Sen. Lieberman lauds success of new filtration technology cleaning up nation's waterways

He, Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia and Long Island Soundkeeper's Terry Backer reveal results of clean water program in Connecticut featuring AbTech Industries' Smart Sponge water filtration technology to curb urban stormwater run-off pollution. Initial field tests from Long Island Sound project show filters cut high percentage of bacteria, including E. coli and other fecal coliform. First cleaning of 275 catch basins also yielded over 7.4 tons of trash, debris, leaves, sediment, and sand...

NORWALK, CT, June 19 , 2006 -- U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) recently joined Long Island Soundkeeper Terry Backer to reveal the results of an exclusive clean water program in Connecticut featuring the Smart Sponge® water filtration technology, which is manufactured and distributed by AbTech Industries, Inc, an Arizona-based company. As part of a stormwater management improvement project, over 275 storm drains in Norwalk, Connecticut, have been fitted with high-technology filtration systems equipped with the Smart Sponge technology.

Unlike the muscle-bound caped crusaders of yesterday's cartoons, Long Island Sound's newest environmental hero -- the Smart Sponge -- more closely resembles SpongeBob Squarepants. This non toxic, funny-looking sponge-like material uses an antimicrobial agent to perform the daunting task of destroying health-threatening microorganisms that threaten our nation's waterways.

After viewing the live demonstration of how the Smart Sponge technology works, Senator Lieberman stated, "This is a very exciting solution to a very serious national water pollution problem, which is so called non-point pollution -- that is run off, the stuff that when rain goes off the soil, whether it's fertilizers or contaminants of various kinds like oil, into the storm drain and in the normal flow out into bodies of water like the Long Island Sound, which we are trying so hard to keep clean, so that not only we, but succeeding generations of our children and grandchildren can enjoy for swimming, for fishing and for boating."

Initial field tests released show the Smart Sponge technology destroyed a high percentage of bacteria, including E. coli and other fecal coliform. The average removal rate was over 75% and the maximum removal rate was 99.9%. In addition, the first cleaning of the 275 catch basins yielded over 7.4 tons of trash, debris, leaves, sediment, and sand -- the weight of over six Ford Escorts. All this bacteria, trash, and debris (including needles and syringes) could have entered the Sound's recreational waters if it had not been captured by the filters.

The Long Island Sound watershed houses 8 million people with another 20 million living within 50 miles of it. Hal Alvord, Norwalk's Director of Public Works said, "Norwalk's storm drainage system developed over time to accommodate the tremendous growth in this area. Regulation has resulted in many improvements over the last few decades, but it has done little to stop the largest source of toxins -- nonpoint source pollution," he said.

"Incidentally, one of the other ways to deal with this kind of non-point source pollution run-off is to send it through water treatment plants, which are enormously expensive. So not only does this work, it does it in a very cost effective way," stated Senator Lieberman at the press conference.

The stormwater management project represents a collaborative effort, which brought together an impressive roster of national businesses, nonprofit organizations, and local, state, and federal government officials. The City of Norwalk partnered with the Long Island Soundkeeper, The Maritime Aquarium, the Norwalk River Watershed Initiative, and AbTech Industries. Much of the project cost -- over $500,000 -- resulted from legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman and provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Other funds were raised by private organizations.

"This is $400,000 dollars of Federal money that I think has been remarkably well spent and I am going to see if we can't build together on the test that happened here in Norwalk that worked and the results of that test will now go around the country and around the world," concluded Senator Lieberman at the press conference.

The City of Norwalk will continue to evaluate the project's success according to thepercentage of reduction in hydrocarbons, bacteria, and other pollutants entering Long Island Sound from the targeted catch basins. The monitoring will be an effort shared by the Long Island Soundkeeper, the City of Norwalk, and AbTech Industries (through Longo & Longo, a Connecticut-based AbTech distributor).

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