Mike Lodge is CEO at Arvia Technology, a provider of advanced tertiary water and wastewater treatment systems. Here, he discusses the dangers of micropollutants in our water and how fighting the issue must be a combined effort by governments, businesses and consumers alike.
Micropollutants in our waterways is an issue which is causing concern across a number of sectors. Some of the biggest challenges are faced by those industries who we heavily depend on – pharmaceutical, chemical, farming, oil, and textiles industries – and each of these sectors bring a whole set of unique challenges. As analytical techniques develop, more and more micropollutants are being discovered in our water bodies.
There is a growing list of substances produced as a result of manufacturing products such as veterinary medications, pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals, all of which are finding their way through conventional wastewater treatment processes into raw water supplies.
Fortunately, there are collaborative groups being set up in order to support the UK Government’s 25-year plan to improve the environment. The plan states, “This 25 Year Environment Plan sets out government action to help the natural world regain and retain good health. It aims to deliver cleaner air and water in our cities and rural landscapes, protect threatened species and provide richer wildlife habitats.”
Water which has been inadequately treated and contains micropollutants has far reaching consequences; from antimicrobial resistance to population decreases in aquatic species and the bioaccumulation of micropollutants in the food chain.
Additionally, there is ongoing assessments of the possible immediate and long-term consequences of the presence of contaminants of emerging concern (micropollutants).
It is clear that they could pose a variety of threats to the environment, human health and the viability of public/industrial wastewater reuse.
Collaboration is the key to clean water
It’s safe to say that collaboration is required between industrial manufacturers, technology providers, domestic water users and water companies so that micropollutants in waterways and drinking water can be removed completely, or in the meantime, reduced to safer levels.
There is a partnership called RAPID (Regulators Alliance for Progressing Infrastructure Development) between the 3 key water regulators in the UK: The Environment Agency, The Drinking Water Inspectorate and OFWAT. Its aim is to encourage further collaboration and dynamically monitor how the efforts of joint working are progressing in-line with the 25-year plan.
The collaboration strives to improve regulation and remove barriers to help the water sector respond to long term water resource challenges. Movements like RAPID are what is required to make a tangible difference, and with more regulations introduced, manufacturers and utility companies alike will have no choice but to treat their water to higher levels.
RAPID just acts in the UK but similar water regulation alliances exist around the world.
Current Wastewater Regulations
Rising levels of micropollutants are a major concern for consumers and, of course, the controlling bodies. The response has been stringent regulations on a global and local scale. Unfortunately, traditional methods of treating water are failing to remove trace level organic contaminants to meet strict discharge regulations; the EU and UK regulations being some of the strictest in the world.
If we continue to allow clean water supplies to deplete at the current rate, the world is expected to reach the point where demand for unpolluted water outstrips the available supply by 60 percent in 2030 – only 10 years’ time. Improving the environmental sustainability and economic viability of our water resources is vital to avoid this predicted gap.
New Water Technology
For many businesses, it’s difficult to remove micropollutants to water compliant levels, without incurring heavy costs or creating secondary waste.
The positive news is that technology in this area has made vast improvements and there are now cost-effective treatment options which do not impact upon the environment. Many businesses are now being forced to look for new technology because the existing technology just does not remove the persistent organic pollutants.
We have been working to solve the problem of removing these persistent toxins from water for years. Our advanced water process combines adsorption and electrochemical oxidation which means the media is able to regenerate itself during the process. This negates the need for high maintenance costs and long down time required by other processes.
In addition our process does not use chemical dosing and does not produce any toxic sludge which needs incineration, so it’s a clean technology worthy of its eco friendly credentials.
But most importantly, our process selectively treats even trace levels of contaminants, ensuring our clients can meet the low COD target levels set by the EU Water Framework Directive.
So with targeted pollutant removal, lower operating costs and minimal maintenance, Arvia Technology is well placed to help clients around the world ensure regulatory compliance. We can support both the industrial manufacturers to prevent these chemicals reaching water sources, along with water companies to remove them from wastewater and from raw water when this is abstracted for further use.
It’s obvious that the time to act is now, and concerted efforts to reduce our exposure to micropollutants must be made by properly treating water both at the source and before it enters our waterways.
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