Water Resources Professional Project Reports

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Effective and affordable arsenic removal from drinking water has become a significant issue recently. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has promulgated a new maximum contaminant level (MCL) for arsenic in drinking water which will take effect in January 2004. The current arsenic MCL of 50 micrograms per liter (ugll) was set by the United sates Public Health Service in 1943 and has not been reduced in nearly 60 years. Arsenic has been linked to various types of cancers, prompting EPA to change the standard. Due to the fact many water systems, especially small water utilities serving less than 10,000 people, will be impacted by a reduced standard much research is currently being done to fmd treatment technologies affordable enough for small water systems to implement and maintain. Many small water utilities lack the financial and technical resources required to construct and maintain centrally located water treatment facilities capable of removing arsenic. For this reason, many small water systems are exploring the option of using point-of-use (POU) systems. POU systems are typically installed under kitchen sinks and provide water from a separate tap to meet daily drinking and cooking needs. Several types ofPOU systems are readily available from various retailers. Reverse osmosis POU systems are the most common. There are also several types of POU filtration systems that utilize the adsorption process to remove organic contaminants from drinking water. Most POU filtration systems are designed to remove contaminants associated with taste and odor problems. None are specifically designed to remove arsenic. This project evaluated a POU filtration/adsorption system utilizing Activated Alumina FS-50 (AA FS-50). The POU system used for this project was fabricated from components of common home water treatment devices. The system was evaluated for perfonnance, affordability, longevity and applicability. State and federal regulations govern the use of POD water treatment systems. Strict rules must be followed by water systems utilizing POU systems. Possibly, residents of communities employing POU water treatment could perfonn the necessary maintenance required to keep the systems in compliance. This would reduce maintenance costs, making POD treatment more affordable, but current regulations would need to be changed. Data gathered during the study indicates effective arsenic removal by the system for 4,000 bed volumes (1 bed volume =lliter). Under nonnal operating conditions spent cartridges would only need to be replaced every 6-8 months. Manufacturing, installation and maintenance costs associated with the system may make it an effective and affordable treatment option for some small water systems.

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Arsenic regulation, Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), Maximum contaminant level (MCL), Community water systems, Chemical precipitation, Adsorption, Membrane separation technology, Point-of-use water treatment, Activated alumina, Lime softening


A Professional Project Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Water Resources, Water Resources Program, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 2001.