2021 Research Updates From the Water Quality Research Foundation

Sept. 1, 2021

Research updates from the Water Quality Research Foundation

About the author:

Kimberly Redden is foundation relations & research manager for WQRF. Redden can be reached at [email protected] or 630.929.2512.

Several changes are in the works at the Water Quality Research Foundation (WQRF). From new approaches to research, to a new strategic plan, WQRF is advancing research on behalf of the water treatment industry. Also, for the first time, a WQRF education track was included at the Water Quality Association (WQA) Convention & Exposition in Las Vegas. All of these changes are giving water treatment professionals new ways to take advantage of what the research offers.

RELATED: 2020 Research Updates from the Water Quality Research Foundation

2020 Research Grant for Public Awareness

The 2020 Research Grant is the first time the WQRF has funded a project specifically for the research agenda category of “public awareness.” The project objective is to address public awareness by increasing knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions about point-of-use (POU)/point-of-entry (POE) through creation of user-friendly, web-based educational materials for WQRF.org. The project will build off and supplement the public resources on the Water Quality Association’s (WQA) websites (WQA.org and BetterWaterToday.org). The content will explain routes of exposure, potential health risks and water treatment options for drinking water contaminants. The goal is to gather data, such as site visits and page views, that can be used to determine future outreach efforts.

Two Projects Enter Second Phase of Work

The Contaminant Occurrence project has begun a second phase of work to broaden the database with 99 new analytes, so now the database would have all primary and secondary contaminants, as well as select unregulated contaminants from the 4th Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR4), such as microcystin, and UCMR5, including 20 different PFAS chemicals. This phase of work will also conduct further QA/QC on sample location for all data (including the 57 analytes from the first phase), which will differentiate if the sample was taken from raw water, during the treatment process or from finished water. The difference between raw and finished water is of particular interest when it comes to secondary contaminants, such as chloride, iron and manganese. The first phase of work on this project produced the Contaminant Occurrence Map in 2020, and the intent is the new analytes will eventually be integrated into the map in the future after a database upgrade occurs.

The Predictive Modeling of U.S. Drinking Water Emergencies study has also begun its second phase of work. Phase one of this study developed a comprehensive database of drinking water crises in the last five years and their associated environmental and socioeconomic factors. Researchers will use data from WQRF’s phase one study, water quality data collected from state regulatory agencies as a part of the WQRF-funded Contaminant Occurrence Study, and U.S. EPA data, including the 4th Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR4), the Safe Drinking Water Information System, chemical data production, use and spill data from the EPA’s Chemical Data Reporting program and Toxics Release Inventory.

Each dataset will be reviewed to highlight contaminants with known or widely suspected human health effects, broad occurrence, increasing trends in occurrence or regulatory violations over time, and likelihood to impact a large population. In addition, contaminants that are currently regulated or likely to be regulated in the future will be identified. After the qualitative model is developed, the project team will work with WQRF subject matter experts to review existing and potential future POU/POE treatment options for the highest priority contaminants likely to be needed in the future.

WQRF Begins First-Ever Strategic Planning

In the first years after the 2015 capital campaign, the WQRF’s top priority was funding new research for the industry. This included developing process to keep the pipeline of new research relevant and procedures for the review process once research is on-going. It is a true collaboration between our industry leaders, staff and researchers to develop an idea into a hypothesis with deliverables that bring value to the industry and greater good of the public. The WQRF mission, vision and research agenda are the guiding lights for this process, and yet WQRF has matured to the point for overarching strategy to help guide the future. Thus, WQRF is embarked on its first-ever strategic plan for 2022-2024. The strategic planning process includes gathering feedback from stakeholders and industry leaders through surveys and personal interviews on topics and ideas from past WQRF workshops.

Research Presentations On-Demand from WQA Convention & Exposition

With the WQA Convention in-person and virtual hybrid model, there was an opportunity for WQRF-funded researchers to present updates on their work. Four presentations on WQRF-funded research were included in this year’s online and in-person education:

1. Communicating Sensitive Data in Your Sales Process Using the WQRF Contaminant Occurrence Map. The WQRF Contaminant Occurrence Map makes millions of data points accessible to the public, but how can and should the industry be leveraging this data? Learn from a risk communication expert Kelly Reynolds, PhD on the do’s and don’ts for gaining public trust and how to apply this map in your sales practices from sales consultant, Jennifer Smith, CWS.

2. Sustainability Comparison: POU/POE and Centralized Treatment for Safe Drinking Water Act Compliance. This study will utilize real-world data to compare the sustainability, defined as the human, environmental and economic impacts, of centralized drinking water treatment to residential POU/POE treatment in small community water systems in the U.S. Research results will be used by the industry to identify and understand in which contexts POU/POE might yield the most benefits when used by small communities for compliance needs.

3. 2018 Grant Recipient: Emerging Contaminant Removal and Microbial Growth in Membrane Filtration and Activated Carbon Point-Of-Use System. Investigating removal efficiencies of RO and POU carbon for emerging contaminants (PFOS, PFBS, PFHxS, manganese, uranium, and Legionella), and determining water quality conditions that would give the highest removal efficiency and lowest microbial growth potential.

4. Emerging Contaminants Study Phase 1: Consumer Study. This project will perform a U.S. consumer study to determine: 1) Which emerging contaminants are already known by consumers, and 2) How the messaging of a POU/POE product influences a consumer’s decision to treat their water.


Honoring Research Champion and Industry Leader, David Loveday

WQRF is paying tribute to the Water Quality Association’s Global Government Affairs Director David Loveday, who passed away on July 3, 2021. It is WQRF’s greatest honor to celebrate the life and legacy of our cherished friend and influential leader with the David Loveday Memorial Research Fund.

Loveday had a long and successful history leveraging WQRF research in key initiatives to provide quality water for all in the country he loved so deeply. He was a true champion for science, a one-of-a-kind leader with an infectious laugh, light-heart and amazing storytelling. This loss is felt profoundly across the industry, and our deepest sympathies are with his family and all who knew him. Read more about Loveday’s legacy on the WQA website. The David Loveday Memorial Research Fund will go toward scientific research to support his passion for water quality and continue his legacy of fostering sound science in policy and decision-making. To date, more than $50,000 has been raised in Loveday’s memory.

Memorial donations to WQRF in Loveday’s honor can be made online or via check made out to WQRF and mailed to 2375 Cabot Drive, Lisle, IL 60532.

About the Author

Kimberly Redden

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