News Items Archive 2012


Please note that, for some of the older entries, links may no longer be functional.


Detection of enterovirus and norovirus in water (Posted 31/12/2012)
EPA method 1615 uses a combination of cultural and molecular methods for the detection of enteroviruses and norovirus. Unlike enteroviruses, norovirus cannot be cultured and the molecular method using a combination of reverse transcriptase and quantitative PCR has to be used. A study has been published which optimised the methods and determined recoverabilities (abstract). While recoveries were variable but reasonable for enteroviruses, norovirus recovery was 30% in groundwater but much less in the other waters studied.

UKWIR 2014 programme published (Posted 31/12/2012)
UKWIR has published a list of 35 projects for 2013-14. These include projects on the pesticides standard, DBPs, lead pipe replacement and pathogens and viruses in source waters. (Full list...)

Research considerations for more effective groundwater monitoring (Posted 31/12/2012)
A paper in the Journal of Water and Health (vol 10 part4) suggests that the value of monitoring for faecal contamination using indicator organisms rather than individual pathogens is questionable when used for drinking water. Most outbreaks in groundwater occur in systems that have not violated the US EPA's maximum contaminant limit (MCL) for total coliforms within 12 months before the outbreak. Additionally, environmentally stable viruses and parasites are often detected in drinking water samples with no detectable indicators. Recent detections of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Campylobacter jejuni in groundwaters in the apparent absence of indicators also cast some doubt on the worth of indicators for faecal bacterial pathogens. Individual pathogen monitoring is now technically achievable but currently unreasonable due to the number of possible pathogens and the costs involved. Several alternatives to pathogen monitoring could significantly reduce the frequency at which pathogens occur in waters testing negative for indicators:
  1. increasing sample volumes for indicators,
  2. increasing monitoring frequency,
  3. using a suite of indicators,
  4. using a more conservative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method,
  5. sampling when faecal contamination is most likely present or
  6. any combination of these options
(abstract)

Evaluating GAC filters (Posted 31/12/2012)
The US Water Research Foundation (previously AwwaRF) has published a report which aims to assist utilities in determining whether it is feasible to utilize existing GAC filter caps to (1) help meet DBP regulations through control of DBP precursors, (2) remove selected classes of trace organic contaminants, and (3) provide a barrier against deliberate contaminants. The project also helps utilities plan GAC replacement frequencies to optimize seasonal contaminant removal. (summary)

Desalination by forward osmosis. (Posted 20/12/2012)
Forward osmosis is being developed as a desalination technology which is claimed to require significantly less energy than reverse osmosis. Two plants are already operational in Oman and a framework agreement has been signed with on of China's largest water treatment companies. (more information). For an explanation of the process see here.

Novel desalinator (Posted 05/12/2012)
A young Italian student has developed a simple solar furnace to transform salty seawater into drinking water. The device is similar to an inverted coffee percolator in which salt water is poured in a black vessel where it is heated and on evaporating it passes through a pipe to a lower bowl where it condenses. A total of 5 liters of drinking water each day can be collected through this system that costs just 50 dollars (39 euros) and is royalty free. (Details in French...)

Sustainable Economic Levels of Leakage (SELL) (Posted 05/12/2012)
Ofwat has published a report on SELL which considers the level to which companies integrated the calculation of the SELL in to their wider water resources management plans during the last price review in 2009 ; the inclusion of social and environmental costs and benefits in the SELL and; where companies had included these, the report considered the appropriateness of the values used and recommends some improvements. It also includes a discussion on leakage management practices and techniques. This covers a wide spectrum of activities, such as the use of pressure management, and potential improvements companies could make. Ofwat will take the conclusions of this review into account when developing its approach to leakage regulation for the next price review and alongside the Environment Agency, expects companies to implement the recommendations, as far as possible, as part of the water resources plans they are currently drafting. (Press Release...)

Nitrosamines in drinking water (Posted 19/11/2012)
DWI has published results of further research on nitrosamines in water treatment coagulants and drinking water.

No concentrations of NDMA in final water exceeded the WHO guideline of 100ng/L, although some samples exceeded the tier 3 trigger level of 10 ng/L in the DWI guidance.

The principal source – or potential source - of nitrosamines (NDMA and NMOR) in drinking water appears to be contaminated ferric coagulants. It is suggested that manufacturers be required to analyse coagulants for nitrosamines and provide results to water companies to ensure that this contamination route is controlled. Should nitrosamines in drinking water continue to be a concern, removal by GAC adsorption may be particularly effective based on the results of laboratory tests with virgin GAC.

Sustainable Solutions: Raising the Water Mark (Posted 19/11/2012)
The Water for Life White Paper was published in December 2011, followed by the draft Water Bill in July 2012 which takes forward some of the concepts of the White paper. A number of stakeholders, including the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, have queried some of the plans and proposed timescales. Drawing together ten experts from across the water arena, this latest Westminster Sustainable Business Forum publication provides a platform for those involved to share their views and commentary on specific areas within the water sector. The collection of essays comprise a range of informed ideas about how to improve the water supply chain, expand debate beyond the scope of the draft Water Bill and create more sustainable policy within the water sector. Topics covered include sustainable abstraction, water efficiency, leakage, water metering, and the river catchment approach.

Westminster Sustainable Business Forum are a not-for-profit, cross-party environmental think tank. More information...

Metaldehyde in drinking water (Posted 16/11/2012)
WaterUK has issued a briefing paper on the impact of agricultural use of metaldehyde slug pellets on drinking water. Current drinking water treatment methods designed to remove a range of pesticides are not effective at reducing the levels of metaldehyde in water. There have been occasions when very low levels of metaldehyde have been detected in treated drinking water. These levels are extremely low – the highest being around 1g/l and mostly much lower. However the levels are above the European and UK standards for pesticides in drinking water that is set at 0.1g/l.The Health Protection Agency has confirmed that there is no risk to health from the levels currently being detected in water supplies.The most sustainable solution is to control the pesticide at source to prevent metaldehyde getting into watercourses and rivers in the first instance. This is best achieved by changing the way metaldehyde is used in the catchment. (Briefing note...)

Predicting THM formation (Posted 05/11/2012)
Using a combination of modeling and online water quality instrumentation, an empirical model has been developed to predict THM formation and embedded into a full-scale supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system. Online water quality instrumentation provided input values to the THM model for total organic carbon (TOC), pH, and temperature. A hydraulic model was also embedded in SCADA, and provided residence time input values for the wholesale portion of the distribution system, which included large lateral pipelines, reservoirs, and pump forebays. Results from a 3-year evaluation showed that predicted THM concentrations were within 10 μg/L of the measured value 81% of the time. Real-time model predictions can provide an effective way to monitor the formation of THMs in a full-scale distribution system. (Abstract...)

Biomimetic membranes (Posted 05/11/2012)
A new generation of membrane filters are being developed which may lead to cheaper desalination. The membranes imitate to structure of a biological cell wall by forming a double layer of hydrophobic lipids with compounds known as aquaporins which transport water across the layers.or other inorganic materiaals which perform the same function. These membranes have not yet been commercialised but show considerable promise. (More details...)

Innovation needs of the water chain (Posted 05/11/2012)
Organisations including the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) and the UK Committee on Climate Change have come up with 10 recommendations they urge the Government to apply.

The report, entitled Sustainable Solutions: Raising the water mark, was compiled by the Westminster Sustainable Business Forum, a coalition of leading UK businesses, government agencies, parliamentarians and organisations working to promote effective sustainability policy in the UK. It lays out advice on a variety of water issues including the role of management incentives in guaranteeing water security and the removal of red tape around water metering roll-out.

The report, formally unveiled in Parliament on Monday November 12th, also calls for changes in the regulation and ownership of dirty water treatment, setting tougher leakage targets, and the removal of barriers to entry to the industry, especially for innovative SMEs.

Leakage from supply pipes (Posted 23/10/2012)
Fixing leaks in supply pipes could reduce leakage by 30%. In its new policy position statement ‘Water Supply Pipes’, the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM), has called on water companies to adopt customer-owned water supply pipes. This would enable more scope for leakage reduction and lead pipe replacement.

Around 30% of leaked water is estimated to arise from customer-owned water supply pipes yet many customers are unaware of their responsibility to keep the supply pipe in good order and to fix leaks.

An initial cost benefit analysis conducted by UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR) on water company adoption of supply pipes, concluded that it would cost an additional 4 per property per year which would be offset by the fact that the property owner would no longer need to pay for any repairs, maintenance or insurance for their water supply pipe (estimated at around 35 per property per year).

The benefits of water company adoption include, allowing the economic level of leakage calculations to include supply pipe replacement as a demand-side intervention; the development of supply pipe serviceability criteria; improved opportunities for innovation and operational performance and improved customer relations in the longer term. (Position statement)

Growth and biocapacity in Arab countries (Posted 09/10/2012)
Measured by the increase in gross domestic product over the past 50 years, Arab countries did well, as average GDP per capita increased by about four-fold.

While this was reflected in a higher standard of living, it did not necessarily lead to a better quality of life, nor did it enhance the chances of sustainability. The same period witnessed a steady deterioration in the natural capital and environmental conditions, putting the region at the brink of ecosystems bankruptcy. (Report...)

India's first water e-magazine (Posted 01/10/2012)
Free access to this interesting new magazine “Everything About Water” is available by e-mail. A useful insight into water issues beyond Europe.

Impact of covered streams on water quality (Posted 01/10/2012)
New EPA research suggests that buried streams may contribute to the degradation of water quality in the US. Consequently, scientists offer a simple solution: un-bury the streams.

Researchers have shown that streams open to daylight and air are up to 23 times more effective than buried streams at processing nitrogen. (More...)

Arsenic and cancer risk (Posted 13/09/2012)
An EU study conducted in Hungary, Romania and Slovakia has concluded that long-term, low level exposure to arsenic in drinking water may increase a person’s risk of skin cancer. The study suggests that levels of inorganic arsenic previously thought to be harmless may have a carcinogenic effect over a longer period of time. The study focussed on indivduals exposed to >40 micrograms/ litre over a lifetime. Although the EC Directive sets a limit of 10 micrograms/litre this may well be exceeded in some private supplies. Details...

WRc consult on National Innovation Accelerator for Water (Posted 13/09/2012)
The Water Research Centre (WRc) has proposed an easier entry process into the water sector for innovative technologies and solutions. The proposal is in response to existing testing and demonstration facilities that are dispersed across a small number of sites, which are often under-utilised as they tend to be regional rather than national.

According to the WRc independent co-ordination of these facilities, under proper governance, would provide a national capability for testing and demonstrating innovative solutions. The use of these facilities under agreed and well defined operational conditions with unambiguous, evidence based and transparent reporting would accelerate adoption and incentivise the supply chain to invest in more innovation for the water sector.

More...

Preventing interruptions to water supplies (Posted 13/09/2012)
UKWIR has published a report evaluating the various under-pressure techniques for work on water mains with a decision support tool to assist in assessing the relative cost-effectiveness of under-pressure techniques versus conventional methods. Summary

Children at risk from rural private supplies (Posted 06/09/2012)
Researchers at the University of East Anglia have shown that children under 10 are at significantly increased risk of infectious intestinal disease when dependent on private drinking wter supplies. Older children and adults show no increased risk. article

Survival and persistence of nonspore-forming biothreat agents in water (Posted 06/09/2012)
Six potential biothreat agents were tested for the ability to survive or remain viable in unchlorinated drinking water at 5, 8 and 25C. All remained metabolically active for 30 days although not necessarily culturable. Francisella tularensis was culturable for at least 21 days at 8C abstract

Bacteria in distribution (Posted 10/08/2012)
University of Michigan workers have shown that the bacterial flora in a distribution system was largely influenced by the stable bacterial community of the dual-media rapid sand filters despite chloramination of the finished water and backwashing of the filters with chloraminated backwash water.. They suggest that the bacterial community in a distribution system could be controlled by manipulation of the filter bacterial community. Abstract

Skin irritation and tap water. (Posted 10/08/2012)
WRc has published has published results of a literature survey commissioned by DWI on Skin Irritation and Tap Water Quality (report) There have been unsubstantiated reports in the literature and frequent claims from consumers that skin problems have been caused by tap water. The Report concludes that there is insufficient evidence to reach any conclusion about any association between skin irritation and tap water,. It outlines a number of variables to be considered in any future studies, which it considers are much needed.

Mains lining materials (Posted 10/08/2012)
DWI and WRF jointly commissioned a review of the impacts of mains lining materials on water quality (abstract) The report compiles and synthesizes information on water quality impacts caused by different lining materials. It reports tests on lining materials used in distribution systems that may release compounds with potential health effects into drinking water and also studies the effect of distribution system conditions on the leaching potential of lining materials. There were no issues identified in this study that might invalidate current UK guidance and codes of practice on lining technique and methodology.

Nanoparticles and drinking water (Posted 10/08/2012)
There is increasing concern over the health effects of engineered nanoparticles (ENPs). DWI has publiished a report which explores the potential for ENPs to contaminate drinking water supplies and to establish the significance of the drinking water exposure route compared to other routes of exposure. It did not imply or consider health risks from the presence of ENPs. A range of metal, metal oxide and organic-based ENPs were identified that have the potential to contaminate drinking waters. Worst case predicted concentrations in drinking waters were in the low to sub- µg/l range and more realistic estimates were tens of ng/l or less. For the majority of product types, human exposure via drinking water is predicted to be less important than exposure via other routes. The exceptions were some clothing materials, paints and coatings and cleaning products.

Particles contained in these products include Ag, Al, TiO2, Fe2O3 and carbon-based materials. Although predicted concentrations of these materials in UK drinking water are low, any future work on risks of ENPs to drinking waters should probably focus on these materials and the development of the UK market for products containing these materials. It is clear from this study that there are significant gaps in our current knowledge regarding the use, environmental fate and exposure of ENPs in the UK environment, and recommendations for future studies are made in the report. It should also be noted that this is a product by product analysis and does not reflect human exposureat an individual level. ( summary report)

Veterinary medicines in drinking water (Posted 09/08/2012)
DWI has published results of a desk study of current knowledge on veterinary medicines in drinking water and estimation of potential levels (full report). Aftera review of published literature on the fate and occurrence of veterinary medicines in the environment and assessment of use in England and Wales, modelling identifed those substances of potential significance. Using very conservative assumptions four substances were identified that in groundwater could potentially exceed the Acceptable Daily Intake and therefore warrant further study. Although a risk from these substances cannot be ruled out, the modelling process adopted very conservative assumptions and where data were not availble, conservative defaults were used.

Alternatives to phosphate for plumbosolvency control (Posted 06/08/2012)
UKWIR in collaboration with DWI has produced a report which includes a software tool to allow water companies to identify the overall net position of the costs and benefits associated with a selected course of action relating to plumbosolvency control over an investment planning timescale. The tool also provides information on costs and benefits relating to different aspects of plumbosolvency control, both in terms of an overall summary for the region to which the model relates, but also at smaller spatial scales such as by water supply zone (WSZ), by the area served by a particular dosing point and by wastewater treatment works (WwTW).
Details...

Liquid-infused structured surfaces with exceptional anti-biofouling performance (Posted 06/08/2012)
Workers at Harvard University have developed a procedure for immobilising a film of fluorinated hydrocarbon on surfaces which prevents adherence and build-up of biofilms on surfaces. They claim that the SLIPS (Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces)-based antibiofilm surfaces are stable in submerged, extreme pH, salinity, and UV environments and are low-cost, passive, simple to manufacture, and can be formed on arbitrary surfaces. They anticipate that their findings will enable a broad range of antibiofilm solutions in the clinical, industrial, and consumer spaces. (Unlikely to be of application in water mains in the forseeable future but an interesting idea Mike Waite)
Details...

Mycobacterium avium complex – the role of potable water in disease transmission (Posted 24/07/2012)
This paper reviews current literature and case studies regarding the wide spectrum of disease caused by MAC and the role of potable water in disease transmission. Potable water was recognized as a putative pathway for MAC infection. Contaminated potable water sources associated with human infection included warm water distribution systems, showers, faucets, household drinking water, swimming pools and hot tub spas. MAC can maintain long-term contamination of potable water sources through its high resistance to disinfectants, association with biofilms and intracellular parasitism of free-living protozoa. Further research is required to investigate the efficiency of water treatment processes against MAC and into construction and maintenance of warm water distribution systems and the role they play in MAC proliferation.(full text)

Blueprint to safeguard water resources – European Parliament (Posted 11/07/2012)
Access to water should be a fundamental and universal right, according to a non-binding resolution ( words or deeds? MW) voted by the European Parliament on Tuesday. Clearer water pricing schemes, better wastewater management, blue flags for rivers and attaching water-saving conditions to farming and energy subsidies are among the suggestions tabled by MEPs.

Water "is a shared resource of humankind and a public good. Access to water should constitute a fundamental and universal right", says the resolution, drafted by Richard Seeber (EPP, AT) and approved by a show of hands. Reducing water consumption should therefore be a priority, MEPs say. They insist on the need for an audit of the state of Europe's water network, "given the possibility that as much as 70% (!!) of the water supplied to European cities is lost as a result of leaks in the water system", and stress the need "to encourage infrastructure investments". They also recall that about 20% of water in the EU is lost due to inefficiency. Details....

Better implementation of European water legislation needed (Posted 11/07/2012)
The European Parliament on July 3rd adopted a report which calls for better implementation of the current water legislation and identification of new challenges and gaps in order to achieve long-term sustainability of water resources.

The main objective of report is to ensure access to good quality water in sufficient quantity for all European citizens. The key points of the report include:

Notes: The European Commission will publish in November this year a "Blueprint to safeguard Europes water resources as the EU policy response to current and future water challenges and ways to improve EUs water resources efficiency.

Details...

Draft Water Bill published for pre-legislative scrutiny 10 July 2012 (Posted 11/07/2012)
The draft Bill includes measures to strengthen the water sector’s ability to respond to the challenges of a growing population and less certain water supplies, and improve the deal it offers to its customers by offering more choice, and driving efficiency and innovation.

At the heart of the Water Bill are measures to give businesses and other non-household customers in England more choice by enabling them to switch their water and sewerage suppliers and to remove some of the existing regulatory requirements that act as a barrier to entrants wishing to enter the market.

A combination of greater pressure on suppliers from customers entitled to switch and new players will create a more vibrant and competitive market, bring new ways of working to the water sector, improve customer service and help keep the cost of bills down.

Comments can be given to defra

defra announcement   defra summary

Water Consumption Labelling Scheme for taps etc (Posted 09/07/2012)
The European Association for the Taps and Valves Industry has adopted a labelling scheme to help improve the water consumption and performance of taps, valves and shower heads. Brochure..

Reducing costs of desalination (Posted 09/07/2012)
Singapore is trialling new technologies to reduce the cost and energy demands of desalination. It is hoping that the current 3.5kWh (kilowatt-hour) of energy needed to produce a cubic meter of water will be reduced to less than 1.5kWh using the latest technologies. One technology being trialled is Siemens' electrochemical desalination, which instead of pumping seawater through membranes to remove salt, uses an electric field. Using lower pressures than traditional reverse osmosis desalination, the trial unit is already treating 50 m3 per day reportedly using half the usual amount of energy.

There are plans to use biomimetic membranes, also known as biomimicry.which are inspired by how pores in the human body and even plants filter out contaminants and transport water. The idea is that the replicated membrane rejects specific, targeted salts and transports water at lower pressures. It is believed that with further research breakthroughs in this area, desalination energy consumption could be reduced down to 0.8 kWh/m3. That is a huge leap from current energy requirements yet the industry is clearly cautious over the time required to fully commercialise research. More details...

Water Safety Plans and small community supplies (Posted 03/07/2012)
WHO has published on 1 July 2012 “ Step-by-step Risk Management Guidance for Drinking-water Supplies in Small Communities”.The Manual provides guidance on how to apply effective and achievable management actions in order to improve the safety and quality of supplied water. It outlines how to develop and implement Water Safety Plans by 6 achievable tasks. Relevant to all community-managed systems, it is applicable to piped schemes, point sources such as hand pumps, protected springs or household rainwater harvesting systems and other sources. The guidance provided is valid for both new and existing schemes.. This manual complements and is in-line with the WHO/IWA WSP manual targeted at larger, piped systems (2009 manual) more detail

Pharmaceuticals in Drinking-water (Posted 03/07/2012)
Trace concentrations of pharmaceuticals reported in drinking-water have raised concerns over the potential health risks they may pose. This WHO technical report takes into consideration the available scientific evidence to support the management of such concerns. It emphasizes the need to consider this emerging issue in the overall context of drinking-water safety management, which includes microbial and other chemical risks. The report concludes that exposure to very low levels of pharmaceuticals in drinking-water is unlikely to result in appreciable risks to human health, rendering corrective measures unnecessary. Download the final version of this document.

Desalination in Israel (Posted 03/07/2012)
The Israeli Water and Energy Minister has announced that “by the end of the decade, desalinated water will flow from the Western Mediterranean Sea to almost every house in Israel. "By the end of the decade the water we'll all drink will be desalinated” Israel currently uses 1.2 billion m3 /year of potable water.

Groundwater and Endemic Disease (Posted 28/06/2012)
The outcomes of a large epidemiological study investigating microbial disease risks from drinking untreated groundwater have recently been published. Viruses were detected in untreated groundwater from all systems and the addition of UV disinfection resulted in a large decline in virus levels immediately after the disinfection point The results indicate that untreated groundwater supplies meeting current US water quality standards can be a significant source of acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) in the communities they serve.

Endocrine disruptors and drinking water (Posted 28/06/2012)
DWI has published an assessment of published data on the presence of potential endocrine disrupting chemicals in drinking water. After prioritisng the 325 candidate substances, substances were allocated a margin of safety (MOS) based on potential daily intake and tolerable daily intake or relevant available hazard data. The MOS was the tolerable daily intake divided by the potential intake by an infant ( the most sensitive group) This resulted in 35 substances being selected for further evaluation on the basis of possible concentrations ≥100ng/L occuring but 21 of these still had MOS; >100 and 8 of >10 and were not considered further. For 6 chemicals (p-benzylphenol, dibutylphthalate, 4-nitrophenol, digoxin, fluticasone and salbutamol), MOS were ≤10, and hence were considered to warrant a more detailed consideration to establish the likely ‘real world’ situation, as opposed to the estimates derived here from the use of highly conservative ‘worst case’ assumptions throughout the modelling process.

Water security projects funded (Posted 27/06/2012)
It is estimated that by 2050 the UK will have a shortage in water supply of up to 10,000 million litres a day. Innovative new technologies and services are needed if we are going to find a solution to this key issue. heTechnology Strategy Board has anounced that ten small to medium sized companies in the UK are set to deliver innovative feasibility projects designed to help businesses safeguard our future water supply, both in this country and abroad. Feasibility projects aim to enable businesses to develop their early stage ideas for innovative new technologies in the expectation that they may go on to be larger projects and give birth to the new markets of the future.

The total cost of the projects with business investment is just over 1 million with over 500,000 worth of funding from the Technology Strategy Board and up to a further 100,000 being put forward by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The Technology Strategy Board also announced 2.5 million of aligned funding for larger CR&D projects in February with results due to be announced in August. Both competitions have also been supported by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) who have contributed 1 million. water security funding

Capture of water from power station emissions (Posted 27/06/2012)
The EU funded CapWa project is looking at capturing water from power plant stacks and filtering it through selective hollow fibre membranes to turn water consuming power plants into water producers. The project to develop suitable membranes is yielding promising results and if successful could make a contribution to the world-wide water shortage. water from air

Barriers to acceptance of reuse of recycled water (Posted 26/06/2012)
The Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence has awarded $3 million for a research project to investigate and address the barriers to public acceptance of reusing water for augmenting drinking water supplies.

The ultimate goal is to develop tools, methods and materials that water utilities, educators and regulators can use to provide consistent information across Australia, and to increase community understanding and build acceptance of water recycling and reuse as an option for an alternative water source. (This project may yield results relevant to the UK) Recycling Barriers

AUSTRALIA ‘NEEDS NATIONAL GROUNDWATER STRATEGY’ (Posted 20/06/2012)
A discussion paper from the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training says that Australia will not have enough fresh water to meet the combined needs of a rapidly-growing population, expanding industries and conservation of native landscapes in the mid-21st century if it fails to articulate a national groundwater strategy for the future. Without a plan, major cities, industries such as mining, energy, agriculture and manufacturing and the preservation of the Australian landscape could all run into water scarcity problems within a decade or two.

Cloud computing aids leakage detection (Posted 20/06/2012)
An Israeli software company has developed a programme which takes existing data from the distribution network, including sparse and noisy data, analyzes it using algorithms and mathematical models and figures out the "normal behaviour of the network". It then looks for anomalies, including network flaws such as leaks, open valves and faulty equipment. Once an event is identified, hydraulic and mathematical processes are applied in order to establish the event's exact type, location, and magnitude. The utility can then be notified by multiple interfaces, including web, email, or SMS on mobile phones. TaKaDu. The technology has already been used in Portugal and by Thames Water.

Effectiveness of water-efficient appliances (Posted 14/06/2012)
Rebates and exchange programmes for showerheads, toilets and washing machines can produce significant water savings, according to a US study. The study observed a 6 to14% reduction in household water demand for the first two years after these efficiency programmes were introduced by a water authority in Florida. Savings continued but to a lesser degree in subsequent years.

Concern over UK's water security (Posted 08/06/2012)
The Institution of Civil Engineers has published its State of the Nation: Water report in which it warns that the urgency and severity of the UK's water issues are still not properly understood and that the recent droughts have been a "wake-up call".

The report rates the UK's current water security levels as 4 on a scale of 1-10, and in response ICE is now calling for the creation of a UK Water Security Taskforce to deliver an integrated roadmap to water security by spring 2014, based on strategic plans from all Governments.

Recycled water from ‘managed aquifer recharge’ safe for irrigation (Posted 08/06/2012)
The health risks to humans of using recycled water to irrigate crops needs to be carefully managed. New research has demonstrated that ‘managed aquifer recharge’ can be just as effective as conventional water treatments in improving the quality of recycled water for use in irrigation.

Plastic pipes and leakage allegations (Posted 17/05/2012)
The British Plastics Federation’s plastic pipes group has criticised Ofwat, the economic regulator for water and sewerage services in England and Wales, for what it calls ‘ill-advised and groundless’ comments made about leakage problems with high density polyethylene (HDPE) pipes.

Ofwat was quoted – the regulator says out of context – as saying HDPE pipes can begin to leak not long after they have been installed. A BPF spokesman is quoted as saying: ‘It is well known that the water utilities companies operate variable jointing and installation standards and that this can compromise the performance of the system. A lack of training, correct tooling and supervision result in poor installation, which is susceptible to leakage.’

The gas industry uses the same HDPE pipes but does not have a comparable leakage problem, the BPF added.


Queen's Speech includes a Draft Water Bill (P0sted 17/05/2012)
The draft Water Bill included in the Queen's Speech is expected to take forward the White Paper Water for Life, issued in November 2011.

It is expected to increase scope for competition, making it easier for business users to change suppliers (while still not allowing domestic customers to change), and to facilitate trading of abstraction licences. In promoting water use efficiency it is not proposing to require universal metering. It is expected to strengthen the powers of Ofwat in line with increased competition proposals.

Water use and waste in the kitchen (Posted 17/05/2012)
In a limited study in 81 households in Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK, workers showed that over 50% of water used in the kitchen was for dishwashing. Per capita use was significaantly higher in 1 or 2 person households. There were national differences in how much water was used for various purposes and the workers concluded that there are potential water savings to be made in dishwashing practices.

Annual Water Company Performance Survey results published by British Water. (Posted 17/05/2012)
The survey ranks companies according to contractual approach, attitude, professional qualities, impact on supply chain, procurement, following policy, communication, partners/main contractors and AMP4/AMP5 transition and recession. Full results...

Random daytime sampling for lead (Posted 15/05/2012)
Random daytime (RDT) sampling for lead in drinking water has been used in the UK since 1989 for regulatory compliance assessment and since 2004 in the Netherlands. In 2008, RDT sampling was recommended to the European Commission as the method to be used throughout the European Union but there are concerns about the representativeness of this method, being of relevance to the protection of human health in water supply systems. This issue has been investigated using an established computational modelling system, from which it was concluded that: (i) RDT sampling as practised in the UK is adequately representative of the range of circumstances that occur; (ii) for houses with daytime residency, RDT sampling is not sensitive to the time period of sampling, unless it is constrained to only a few hours; (iii) for houses without daytime residency, RDT sampling of houses elsewhere with daytime residency is adequately representative, for the total periods of water use; (iv) for houses without daytime residency, random sampling just before or after ‘normal office hours’ will not be representative for checking zonal compliance; (v) it is important that seasonal variation is accommodated; and (vi) adequate reproducibility can be achieved if at least 100 samples are taken annually and if results are aggregated for several years.

Further details..

Drinking Water in France (Posted 01/05/2012)
A recent French report says that “ the quality of water delivered to each home is excellent because its microbiological conformity is 98% and its physico-chemical conformity is 97%”. 99.98% of samples from public supplies in England and Wales met the appropriate standards in 2010. It reports the average French household spends 1.25% of available income on water and sanitation , the distribution networks have leakage of 24% and the mains renewal rate is 0.61% p.a. Leakage in England and Wales is around 20% and mains renewal rate currently is approximately 0.6%.

Desalination in Australia (Posted 24/04/2012)
The Australian Water Minister when inspecting the construction of the second phase of the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant in Western Australia said that when the work is completed most of the population will be receiving about half of their drinking water supply from the Indian Ocean- independent of rainfall. More...

Amber light given to South Staffs takeover of Cambridge Water (Posted 24/04/2012)
A merger between Cambridge Water and South Staffs Water has been provisionally cleared by the Competition Commission.

An inquiry launched in January found the merger could result in a "small degradation" of service standards for Cambridge Water customers, and the loss of that company's "distinctive approach" as a benchmark. However, it said the merged company could be able to set higher standards than before in other areas and the overall impact would be small. CC deputy chairman Simon Polito said: "On balance, we do not believe the merger will significantly hinder Ofwat's task of assessing water companies' performance and setting price controls."

The commission is inviting views on its provisional findings and is due to reach a final decision by 20 June.

Reuse of municipal wastewater (Posted 12/04/2012)
The National Research Council of the National Academies in the U.S. has released a major report on water reuse. The report, entitled ‘ Water Reuse: Potential for Expanding the Nation’s Water Supply Through Reuse of Municipal Wastewater’ addresses possible applications of water reuse including drinking water, non-potable urban uses, irrigation, industrial process water, groundwater recharge and ecological enhancement A useful precis of the report is available

Progress on Drinking-Water and Sanitation (Posted 05/04/2012)
The WHO/Unicef Joint Monitoring Programme set a Millennium Development Goal of halving by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking-water and basic sanitation. On 6 March 2012 the JMP published a joint report showing that in 2010 the world met the drinking water target. However, 11% of the world's population – 783 million people – remain without access to improved water sources. However progress toward the sanitation target is behind schedule. Both for water and sanitation, huge disparities remain between regions, between urban and rural areas and between rich and poor. The report can be downloaded from the JMP website.

Welsh Water/Dŵr Cymru to open new laboratories (Posted 05/04/2012)
Welsh Water is bringing water quality checks back in-house with new laboratories in Newport and north Wales. The utility, which previously contracted out the analysis of around 300,000 drinking water samples a year, is investing 8.6 million in the two facilities.

The Newport laboratory is due to be up and running at the end of 2012 and employ 40 people. A smaller laboratory of 10 staff, at Bretton in north Wales, has recently become operational.

Gold nanoparticles enable 5 minute test to identify bacteria (Posted 05/04/2012)
Researchers have developed a chromogenic test using gold nanoparticles which can identify Salmonella in 5 minutes. They report that the technique can be applied to drinking water and has been used to identify E coli. Published details are limited as the method is to be patented.

Monitoring of biofouling on ultrafiltration hollow fiber membranes by rapid enzyme activity assays (Posted 16/03/2012)
A paper by Norwegian workers concludes that esterase and peptidase enzyme activity could be used to predict the permeability decline and potentially be used for e.g. at-line monitoring of membrane biofouling.

Demonstrating the effectiveness of a Water Safety Plan (Posted 09/03/2012)
Many countries around the world are adopting the Water Safety Plan (WSP) concept, a proactive, risk-based model for ensuring consistent confidence in drinking water safety, accessibility and affordability. While it is widely accepted that the WSP concept is an appropriate tool for ensuring drinking-water supply efficiency, the process for gathering the required evidence to demonstrate this continues to be rather vague. The problem may lie fundamentally in the way WSPs are developed and implemented. A paper from New Zealand discusses the need for establishing performance targets, identifying key performance indicators and monitoring these to build a body of evidence that would be instrumental in demonstrating whether WSPs are effective or not.

Bristol Water announces proposed new reservoir site Posted (30/01/2012)
Bristol Water has chosen a site near its existing Cheddar Reservoir for a proposed new reservoir although full consultation is to take place before any planning application is made. Ofwat agreed that the Company could prepare a detailed design and planning application in the period 2010-2015 and construction could not begin until at least 2016.

Smart meters help tackle leakage. (Posted 25/01/2012)
Yorkshire Water is using wireless datalogging automatic meter readers to significantly reduce the time and cost taken to find and fix leaks in the network. The meter readers along with ‘bolt-on' in-line flow meters, enabled Yorkshire Water to split 250 of its existing District Metered Areas (DMAs) in half for more efficient water management without the need for constructing any new, expensive metered bypasses. The initial phase includes 350 installations, with more planned to follow as the project rolls out across the network. In a series of blind pilot trials conducted last year to compare the before and after effects of the project, results indicated an average saving per leakof roughly 60 hours of detection time and over 1500, even without factoring in the initial saving of 5000+ per sub-metering point created.