City hopes to cut stormwater pollution with AbTech antimicrobial technology

Long Beach City Council unanimously approved a contract of up to $1 million for installing and monitoring AbTech's Ultra-Urban Filter series with Smart Sponge Plus antimicrobial technology for use in their stormdrain system...

SCOTTSDALE, AZ, Aug. 25, 2004 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Recently, the Long Beach City Council unanimously approved a contract of up to $1 million for installing and monitoring AbTech's Ultra-Urban® Filter series with Smart Sponge® Plus antimicrobial technology for use in their stormdrain system. AbTech Industries holds a U.S. patent on the Smart Sponge Plus, the only fully recyclable filtration system that destroys bacteria at the street level.

Tom Leary, Stormwater Management Division officer, Long Beach Public Works Department, explained that the contract would provide for a pilot program designed to protect local waterways that are threatened by the highest level of pollutants.

"A primary goal of Long Beach's Stormwater Management Plan is to protect receiving waters -- rivers, estuaries, lagoons and the ocean -- by reducing and controlling pollutants from entering the storm drain system. With about 395 miles of pipes in the system that take water and debris straight from Long Beach streets to the ocean -- and nearly 4,000 catch basins -- this is a formidable task," he said.

Leary said the pilot program involved installing AbTech's filtration systems in the areas that were most needed throughout the community and then monitoring the water quality to measure the systems' effectiveness. "Our No. 1 priority is to install the Ultra-Urban Filters in drains that are tributary to waters used for recreation. We aim to improve the water quality in the beaches and recreational areas where people swim and play. We've had advisory postings and some beach closures in the past. The presence of bacteria and other harmful pathogens in stormwater, particularly after rain, poses the greatest risk to human health."

The Ultra-Urban Filter series with Smart Sponge Plus is designed to encapsulate and successfully remove harmful substances, including hydrocarbons, oil, grease and other toxins, before they enter local waterways. The antimicrobial technology adds the capability to destroy dangerous disease causing microorganisms, such as staphylococcus aureus, E. coli and fecal coliforms.

Leary said the contract includes installing the filter systems and monitoring them for one year. He said the contractor will take samples of the runoff just prior to it entering the filtration units and again as the runoff exits. "This type of monitoring will continue throughout the year to gain insight on this Best Management Practice and to measure the filtration systems' effectiveness. Because of the size of Long Beach's storm drain system and the fact that this is a demonstration project, not all catch basins will be covered. We expect a learning curve. We've selected a wide variety of locations based on land use and projected pollutant loads. We need to make sure that we install these units properly and maintain them to achieve maximum performance," he said.

The city of Long Beach selected the Ultra-Urban Filter series with Smart Sponge Plus because it's the only product of its kind patented to capture bacteria and health-threatening pathogens in addition to trash, sediment and hydrocarbons. "We're excited by the prospect of measurably reducing pollutants to our waterways through this high-technology solution," Leary said.

An added bonus of AbTech's filtration systems is flexibility. "The filters can be installed very quickly. If we find they are needed more critically in a different area, we can easily relocate them. After the filters reach saturation, they can simply be replaced. Fortunately, I am told that they are fully recyclable, and they will not add to the toxic waste problem," Leary said.

Glenn Rink, AbTech's president and CEO, said water pollution is one of our nation's most critical environmental issues. "According to the Environmental Protection Agency, stormwater runoff is the leading cause of the poor quality of our nation's waterways, inland and coastal. For some years, local governments nationwide have been using AbTech's cost-effective filtration systems at the entrance of their storm drain-sewer systems. With our newly patented product, Smart Sponge Plus, we can now offer cities, such as Long Beach, an opportunity they have never had before -- to destroy dangerous disease-causing microorganisms," Rink said.

The Environmental Protection Agency has included AbTech's Ultra-Urban Filter series with Smart Sponge technology as a Best Management Practice under the federal guidelines that local governments must follow.

Rodolfo Manzone, Ph.D., AbTech's executive vice president and chief technology officer, explained that Smart Sponge Plus employs an antimicrobial agent, chemically bound to the Smart Sponge polymer filtration material, which deactivates health-threatening microorganisms without releasing chemicals or leaching. Independent field testing has validated the effectiveness of the Smart Sponge Plus in multiple locations with a variety of microorganisms found in stormwater runoff.

"Unlike other antimicrobials that act by poisoning harmful microorganisms, Smart Sponge Plus technology is based on the antimicrobial agent's interaction with the microorganism's cell membrane. Simply put, it acts by rupturing cell membranes -- preventing potentially harmful microorganisms from functioning, developing, or reproducing. Because no chemical or physical change occurs in the antimicrobial agent, the filtration system maintains long-term effectiveness," Manzone said.

AbTech Industries, based in Scottsdale, AZ, is dedicated to developing innovative clean water solutions to meet community and industrial needs. It produces equipment for nonpoint source pollution and stormwater control, filters for storm drains and catch basins, and devices that skim and capture oil from still or flowing water. AbTech's products are based on its proprietary polymer-based filtration material that's fully recyclable and provides a complete, closed-loop solution for removing pollutants from water. AbTech's filtration systems are currently filtering contaminates from urban and stormwater runoff in 27 states. The company website is at www.abtechindustries.com.

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