WaterWorld Weekly Newscast - May 13, 2019

Transcript of the WaterWorld Weekly Newscast - May 13, 2019

Hi, I'm Angela Godwin for WaterWorld magazine, bringing you water and wastewater news headlines for the week of May 13. Coming up...

  • Scientists split hydrogen from wastewater using sunlight

  • Rice husks could be key to treating harmful algal blooms

  • Funding opportunity for desalination, water purification pilot projects

  • J.D. Power surveys water customers on satisfaction -- with special guest Andrew Heath

Hydrogen is used in the manufacture of thousands of products, but producing it is expensive and energy intensive.

But a team of Princeton University researchers has developed a technique that simultaneously treats wastewater and generates hydrogen -- and it's powered by sunlight.

They created a specially designed chamber with a "Swiss-cheese" black silicon interface to split water and isolate hydrogen gas.

The process is aided by bacteria that generate electrical current when consuming the organic matter in the wastewater; the current, in turn, aids the water splitting process.

In their tests, the researchers used brewery wastewater, but they believe the process could benefit many industrial segments, such as refineries and chemical plants.

Although the researches have yet to do a lifecycle analysis, they believe the process will at least be energy neutral, if not energy positive, and eliminates the need for fossil fuels to create hydrogen.

Scientists at The University of Toledo have discovered that an abundant and inexpensive agricultural byproduct can effectively remove microcystin from water.

Organic rice husks treated with hydrochloric acid and heated to 250 degrees Celsius were dispersed in a series of water samples collected from Lake Erie during the 2017 harmful algal bloom.

Researchers found the rice husks removed more than 95 percent of microcystin MC-LR -- the most common type found in Lake Erie -- in concentrations of up to 596 parts-per-billion.

But even in concentrations approaching 3,000 ppb, more than 70 percent of the MC-LR was removed, and other types of MCs were removed as well.

The researchers believe using rice husks could have far-reaching implications for communities along the Great Lakes and across the developing world struggling with algal blooms.

Not only are rice husks cheap and effective for filtration, they can be repurposed for use in other applications.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is launching a novel "pitch to pilot" funding opportunity seeking new innovative technologies or processes for desalination and water purification.

Specifically, Reclamation is looking for solutions that use less energy, reduce the cost and environmental impact, and improve the efficiency of brackish water and seawater desalination.

The agency anticipates awarding four to six agreements with up to $150,000 available per agreement through its Desalination and Water Purification Research Program. Applications are due June 25, 2019.

The top applicants will be invited to present their pitches at Reclamation's Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in August.

For details on the funding opportunity, visit www.grants.gov and search by funding opportunity number BOR-DO-19-F017.

As water and wastewater utilities face the challenge of upgrading or replacing their aging infrastructure, their ability to communicate with customers will be critical for managing that process. This is a key finding of J.D. Power's fourth annual Water Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study.

Here to discuss the results is the senior director of J.D. Power's Utility Practice, Andrew Heath. Andrew, thanks for joining us.


The study looked at the residential customers of 89 large water utilities across four geographic regions. Let's start with some of the positive findings. I understand that, in general, reports of water quality issues are declining?

[Andrew Heath/response]

According to your research, customer awareness of infrastructure investment drives goodwill. Can you explain?

[Andrew Heath/response]

The study supports the idea that proactive communications have a powerful effect on customer satisfaction. But are utilities capitalizing on that?

[Andrew Heath/response]

What are some easy things utilities can do to improve customer satisfaction that they might not already be doing?

[Andrew Heath/response]

That is excellent advice, Andrew. Is there anything else that you think is important for water utilities know? Anything you'd like to add?

[Andrew Heath/response]

Thank you so much for your insights, Andrew, we really appreciate it. And we thank you, very much, for joining us today to discuss the survey.

[Andrew Heath/response]

If you'd like to see the full results of J.D. Power's Water Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study, you can find it online at jdpower.com/water.

For WaterWorld magazine, I'm Angela Godwin. Thanks for watching.