Eyes on the Environment

Jan. 3, 2017
Conservation & compassion come to industry forefront in 2017

Resolute About Reuse

Director of Global Business Development — Water Systems
NSF Intl. • [email protected] • 800.673.6275 

I foresee that water reuse will continue to increase in acceptance and garner more focus not only in the U.S., but globally into 2017 and beyond. Drought conditions and growing water conservation awareness point the industry in several directions, with water reuse being a major one.

Development of water reuse systems for buildings in which greywater is treated and then used for non-potable applications such as toilet flushing and sub-surface irrigation has been on the rise for several years and will continue to grow. There are also systems that treat not only greywater but also blackwater for non-potable reuse, and these systems also will become more prevalent going forward.

Interest in systems designed to treat laundry water for non-potable reuse also is growing, with numerous possible applications in commercial laundry facilities and the potential to reuse significant volumes of water.

Technologies that treat shower water for reuse also are being introduced. Some of these technologies are designed to reuse the shower water for showering purposes following treatment, whereas others are designed to reuse the shower water for other, non-showering purposes. These shower water systems, along with laundry reuse systems, tend to be more self-contained and possibly easier to implement in existing buildings than some other technologies that are better suited to new buildings.

The introduction of NSF/ANSI Standard 350 – Onsite Residential and Commercial Water Reuse Treatment Systems in 2011 provided a means for manufacturers of certain systems to demonstrate performance. The standard also provides a tool for code bodies and regulators to reference when defining requirements for the types of reuse systems covered.

NSF/ANSI 350 covers situations in which all of the wastewater (greywater and blackwater) in a building is being reused. Additionally, the standard addresses scenarios in which only greywater is being reused. Further, the standard includes requirements for reuse systems targeting only laundry water or only bathing water reuse. Both residential (up to 1,500 gal per day [gpd]) and commercial (more than 1,500 gpd, plus smaller systems that treat reuse water to commercial effluent quality) applications are covered. NSF/ANSI 350 addresses general non-potable reuse applications such as toilet and urinal flushing and subsurface irrigation.

Given increasing concerns about water scarcity and conservation, advances in treatment technologies, growing acceptance of water reuse, and a standard that can be adopted by codes and regulations, it is clear that the upward trajectory of the water reuse market not only will continue, but likely will accelerate.

Encourage Environmental Empathy

Vice President, Research & Development
KX Technologies • [email protected] • 203.764.2506

On Nov. 8, 2016, I was in Bengaluru, India. That’s right—on Election Day, I was not even in the U.S. It is an interesting experience being in a foreign country when your homeland is tallying election results. The good news is I was awake to see the numbers updating in real time. The bad news is I was watching the internet for the results when I was supposed to be paying attention in a meeting. We now are moving into a new era both politically and environmentally. As an environmental scientist, member of my town’s Inland Wetlands Commission, and an advocate for the environment, I am more concerned today about the future of our planet and water supply than I was when I started my career.

The state of Karnataka, where the city of Bengaluru is located, has been in a water “war” with its southern neighbor state, Tamil Nadu, for about 100 years. Last summer, the Indian Supreme Court ruled that Karnataka must release water to Tamil Nadu, which is in the midst of a severe drought. Unfortunately, Karnataka is also in a severe drought. This release of water led to a battle that resulted in commerce, travel and daily life being disrupted for about three days. Businesses were destroyed; people were threatened. My fear is that this is the beginning of a global battle as our climate and weather patterns change and more areas experience water scarcity. Stressed water quality, such as saline water infiltration or pollution, is another concern.

Our industry has many technologies to combat water pollution and conserve water. New reverse osmosis (RO) membrane module configurations and mechanical drain flow regulators have been introduced that increase water recovery and production. These advancements are important, as RO is seen as the technology of choice in many countries for chemical and microbial contaminant reduction.

Smart water treatment systems utilizing the Internet of Things, coupled with water-saving technologies, will help conserve water and promote the proper operation and maintenance of our products. These technologies not only can monitor our water usage and ensure product performance, but also adapt to consumers’ water usage to provide the best water quality.

It is important that our country be energy independent, but not at the price of destroying our environment. We all must be vigilant in protecting our water supplies, both surface and ground. Fortunately, our industry has technologies available to protect consumers from inadvertent contamination. Our goal as a country should be no contamination!

Yes, we have interesting times on our horizon. Together we can work to save our environment for today and tomorrow.

Communicate & Satisfy

Bennett & Cole Water Solutions [email protected] • 203.913.7001

While I do not foresee water treatment technology dramatically changing in 2017, the customer experience in our market is rapidly evolving. Customers are asking for a more intimate experience with their service providers while challenging us to impact their lives as minimally as possible.

2016 was another great year for Bennett and Cole Water Solutions, with growth eclipsing 30%. Consistent with the past few years, customer service continues to be critical to our success. Our forecast for 2017 is no different. As family schedules get busier, the demand for tighter service windows and on-time arrival is critical to high customer satisfaction ratings.

Communication is the cornerstone of this system. We keep a common schedule all technicians and operators can see to allow for open communication and updates. Additionally, we contact the customer the night before an appointment with a confirmation call. A text or “call on way” is made when the technician is 20 to 30 minutes away, allowing the customer the flexibility to manage his or her schedule and not feel tied to the service window.

In 2017, we anticipate voice communication to continue to be the least favorite mode of communication for customers. The trend is moving toward email and even text messaging. We follow every service call with a text or email notifying the customer the service has been completed and what basic steps were taken. Not only does this enhance the customer experience, it also eliminates most discrepancy questions when the bill arrives.

Finally, automatic billing and payment options also enhance the customer experience. In 2017, more than half our customers will pay their bills automatically with a credit card number online or over the phone. These options have reduced aging on accounts receivable dramatically and allow customers more flexible payment options.

Transparent Tactics

Pauli Undesser, MWS
Executive Director
Water Quality Assn. • [email protected] • 630.505.0160

This is an amazing time for the water treatment industry! We are coming off of a year in which the lead crisis in Flint, Mich., has permanently changed consumer perceptions about drinking water.

However, Flint was just one of many water-related stories making itself known across the nation in the past few years. From microcystin contamination in Toledo’s municipal water system to the 10,000 gal of crude 4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol that spilled into West Virginia’s Elk River in 2014, the Water Quality Assn. (WQA) aims to provide a reliable educational resource for both members and consumers.

In the wake of Flint, WQA revised and improved its crisis response plan as part of the tactics to support its strategic plan. Under the new response plan, once an event is considered a crisis, WQA will:

  • Send out emails to members with crisis updates;
  • Reach out to the appropriate state association, if available, to lend support;
  • Distribute news releases announcing WQA’s position on the crisis and make appropriate resources available;
  • Create informational handouts for members; and
  • Reach out to the local mayor and state governor, offering WQA as an educational resource, and point to certified products and professionals.

With this improved plan in place, WQA is ready to spring into action with any crisis that may pop up in 2017 or the future, and help guide the industry to best serve its customers.

The 2016-2018 Strategic Plan continues to position WQA as the leading advocate in the drinking water industry when it comes to professional and product certification and regulatory affairs. In 2017, our professional certification department will continue to revise exams to reflect an emphasis on fieldwork experience. It also will continue to develop the point-of-use cooler installer training module. Product certification will continue to develop and offer new services in 2017 to compete with domestic and global market needs, such as NSF/ANSI Standard 401. The governmental and regulatory affairs staff will remain active in building recognition for WQA and its members on Capitol Hill, in high-priority states, and within federal agencies.

WQA is always looking ahead to better serve members and consumers, especially in the event of a water crisis. Our members have an opportunity to make an impact and to help protect and educate our customers. With the 2017 consumer opinion study, WQA and its members will receive fresh insights into the minds of consumers following the crisis in Flint. We have the tools and knowledge as an industry to meet the challenges that may arise this year and in the future, and as a unified force can help provide people with the clean, drinking water they deserve. 

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