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January 2006: Volume 48, Number 1

Regional News: United States, Asia, Middle East

United States

Negotiators reach Great Lake deal Negoiators have finally reached a deal, after four years of debate, that will hopefully prevent outside municipalities and companies from accessing water from the Great Lakes, the Associated Press reports. Governors and premiers of eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces began discussing the issue in 2001 in order to develop a legal framework to preserve the natural resource. State legislators are now signing a non-binding agreement on the issue and the U.S. Congress has been asked to approve a binding compact related the agreement, because individual states cannot make treaties with foreign governments.

Commission rejects freight rate increase The National Classification Committee, organized through the National Motor Freight Traffic Association, has decided against a freight rate increase that would have added as much as 40 percent to the cost of shipping softeners, according to the Water Quality Association. The WQA lobbied the NCC against the proposal, which would have increased rates based on density of the freight and classified a lower-density rating for water softeners. More than 45 companies responded to a WQA call to action and several member companies presented data top the NCC during the debate.

Dallas jury awards $1 million in water suit Global Water Group, Inc., a Dallas-based water purification equipment manufacturer, was awarded $1 million in damages in a trade secrets case, the company reports. In a Nov. 14 verdict, a jury in the 116th District Court found that the former president of Global Water Technologies, Inc., a firm acquired in 1995 by Global Water Group, left the company after the acquisition and formed Aspen Water, conspiring with the new company to use Global Water Groups technology, trade secrets and intellectual property.

Nashua water dispute The New Hampshire Supreme Court has given authorities in Nashua the approval to proceed with plans to take private waterworks by eminent domain, the Boston Globe reports. The owners of Pennichuck Water Works have been fighting the citys attempt to municipalize the waterworks for more than three years. Nashua officials believe that the city can provide high quality water services to their residents at a lower price than PWW, which is now considering a jury trial against the city for potential damages in the millions of dollars.

BooKoo ads flavored water Four new "functional" waters have been added to BooKoo Beverages Inc.'s nutrient-enhanced product line. The waters contain with a variety of vitamins and minerals and are available in four new flavors: Rebound, MMMMulti, BooKoo C and Inner G. They will be marketed alongside the BooKoo Energy product line, the Soft Drink Letter reports.

EPA enforcement in 2005 The Environmental Protection Agency released its annual summary of enforcement actions, documenting a projected reduction of 1.1 billion pounds of pollution in 2005. Among the remediation efforts were 1.6 billion cubic yards of contaminated water will be cleaned up and the drinking water of more than eight million municipal water users will be safer. Criminal defendants in EPA-initiated pollution cases will pay more than $100 million in fines and restitution. Moreover, the agency, in combination with state authorities, concluded major sewer cases to reduce more than 19 billion gallons of raw sewage overflows annually.

Industrial water generators achieve 50 percent increase Hendrx Corporation announces a breakthrough in their atmospheric water generation technologies, increasing the capability of their industrial water generators by 50 percent. The company's Big Blue 5000, an AirWater technology that produces drinking water for ambient air, produces up to 5000 liters of water each day, depending on ambient air conditions. With new, proprietary generation technology, the forthcoming Big Blue line will have a capacity of up to 7,500 liters per day.

Calif. overhauls drinking water device registration The California Department of Health Services has agreed to significant changes in its Drinking Water Device Certification program after an intense effort by the regional and national WQA to overhaul the program. Going forward, the CDHS will set up procedures to accept American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-accredited product certifications in lieu of their current review process. Initially, the department will accept certifications for Standard 53 (water filtration) and Standard 44 (softeners), while reverse osmosis units will continue to be handeld the same as they are now, the WQA reports. The program revisions are expected to be in place sometime during the first quarter of this year.

Park Forest builds 5 mgpd plant City officials from Park Forest, Ill., have broken ground on a new $13.4 million water treatment plant for the region's outdated 50-year-old palnt. Designed by Baxter & Woodman, Inc., the system will have a capacity of five million gpd and utilize the lime-soda ash treatment process to remove calcium and magnesium. In addition to the lime-soda ash silos, softening clarifiers, cluster filters and solids dewatering equipment will be provided.

Survey shows water fee support A new survey shows that residents of Encinitas, Calif. would support a $5 monthly fee to clean up the city's storm water, so long as the revenue would be used to protect the ocean and lagoons from the polluted runoff. The clean water fee proposed by the Encinitas City Council is one of the first of its kind in the nation to help local municipalities meet federal clean water mandates by removing debris from streets and storm drains.

Katrina, Rita relief continues Kinetico Incorporated of Geauga County has provided a municipal surface water treatment system to be put in place near St. Bernard Parish, La. Once running, the system will provide clean water for hundreds of people every day. It will be set up on a dock of the Mississippi River in St. Bernard Parish where it will treat more than 50,000 gallons of water daily. Koch Membrane Systems, Inc., has worked with engineers from the U.S. Army and the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation to provide tactical water purification systems in the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Region. Koch units have provided relief in some of the hardest hit areas, such as Biloxi, Miss.

Middle East

Saudi Arabia may sell desal plants Saudi Arabia is considering selling off its desalination treatment plants to help generate $53 billion necessary to meet an increasing demand for water by 2020, Bloomberg reports. State-owned Saline Water Conversion Corp., the kingdom's largest desal producer, has hired international consultants to help decide the fate of 30 plants. With a demand for water forecast to triple in the next 15 years, about $53 billion is needed to boost desalination capacity to 10.7 million cubic meters a day by 2020. The goal, SWCC representatives say, is to liquidate their smaller production plants and develop more efficient and higher-volume desal plants to meet their needs.

Asia

Contaminated water impacts millions in China More than four million people have had their drinking water shut off after a chemical plant explosion polluted a river with toxic benzene in Harbin, China. Home to about 3.8 million people, Harbins water system was shut down for nearly a week after the accident, which also contaminated irrigation systems for neighboring agricultural communities. Fears of toxic drinking water have set off a panic in the region, leaving bottled water and other goods in short supply. The explosion, which occurred Nov. 13, also forced the shutdown of water supplies in at least one district of Songyuan City in the neighboring Jilin province, the Associated Press reported, though national local officials have denied it.

Sea ice for irrigation A new method for extracting fresh water from ocean ice has been developed by Chinese scientists. Salinity from the water extracted from the ice is below 0.2 percent, within the threshold for potable water and would be ideal for irrigation purposes. An appraisal panel organization by the Chinese Ministery of Education has concluded that the technology is ripe for a large-scale experiment and industrial production. Researchers from Beijing Normal University said processing the ice water in the Bohai Sea along would yield 30 billion cubic meters of fresh water annually.

South India hit by waterborne disease The Daily Times of India is reporting an outbreak of waterborne diseases in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu after the region was battered by several weeks of heavy rains. More than 30 cases of cholera and 40 cases of dengue fever have been reported in Chnnai, the joint health commissioner in Tamil Nadu's state capital said. Following crushing rains during the October monsoons in the same region, the newspaper reported 82 people had died from similar disease.

Nepal school uses recycled water Students of the Bal Premi High School in Sunga, Madhyapur Thimi, will soon start using water generated by treatment of the sewage of the surrounding area. The new water will not be used for drinking, it will be used for flushing toilets and cleaning. The school will receive water obtained from the Reed Bed Treatment System, a project constructed by the local community with the funds from and technical support by the Nepalese Environment and Public Health Organization.

Australia

Sydney reduces water consumption Four Sydney companies have been praised for achieving significant water savings at the annual Every Drop Counts Business Sustainability Awards. The program has attracted almost 300 members and generated a total savings of more than 17.7 million liters each day. Moreover, Western Water has developed a plan to recycle 100 percent of treated sewage for 'beneficial use' by December 2006, the Australian Water Association reports. Through strategic improvements and investments, the company has already increased its recycled water content from 61 percent to 88 percent.