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March 2006: Volume 48, Number 3

Regional News: United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa

United States

WQA input corrects Tenn. soft water misinformation Publicity generated by the Water Quality Association has led water officials in Nashville, Tenn. to review online content pertaining to soft water and to remove an article that contained misinformation about water softeners and their safety, the association said. In November, the WQA sent a letter to Metro Water Services seeking to have the article, Soft Water: It's Not For Drinking removed from the site because of a multitude of incorrect statements about softening and its affects on consumers. The letter went unanswered until the WQA published their complaint on www.wqa.org and in their January 2006 WQA Industry Update. Within days, the municipality for the water agency pulled the article off the website and has since referred staff to work with the WQA to clear up any additional misleading or inaccurate information about softened water.

Did U.S. troops receive tainted water in Iraq? Contaminated water at the U.S. military base Camp Junction City in Ramadi, Iraq was provided to troops and civilians by military contractor Halliburton, despite attempts by the companys employees to inform camp residents, the Associated Press reports. Halliburton disputes the allegations, even though they were made by its employees and documented in company emails. 'The level of contamination was roughly twice the normal contamination of untreated water from the Euphrates River,' one internal company memo stated. The AP obtained the documents from Senate Democrats, who are holding a public inquiry into the allegations. A spokeswoman for Halliburton told the AP that the company found neither contaminated water nor medical evidence to substantiate reports of illnesses at the base and that it now operates its own water treatment plant there.

Perchlorate guidance: 24.5 ppb The U.S. EPA has issued a new protective guidance for cleaning up perchlorate contamination, recommending a preliminary cleanup goal of 24.5 ppb in water. The agency had previously proposed that a safe level of the rocket fuel chemical would be one ppb, but revised its recommendation after input from the U.S. Department of Defense. According to the agency, the new guidance is derived from its reference dose for perchlorate which is based on the 2005 recommendations and conclusions of the nation's foremost science advisory committee, the National Academy of Sciences. Perchlorate has been found in water in 35 states (see Viewpont).

More EPA news... The agency has also announced plans to allocate an additional $18 million for national water quality monitoring programs. These funds supplement an existing allocation of about $200 million to support state, interstate agency and tribal programs to combat water pollution. A detailed explanation of the supplemental funding and the prioritization structure for administering the funds can be found at www.epa.gov/owm/cwfinance/altformula-fy06.htm

AquaCell signs agreement with Winn-Dixie AquaCell Technologies has announced that its subsidiary, AquaCell Media, has signed an agreement with Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. to install its selffilling water coolers in 434 supermarkets with pharmacies, the Soft Drink Letter reports. Additionally, test programs were continuing at CVS Pharmacy and Kmart, where coolers were installed in 2004 and 2005. AquaCell anticipates that over the next year, several thousand new locations will be added to its already extensive placement in 1,300 Rite Aid and Duane Reade drug stores. The expanded distribution creates increased advertising revenue, since these coolers feature 'Coolertising' ad panels. Unilever Inc. and CBS have advertised new soap products and television shows on the coolers in the past six months.

AFS adds benefits for sponsors The American Filtration & Separations Society (AFS) has implemented new benefits and programs for corporate sponsors. These include on-site availability of the AFS Filtration Short Course program, a plant floor section added to all AFS Expos where users can view filtration and separation equipment and products operated in real time and admission to the AFS Filtration Pavilion at the 2006 Powder & Bulk Solids Show in May. Additionally, the Filtration Employment Opportunities Program facilitates networking between companies and qualified participants. For more information or to become a corporate sponsor, visit www.afssociety.org

It could be a contender... Actor Sylvester Stallone has announced plans to produce his own brand of designer bottled water. Known as Sly, the water will be marketed to restaurants, hotels, gyms and on the Internet, United Press International reports. The 20-oz. bottles are expected to cost $2.50 each and will be sourced from Mount Rainier Carbon Glacier in Washington state.

Lead levels declining in S.C. A host of corrosion controls have helped to improve drinking water in Richland County, S.C., only three months after their initial installation, The State newspaper reports. The controls have helped to make the water less corrosive and reduced the likelihood of lead leaching from water system pipes into neighborhood drinking water systems, according to city monitoring agencies. While welcome news, many residents are angry that it took so long to make the change, since the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control first pushed for the local water company to install the controls in 1985.

AC Hall of Fame nominees Nomination letters are now being sought for the Activated Carbon Hall Of Fame Awards to be presented at the 18th and 19th International Activated Carbon Conference & Courses. Designed to recognize outstanding achievement and innovation in the AC industry, the nomination process is always open and considerations include inventions, new manufacturing, modification of carbons, stewardship, new products and services, educators and business developers (both domestic and international). For more information on the awards or to submit a nomination letter, visit www.pacslabs.com

City hall offered Brita donation Brita Products Co. offered to donate water treatment pitchers to San Franciso City Hall, one day after a local newspaper reported that the city spent about $500,000 a year on bottled water. Since July 2001, city records show San Francisco spent $2.36 million in public funds on bottled water and related expenses like paper cups and dispensers, The Chronicle reported. Brita said it will send 10 free pitchers each to the mayor, 11 members of the Board of Supervisors and 47 city departments that used the bottled water last year. The company says its filters improve the taste and remove sediment that some municipal workers cite as justification for buying bottled water. 'That's very aquatically philanthropic of them,' Supervisor Jake McGoldrick told The Chronicle. The only member of the Board who does not have bottled water delivered to his office, McGoldrick has called for a hearing into the city's spending on bottled water.

Detroit to increase waterprices The Detroit Water and Sewerage Board has increased water rates to cover more capital improvements to its system, which provides service in over 125 communities. Combined water and sewer rates for suburban customers increased by 5.3 percent and rose by 6.9 percent for city customers, the Detroit News reported. Effective on July 1 if approved by the Detroit City Council, the rise means an additional $1.15 monthly for suburban consumers and $3.10 for those living in Detroit.


CIPH requests uniform conservation plumbing The Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating has issued a nationwide call for uniform implementation of conservation-type plumbing products for both new construction and replacements. The organization, which says the products will save millions of gallons of water each year, is lobbying individual provinces and territories to mandate the usage and has already successfully implemented similar plans in Vancouver, Calgary and the Province of Ontario.

Ontario starts $67.5 million tap water program Ontario is pouring $67.5 million into a program to map out sources of Ontario drinking water and figure out how much can be tapped, the Canadian Water Quality Association reports. The five-year plan will be part of a larger effort to better safeguard drinking water, with most of the money (about $51 million) going to municipalities for technical studies that analyze water quality and flag potential threats. The remaining money will be used to fund about 100 more professional staff and resources to develop local source water protection plans.

Toxins found in Canadians' blood Environmental Defence, a group of environmental activists, has called upon the federal government to increase industry accountability for toxic chemical pollution in national waterways after releasing a report which shows that Canadians have more than 40 chemicals that can cause reproductive disorders, cancer or other diseases in their bloodstream. On average, 44 chemicals were found in each person studied, most likely from the ingestion of contaminated drinking water and food products, the Canadian Water Works Association reports.


Water cooler growth slows While the number of bottled water coolers in Western Europe has grown by 6.4 percent to over 1.75 million, that growth is slowing, reflecting market maturation, Zenith International reports. Cooler volumes rose by 1.2 percent to reach 1,317 million liters, compared to an overall bottled water dip of 4.2 percent. With 33 percent of the 2004 volume, the United Kingdom remains the largest West European cooler market by a substantial margin; France retains 15 percent while Spain and Italy follow with 10 and nine percent, respectively. Over the next five years, Zenith forecasts doubling capacity in Italy, Spain and Portugal, with the region as a whole surpassing 2.7 million units and volume sales of 2,100 million liters.

Increasing Russian water financing With the need to refurbish and upgrade the aging water treatment and wastewater infrastructure in Russia, international loans and financing programs


$3.3 billion for Songhua cleanup The Chinese government has reportedly earmarked more than $3.3 billion for water remediation in the Songhua River basin where contamination poisoned drinking water supplies for millions late last year. The funds, part of a five-year cleanup plan, are aimed at providing safe drinking water by 2010 for more than 90 percent of the people living close to the river (an estimated 62.5 million people). An estimated 70 percent of China's rivers are contaminated by pollution, raising serious questions about the cost of the country's economic boom, Reuters reports.


Millions without water, food The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that 11 million people in the horn of Africa are on the brink of starvation and in desperate need of food aid, water, livestock and seeds, CNN reports. Recent severe droughts have compounded the already dire situation in the region and reports of deaths are beginning to mount in Somalia and eastern Kenya.