tests looked good did not sit well with residents. Still, it is disturbing that MDEQ as a whole seems to have ignored or disregarded a number of red flags presented by a variety of sources, including Flint residents, city workers, the EPA, and outside researchers.
It will take a long time for Flint to recover from this disaster. The city, already struggling to improve its finances and upgrade its infrastructure, faces more challenges because of the water crisis, and state and federal assistance will be critical. The emergency declaration will allow additional federal funds, which could help replace water service lines, expedite upgrades to the city’s water system, and help prepare it for pumping water from its next water system.
There will likely be restitution and ongoing financial and medical support for children who suffer health problems from elevated lead levels. It is good that the governor is engaging in getting that help to Flint families. But, he also faces the challenge of making sure MDEQ is working in the best interests of state residents. Staffers who ignored the growing water quality crisis in Flint, or tried to downplay it, must be held accountable.
Michigan is facing proposed legislation. Representatives Yonker, Pscholka, Franz and McCready introduced House Bill 5112 and sent it to a state committee on regulatory reform. They are looking to amend the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act as follows:
“…(4) A testable backflow preventer on a residential lawn sprinkler system shall be tested immediately after the residential lawn sprinkler system is installed or the backflow preventer is repaired. An approved comprehensive control program for the elimination and prevention of all cross-connections under Michigan Rule 325.11404 of the Michigan Administrative Code or a rule promulgated under this act shall not require additional testing.”
The proposed legislation makes it sound like it is doing good, but there are already requirements to test and annually inspect testable backflow preventers. Word on the street is this bill got its start when a state legislator in the northern part of the Michigan did not like that he had to pay someone to test a backflow preventer on his irrigation system. He obviously does not know about how often backflow preventers foul from debris, scale, corrosion or freeze damage to internal parts. A recent survey by one backflow preventer testing company found that each year approximately 12 percent of all backflow preventers tested fail. When these failures are discovered, they are repaired. If annual retesting is no longer required, we can expect most backflow preventers to fail within a few short years.
The cleaner and more neutral on the PH scale of the water is, the fewer problems there will be allowing a typical valve or device to last longer before fouling. All mechanical devices need regular maintenance, otherwise valves will fail over time. The failure rate depends on the hardness of the water and other factors. Hard water will allow scale to build up on moving parts. Debris, such as sand and sediment from water main breaks and construction, can foul check valve seats and cause moving parts to stop. Aggressive water can also create corrosion, which can cause parts to fail. Annual testing finds these problems and fixes them.
If the Michigan House Bill 5112 passes, within a few years we can expectbackflow incidents to be so common that the public water systems in Michigan are no longer trusted as a safe source of drinking water. The Flint water crisis will seem pale in comparison to the contamination that could occur across the entire state. I urge Michigan residents to contact your state elected officials and let them know this is not good for the health and safety of the public. My friend, a civil engineer, would probably say, “Health and safety trumps cost savings and regulatory reform.”
Keep an eye on what your elected officials are doing. They need your technical advice on these issues.
Ron George, CPD, is president of Plumb-Tech Design & Consulting Services LLC. He can be reached at: office 734-322-0225; cell phone 755-1908; and website www.Plumb-TechLLC.com.
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By: Ron George