New Alabama WTP to use magnetic ion technology

Dec. 13, 2002
The first American water treatment plant to incorporate the patented Magnetic Ion Exchange technology will be built in Alabama and probably go on-line by the end of 2003.

FRANKLIN COUNTY, ALA; Dec. 13, 2002 -- The first American water treatment plant to incorporate the patented Magnetic Ion Exchange (MIEX) technology will be built in Alabama and probably go on-line by the end of 2003, it was announced here Thursday by Matthew Rowland, president of Orica Watercare, Inc., of Denver, Colorado.

"We were almost dead in the water because we were getting consistently high DBP counts and couldn't meet the new EPA Stage 1 standards," said Douglas C. Aaron, Superintendent of Operations for Franklin County Water Service Authority. "It was either abandon the plant or find a new source of water."

Aaron explained that Franklin County, in the northwest corner of Alabama, was experiencing increasing water demand, but the Bear Creek Reservoir contained a lot of organic material. Conventional treatment with alum coagulation could not remove enough TOC to meet the EPA standards.

"Finally an official of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management mentioned the MIEX process to us, because he'd seen a demonstration of the technology," Aaron said. "Then we tested the MIEX process and found we could cut THM formation by 63% if we pre-treated with MIEX before the alum coagulation step, to only 26.2 ug/L c.f. 70.2 ug/L."

The new plant will directly impact approximately 3,000 people, but indirectly will service three other plants in nearby Marion and Winston counties, Aaron said.

"I'm the chairman of one of the other plants and we are definitely looking into the MIEX process for that one as well," he said.

Rowland added that the MIEX process not only allowed the Franklin County plant to meet EPA standards in a cost-effective way, but also exceeded the EPA standards to such a degree as to give them "insurance" against further tightening of standards in the future.

MIEX is an innovative ion exchange resin that cost-effectively removes dissolved organic carbon (DOC), a precursor to disinfection by-products (DBPs) in drinking water. What makes MIEX unique is a magnetic component that allows the resin to be used in a continuous ion exchange process, and be almost totally recovered.

Rowland said a 30 MGD MIEX groundwater treatment plant in Wanneroo, near Perth, Western Australia, which serves a population of 250,000, is the world's first to utilize the patented Magnetic Ion Exchange (MIEX) resin process for TOC removal.

"This revolutionary process can cut the cost of DOC removal by as much as 50 percent and dramatically reduce downstream chemical sludge by as much as 80 percent," Rowland said. "Pilot plant testing around the USA is showing that MIEX is cost effective, too, easily meeting stringent new EPA standards."

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