CAROL R. REGO
PAUL K. WESTERHOFF
Arizona State University
Water supply and distribution of safe drinking water were acclaimed as the fourth most significant engineering accomplishment of the 20th century by the National Society of Professional Engineers. Across America and worldwide not only are water resources becoming scarce but access to unpolluted water is also extremely difficult. Technologies to provide safe drinking water must be relatively inexpensive and capable of treating enormous volumes of water 24/7. In the United States alone approximately 40 billion gallons of water are treated to drinking water standards each day. The application of new technologies is often driven by new or more stringent regulations rather than pure technological advancements, although increasing attention to consumer perceptions is becoming important criteria for design. One example of this latter trend is how the water industry is struggling with addressing emerging contaminants, such as trace levels of pharmaceuticals, that are now ubiquitous in the environment. While these may pose an insignificant health concern, the public’s perception is becoming increasingly important.
This session will focus on technologies that have undergone significant growth in their application as drinking water treatments over the last decade. A common trend in new technologies is that while they have a smaller physical footprint, they are more energy intensive (e.g., pressurized membrane filtration, ultraviolet irradiation). This can be contrasted to the use of lower energy-consuming biological processes. This session will conclude by addressing how water quality changes after it is treated at a centralized facility and distributed through networks of underground pipes to consumers. Society will continue to
demand high-quality tap water over the next century, and new technologies and management approaches need to be developed.
In summary, the concept for this session will be, first, to feature the latest advancements in three technologies for producing high-quality water, and then conclude with a presentation on the distribution system, which is the final frontier that must be explored to holistically provide safe water to consumers.