Houston-based Gundle/SLT Environmental Inc. purchased a 49 percent interest in an Egyptian geomembrane manufacturing joint venture. The sale’s closing took place on Jan. 24. Hyma Foam/Hyma Plastics Co. transferred its interest for $4 million and GSE’s commitment to purchase a second geomembrane manufacturing line for $950,000. 💧
Waterlink Inc., of Columbus, Ohio, announced results of operations for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2002. The company realized operating income of $598,000 as compared to $601,000 in the prior year’s quarter. 💧
The deadline for submissions for the Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke Prize is April 1. It’s an award presented annually for demonstrated excellence in the fields of water science and technology. 💧
Philadelphia-based Rohm and Haas Co., a specialty chemical manufacturer that produces ion exchange resins and Morton salt, reported a fourth-quarter loss and fired 200 employees—or 1 percent of its staff during the quarter—adding to 1,800 cuts since spring 2001. The company had a net loss of $38 million vs. $37 million a year earlier. 💧
French utilities company Vivendi Environnement said revenues last year rose 3.3 percent. The company, which is 20.4 percent owned by media giant Vivendi Universal, said revenue for last year rose to $32.68 billion from $31.64 billion a year earlier. 💧
In Austria, ultraviolet plants (reactors) are now regulated by law. Current regulations allow only low-pressure UV lamps. The regulations are titled “Plants for the disinfection of water using ultraviolet radiation: Requirements and Testing; Part 1—Low-pressure mercury lamp plants.” For more information, see www.on-norm.at 💧
IDEXX Laboratories Inc., of Westbrook, Maine, reported net income increased 30 percent to $12.8 million for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2002, from $9.8 million for the same period in 2001. 💧
Pittsburgh-based Calgon Carbon Corp. announced income results for the fourth quarter and full year ending Dec. 31, 2002. For the fourth quarter of 2002, net income was $0.3 million versus $0.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2001. 💧
Dow Chemical Co., of Midland, Mich., released StreamLine—an Internet newsletter that touts the company’s Filmtec membranes and Dowex resins—to various businesses in the water treatment industry. Those interested in the newsletter should contact the company at email: reply-13176@uptilt. com. 💧
Met-Pro Corp.’s systems division in Kulpsville, Pa., received an order valued at more than $600,000 for oxidation equipment for air pollution control to be used at a pharmaceutical plant in the United States. This order is expected to be delivered by Jan. 31, 2004. 💧
Charlotte, N.C.-based WEDECO Ideal Horizons, a provider of ultraviolet (UV) disinfection technology for water treatment, was granted ANSI/NSF Standard 55, Class A certification for four models (1, 2, 4 and 7) within its DLR series of residential UV products. 💧
NSF lab starts fresh; article spurs wide interest
NSF International, of Ann Arbor, Mich., announced the opening of the new FreshCheck laboratory at NSF headquarters. FreshCheck is a comprehensive microbial monitoring and auditing program for grocery stores and supermarkets. The transition from St. Paul, Minn., to the new laboratory facility was completed in just three months after the acquisition of FreshCheck (see Newsreel, January 2003). The food safety risk management program includes three components—audits to evaluate food safety, sanitation and customer perceptions; microbial monitoring to test for bacteria that may cause illness, spoilage and poor quality in perishables, and FastCheck, an immediate response to customer foodborne illness allegations, which includes testing of suspect products. In other news, NSF’s consumer department received an increase in calls regarding water treatment devices in part due to an article published in The Wall Street Journal on Feb. 18—”Get the Lead Out – of Water,” by Robert J. Davis. In the article, Davis reviews different types of water treatment devices, their costs and advises consumers to ask for a consumer confidence report. His closing paragraph states: “To make sure the filter does what it claims, look for the seal of NSF International, an independent, not-for-profit group that certifies water filtration devices. For help finding a device that meets your needs, there’s a feature on the group’s website (www.nsf.org/certified/DWTU) that identifies specific products according to the criteria that you choose.” As a result, NSF experienced an increase in web hits.
Trojan systems treat NDMA
Trojan Technologies Inc. was awarded a contract for equipment that will be used to destroy chemicals in municipal drinking water in southern California. The contract, valued at $1.1 million, was given by the California Domestic Water Co. The company’s equipment will be used at Cal Domestic’s facility to destroy N-nitrosodimethyla-mine (NDMA) in the local drinking water. A by-product of various processes, NDMA is considered a human carcinogen that’s hazardous at extremely low concentrations. The environmental contaminant treatment systems will be installed this summer—replacing existing UV equipment—and will treat up to 14 million gallons of drinking water a day.
House passes no-call law
The U.S. House voted 418 to 7 in mid-February to approve a national “do-not-call” list intended to stop telemarketing calls to people who don’t want them. Some water treatment dealers use telemarketing to promote their products. The measure would allow the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to collect fees from telemarketers to pay for the registry, which would cost about $16 million in its first year. The registry’s future began to appear uncertain late in the process when Republican leaders sought to change language in the spending bill to require separate Senate approval. The extra step could have led to delays jeopardizing funds for the registry this year. Several consumer groups objected to the changes. The do-not-call bill authorizes the FTC to collect fees from telemarketers beginning this year and through 2007. The Bush administration supported the bill and the creation of a registry. If Congress approves money for this year, the do-not-call list could begin operation by summer. Consumers could enroll in the free service via the Internet or a toll-free number. Telemarketers would have to check the list every three months to find out who doesn’t want to be called. Those who call listed people could be fined as much as $11,000 for each violation. Charities, surveys and calls on behalf of politicians would be exempt.
FDA cites Act in ruling
Citing the Bioterrorism Act, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will require registration of all U.S. and foreign “food facilities that manufacture, process, pack or hold food for human or animal consumption in the U.S.,” according to the Feb. 3 Federal Register. In other news, the FDA said it will also require prior notice of any food imports, including beverages, before entry into the United States. The rule gives food importers a five-day window—ending at noon the day before a shipment is to enter the United States—to notify the FDA the shipment is in transit. In addition, the rule would also improve the FDA’s ability to respond to a bio-terrorism event because the agency would know the name and address of the importer and co-signee in the United States. The notice is filed on the Internet (see http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/multidb.cgi). The FDA said notice will be required of all food that’s brought across the U.S. border with four exceptions—food carried by travelers in their personal baggage for their own use, and three categories of food in the exclusive jurisdiction of the Agriculture Department.
Hundreds on cruise fall ill
Nearly 250 passengers and crew of the Sun Princess came down with a gastrointestinal illness during the cruise ship’s voyage from Los Angeles to Hawaii, the cruise line said. It wasn’t known if the ill were suffering from Norwalk or Norwalk-like viruses, which afflicted more than 1,500 cruise ship passengers in recent months. The viruses, which cause diarrhea, stomach pain and vomiting for up to 48 hours, are spread by close contact with infected people or things they have touched. Those with symptoms aboard the cruise ship weren’t allowed to take shore excursions as the cruise line set to work sanitizing the ship after it arrived in Honolulu Harbor in early February. The 247 people afflicted complained of common symptoms including diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. The ship was to make stops at Kauai and Maui before returning to California.
Report: MTBE beats carbon
MTBE likely finds its way into Paugus Bay, Laconia’s (N.H.) water supply from motorboats and ski craft, and the city’s current filtration process doesn’t remove the chemical from drinking water, researchers reported. A final report on the study was due at the end of April, but the preliminary results have provided confirmation, rather than any startling revelation. Water sampling by researchers from the Bioremediation Center at the University of New Hampshire began in the 1,220-acre bay last May and continued through October. More than 1,000 samples were collected for analysis. A few samples measured the MTBE level at 8.9 parts per billion (ppb); many were in the 4-5 ppb range, and none approached the state’s safe-to-drink level of 13 ppb. The water treatment plant uses an activated carbon filtration system that was said to take the chemical out of the water.
Sigma gives water to Navy
The U.S. Navy’s large ships require vast amounts of fresh water for drinking and other purposes. To ensure a constant supply without sacrificing storage space, the Navy employs shipboard desalination systems. To optimize this space, the Navy has turned to Sigma Design Supply LLC, of Springfield, N.J., to design and build a portable filtration system. The test system operates unmanned with automated safety shutdown controls, and supplies seawater from 40 to 60 gallons per minute at 150 pounds per square inch.
Program targets builders
Culligan’s CleanWater Home program allows builders to offer their customers water treatment product packages customized to the condition of the water supplied to the home and the personal preferences of the homeowner. Designed as a partnership between builders and their local Culligan dealer-ships, the program uses several steps to ensure that each home achieves the best water possible. Among them is the sampling and testing of the water supply at the building site, recommendation of the most appropriate products and product installations. In addition, the company will sponsor and participate in Home Destinations 2003 in Las Vegas, part of the 2003 International Builders’ Show. The 10,000-square foot model home is designed to showcase new building technology, construction techniques and design elements.
Water coolers, POU see surge in European market
At the end of 2002 there were 617,000 bottled water coolers across Eastern Europe, 26 percent more than 2001, according to the third report on East Europe Water Coolers from Zenith International. Sixty-nine percent were electric water cooler machines and 31 percent were ceramic dispensers and pumps. At over 153.2 million gallons, cooler sales rose 8 percent of total bottled water consumption vs. 3 percent in 1998. Poland remains the leading country with a 51 percent volume share followed by Russia at 29 percent. The fastest growth, however, came from the youngest markets of Croatia and Romania, both of which more than doubled in 2002. Meanwhile, Europe’s fledgling point-of-use (POU) water cooler industry recorded 30 percent growth last year. More than 34,000 units were installed during the year, taking the total to 149,800 across 16 countries. POU continues to increase its penetration of the total cooler industry, rising from a 7.3 percent share in 2000 to 8.9 percent in 2002. The analysis shows that POU is developing mainly on the back of the bottled water cooler market with over 60 percent of new business being conversions from bottled water coolers. As with bottled water coolers, the UK is the largest POU market in Europe with a 43 percent share in 2002. Ireland has the highest POU penetration per thousand people, lifting it to second place on 11 percent, just ahead of France.
Filter scam goes down under
Households are being charged thousands of dollars for water filters by businesses conducting fake water contamination tests, according to Australia’s Victoria Herald Sun. The state government is investigating several complaints against companies accused of conning customers by linking health problems, such as skin diseases and rashes, to tap water. The elderly were most at risk from the pressure selling. A door-knocking business operating in the southeastern suburbs is allegedly offering filters for more than $3,000 after doing suspect chemical tests. Melbourne Water’s managing director said the city’s water supplies were among the world’s best and filters are unnecessary.
Cities attack takeovers
A recently completed $8.6 billion takeover of American Water Works by German-based industrial giant RWE has led to a backlash from a handful of cities across America, reported Associated Press in early February. The deal covers more than 800 water systems serving 15 million people in 27 states and three Canadian provinces. The misgivings are driving community efforts to buy out RWE and regain control of local water systems in two Northern California communities, Montara and Felton; Peoria and Pekin, Ill., and Lexington, Ky. Charleston, W.V., is considering a bid for its water system, while the city of Thousand Oaks, Calif., is trying a different tactic by urging state regulators to reverse their previous approval of RWE’s takeover. RWE isn’t the only foreigner buying into the U.S. water industry—French companies Vivendi Environ-nement and Suez have also bought local water systems within the past few years. About 85 percent of U.S. water systems are still owned by the communities they serve.
Dosmatic grows in Europe
Dosmatic U.S.A./International Inc., of Carrollton, Texas, announces the expansion of its European operations with the recent opening of a European office in Bordeaux, France. This expansion became necessary due to the increase in business activity for the company in the European markets. This office/warehouse facility will offer multi-lingual customer service, technical support, logistics, quality control, sales and marketing. The new address of Dosmatic Europe office is 17 Route de Taillefer, 33450 Montussan. The phone number is +(33) 557 97 1313 and the fax number is +(33) 557 97 1019. Dosmatic is an ISO 2001:2000 certified manufacturer of water-driven injectors with a worldwide network of distributors and representatives in the animal health, horticultural and industrial markets.
Water causes turf war
In mid-February, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia would stop selling untreated water to Singapore when the last of two hotly disputed agreements expires in 2061, and instead would offer Singapore filtered water at “a reasonable price.” Mahathir’s offer to sell treated water at higher prices is likely to be rebuffed by Singapore, which depends on Malaysia for half of its water needs. Singapore officials believe the country will be able to supply all its own water by 2061.
Honduras starts program
WaterChef Inc., of Glen Head, N.Y., said it was notified by G.M.G. de Honduras S.A., the former’s designated sales representative in Honduras, that WaterChef’s water station has been selected for a pilot program by Sanaa, the Honduran agency for water and sanitation. The selection of the station comes as the result of a series of meetings held in December. According to Honduran officials, over 80 percent of the population of Honduras—one of Latin America’s poorest countries—lacks access to pure drinking water and, as a result, over 20 percent of the population suffers from serious gastrointestinal disorders. The station is a self-contained, six-stage water purification system, which produces up to 15,000 gallons per day of drinking water from any water source.