Water industry delegation tours first operating U.S. MIEX installations

Over 50 representatives from engineering consultants and water utilities across the country gathered in Palm Springs, Fla., recently to inspect the first two operating installations in the United States employing MIEX ion exchange resin from Orica Watercare Inc. for reduction of dissolved organic carbon and other disinfection by-product precursors...

PALM SPRINGS, FL, April 8, 2005 -- Over 50 representatives from engineering consultants and water utilities across the country gathered in Palm Springs, Fla., recently to inspect the first two operating installations in the United States employing MIEX® ion exchange resin from Orica Watercare Inc.

Commissioned in January, these installations are providing water to a community of around 50,000 people served by the Village of Palm Springs in east central Palm Beach County. The systems have been installed in front of existing lime softening processes at both the Village of Palm Springs' Main (6 mgd) and R.L. Pratt (4 mgd) Water Treatment Plants to remove dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from the source water prior to disinfection. The formal tour of the plants was attended by consultants and water utilities that are considering installing MIEX systems to address recent tightening of the EPA disinfection by-product (DBP) standards.

"This is a significant milestone for the introduction of the MIEX technology in the United States," said Orica president Chris Keever. "Engineers and utilities now have installations where they can observe first hand the exceptional performance of this treatment system for DBP precursor removal."

The resin is employed in a pretreatment ion exchange process that utilizes a magnetic ion exchange (MIEX) resin to remove dissolved organic carbon and other precursors to DBP's in drinking water. The magnetic component within the resin allows it to be applied in open tank mixing and then rapidly recovered in a high-rate conventional settling step. This capability, in conjunction with the resin's ion exchange functionality, removes contaminants from water in a continuous process.

The water supply for the Village of Palm Springs' plants is drawn from the surficial aquifer in Eastern Palm Beach County. The existing treatment processes were not sufficiently reducing the high levels of color and TOC in the water source. As a result, the Village of Palm Springs appointed Eckler Engineering Inc. to investigate technologies available to reduce color and TOC prior to disinfection so that the Main and R.L. Pratt Water Treatment Plants could be brought into compliance with the EPA Stage 1 and Stage 2 DBP Standards. After evaluating the MIEX process, ozone, and nanofiltration, a MIEX pretreatment system was selected as the most cost effective solution.

"The MIEX Process and ozone were the most economical solutions," said Doug Hammann, P.E., project manager from Eckler Engineering. "and of these the MIEX Process achieved significantly greater TOC removal which will provide the Village of Palm Springs with a greater comfort margin for future tightening of DBP standards".

Since startup of the MIEX Systems, the impact on treated water quality has been dramatic. Notably, one day after startup a confused consumer called the utility asking if something was wrong because "¿the water's yellow color is gone and it doesn't smell anymore." Distribution DBP levels are now well below the EPA standards. Other benefits noted by the plant superintendent Don Ray include over a 75% reduction in treated water TOC levels and up to a 50% reduction in downstream chlorine demand. It also appears that lime usage in the downstream softening process may be reduced, filter run times may be extended, and filter backwash volumes may also be reduced. Improvements in overall plant O&M are still being quantified and verified at this time.

The construction contractor for the two plants was John J. Kirlin Inc.'s Florida Division. Construction commenced in March 2004. The MIEX System equipment packages for both installations were provided by WesTech Engineering Inc., Orica Watercare's U.S. licensee for package MIEX Systems. Start-up and commissioning of the plants commenced in November 2004 and was conducted jointly by WesTech Engineering and Orica Watercare.

WesTech Engineering is based out of Salt Lake City, while Orica Watercare is based in Watkins, Colo., and is part of the Orica Ltd. Group of companies with headquarters in Melbourne, Australia, and offices also in Peachtree City, Ga., and England.

Moss-Kelley Inc., the local sales representative, has offices in Lake Mary and Coral Springs, Fla.

While MIEX systems up to 30 mgd have been in operation in Australia for several years, these are the first installations to start up in the United States. Several other MIEX Plants are in the design phase in Florida, California and Ohio, and these plants are scheduled to start-up during 2005 and 2006.

For more information, see www.miexresin.com.

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