You've probably seen the predictions: Droughts and floods have disrupted the constant flow of good quality water in the U.S. and elsewhere. And quality of the water we do have has been found to be contaminated in several areas by contaminants other than the usual suspects. Pharmaceutical waste, chemotherapy drugs and other types of hospital and medical waste are considered contaminants of emerging concern -- and many are untouched by typical water treatment processes.
The city of Nanaimo's water treatment plant treats water from the local river system. Unfortunately, high levels of turbidity (visible particles suspended in the water) were forcing the city to advise citizens to boil their water as a precaution when that happened. And the city also had to come up with a way to comply with increasingly strict new regulations on waterborne illness prevention.
As the news release below explains, technology from Council Lead Partner GE not only provided the city with water that is clean and safe, it also enabled the city's new treatment plant to use fewer chemicals and less power -- and reduce the amount of waste it generates. -- Doug Peeples
New Water Treatment Plant on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Provides Safer Drinking Water with GE Technology
TREVOSE, PA. -- April 7, 2016 -- The city of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, today inaugurated a new water treatment plant featuring GE's (NYSE: GE) ZeeWeed* membrane technology to purify water from the Nanaimo River into drinking water. Prior to the opening of the new plant, the city had experienced boil water advisories due to elevated turbidity. Operating since December 2015, the South Fork Water Treatment Plant meets new regulations to prevent waterborne illnesses and provides safer drinking water for the 90,000 residents of Nanaimo with GE’s ultrafiltration system.
To meet new regulations, the city was required to build a new facility that would filter the source water to screen out minute particles, bacteria and pathogenic disease-causing organisms such as cryptosporidium and giardia. Nanaimo’s new water plant features GE’s ZeeWeed 1000 and ZeeWeed 500d membrane technology, which produces high-quality, safe drinking water.
“Our new water treatment plant provides Nanaimo residents and businesses safe, clean, purified drinking water that tastes amazing. The innovative membrane system provides a hard barrier to protect the health of our citizens. Being the only plant in Canada that exclusively uses gravity to siphon water through the membranes is an exciting and highly efficient innovation,” said Bill Sims, manager, water resources for the city of Nanaimo. “We have secured a healthy and safe drinking water supply for multiple generations in Nanaimo.”
The city’s previous system was a single form of treatment involving coarse and fine screening of water to remove large debris followed by chlorine injection. The new system using GE technology is a multibarrier approach to safe drinking water with a fine-screening, two-stage siphon membrane system and chlorine disinfection. The first membrane stage consists of seven trains of ZeeWeed 1000 modules. The second stage, consisting of four trains of ZeeWeed 500d membranes followed by ultraviolet disinfection, treats the backwash water from the first stage to increase overall plant recovery to more than 99 percent. The plant is capable of treating up to 116 million liters per day (30 million gallons).
The South Fork of the Nanaimo River watershed covers 230 square kilometers—an area three times larger than the city. Its two storage lakes, Jump Lake and South Fork Lake, collect water, rain and snowmelt flowing from the mountains. Raw water quality can be severely impacted by weather events such as heavy rainfall or rapid snow melt, and GE’s ZeeWeed membranes enable the city to meet the drinking water quality criteria while reducing chemical and power consumption and minimizing the production of waste from the facility.
“Stricter regulations and the desire of municipalities to produce safe and reliable drinking water are driving more creative and innovative water treatment solutions. GE’s ZeeWeed technology for the Nanaimo plant is a change from the city’s previous water treatment approach to a membrane-based water treatment facility. This multibarrier approach will filter out contaminants and bacteria for a safer water supply,” said Kevin Cassidy, global leader, engineered systems—water and process technologies for GE Power.
GE's ZeeWeed technology is an advanced filtration technology that separates particles, bacteria and viruses from water or wastewater. Nearly 1,000 plants worldwide use this technology to produce superior quality water. Its unique ability to handle high large volumes of water in a small footprint, combined with the highly efficient process with low energy and low chemical usage, makes it ideal for treating raw water sources and producing drinking quality water for cities and populated areas.
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Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.