News Items Archive 2015
Please note that, for some of the older entries, links may no longer be functional.
A novel water treatment product
is being developed by Dr Theresa Dankovich which would enable safe drinking water to be produced by filtration through paper lined with silver and copper nanoparticles. The product, which is currently being patented, would be produced as a book, with each page being capable of treating up to 100 litres. The product is intended for emergency use or as a household point-of-use treatment.
Major Water Research grant
EPSRC, under its Water for All Grand Challenge, has awarded £3.9 million to a consortium of 6 Universities and 26 Companies
. The consortium will develop tailored solutions to the challenges of increasing population, ageing infrastructure, and the need to better protect the natural environment, all under conditions of uncertain climate change. It proposes development of a Hub that will revolutionise the way innovation is delivered to the UK water sector. The Hub aims to provide transformative leadership and accelerate and support innovation through partnerships for the co-production of knowledge across the water sector.
Microbiological Drinking Water Quality Assessment
A recent study compared several methods
for quantifying and discriminating between the different physiological states of a bacterial population present in drinking water. Flow cytometry (FCM), solid-phase cytometry (SPC), epifluorescence microscopy (MSP) and culture method performances were assessed using both chlorinated and non-chlorinated water. Total bacteria were quantified, viable and non-viable bacteria were distinguished using staining, and active cells were distinguished. Counts using microscopy and FCM were significantly correlated regarding total bacteria and active cells. Conversely, counts were not significantly similar using solid-phase and FCM for active bacteria. The R2A culture medium showed that bacterial culturability could be recovered after chlorination. This study highlights that FCM appears to be a useful and powerful technique for drinking water production monitoring.
Metformin- a non-hormonal endocrine disruptor.
US workers have shown Metformin
, a non-hormonal drug widely used in the treatment of diabetes, to act as an endocrine disruptor at environmentally relevant concentrations. It is among the most abundant of pharmaceuticals found in effluent and is structurally dissimilar from hormones.
Newly installed polyethylene pipes– short term quality impact of different cleaning methods
The influence of four different cleaning methods used for newly installed polyethylene (PEX) pipes on chemical and odor quality was determined using two different pipe brands. TOC concentration and threshold odor number values significantly varied between two pipe brands. Different cleaning methods impacted carbon release, odor, as well the level of drinking water odorant ethyl tert-butyl ether. Both pipes caused odor values up to eight times greater than the US federal drinking water odor limit. Organic chemicals released by PEX pipe were affected by pipe brand, fill/empty cycle frequency, and the pipe cleaning method selected by the installer.
Water Quality Modelling in the Dead End Sections of Drinking Water Distribution Networks
Dead-end sections of drinking water distribution networks are known to be problematic zones in terms of water quality degradation. Extended residence time due to water stagnation leads to rapid reduction of disinfectant residuals allowing regrowth. A recent paper by US workers
proposes a new approach for simulating disinfectant residuals in dead end pipes while accounting for both spatial and temporal variability in hydraulic and transport parameters.
Cooking , chlorine, chloramine and iodine.
A recent paper decribes how, in laboratory studies
, cooking with chlorinated or chloraminated water and iodised table salt resulted in the production of iodinated DBPs new to environmental chemists, toxicologists and engineers. 14 such compounds were identified and the toxicity of 9 of these was detrmined using a recently developed bioassay.
Disinfection by-products (DBP) and contact time
A recent Japanese study
has looked at the effect of longer retention times in distribution on formation of DBP. They looked at the formation of various disinfection byproducts (DBPs), including carbonaceous DBPs such as trihalomethane (THM) and haloacetic acid (HAA), and nitrogenous DBPs such as nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) and nitrosomorpholine (NMor) with retention times of 1 and 4 days. They used water source samples subjected to simulated drinking water treatment in the laboratory to study(i) prolonged contact time from 1 day to 4 days, (ii) reduction efficiency by conventional treatment, (iii) correlations between DBP formation potentials and water quality parameters, and (iv) the contribution of each species to total risk. With an increased contact time from 1 day to 4 days, THM formation increased to 420% by chloramination. Coagulation-filtration treatment showed that brominated species in THMs are less likely to be reduced.
Chromium in drinking water
WRc has published a thorough and comprehensive report
commissioned by the Drinking Water Inspectorate on the significance of chromium in drinking water. Chromium exists in 3 valency states and of these chromium (VI) has been shown to be carcinogenic. World Health Organization (WHO) has derived a provisional Guideline for Drinking Water Quality (GDWQ) of 50 μg/l for total chromium. and states that separate guideline values for chromium (III) and chromium (VI) should be derived. The study evaluates current toxicological knowledge on chromium (VI) and provides results of a large number of surveys of chromium, chromium (III) and chromium (VI) concentrations in drinking water. In general, concentrations of chromium (VI) found in drinking water in England and Wales are very low, and are consistent with levels reported in other countries (<1μg/l). However one site was the exception to this, where levels of up to 9.94μg/l were reported. The report concludes that in the majority of cases, exposure to chromium (VI) via drinking water in England and Wales is very low and there is no evidence to suggest exposure to the typical concentrations reported in the survey (<1μg/l) will result in adverse human health effects.
Radon in drinking water
DWI has issued Information Letter 05/2015
on Radon in drinking water. The Euratom Directive 2013/51
sets out specific requirements in relation to radon in drinking waters and DWI is in the process of revising the public and private drinking water quality regulations to transpose these requirements.. To inform this revision to the regulations, DWI commissioned a research project to assess the implications for the UK of the Euratom Directive relating to radon in drinking water. The report
includes a map produced of drinking water risk areas for radon with locations of public and private water sources. A key conclusion is that a parametric value for radon of 100 Bq/l is appropriate to adopt to support further investigation, with a concentration of 1,000 Bq/l being set as a value above which remedial action should be taken without further consideration. Advice is given to water companies and local authorities on appropriate monitoring or other actions to be taken based on risk classification.
Novel membrane for desalination
Egyptian workers have developed a new type of membrane capable of a high flux of potable water with over 99.7% salt rejection (%SR) in a once-through purge-air pervaporation (PV) process from a simulated highly saline seawater.
(paper in French
) (English abstract
New Research programmes announced by Government
The Universities and Sciences Minister has announced a number of major research programmes to be co-funded by EPSRC and Industry. They include “Tailored Water Solutions for Positive Impact”
which is to be carried out by a consortium led by Sheffield University. This programme aims to develop solutions to make the UK's aging water infrastructure more resilient to future needs; these include climate change, population increase and interdependencies with other infrastructures (food and energy). They will develop a framework of 'tailored solutions' for the different scenarios through robotics, systems and chemical engineering research amongst others. A key feature of this consortium is the collaboration with the water industry including Thames Water, Northumbrian Water, Scottish and Welsh Water.
Another programme involves a consortium which will develop novel robotics and autonomous systems technologies in a traditional sector such as infrastructure management and repair. The system will be able to sense, diagnose and repair different aspects of infrastructure including utility pipes.
Coagulant recovery and reuse for drinking water treatment
A recent paper studied membrane & chemical purification of recovered water treatment coagulant. Recovered coagulants were assessed with reference to treatment performance. The study concluded
that alkali-stripping coupled with activated carbon polishing performed the best and yielded recovered coagulants which achieved similar contaminant removal to virgin ferric sulfate. Recovered coagulant treated raw water to <2 mg/L TOC, <0.5 mg/L Fe and <0.5 NTU.
UK's largest water recycling system agreed
Cambridge Water has signed an agreement with the University of Cambridge to support the UK’s largest water recycling system at its North West Cambridge Development site. The scheme
will have two water supplies – one which recycles rain and surface water to use for flushing toilets, clothes washing and garden watering, and another supplying high quality treated water for drinking, cooking and bathing. The water recycling system, in conjunction with water efficiency devices and fittings should result in a potable water consumption of 80 litres per person per day, almost half the UK average.
Mercury removal by sulphur-limonene polysulphide
Australian workers at Flinders University are seeking to patent the novel compound sulphur-limonene polysulphide (SLP)
, made by fusing sulphur with limonene. a substance found in citrus fruit peel, The material can absorb toxic mercury from water sources and soil. Once SLP has absorbed the mercury it remains permanently bound to the substance eliminating environmental risks and making the water nearly drinkable, reducing the concentration of mercury in the water by a thousand fold. The substance changes colour when adsorbing mercury and the inventors suggest it could also be used as a detection device in waterways.
OH-BDEs - new contaminants of emerging concern
A recent paper
from a team of researchers led by the university of Minnesota discusses results of measuring hydroxylated polybrominated diphenyl ethers (OH-BDEs) in water and sediment of freshwater and coastal systems along with the anthropogenic wastewater-marker compound triclosan and its photoproduct dioxin, 2,8-dichlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. The production of OH-BDEs occurs naturally from marine bacteria and algae and environmental levels of these chemicals have been increasing over time. Significantly they found no OH-BDEs in their freshwater samples
but water suppliers should be aware of interest in these compounds since they are either equivalent or more potent endocrine disruptors and neurotoxins than the precursor PBDEs.
Nitrogenous disinfection byproducts (NDBP) in English drinking water supply systems.
This recent paper
looks at NDBP occurrence, bromine substitution and analyses correlations. Its main conclusions are -
- Chloramines raised bromine substitution into haloacetonitriles and haloacetamides;
- Bromine substitution was moderately higher in haloacetamides than haloacetonitriles;
- Concentrations of dihaloacetonitriles and dihaloacetamides were well correlated; and
- Halonitromethanes and cyanogen chloride were not correlated with other DBPs.
Waterborne outbreaks in the Nordic countries, 1998 to 2012>
A recent review
refers to 175 waterborne disease outbreaks in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden in the period 1998-2012 ( 2011 for Sweden). 55% of theses were related to municipal or private waterworks. The commonest agents detected were calicivirus and campylobacter. Interestingly there were 6 outbreaks of tularaemia in Norway, caused by Francisella tularensis
. The paper has a wealth of data and analysis of outbreaks It notes that while campylobacter was the commonest cause in the Nordic countries it is only the 3rd commonest behind Shigella
in the USA while protozoal outbreaks appear to be comparatively rare although this could be a reflection of clinical laboratory testing practice.
Water related disease outbreaks - USA 2011-2012
A recent report shows that for 2011–2012, 32 drinking water–associated outbreaks were reported, accounting for at least 431 cases of illness, 102 hospitalizations, and 14 deaths. Legionella
was responsible for 66% of outbreaks and 26% of illnesses, and viruses and non-Legionella
bacteria together accounted for 16% of outbreaks and 53% of illnesses. The two most commonly identified deficiencies leading to drinking water–associated outbreaks were Legionella
in building plumbing systems (66%) and untreated groundwater (13%). The report
has an in-depth analysis of the outbreak data but cautions that the detection and investigation of outbreaks might be incomplete, because linking illness to drinking water is inherently difficult and the level of surveillance and reporting activity, as well as reporting requirements, vary across states and localities.
New Chairman for UK Water Partnership
Lord Chris Smith has stood down as Chairman of the UK Water Partnership after serving for the first 6 months since its inception. His successor is Richard Benyon MP who has served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at DEFRA and has had a long and active interest in water.
Halogenated Nitrogenous Disinfection By-Products
Chinese workers have shown that exposure of some bacteria, primarily Pseudomonas aeruginosa
but also E.coli
, to halogenated Nitrogenous Disinfection By-Products (N-DBP) can significantly increase their resistance to antibiotics, an average increase of 5.5x being shown. The study looked at three currently unregulated NDBP - bromoacetamide, trichloroacetonitrile and tribromonitromethane and 5 different common antibiotics alone and in combination - gentamicin, polymyxin, tetracycline, ciprofloxacin, and rifampin. They say that “Due to the regulation of DBPs, alternative disinfectants — such as chloramine in place of chlorine — have started to be used to reduce quantities of these regulated DBPs. However, these alternatives can produce greater levels of N-DBPs” This research, if replicated, could have regulatory implications. (summary
Contaminants of emerging concern
The US based Water Research Foundation has opened a new Knowledge Portal
for Contaminants of Emerging Concern. The Portal covers endocrine disrupting compounds, pharmaceuticals and personal care products, volatile organic compounds, cyanotoxins, and hexavalent chromium. Other Portals include Disinfection By-products, Distribution System Management, and Microbials (Bacteria, Protozoa and Viruses)
Readability of water quality reports
A recent report has been published on the readability of a representative 30 reports
which water utilities in the USA are required to produce annually. It concludes that the reports were written at the 11th–14th grade level, which is well above the recommended 6th–7th grade level for public health communications. This highlights the importance of pitching water quality reports at the right level for the non-technical reader.
Persuading the public to reduce bottled water consumption
The EC has published a Science for Environment Policy report
in which it states that “It takes on average 3 litres of regular water to produce just 1 litre of bottled water. Based on 2011 consumption rates, that equates to over 100 billion litres of water wasted every year –an important concern given that fresh water is becoming increasingly scarce across the globe. Bottled water production, including packaging, transportation, and refrigeration, also generates CO2, contributing to climate change. Furthermore, the majority of water bottles are not recycled, instead ending up in landfill or littering the natural environment with plastic waste.” It goes on to look at the reasons people buy bottled water and considers strategies to encourage reduction in its consumption.
The report suggests that its findings could help governments to develop persuasive messages to reduce bottled water consumption. The authors recommend campaigns based on the core beliefs that drive bottled water consumption, such as concerns about health, taste and quality. They also say that campaigns that combine information about the environmental impact of bottled water with proof that others of the same social group are changing their behaviour are more likely to be successful than either technique in isolation.
Cyanobacteria blooms and non-alcoholic liver disease
A recent US paper
explores the possible relationship between cyanobacterial blooms and non-alcoholic liver disease. By comparing statistically the incidence of cyanobacterial blooms and significant clusters of non-alcoholic liver disease.
It concludes that at the population level, there is a statistically significant association between the two in the contiguous United States. The risk from non-alcoholic liver disease increased by 0.3% (95% CI, 0.1% to 0.5%) with each 1% increase in bloom coverage in the affected county after adjusting for age, gender, educational level, and race.
New filtration system for efficient recovery of waterborne Cryptosporidium oocysts and Giardia cysts
Danish workers have devloped a reagent-less system
which can be used for monitoring of parasite contamination in drinking water. The system employs a metallic filter, sonication and ‘air backwash’, and achieved an almost 85% recovery of Giardia
and 70% of Cryptosporidium
Statistical models for failure of water distribution pipes
This review paper
looks at 9 different statistical models for predicting pipe failure. For every model an overview of its applications published in scientific journals and the available software implementations is provided. The authors say that the unified view provides guidance to model selection rates.
Fate of geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol in full-scale water treatment plants
A recent Australian study investigates Geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol (MIB)
, which are the main cyanobacterial T&O compounds and can cause complaints from consumers at levels as low as 10 ng/L. The objectives of the study were to:
- estimate the accumulation and breakthrough of geosmin and MIB inside full-scale water treatment plants;
- verify the potential impact of sludge recycling practice on performance of plants; and,
- assess the effectiveness of aged GAC for the removal of these compounds.
Sampling after full-scale treatment processes and GAC pilot assays was conducted to achieve these goals. Geosmin and MIB monitoring in full-scale plants provided the opportunity to rank the performance of studied treatment processes with filtration and granular activated carbon providing the best barriers for removal of total and extracellular compounds, correspondingly. Geosmin was removed to a greater extent than MIB using GAC. Geosmin and MIB residuals in water post GAC contactors after two years of operation was 20% and 40% of initial concentrations, correspondingly. Biological activity on the GAC surface enhanced the removal of T&O compounds. These observations demonstrated that a multi-barrier treatment approach is required to ensure cyanobacteria and their T&O compounds are effectively removed from drinking water.
Taste and odour in source and drinking water. Causes, controls and consequences
IWA will shortly publish this book
, which it describes as providing an updated evaluation of the characterization and management of taste and odour (T&O) in source and drinking waters. Authored by international experts from the IWA Specialist Group on Off-flavours in the Aquatic Environment, the book is said to represent an important resource that synthesizes current knowledge on the origins, mitigation, and management of aquatic T&O problems. The material provides new knowledge for an increasing widespread degradation of source waters and global demand for high quality potable water. Key topics include early warning, detection and source-tracking, chemical, sensory and molecular diagnosis, treatment options for common odorants and minerals, source management, modelling and risk assessment, and future research directions. It includes an updated version of the benchmark Drinking Water Taste and Odour Wheel and a new biological wheel to provide a practical and informative tool for the initial diagnosis of the chemical and biological sources of aquatic T&O. (This reviewer has not read the book and gives no endorsement.
Development and Evaluation of Three Real-Time PCR Assays for Genotyping and Source Tracking Cryptosporidium spp. in Water
A multinational group has developed three real-time PCR genotyping assays, two of which could differentiate common human-pathogenic species (C. parvum
, C. hominis
, and C. meleagridis
), while the other assay was able to differentiate nonpathogenic species (such as C. andersoni
) from human-pathogenic ones commonly found in source water. In sensitivity evaluations, the first 2 assays could detect as few as 1 Cryptosporidium
oocyst per sample. The authors suggest
that the first 2 genotyping assays might be used in environmental monitoring, whereas the third genotyping assay could be useful for genotyping Cryptosporidium spp
. in clinical specimens or wastewater samples.
In-situ tryptophan-like fluorescence: A real-time indicator of faecal contamination in drinking water supplies
A recent study carried out in Zambia
, described as the first study to investigate the use of in-situ tryptophan-like fluorescence (TLF) for the rapid assessment of the biological quality of drinking water supplies. concludes that elevated tryptophan-like fluorescence (TLF) could be a better indicator of pathogens in water sources than thermotolerant coliforms (TTC). It showed that TLF was significantly elevated in supplies where thermotolerant coliforms (TTCs) were present, and was demonstrated to be the most effective indicator of TTC presence/absence. TLF was also the most significant indicator of the number of TTCs. A single-predictor linear regression model using TLF was used to estimate the probability of a water supply belonging to each WHO risk class. This highlights that as TLF concentration increases there is a greater probability of a water supply being within the higher risk groups.
The use of in-situ TLF sensors, which require no reagents and provide instantaneous readings, has advantages over bacterial indicators for inferring the presence of enteric pathogens. TLF is likely to be more mobile and resilient in groundwater and, as such, a more precautionary indicator of enteric pathogens in groundwater, including where bacterial indicators are absent.This could facilitate their inclusion in real-time pollution alert systems for drinking water supplies throughout the world, for the rapid mapping of enteric pathogen risks in developing regions, and as an initial screening tool to inform and complement further water quality investigations.
Drinking water disinfection by-products (DBPs) and human health
A recent review
considers progress since the discovery in 1974 that trihalomethanes (THMs) were formed by the chlorination of natural organic matter (NOM) in drinking water. This discovery revolutionized views on drinking water safety and quality. Since then hundreds of other classes of disinfection by-products (DBPs) have been discovered. The finding in 1976 by the US National Cancer Institute that chloroform, the dominant THM, was a rodent carcinogen spurred a large number of epidemiology and toxicology studies into chlorinated drinking water but in 1985, this cancer finding was shown to be wrong. The reviewers say that w e should now be asking: What do we know about the human health impacts of DBPs in drinking water? Bladder cancer has been the most consistent finding from epidemiologic studies in North America and Europe and the possibility that chlorinated drinking water contributes an increased risk of bladder cancer remains a viable hypothesis. Despite some recent improvements in exposure assessments to focus on inhalation and dermal exposures rather than ingestion, no causal agent with sufficient carcinogenic potency has been identified, nor has a mechanistic model been validated. Consequently, a sensible precautionary approach to managing DBPs remains the only viable option based on four decades of evidence.
U-V and disinfection by-products
A recent DWI report assessing the risk of U-V disinfection leading to by-products of health significance
considers the effect of U-V on the chemical composition of water. It concludes that the potential formation of DBPs as a result of treatment by appropriately designed and maintained UV systems is low. The most significant DBPs are nitrite (formed from nitrate) and bromate (formed from prechlorinated supplies containing bromide); the formation of both can be minimised by appropriate water treatment and UV system design.
Amoebae and pathogens in distribution systems
The US Water Research Foundation in collaboration with the UK Drinking Water Inspectorate has published a study
aiming to improve understanding of the role of amoebae and other free living protozoa (FLP) in the protection and proliferation of pathogens in distribution systems. The report states that FLP almost certainly provide significant
benefits to drinking water by removing/digesting bacteria in biofilms and bulk water. The report includes experimental data on occurrence of FLP and their possible relationship with Mycobacteria and Legionella. It concludes that there is little evidence that FLP can amplify pathogens in water but they may be involved in moving and dispersing pathogens and allowing them to escape imposed stresses such as disinfection. The report also identifies many areas in which more research and information is required.
Microbial Control Strategies for Main Breaks
The UK Drinking Water Inspectorate in collaboration with the US Water Research foundation has published a report of a project to improve utility responses to main breaks and depressurization events to better protect
. The specific project objectives included evaluation of; the effectiveness of disinfection and operational practices to mitigate microbial risks; and identification of parameters to quantify the level of control needed to mitigate the risks of microbial contamination from main breaks and depressurization events.
DWI Annual Report for England 2014
DWI has published its latest Annual Report which compares the position at its inception in 1989 with the position after 25 years. The report is very readable and shows how drinking water quality has improved over the period. It describes the Inspectorate's legal basis and how it carries out its duties and gives some useful statistics about water supply provision in England and Wales. Out of almost 4 million tests only 0.04% failed to meet the required standard in 2014 compared with about 1.6% in 1991. The main area of concern is Private Water Supplies which are relied on by around 1% of the population. In 2014 of the 8054 tests carried out on these supplies 7% failed the test for E.coli
, which demonstrates that faecal matter from birds, animals or humans is gaining access to the water supply and there is a high risk of the supply being associated directly with illness. The report
concludes that there is need for regulatory intervention to mitigate this risk. A similar report is available for Wales
Simultaneous monitoring of faecal indicators and harmful algae using an in-situ autonomous sensor
Researchers in California have developed a fully automated process for monitoring faecal indicators and harmful algae in coastal waters. The process uses an Environmental Sample Processor
coupled with an analytical module known as the microfluidic block
and produces analytical results which are Internet-accessible within hours of sample collection, demonstrating the feasibility of same-day public notification of current water quality conditions. The sensitivity is as yet not sufficient for application to drinking water supplies. (abstract
Hormonal Activity of Bisphenol A Substitutes
Concern over the endocrine disruptive activity of bisphenol A has led manufacturers to use replacements. Some of the replacements are also bisphenol derivatives such as bisphenol S and bisphenol F. A recent review paper
concludes that based on the current literature, BPS and BPF are as hormonally active as BPA, and they have endocrine-disrupting effects. This should be taken into account when considering possible endocrine disrupting compounds in water.
Predicting sources of faecal pollution
A new piece of software
has been developed which uses automatic learning and analysis of various biological indicators to predict faecal pollution in rivers, lakes and reservoirs. The technology still needs considerable development but shows potential.
Removal of natural organic matter in drinking water treatment.
Chinese workers have published a review
which focuses on the methods which are used for removing NOM from drinking water , including coagulation, adsorption, oxidation, membrane, biological treatment processes and the combination of different treatment processes.
Public perceptions of recycled water
A survey commissioned by Thames Water
of visitors to the London 2012 Olympic Park showed a very high level of support for using non-potable recycled blackwater, both in public venues and in homes. This could inform consideration of the role of water reuse in the future of urban water supplies.
USEPA issues Health Advisories for Cyanotoxins
The EPA has issued 10 day Health Advisories for microcysytins and cylindrospermopsin
. These are non-regulatory values which are not enforceable but serve as informal technical guidance to assist federal, state and local officials, and managers of public or community water systems by providing information on the health effects of and methods to sample and treat cyanobacterial toxins in drinking water. However EPA has listed cyanotoxins including microcystin-LR, cylindrospermopsin, and anatoxin–a on the previous and current Contaminant Candidate Lists (CCL), which identify contaminants that may need regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act. It has not sufficient data at this time to set a Health Advisory for anatoxin A.
Direct potable reuse
The summer 2015 edition of Water Reuse and Desalination
has a number of interesting articles relating to Direct Potable Reuse and overcoming challenges to its adoption. It includes specific detailed examples from India and Saudi Arabia.
Alternative Water Supply Systems
IWA has recently published a useful book
which considers strategies and technologies to alleviate demand on conventional water supplies. The book covers technical, social, financial and institutional aspects associated with decentralized alternative water supply systems. These include systems for greywater recycling, rainwater harvesting, recovery of water through condensation and sewer mining. A number of case studies from the UK, the USA, Australia and the developing world are presented to discuss associated environmental and health implications.
The book provides insights into a range of aspects associated with alternative water supply systems and an evidence base (through case studies) on potential water savings and trade-offs. Although focused on developing countries it includes a number of case studies from the UK, the USA, Australia as well as the developing world and discusses associated environmental and health implications.
Toxicity of a mixture of disinfection by-products (DBPs )
Although a number of conflicting studies have been carried on effect of individual DBPs on rats a recently published study
of the effect of feeding high doses of a mixture of regulated DBPs at up to 2,000 times the US Maximum Contaminant Limits showed no adverse effects on fertility, pregnancy maintenance, prenatal survival, postnatal survival, or birth weights.
Water benchmarking project launched
The UK’s recently launched National Water Benchmarking Project, AquaMark®
, is set to provide over 500 different building benchmark classifications to private and public sector organisations throughout the UK. The ground-breaking scheme claims to be the largest and most ambitious analysis of building water usage to have been undertaken, and expects to help businesses to reduce water usage by an average of 30% and regain up to £500m in lost annual revenue.
India launches the first Microbiological Standard for Water Treatment Devices
In February 2015 the Water Quality India Association (WQIA)
launched the first ever microbiological standards to certify household water treatment devices for consumers in India. These standards have been specifically developed for Indian conditions and match global norms. WQIA also released a Quality Seal that will help consumers choose water treatment devices that meet these standards. WQIA is an industry body of water purifier manufacturers and not an official regulator.
UK Water Partnership
The recently established UK Water Partnership
has held the first meetings of the three Partnership Delivery Groups and Terms of Reference have been set for the groups.
Evaluation and validation of rapid molecular methods for the detection and identification of microorganisms in water - Standard Operating Procedures.
IWA is to publish this book in June 2015
. The book sets out results of a project which reviewed the efficacy of PCR assays for Cryptosporidium
, adenovirus and ammonia oxidising bacteria, as well as candidate techniques for DNA extraction and inhibitor removal. The literature review led to an evaluation of DNA extraction kits and reagents for PCR; finalisation of assay formats; the development of PCR controls and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP); analysis of assay robustness using real samples; and completion of an Inter-laboratory trial using the SOP’s developed.
Innovation in the European Water Sector
Science for Environment Policy has produced Future Brief 10 on Innovation in the European Water Sector
. The interesting brief considers current water challenges and how wastewater treatment innovation and re-use could boost available resources. It also considers barriers to the adoption of innovative approaches and how these might be overcome. Although the Brief is largely focussed on water reclamation it recognises that treated wastewater could ultimately boost drinking water sources.
New Water and Innovation Centre
A new Water and Innovation Centre
has been established by the University of Bath in collaboration with Wessex Water. The centre comprises multidisciplinary research teams, with wide expertise in the natural sciences and engineering, as well as in social, economics and political sciences, in policy, and in business management. Its research is divided into five core themes that tackle the fundamental issues surrounding water: water treatment; water resources; water management; water and public health; and water, environment and infrastructure resilience.
Fluoride and hypothyroidism
Workers at the University of Kent have published a paper
claiming a positive correlation between fluoridated water and hypothyroidism. The publication has provoked criticism from many scientists and health experts who have pointed out that the study design was of low quality and failed to consider other factors which may have differed between the populations being compared.
Private water supplies - disease outbreaks in England and Wales
The Drinking Water Inspectorate has published a review
of the incidence of outbreaks of disease associated with Private Water Supplies between 1970 and 2009. Although the report title refers to the period covered as 1970 to 2009, within which the report identifies 37 outbreaks, the table showing the distribution of outbreaks by year shows 37 outbreaks in the period 1975 to 2011 with the last outbreak being in 2009. The report finds it difficult to draw any firm conclusions but is a useful indication of the scale of health problems associated with Private Water Supplies in England and Wales.
Microbial Removals by a Novel Biofilter Water Treatment System
US workers tested simple gravity fed point-of use treatment units comprised of a carbon filter and foam, using pre-coagulated and settled water. After subsequent passage over a chlorine tablet the process could achieve at least 4 log10 reduction in viruses, 6 log10 for protozoa, and 8 log10 for bacteria). These removal levels met or exceeded Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for microbial purifiers. Exploratory test results suggested that mature biofilm formation within the units contributed 1–2 log10
reductions. The work serves only to prove the feasibility of the method
and does not suggest the technology is ready for use outside the laboratory.
Modification to method for Cl. Perfringens
The Standing Committee of Analysts has published results of a multi-laboratory evaluation of a modified version of the ISO standard medium for Cl.perfringens
followed by a membrane transfer procedure for the acid phosphatase test resulting in confirmed results being available in 18–24 h. This development
significantly reduces the time to confirmed results for Cl. perfringens
from water samples.
New, more efficient membranes
Australian workers have developed new membranes or micro-filters that will result in clean water in a much more energy efficient manner. The new membranes will supply clean water for use in desalination and water purification applications. The membranes have a greater resistance to chlorination products and can cut out additional processing steps reducing operating costs. They can also prevent the decrease in water flow that is currently observed with time due to biological fouling. (Abstract
Managing Cyanobacteria in drinking water.
WHO has published a Technical Brief on Management of Cyanobacteria in Drinking Water Supplies
. It describes a number of measures to prevent the formation of cyanobacterial blooms as well as options to manage such blooms when they occur. Although some of the measures are specific to cyanobacteria, many are equally useful for the management of other hazards. It describes the possible health effects of Cyanobacteria and their role in taste and odour problems. It also outlines factors leading to algal blooms and how they can be managed. A comprehensive and easy to read document which should be invaluable all water supply professionals.
Novel E.coli detection device
The device uses coliphages which when placed in a solution, line up perfectly. However, as soon as E.coli
bacteria are present they separate and tangle allowing light to pass through them. Once the light passes through the sample an electrical signal is generated that is displayed as a set of numbers on a computer screen. The device is being developed
for testing foodstuffs rather than water.
UK Water Partnership launched.
In February 2015 the UK Water Partnership
was launched with the aim of bringing together people across the UK water community to stimulate ideas and develop the products and services that will take on these challenges for the future. The Director of the partnership said “I think we have a great opportunity here to align innovation with growth opportunities both in the UK and internationally. As such, the UK Water Partnership can play an important role in building more sustainable and resilient global networks, while contributing to the economic growth of the UK.”.
WRF introduces new research areas
The US Water Research Foundation has revised its focus areas
, introducing two new focus areas - “Persistent Waterborne Pathogens in Distribution Systems and Premise Plumbing,” and “Defining Attributes and Demonstrating Benefits of Intelligent Distribution Systems.” Three focus areas have been discontinued, these being related to hexavalent chromium, carcinogenic volatile organic compounds, and contaminants of emerging concern. WRF concluded that sufficient progress had been made in these focus areas, while acknowledging that the underlying topics remain very important.
Comparison of methods for E.coli in drinking water.
Canadian workers carried out a comparison of MI agar ( details) and Colilert®, as well as mFC agar combined with an Escherichia coli-specific molecular assay (mFC + E. coli
rtPCR), in terms of their sensitivity, ease of use, time to result and affordability. They concluded that overall, compared with the other two methods tested, the MI agar method offers the most advantages for assessing drinking water quality.
Manganese in drinking water and effects on children
A Canadian study
found that in children, higher levels of exposure to manganese in drinking water were associated with poorer performance of memory, attention and motor functions, but not hyperactivity. These results were found even at low levels commonly encountered in North America. The findings from the present study along with previous results suggest the potential for harmful effects of manganese at levels commonly encountered in groundwater.
New type of membrane for water purification
Research at the University of Twente has evaluated a membrane
which makes it possible to purify water in a single step without the need for preliminary treatment. Compared to existing hollow fibre membranes, with the new membranes it is easier to remove micro-pollutants such as medicine residues, hormones and pesticides from water.
Boil Water Advice – WHO Technical Brief
WHO has issued a Technical Brief
which presents the scientific basis for the efficacy of boiling. The brief confirms the WHO advice that simply bringing water to a rolling boil is sufficient to inactivate microbial pathogens and prolonged boiling is not necessary.
N-nitrosamines, emerging disinfection by-products of health concern
A recent paper gives an overview
of the current knowledge concerning the occurrence, precursors, and formation mechanisms of N-nitrosamines in water. This family of N-DBPs is one of three potential groups of contaminants highlighted in the USA for possible regulatory action in the near future as it is considered that their presence in drinking water may present a more serious risk for humans than regulated disinfection by-products (DBPs) species.
Removal of norovirus from water by coagulation, flocculation and sedimentation processes
Based on jar tests involving a range of viruses, a recent paper concludes that human noroviruses can be appreciably reduced by properly-operated coagulation, flocculation and sedimentation processes and the contamination of drinking water by noroviruses should be controlled by conventional water treatment processes with conventional physico-chemical processes and disinfection. (Abstract
Water purification using a bacterial fuel cell
Researchers in Norway have succeeded in getting bacteria to power a fuel cell using wastewater as fuel. The products of the process are purified water droplets and electricity. This is an environmentally-friendly process which generates small amounts of electricity. In the future, the researchers hope to scale up this energy generation to enable the same energy to be used to power the water purification process.
Nano-material coated sponges for water purification
A low cost, low energy method to disinfect water using electricity has been developed by researchers by combining carbon nanotubes and silver nano-wires with polyurethane sponge. The technology has the potential to be used in portable disinfection devices in developing countries. (Details
Does Global Progress on Sanitation Really Lag behind Water?
Current benchmarks for access to water and sanitation, established by the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP), treat water and sanitation differently, masking deficits in household water access. Sanitation needs to be at household level to be considered improved whereas water need only be at community level. Using these benchmarks it is considered that there is a greater need for more improved sanitation than for water. A new study conducted jointly by The Water Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine shows that when both are assessed at household level then the global deficit is as great for water as sanitation. The report
calls for a new global standard for improvements in household drinking water and sanitation access.
Scilly Isles proposed changes to water and sewerage regulation
Although the Scilly Isles have been able to partly opt out of Water and Wastewater Regulations and the Drinking Water Inspectorate has no powers in the Isles, Defra has determined that this should no longer apply and has started a consultation process.(consultation document
) Although it has been indicated that £2m might be provided to assist with costs of this change the Council of the Isles is concerned that this would be seriously inadequate. (council letter
). Defra recognises that partial or full privatisation of services may be required.
WHO Guidelines proposed revision – Silver
WHO invites comments by February 27th 2015 on a number of draft Guideline revision proposals including silver.
Fracking ban in groundwater protection zones proposed.
Tom Greatrex ( Labour) has tabled an amendment
to the Infrastructure Bill on 6 January 2015 which proposes fracking be prohibited in designated groundwater protection zones.
Advances in Water Research
The latest issue of Advances in Water Research
published in the US by the Water Research Foundation contains articles on Emerging Pathogens, Emerging Contaminants, Hexavalent Chromium Treatment and Localised Control of DBPs. It also includes statistics of Waterborne Disease Outbreaks in the US from 1971 to 2008.
World Water Congress Report 2014