Water Online

November 2017

Water Innovations gives Water and Wastewater Engineers and end-users a venue to find project solutions and source valuable product information. We aim to educate the engineering and operations community on important issues and trends.

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By Brent Alspach W ater utilities are increasingly employing alternative sources of supply to meet demand induced by population growth, drought, and even threats to the quality of their existing sources. Such alternative sources may include seawater, recycled wastewater, brackish groundwater, and stormwater, among others. Given the typically poorer quality of these alternative sources relative to more conventional supplies, the benchmarks for treatment, public health protection, regulatory compliance, and public acceptance are more challenging to achieve. Adopting An Innovation Mindset Despite the challenges presented by these alternative sources, the need to overcome them and bolster long-term water supply portfolio sustainability is prompting unprecedented innovation in the water treatment industry. Although the need to innovate in order to meet these challenges is born of necessity, adopting an innovation mindset that permeates every aspect of a utility's culture will yield a significant return on investment that transcends any one application. Sensor Technology: Where Challenge And Innovation Meet For those utilities expanding into the use of alternative supplies, the intersection of an innovative culture and water quality and treatment challenges is most acute in the development of new instrumentation and sensor technology. Historically, the water industry has been known for its conservative posture, appropriately reluctant to embrace new processes and technologies over the "tried-and-true" mainstays that have successfully protected public health. However, particularly for new sensor and monitoring technology, innovation and the protection of public health are far from mutually exclusive concepts. Because alternative sources present many of the new water quality and treatment challenges that are driving sensor innovation, utilities that are already treating these supplies represent an ideal proving ground for new technology. Examples of such sensor technology advances may include more effective pathogen detection, online monitoring and detection of emerging contaminants (e.g., pharmaceuticals and personal care products), and/or advanced detection of important water quality metrics yet to be identified. It is not necessary that utilities risk switching existing sensors and water quality monitoring instrumentation with new and unproven devices but, rather, that they accommodate testing these new devices in parallel. With an awareness of this important potential, forward-thinking utilities may allocate a small area within the treatment plant dedicated to such testing, pre-outfitted with safety features, sample lines, electrical connections, and the availability of internet connectivity for remote access. Moreover, the utility's organization can plan ahead to commit a small amount of each operator's time to support applied research and development in assisting with such testing. In this way, the sensor technology supplier experiences support at the test site, the operators enjoy the opportunity for continuous learning, and the organization maintains a smart operational staff that is perpetually at the leading edge of new advancements in water quality monitoring: a win-win-win scenario. The Benefits Of Sensor Advancements The entire industry gains from this proactive and progressive approach to testing new technologies, as it not only generates useful data to enhance the institutional knowledge of alternative 16 wateronline.com n Water Innovations New water brings new challenges, such as overcoming heightened regulatory standards and consumer wariness. To ensure water quality and quell concerns, utilities moving toward alternative water sources might also consider updating their monitoring technology. Advancing Alternative Supplies With Sensor Technology For those utilities expanding into the use of alternative supplies, the intersection of an innovative culture and water quality and treatment challenges is most acute in the development of new instrumentation and sensor technology.

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