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Read the latest news, innovations, and technology advances in water around the globe…

What Is Reverse Osmosis

Here at Western RO, we have a good understanding of water filtration systems and the reasons to use them. We pride ourselves on being a resource to help clients understand their needs. Sometimes, we need commercial filtration in place to help clean waste water. Sometimes it is a simple residential solution to create clean drinking water. We take a holistic approach to solving the problem for every client. The reasons for needing filtration systems can range. Depending on the end goal there are different ways to achieve it. Filtrations systems have been in place for centuries, but the technology that is driving the industry forward is light years ahead of where it started. From purifying water over the fire to today’s industrial systems that can help keep entire cities healthy and safe, filtrations has progressed. Depending on your need there are several types of filtration systems that can help you reach your goal. We prefer Reverse Osmosis membranes in most cases because of their efficiency. While it may seem like water filtration systems are hard to wrap your head around, it is actually a very simple. Also, an effective way to separate contaminates from your water. Reverse Osmosis can create safe and clean water that is perfect for cooking, cleaning, and drinking. Clean water is highly important in today’s world. With water sources being polluted by fracking waste, lead pipes, and oil spills, it is a critical time to find good water filtration solutions. Access to clean water can make all of the difference in a person’s health and quality of life. Take the Flint Michigan crisis, the levels... read more

Dakota Access Pipeline

Water scarcity is a topic we like to discuss often, because one it is a reality we are going to have to face and two in some instances you can help elevate the issue with water filtration systems. As the climate changes, temperatures rise, and prolonged droughts become more frequent, we have to consider how we conserve what we can and reuse when needed. Environmental causes to water shortages are currently something we have no control over. But what about the causes to water scarcity that we can control? Clean water sources are a prized possession in some parts of the world and people will fight for control or to maintain them as best they can. Sometimes that fight is between tribes or organizations. Sometimes that fight is between man and beast. Sometimes the fight is between a community and a corporation. This type of conflict over clean water is one that could be avoided but recently the frequency in which corporations are trying control or subvert clean water is increasing. As is the case in Flint Michigan and Nestle’s CEO who thinks clean water is not a right but a privilege. In the most recent case of clean water conflict between a community and a corporation we only have to look to middle America. The Dakota Access Pipeline project was shifted from going through a community in North Dakota and redirected to the Standing Rock. The Stand Rock Sioux Tribe is standing up to $3.8 Billion dollar project that was redirected to go through their burial ground of their ancestors and cross under their water source. The project... read more

What if we told you we could change the way you think about water?

It’s the life source of our planet but one of the last things we think about when we jump in the shower or grab a bottle of water. We consume it daily, without blinking an eye, yet less than .5% of our earth’s water is consumable. The strain on freshwater sources is apparent in some areas, while completely unnoticed in larger nations like the US. The fact that bottled water cost 10000x more than what it costs to drink from a hose is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how skewed our understanding of water is. To make the bottle that holds the water it takes 5 to 11 times more water than what is in the actual bottle. The strain on supply can be overlooked by those with an abundance and if noticed they wouldn’t hesitate to say that the bottled water ‘tasted’ better. When in reality a bottle of water is not that much different in taste or quality compared to what comes out of the faucet in most homes. This, combined with the realization that we are pumping water faster than it can be replenished makes our obsession with bottled water seem like an insane notion. Water filtration and reverse osmosis have helped conserve some water, and turn previously undrinkable water into a suitable solution but still the love for bottled water continues. While daily conservation is key, it is not the biggest factor when it comes to where our water goes. The biggest consumer of freshwater is agriculture. Farmers use 80% of the water being pumped and during droughts can reach... read more

8 Innovative Membrane Technologies that are a must-see!

The American Membrane Technology Association (AMTA) and the American Water Works Association (AWWA) held their annual Membrane Technology Conference (MTC) to showcase what is new in the industry. The membranes on display range in use, for everything from drinking water to wastewater to reuse. The technology has a wide range of uses, and is helping to expand past the 2000 facilities currently using them. As the challenge for clean water increases it is important that the technology reflect the growing need and the MTC is the perfect place to show off what is new. The convention address not only the growing need for clean water but also how to solve the common problems that occur with a membrane filtration system. From ways to help keep the membrane clear to software to help design and care for your filtrations system. MTC had a lot going on and we wanted to share the top 10 companies that were making waves. 1. First is the LD Technology by Hydranautics. Their booth was focused on how to expand the life of a membrane and keep it clear of colloidal/particulate and biological fouling. They solution to solving the issue was to increase the feed spacer to 34mm to help reduce build up. This solved one issue but also meant that the surface area of the membrane had to be reduced to fit the larger spacer. 2. The next in line is LENA MBR by Doosan Hydro Technology. LENA, “low energy, no aeration”, takes on the same issue Hydranautics did but prevents sludge accumulation by employing a “membrane reciprocating system”. This system removes the need to use... read more

Solar Energy Helps Create Clean Water

Clean water is hard to come by, and the costs to maintain water filtration plants are always increasing. We all want clean water, but what about clean air and renewable energy? These things all go hand in hand. Clean air and clean water can both be a product of renewable energy. Mount Pleasant Waterworks (MPW) is ready to reap the benefits of renewable energy while supplying clean water to over sixty-seven thousand people. This fall MPW will be launching the endeavor to lower the cost of operation for their Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment Plants. The largest consumer of electricity in the Mount Pleasant area, MPW will be installing roof-mounted solar panels to help lower their usage and cost. In total, it is estimated they will cut out 265 metric tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere. This reduction is equivalent to 255 acres of forests. This move towards renewable energy is the best thing MPW could do. It furthers their mission of treating wastewater through Reverse Osmosis and turning it into usable, clean, safe water. Our environment is interconnected. With this reduction in carbon, it will help the air quality in the area. Which in turn, creates less work for the plants and allows nature to focus on cleaning the surrounding soils and water more efficiently.   As more and more watersheds are containment and fewer people have safe water it is a joyous occasion when a water plant takes a step like this. To date, this will be MPW’s largest commercial system. The move will also allow them to participate in the SCE&G’s Bill Credit Agreement Program. Through... read more

Automating Industrial Waste Management

One of the biggest issues facing clean water today is industrial waste. The industrial revolution showed us the extent to which manufacturing can harm our water systems. Waterways like the Gowanus in Brooklyn New York are now registered Superfund site by the EPA due to industrial waste. Manufacturing can have a detrimental effect on the environment if wastewater managers do not leverage today’s tools for waste management. With today’s ability to leverage data and technology, industrial waste management is beginning to find ways to mitigate the damage. One example is the chemical processing industry. Recently they began to revolutionize their waste management through automation, data, and process controls. This step forward will not only modify the quality of filtration but also the bottom line for the facility. Most water treatment systems use a common process, allowing for the removal of solids, fats, and oils. Then treating the water to remove sludge and solids. From there wastewater may undergo treatment to further oxidize or disinfect before reuse or discharge to a public sewer or body of water. The new process starts from the beginning. They focus on reducing or removing solid particles and oils like normal but during the last phase of the process they are filtering the wastewater. Depending on the end use, the water could run through Reverse Osmosis Membranes or  granular activated carbon to make the discharged water as safe as possible. This new process includes consideration for the end usage and leverages new technologies to achieve the goal of returning the water as pure and clean as possible. Previous generations would allow for chemical and solid... read more

Morocco is Implementing a New Water Infrastructure

Water scarcity is a reality that can cause a great deal of stress on a population’s food supply and water infrastructure. With decreased rainfall hindering crops, creating food shortages that directly affect one tenth of the world, governments are turning towards smarter ways to cope with the problem. This wouldn’t be the case prior to the new technology and techniques available today. In previous times, when water shortages could not be addressed as effectively, the lack of resources would often lead to violent conflicts. Around 4,500 years ago it was written that a local dispute between Lagash and Umma, cities residing in what is modern day Iraq, sparked a violence due to a redirected water source. These types of skirmishes were more common in previous centuries, turning neighbors against one another. In ancient China and during the time when Pharaohs ruled Egypt there were wars fought to maintain clean water sources. The life blood of crops and a huge factor on commerce, it was always seen as a priority to protect the resource. Without it, a civilization could fall quickly do to unrest causing an upheaval of the ruling class. While we do not see as many conflicts today as we did in the past there are still some areas of the world where water scarcity is still an issue. In the Middle East and Sub Saharan Africa, water infrastructure can be ill maintained and have had direct correlation to violence in the area. Over the last 20 years that have been studies that show after a long lasting drought there are spikes in civil war, violence, and regime change.... read more

Public Schools Recognize the Need for Water Filtration

Institutions around the country are taking a closer look at their water supply. Any facility that is responsible for the welfare and safety of their patrons owe it to themselves to make sure that their water source is free of contaminants. Schools and Hospitals are taking an active role in making sure their students and patients are drinking clean water by installing filtration systems. The filters and reverse osmosis membranes are an additional line of defense to protect those that could be vulnerable from excess exposure to lead. Young children, the elderly, and the sick need to have the purest water to stay healthy and hydrated. Pittsburgh’s Public School system is taking the lead on this issue. While the federal law does not require water testing for the school system, administrators saw it as a critical component in their student’s quality of life. District officials wanted to take a proactive approach to the situation. “Engaging this was, of course, the events going around the country, particularly with Flint, Mich., and us knowing that there would be increased awareness of drinking water quality in our schools,” said Ronald Joseph, Pittsburgh Public Schools Chief Operations Officer Testing took place across 70 district facilities. What they found was that the level of lead in the water was actually below the EPA’s recommendations. With only 14.9 parts per billion it was far below the 20 ppb regulated by the EPA. This proactive approach is the rising trend in the nation. As more water sources become contaminated it is important that a solution is in place before an issue arises. The Pittsburgh Public School... read more

Flint Michigan Water Crisis

After what was a nightmare scenario for the people of Flint Michigan, their lives are beginning to return to normal. We all know about the water crisis that hit the city and how a switch in water sources caused the city’s lead pipes to begin leaking lead into the water. This story broke at the end of 2015 and after a period of 6 months, it seems they may have found a solution. Filtered water. “This is an important step forward for providing a stable water system for the City of Flint,” Tom Burke, head of the EPA’s research office, said in a statement. The EPA’s tests showed results of decreased levels of lead in the tap water. Low enough to be considered harmless for those at risk, pregnant women, and young children. Michigan began providing in-house filters for residents at the start of the year. The EPA’s tests used the same filters to ensure the results met the expectation of reducing lead levels. “With the results of this testing, residents can be confident that they can use filtered water and protect their developing fetus or young child from lead,” added Nicole Lurie, head of preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services As water scarcity and purity become an issue worldwide it is more important than ever to have a water filtration system in place. It is estimated that by 2025 the water filtration and Reverse Osmosis industries will be 5 Billion dollar industry. The market for affordable solutions is expanding. The medical and biotech industries, along with the service industry, have a dire need... read more

ROI of Reverse Osmosis Plants in Communities

By 2025 over 1 billion people will be without access to clean, safe, water. That number just got a little smaller thanks to Brunswick County’s plan to build a Reverse Osmosis plant for their citizens. After a lot of back and forth about the plant, it was put to a vote and won 3-2.  After the hard fought issue was voted on, Chairman Bill Browning stated, “The right thing to do and the smart thing to do is to own our own water plant.” After what has happened in Flint Michigan, and the fact that water purity has become a public health issue it was clear to the council that now is the time for action. A majority of the opposition was based on previous water test results. With the claim that the County’s water has passed the test for several years without any issues, those not in favor of the new plant tried to stall the vote. The other topic of concern was cost. The cost of Reverse Osmosis plants can be staggering, but the long term solution they provide is unmeasurable. As with all RO and Water Filter solutions, the goal is clean, pure, water at a cost that is affordable. But what is the price for clean water?  Browning stated, “I’ve been told by financial consultants that we can do this at a cost savings to our customers.” Over the long run, the plant is expected to have an ROI that is both monetary and a benefit to the community.   Source;... read more

RO Membranes for Dairy

We tend to think of water filtration as a solution that creates clean water. We know the issues with contaminants in our waters and the risk they pose. We know that clean water is needed for almost everything in our daily lives. We understand the benefits filtrations systems like Reverse Osmosis, Nanofiltration, and Ultrafiltration brings to water purification. So when GEA partnered with GE to develop a Reverse Osmosis system we immediately perked up. The two corporations worked together to develop “GE Blister Free” membranes to reduce dairy processing costs. While not too farfetched, it was a new take on an industry problem, utilizing technology that was already close to perfecting the problem. The issue they set out to overcome was the fact that most membranes and filtration systems are susceptible to blistering. This blistering happens due to the pressures during processing. If they could solve this issue they would create efficiency and reduce waste for the dairy industry, an industry in need of a technological breakthrough. Traditional membranes also posed a risk during USDA inspections. They posed the risk of harboring microorganisms that can cause the products to be unsafe for consumption. If during an inspection, the USDA discovered this was happening it can result in the plant being shut down until the membranes were replaced. Not only are the membranes expensive, but the cost to shut down the plant unexpectedly can be extreme. The loss of revenue, time, and resources can cripple a dairy plant. GEA and GE considered this issue when looking at a new solution for membranes. The partnership took hold after a mutual client,... read more

Tribal Fight for Groundwater in California

As reported on CircleOfBlue.com, while the state of California implements a landmark law to balance demand for groundwater with available supplies, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has filed a lawsuit in federal court with the potential to add new layers of complexity to managing a necessary resource currently in short supply. The lawsuit, filed on May 14, 2013 against the Coachella Valley Water District and the Desert Water Agency, addresses two primary concerns: halting the decline in groundwater levels, and stemming pollution in the groundwater beneath the tribe’s 31,000-acre reservation. The Agua Caliente suit reflects the growing interest of Indian tribes across the American West to pursue clear legal recognition of water rights held in trust by the U.S. government. Tribal legal rights to water, which occurred first as a push for surface water rights in the 1980s, has expanded to seeking more authority over the use of groundwater. The result of these actions is shaping a new era of water management in the West — one that will force the cities, counties, and irrigation districts now managing water to make room for another seat at the table. This federal lawsuit and California’s 2014 law to fortify supplies and improve distribution of groundwater are both prompted by rapidly diminishing aquifers and inadequate authority to curtail indiscriminate use. The Agua Caliente case could be a model for tribes in California that seek greater influence in water management decisions. And the tribe’s suit could set a precedent for how groundwater rights for Indian tribes are interpreted nationally. Some believe this case, now in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals,... read more

Experts Name Top Solutions to Global Water Crisis

It may come as no surprise that top water experts, globally, are putting some thinking power into solutions that would results in greater availability of fresh water around the world. Some of their solutions include: Reecycling Wastewater In March, World Water Day panelists urged a new mindset for wastewater treatment. Some countries, like Singapore, are turning to recycled water to cut their water imports and become more self-sufficient. The rich East Asian republic is a leader in developing advanced technology that cleans wastewater for other uses, including drinking. Improving Water Harvesting Water catchment systems are essential for areas with no other reliable water sources. Pakistan and India—two countries that contend with some of the worst effects of climate change—are overhauling rainwater harvesting systems. These efforts provide independent control of water resources. Developing Energy-Efficient Desalination Plants To date, desalination has been an energy-intensive solution to water scarcity. Typically the Middle East has capitalized on its large energy reserves to build desalination plants. But Saudi Arabia could be fostering a new kind of desalination with its recent announcement to use solar-powered plants. Britain has taken a different approach to desalination by using small-scale facilities for agriculture. But these innovations bring to light another needed resource—the capital for technological experimentation. For a look at 16 more solutions from the world’s top experts, read the full story on... read more

Safe Clean Drinking Water Is a Human Right

The United Nations General Assembly stated in a landmark resolution adopted on July 28, 2010, “The right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.” “Five years ago today, the United Nations Member States explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation at the General Assembly. And that means that as a human right, all people, without discrimination, must have access to safe drinking water and sanitation, which is affordable, acceptable, available and safe.” Said the UN Special Reporter on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Léo Heller. There is still a long way to go to make this right a reality. The U.N.’s proposed Sustainable Development Goals will provide an opportunity to reach this reality in the coming 15 years through the strong commitment of all countries, Heller said. In May, The President of the Greek Parliament, Zoi Konstantopoulou, solemnly pledged her support to the implementation of the Human Right to Water as a just societal demand. This came just one year after the people of Thessaloniki, Greece, organized to protest the plans of the previous Greek government to privatize water. Konstantopoulou wants Greece to become the first country to recognize the right. The President of the Parliament declared she is open to the demands of social movements and supports the Right to Water movement. Konstantopoulou’s landmark declaration shows the European Commission that it was wrong not to introduce legislation to recognize this right after nearly 1.9 million signatures were collected. Greece has sent a message of... read more

$105 Million Settlement in Water Pollution Lawsuit Between Swiss Company and U.S. Communities

Nearly 2,000 communities in the United States will be eligible for money to filter atrazine, a popular weedkiller, from their drinking water. Syngenta, a Swiss chemical company, recently announced a proposed $105 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit brought by communities in six Midwestern U.S. states who claimed that atrazine — one of the most widely used herbicides in the nation — had contaminated their drinking water. The plaintiffs, representing 16 communities in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Ohio, asked for money to cover the cost of installing treatment systems to filter out the weed-killing chemical, which has been used since 1959 in the United States, primarily in areas growing corn, sorghum, and sugar cane. The lawsuit, filed in 2010 in U.S. district court in Illinois, alleged that Syngenta designed, marketed, and sold atrazine “knowing that it would contaminate public water supplies when used as intended,” according to Bloomberg BNA. In a 2010 article in The Huffington Post, Stephen Tillery, attorney for the plaintiffs, said that the 16 cities which brought the lawsuit had spent roughly $350 million to filter atrazine from their water. In a recent press release, Tillery indicated that the 300 water systems with the highest contamination levels would recover 100 percent of their costs. In 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set a limit regulating atrazine in drinking water to no more than 3 parts per billion, measured as an annual average. This is equal to approximately three drops of the chemical in an Olypmic-sized swimming pool. The European Union, in sharp contrast, banned atrazine in 2004. Though an EPA review of the... read more

Qatar to Build Reverse Osmosis Desalination Plant

As reported on AarabianIndustry.com, Qatar is building a new water desalination plant using reverse osmosis technology. The plant will be the first of its kind in the small Arab country. Qatar Electricity and Water Company (QEWC) will develop the $500 million plant which will produce 36 million gallons of fresh drinking water per day by the third quarter of 2016. The contract to build the plant was awarded to the Japanese company, Mitsubishi. The location of the plant has yet to be announced. Located on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, Qatar, home to approximately 2 million people, is the world’s richest country per capita with an economy backed by the world’s third largest natural gas and oil reserves. Qatar borders Saudi Arabia and is surrounded by the Persian Gulf. Its terrain comprises arid desert and a long Persian Gulf shoreline of beaches and dunes. Summer average daily high temperatures in Doha, the capital city, are above 99°F. Read the full story... read more

Puerto Rico Rationing Water

270,000 Puerto Ricans Suffer Through Summer Heat Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro García Padilla declared an emergency over the country’s water-shortage crisis. On Wednesday, June 17, Puerto Rico began withhold water services, on a rotating basis, from many if its cities. Some cities will have water shut off for 24 hours, while others will go without for 48 hours. This as residents endure Puerto Rico’s high summer temperatures. Alberto Lázaro, president of the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (AAA), announced the rationing plan during a press conference at the shrinking La Plata reservoir. “The situation of severe drought continues in several municipalities, and there are no encouraging forecasts to alleviate the situation in the coming weeks or months,” Lázaro said. “La Plata reservoir levels continue to decline rapidly, and we need to establish control measures to extend the water supply.” The Puerto Rico National Guard will be on hand to ensure that residents in affected cities have drinking water, Lázaro added. The drastic measure comes after severe droughts on the island forced Governor Alejandro García Padilla to declare a state of emergency. Experts say the tiny nation’s extreme circumstances are due to El Niño, a disruption of weather conditions in the Tropical Pacific. Puerto Rico Governor Padilla told a local radio station that the crisis could have been avoided if only there had been enough funds to build a new reservoir on the Valenciano river. Governor since January 2013, Padilla says previous administrations failed to build the necessary infrastructure. Puerto Rico’s rainy season doesn’t begin until August. Residents could face up to 60 days of water shortage. It won’t be something... read more

Do RO Filter Systems Threaten Public Health in India?

The Indo-Asian News Service reported that scientists are warning that rampant use of reverse osmosis (RO) filtration technology could pose a serious threat to public health in India. One of the most popular water purifying technologies in India, the RO process is efficient in filtering out toxic substances like arsenic and fluoride, especially in areas where groundwater is heavily contaminated. RO systems, especially those used in bottled-water manufacturing plants, dump concentrated amounts of these substances back into the aquifers. Experts suggest that regulations may be needed to stop disposal of the waste left behind after filtering. “What we found with our survey is that industrial firms, like bottled-water ones, have no way out but to put it back into the soil and aquifers,” said Saradindu Bhaduri, Assistant Professor, Centre for Studies in Science Policy, School of Social Sciences at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). The waste water generated by RO systems could have adverse consequences after it is dumped back into the groundwater aquifers, he told IANS. “The waste water contains high amount of total dissolved salts like sulphates, calcium, bicarbonates and organic matter and higher concentration of arsenic and fluoride in areas where originally these elements were reported in ground water,” co-author of the study, Aviram Sharma of the JNU, said. Published on April 25 in Current Science, the survey report titled ‘Growth of water purification technologies in the era of regulatory vacuum in India’ also questions the absence of proper methods to dispose of the contaminated waste water. The research shows that bottled water firms of all sizes and classes, ranging from major multinationals to the vast majority... read more