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November 2002: Volume 44, Number 11

SPECIAL REPORT: EPA’s Whitman Announces GAP Analysis Report at WEFTEC
by David H. Martin

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Administrator Christine Todd Whitman highlighted her keynote address at the annual WEFTEC convention and trade show (see EXTRA below) of the Water Environment Federation with the release of the agency’s long-awaited GAP Analysis that seeks to estimate the gap between the projected need and current spending for clean water and drinking water infrastructure over the next 20 years.

The report (see FYI below) was prepared using data available from the USEPA, Census Bureau and Congressional Budget Office. In broad terms, the analysis concludes that clean water (wastewater treatment) and drinking water systems will need to use some combination of increased spending and innovative management practices to meet projected U.S. water needs. The analysis estimates the drinking water capital payment gap is as high as $267 billion, with a point estimate of $102 billion in the “no revenue growth” scenario. It estimates that the gap is as high as $205 billion, with a point estimate of $45 billion in the “revenue growth” scenario.

In addressing the challenge of updating an aging water infrastructure network, Whitman said the government hopes to make ends meet through a combination of federal and state resources as well as embracing new environmental management system (EMS) technology to streamline water utility operations.

Noting the recent 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, the former New Jersey governor spoke of the progress that has been made in cleaning up “point source” pollution but acknowledged much is yet to be done in the area of non-point pollution, including agricultural chemicals. “The focus will be on some 20 key watersheds, distributing $19.7 billion to states in these watersheds for treatment,” she said. “We will deal with the simplest pipe to the most complex system.”

With a conservative municipal drinking water funding GAP estimate of $45 million or more, one might conclude that the point-of-use drinking water market will flourish for years to come.

FYI: Bridging the GAP

The complete 46-page Gap Analysis Report is available online at: www.epa.gov/owm/gapreport.pdf

An Associated Press article on the report can be found at: http://abcnews.go.com/wire/Politics/ap20020930_1852.html

EXTRA: WEFTEC draws five times the crowd of WQA

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) drew 15,000 water treatment experts–between four and five times the number of people drawn to the Water Quality Association trade show–to Chicago’s McCormick Place on the shores of Lake Michigan, Sept. 28-Oct. 2. Its annual WEFTEC conference included 25 workshops, 70 technical sessions and 800 exhibitors dealing with such issues as infrastructure security, utility management and watershed management as well as wastewater treatment.

In a WEFTEC press conference held at the Trojan Technologies Inc. booth, Trojan president Allan Bulckaert spoke about how ultraviolet (UV) technology is now being used to destroy toxic chemicals and disease-causing pathogens in municipal water supplies. According to Bulckaert, the Trojan equipment uses a series of specialized lamps that produce UV light. Alone or in combination with hydrogen peroxide, the UV light is said to break down chemical contaminants as well as bacteria, viruses and protozoa.

Bulckaert identified N-nitrododimethyla-mine (NDMA) as a contaminant now attracting attention that’s “considered a human carcinogen that is hazardous at extremely low concentrations.” He also cited 1,4-dioxane as another chemical contaminant the USEPA has termed “a probable carcinogen” found in water. The Trojan systems soon to be installed in three California facilities will be able to remediate both emerging contaminants as well as a broad range of pesticides, according to Bulckaert.

In a separate WEFTEC presentation on the state of The Great Lakes, Dr. Deborah Swackhamer, a University of Minnesota professor and environmental chemist, spoke of an emerging possible health threat from waterborne environmental estrogens found in the lakes.

WEF, based in Alexandria, Virginia, focuses on wastewater treatment and water quality protection. A broader review of the WEFTEC conference can be found online at: www.wef.org

-- David Martin