WEF's membership newsletter covers current Federation activities, Member Association news, and items of concern to the water quality field. WEF Highlights is your source for the most up-to-the-minute WEF news and member information.  

July / August 2010, Vol. 47, No. 6

Top Story

Invasive Species?
St. Paul, Minn., public pools benefit from New Zealand moss

A sphagnum moss harvested in New Zealand is working to keep pools and spas clean in St. Paul, Minn.

In 1998 vascular-trauma surgeon David Knighton learned that World War I soldiers who had their wounds packed with moss had a high survival rate. Soon afterward, he traveled to Minnesota, where the waters that contain moss are known to be clear and clean. Putting the two together, Knighton surmised that the moss was cleaning the water as it helped clean the soldiers’ wounds, he said.

In 2001, Knighton and his colleague Vance Fiegel founded Creative Water Solutions (Plymouth, Minn.). After testing many species of sphagnum moss, they found that two species have the ability to absorb heavy metals, help stabilize acidity, prevent bacteria fungus growth, and inhibit biofilm formation, Knighton said. One of these species is found in northern Minnesota, and the other is grown in New Zealand. The company uses the New Zealand moss because there is a location that mass produces and sells the moss for soil amendments.  
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Sphagnum moss from New Zealand before its leaves are hand-harvested, sterilized, and compressed for water treatment. Photo courtesy of Creative Water Solutions (Plymouth, Minn.). Click for larger image.

System Operation
Moss-Biofilm Graphic Small When bacteria that build up inside the pipes and liners of pools and spas begin to colonize in aqueous environments, a biofilm starts to form. This biofilm forms a protective coating around the bacteria and is resistant to typical concentrations of chemicals used to clean pools and spas, according to the Creative Water Solutions media packet.

Because the moss appears to inhibit biofilm formation, bacteria are less resistant to cleaning chemicals, so fewer chemicals are needed to effectively control bacteria. In addition, the company’s studies have found that moss helps stabilize acidity, further reducing the amount of chemicals needed.

“I’m convinced the noxious part of most pools isn’t due to the chlorine,” Knighton said. “It’s due to the triochloral nitrates and trimethyl halides. They’re the byproducts of chlorine in an aqueous environment with a lot of biological matter.”
An illustration of biofilm protecting bacteria from chlorine in aqueous environments. Photo courtesy of Creative Water Solutions. Click for larger image.






For the filtration system, moss leaves are cut and inserted into a fine-mesh plastic container. The amount of moss needed depends on the biological load and size of the waterbody that is being treated, Knighton said. Since the moss leaves are not alive, they lose the ability to treat water and have to be replaced.

In pools, moss packets can be placed either in the surge tanks where excess water flows or in an off-line system where water is exposed to the moss and then filtered back into the pool. In residential spas, the packets can be inserted with the regular filters, but commercial spas need a special delivery system, Knighton said. 

Moss Benefits
The City of St. Paul, Minn., decided to look into new ways to clean its pools after residents complained about the chemicals used at a community meeting, explained Lynn Waldorf, supervisor of the St. Paul Aquatics Department. Waldorf and a city consultant sat in on a meeting with Knighton and decided that the system would work. She took the idea to the city’s officials, who accepted it mainly because the city did not have to change any of its practices, and received the state health department’s approval, she said.

Both the city’s outdoor and indoor facilities have a variety of pool sizes, ranging from 75 to 1665 m3 (20,000 to 440,000 gal). After the moss packets were installed last summer, Waldorf started to see a difference in water quality within 2 to 3 weeks in the outdoor pools and within about a month in the indoor pools, Waldorf said.  
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Dr. David Knighton examines a moss refill that helps control biofilm formation in the children’s activity pool at the Highland Park Aquatic Center in St. Paul, Minn. Photo courtesy of Laurel Edwards, City of St. Paul Parks and Recreation. Click for larger image. 
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Above, the Highland Park Aquatic Center's Olympic-sized pool. Photo courtesy of Dr. David Knighton, Creative Water Solutions. Below, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman discusses the moss-based water treatment program at the Highland Park Aquatic Center last summer. Photo courtesy of Edwards. Click for larger images.
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Knighton conducted surveys and water tests throughout the summer at both public pool locations. “We had a number of remarkable findings in the experiments,” he said. Turbidity levels and chlorine consumption decreased, and the need for cyanuric acid was eliminated because there was no loss of free chlorine, he said. 

The filter system of the outdoor pool used to require cleaning twice a week, Waldorf said. After installing the moss filtration system, this requirement was reduced to twice a month The city also was able to decrease the amount of chemicals used, reducing chemical expenses by approximately 40%, Waldorf said. “We started decreasing our chemical usage, and our pools were fabulous,” she added. “They were clean.”

More people started using the pool once the city announced the moss filtration, resulting in $100,000 additional revenue last summer. Knighton conducted surveys with pool users three times a week during the summer and received much positive feedback, he said.

Since last summer, the demand for sphagnum moss in the city’s public pools has spiked. Now, there are approximately 30 commercial pools that have installed and are testing the product, Knighton said.

The system will pay for itself in approximately 1 year, Waldorf said.

More Moss?
Knighton has installed a home version of the system on 10 test sites, including his own home. “You just have to change the moss once a month,” he said. The system, similar to a hot-water heater, deposits all the treated water piped into the house in a holding tank that contains the moss packets, he said. The water is then pulled out when faucets are turned on.

The company also is studying the potential applications for moss filtration in cooling towers and steam units and in ponds. This summer, it will install a system in a trout pond and a golf course pond that both become contaminated from fertilizer use. The moss filtration system will be included in each pond’s water-recirculation system, and at approximately 15,000 m3 (4 million gal) each, they will be the first large-scale tests for the system, Knighton said. He hopes to use this to find a way to treat larger volumes of water, as in wastewater treatment applications, he added. In addition, he is researching new applications for the moss in the agricultural, medical, and commercial industries, he said.

Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights
Green Center Hosts WEFTEC® 2010

New Orleans - Metal Recycle Bin Small

The New Orleans Morial Convention Center, location of the Oct. 2­–6 WEFTEC® 2010, boasts an impressive, environmentally friendly résumé. Choosing an environmentally conscious venue for its annual technical conference is one way the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) works to reduce its environmental impact.

As the sixth largest convention center in the United States, with 102,190 m2 (1.1 million ft2) of contiguous exhibit space, the center has many opportunities to make greener choices and continually evaluates its actions in the areas of waste reduction, energy conservation, water conservation, and clean air to improve the sustainability of its practices and services, according to the center’s Green Brochure.

A recycle station with depositories for trash, paper, and cans and bottles. Photo courtesy of Rosalie Mortillaro, New Orleans Morial Convention Center. Click for larger image.

Waste Reduction
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New Orleans - Recycle Cans Small Features
Trash cans at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center are repainted by Elaine Thompson (above) and repurposed as recycling stations (left). Photos courtesy of Mortillaro. Click for larger images.
To manage waste, the center established recycle stations throughout the facility and tracks the amount of materials recycled. To further reduce waste operations, staff members suggested reusing the center’s 25-year-old fiberglass trash cans, originally destined for a landfill, according to a convention center news release. More than 200 trash cans were sanded down, fitted with holes, and repainted by staff. Sets of three bins — one for paper, one for plastic, and one for waste — were placed together to make recycle stations that appear throughout the facility, the news release says.

The center also has committed to recycling cardboard, contributing excess food to local food banks, making bulk purchases to reduce consumption of packaging materials, equipping meeting rooms with reusable linens, providing water coolers instead of bottled water, using china for catered events, and recycling toner cartridges and other office supplies whenever possible, according to the center’s brochure. In addition, it purchases paper products that contain recycled and post-consumer content, and has installed electronic signs outside meeting rooms to reduce the need for disposable signs, according to the center’s 2009 Sustainability Project Summary.

Energy Conservation
New Orleans - Meeting Room Small 
Electronic signs label meeting rooms at the convention center. Photo courtesy of Mortillaro. Click for larger image.
This year, the center will attempt to attain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, according to the Sustainability Project Summary. To do this, it will record and report efficiencies and compliance with the U.S. Green Building Council (GBC; Washington, D.C.) environmental categories of Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, and Indoor Environmental Quality.

During the past 2 years, the center has increased its green efforts with a large focus on energy conservation. It recently installed a computerized energy-management system that controls all of the building’s air handlers, chillers, cooling towers, pumps, and boilers in public areas and meeting spaces to minimize energy consumption. In addition, the center now uses variable air-volume controls on localized heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) units to ensure efficient use of energy in meeting rooms and other areas that can experience varying temperatures from windows, lighting, ceiling height, and number of people. By monitoring different spaces individually and electronically, the system adjusts temperature automatically where needed, which results in lower energy use.

Energy-efficient lighting and low-mercury lamps have been installed throughout the entire facility. The center has replaced more than 6000 outside incandescent lights with light-emitting diode (LED) lamps, saving an estimated 88% in energy. The center will continue to install LED and/or induction lighting in any other areas possible. Daylight sensors for exterior lighting and manual control of escalators and other equipment are additional energy-saving activities, the brochure says.

Water Conservation and Clean Air
To conserve water, the center installed low-flow and automatic faucets in restrooms and equipped landscaping irrigation systems with rain sensors to prevent excessive use of water, the brochure says.

Starting in October, the center will begin installing two cooling-water towers and four energy-efficient chillers. The new chillers will cool only as needed, reducing the amount of water that runs through the cooling coils or the system as a whole. The conversion is scheduled to be completed in December.

To help keep air clean, the center uses nontoxic cleaners whenever possible; performs annual maintenance on all air units and coils; conducts preventive maintenance and testing on boilers, fire pumps, and generators; and installed new preventive maintenance software for improved accounting for all maintenance, the sustainability summary says. In addition, the center has replaced semipermanent air-handling filters with Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value 13 filters, which meet GBC’s Indoor Air Quality credit for cleaner air. The filters are designed to efficiently keep dust or debris out of the HVAC system, improving airflow rates and system operation.

As an additional benefit, the center’s in-house caterer, ARAMARK (Philadelphia), has developed an environmental stewardship program and policy that includes efforts to increase purchase of organic and locally grown or locally sourced products, the brochure says.

So, when you travel to New Orleans for WEFTEC this fall, be on the lookout for the center’s bright yellow recycle stations, low-flow faucets, and energy-efficient lighting as visible reminders of the center’s and WEF’s commitment to the environment.

Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights
Schnoor Receives NWRI Award

Photo courtesy of the National Water Research Institute (Fountain Valley, Calif.). 
Environmental engineer and University of Iowa (Iowa City) professor Jerald L. Schnoor will be the 17th recipient of the National Water Research Institute (NWRI; Fountain Valley, Calif.) Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke Prize for excellence in water research.

Schnoor, a Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.) member since 1975, is scheduled to receive the 2010 Clarke Prize on July 15 at the 17th Annual Clarke Prize Lecture and Award Ceremony in California, according to an NWRI news release. The prize includes a medallion and $50,000 award.

“Schnoor was selected because of his leadership and impact on promoting the sustainable use of water,” the news release says. The annual award was established in 1993 to recognize outstanding research scientists who have demonstrated excellence in water-science research and technology.

Since 1977, Schnoor has taught courses in groundwater, environmental modeling, water quality, and sustainable systems at the university, where he serves as Allen S. Henry Chair of Engineering. He also co-founded and co-directs its Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, the news release says.

Early in his career, Schnoor developed models of the complex chemistry of acid rain and its impact on aquatic systems, which resulted in his “Trickle Down” model being adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and later used to guide the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, the news release says. He also was one of the first to investigate using plants to take up toxic organic chemicals and other pollutants. More recently, Schnoor chaired a U.S. National Research Council committee on Water Implications of Biofuels Production in the United States.

Schnoor is author of more than 150 peer-reviewed journal articles and editor or author of seven textbooks, and has served on the editorial board of several journals. He also has served as editor-in-chief of the journal Environmental Science & Technology for 7 years, the news release says.  

In Memoriam: Harvey F. Ludwig, Engineering-Science Inc. Founder and CWEA Past President

In Memoriam - Ludwig Small Harvey F. Ludwig, founder of Engineering-Science Inc. and past president of the California Water Environment Association (CWEA; Oakland), died April 24 at the age of 94.

“Many outstanding engineers and scientists have shaped our field since its inception,” said Timothy G. Shea, senior principal technologist at CH2M Hill (Englewood, Colo.). “Harvey F. Ludwig was one of the legends.” Ludwig helped shape environmental legislation and policy while working for the U.S. Public Health Service, Shea said. “We live today with the legislative framework that he helped build,” he added.

Ludwig worked for the Public Health Service during World War II, Ludwig Bros. Engineers from 1947 to 1949, and University of California, Berkeley, from 1949 to 1951. His career then took him back to the Public Health Service from 1951 to 1956, and then to Engineering-Science Inc. from 1957 to 1972 and Seatec International in Bangkok from 1973 to 2004. After 2004, he worked as a private consultant. 
Photo courtesy of the Ludwig family. Click for larger image.

In addition to being a Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) member since 1938 and president of CWEA in 1965, Ludwig also was a member of WEF’s board of control, representing California from 1966 to 1969. He founded the Asian Society of Environmental Engineers (Pathum Thani, Thailand) and helped form the American Academy of Environmental Engineers (Annapolis, Md.), Association of Environmental Engineers and Science Professors (Champaign Ill.), and Asian Academy of Environmental Engineers (Bangkok). In addition, Ludwig was a member of these organizations, as well as the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE; Reston, Va.), American Water Works Association (Denver), American Public Health Association (Washington, D.C.), and the Conference of U.S. Federal Sanitary Engineers.

Throughout his career, Ludwig received many awards, including the WEF Harrison Prescott Eddy Medal in 1954 and the ASCE Rudolph Hering Medal in 1953 and again in 1956. He was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (Washington, D.C.) in 1969.

Ludwig was the author of eight textbooks and approximately 300 papers on sanitary and environmental engineering, and published his autobiography, Adventures in Consulting Engineering, in 1985. “Harvey as a personality and as an engineer is not only a legend but an institution,” Shea said. “His influence continues.”

Web Site Resources — Bay Backpack Provides One-Stop Shop for Educational Tools
Web Resource - BayBackpack LogoThe Chesapeake Bay Program (Annapolis, Md.) Education Workgroup launched www.baybackpack.com to help teachers and environmental educators engage students in hands-on learning about Chesapeake Bay and its local waterways.

The new Web site includes more than 500 resources supporting classroom studies, including books, lesson plans, and curriculum guides, according to a Chesapeake Bay Foundation (Annapolis) news release. The site also features an interactive map listing outdoor educational programs throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed, a training calendar with professional development opportunities for educators, and a list of grant programs that provide funding to support environmental education. A blog on the site discusses new education initiatives and other resources, such as ideas for classroom projects, and enables educators to share information by posting comments or writing guest entries, the news release says. The site also encourages visitors to follow it on Twitter and Facebook, and to sign up for RSS updates and an e-newsletter.

The site is designed to help teachers provide their students with a meaningful watershed educational experience and an understanding of environmental issues in the bay and other local waterways. The Chesapeake Bay Program is attempting to ensure that all students in the watershed receive these experiences before graduating from high school, the news release says.
Web Resource - BayBackpackScreenShot
Photos courtesy of Krissy Hopkings, Chesapeake Bay Program(Annapolis, Md.).