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DENVER--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Water Research Foundation and Water Environment & Reuse Foundation, in partnership with Birmingham Water Works Board and utilities from North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, have published a guidance manual for innovation based on successful programs in the utility and commercial sectors. The guidance manual, Fostering Innovation Within Water Utilities (WRF project #4642, WE&RF project #LIFT11C15), shows how utilities transform into idea factories, enabled by a sustainable culture of innovation, broad engagement of stakeholders, and effective leveraging of external resources. The manual presents a simple framework geared specifically toward utilities to foster a culture that encourages creativity and facilitates implementation of new ideas. “Utility structure and processes are built for reliability and repeatability, which can breed a culture averse to trying new and relatively untried ideas,” said Rob Renner, CEO of the Water Research Foundation. “Our hope is that water utilities will use this guidance manual to assess their innovation environment, which can foster new ideas and allow implementation of new approaches that will transform their organizations and enhance their ability to meet future challenges.” “Consistent with our experiences through the Leaders Innovation Forum for Technology, known as LIFT, this research team found that utilities recognize that to thrive they must provide a culture that supports innovation and manages new ideas as valuable resources,” explained Melissa Meeker, WE&RF CEO. “We are excited to share this guidance manual with the broader water community to foster our emerging culture of innovation.” The term “innovation” as used in this guidance manual is defined as the application of new ideas resulting in increased value to utility customers and/or increased utility productivity. Using published literature, global surveys, and lessons learned from current programs, the research team facilitated a series of workshops with water utility professionals from around the world to develop the framework. In total, project partners from 50 utilities, professional associations, and the commercial sector worked together to develop a knowledge base from over 30 innovation programs including 14 detailed case studies. The case studies provide an overview of the selected operations and innovation storyline, and detail how the organizations engage each of the eight innovation disciplines. Eleven case studies representing informal, formal, large, and medium innovation programs for water utilities were developed. In addition, three case studies of innovation in private sector companies were developed based on publicly available information and interviews with staff. A Webcast was held on May 2 previewing the results of the project. The archived version of the Webcast is available for viewing. The Principal Investigator for the project was Jason Carter, Delivery and Innovation Lead, North America, ARCADIS. The Water Research Foundation (WRF) is a leading not-for-profit research cooperative that advances the science of water to protect public health and the environment. Governed by utilities, WRF plans, manages, and delivers scientifically sound research solutions on the most critical challenges facing the water community in the areas of drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, and reuse. Over the last 50 years, WRF has sponsored nearly 1,500 research projects valued at $500 million, and serves more than 1,000 subscribing organizations. For more information, go to The Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF) is a 501c3 organization officially formed in July 2016 as the result of the merger of the Water Environment Research Foundation and the WateReuse Research Foundation. The merged research foundation, with a combined research portfolio representing over $200 million, conducts research to treat and recover beneficial materials from wastewater, stormwater, and seawater including water, nutrients, energy, and biosolids. For more information, go to

McFarland M.J.,Utah State University | Kumarsamy K.,Utah State University | Brobst R.B.,U.S. Environmental Protection Agency | Hais A.,Water Environment Research Foundation
Water Environment Research | Year: 2013

Using the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (U.S. EPA) Multimedia, Multi-pathway, Multi-receptor Exposure and Risk Assessment (3MRA) technology, a computer-based biosolids groundwater risk characterization screening tool (RCST) was developed. The objective of this study was to apply the RCST to characterize the potential human health risks associated with exposure to biosolid pollutants. RCST application to two Virginia biosolids land application sites predicted that pollutant concentrations as large as ten times the current regulatory limit could be safely applied to land with no apparent human health effects associated with groundwater consumption. Only under unrealistically high biosolids application rates and pollutant concentrations were the public health risks associated with groundwater impairment characterized as significant (hazard quotient >=1.0). For example, when the biosolids land application rate was increased to 900 Mg/ha and the pollutant concentrations were increased to ten times the legal limit, the hazard quotient value ranged from 1.27 (zinc) to 248.19 (selenium).

McFarland M.J.,Utah State University | Kumarsamy K.,Utah State University | Brobst R.B.,U.S. Environmental Protection Agency | Hais A.,Water Environment Research Foundation
Water Research | Year: 2012

Using the United States (US) Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Multimedia, Multi-pathway, Multi-receptor Exposure and Risk Assessment (3MRA) technology, a computer-based biosolids groundwater risk characterization screening tool (RCST) was developed. The RCST, which generates a non-carcinogenic human health risk estimate (i.e., hazard quotient or HQ value), has the ability to conduct screening-level risk-based characterization of potential human risks associated with pollutants released from biosolids land application sites. The HQ is a human health indicator that is equal to the ratio of the pollutant dose (mass of pollutant per unit body weight per time) to the specific pollutant reference dose (Rfd) which, in turn, is a human health benchmark defined by the EPA as a scientific estimate of the daily exposure level. A HQ value equal to or greater than one (1) suggests that the resulting conditions pose an unacceptable risk to human health.The focus of the current study was to evaluate whether the present regulatory limits established for biosolids pollutants (e.g., heavy metals) were sufficiently protective of human health associated with potential groundwater consumption using a new EPA risk assessment tool. Application of the RCST to two biosolids land application sites located near Columbus, Georgia predicted that, when the depth to groundwater was maintained at a distance of at least 2 m, regulated pollutant concentrations as large as ten (10) times the current regulatory limit (i.e., Title 40 of the US Code of Federal Regulations Part 503 - Ceiling Concentration Limit) could be safely land applied at rates as high as ninety (90) Megagrams per hectare (Mg ha-1) with no apparent non-carcinogenic human health effects associated with groundwater consumption. At these pollutant concentrations, the HQ ranged from 1.79 × 10-9 for cadmium to 3.03 × 10-3 for selenium.Only under unrealistically high biosolids application rates were the public health risks associated with groundwater impairment characterized as significant (HQ ≥ 1.0). For example, when the biosolids application rate was increased to 450 Megagrams per hectare (Mg ha-1) and the pollutant concentrations were increased to ten times the 40 CFR Part 503 Ceiling Concentration Limit, a HQ value of 2.23 was estimated (selenium). Similarly, when the biosolids application rate was increased to 900 Mg ha-1 and the pollutant concentrations were increased to ten times the regulatory limit, the HQ ranged varied from 1.4 (for zinc) to 324.0 (for selenium). © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Anderson B.S.,University of California at Davis | Phillips B.M.,University of California at Davis | Hunt J.W.,University of California at Davis | Clark S.L.,University of California at Davis | And 4 more authors.
Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety | Year: 2010

Regulation of waterbodies impaired due to sediment toxicity may require development of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) allocations to reduce chemicals of concern. A key step in this process is the identification of chemicals responsible for toxicity, and sediment toxicity identification evaluation procedures (TIEs) are the primary tools used to accomplish this. Several sites in San Diego Bay (CA, USA) are listed as impaired due to sediment toxicity associated with organic chemicals and metals, and due to degraded benthic macroinvertebrate communities. Sediment was collected from one of these sites, at the confluence of Switzer Creek in San Diego Harbor. The sediment was subjected to selected whole-sediment TIE treatments to evaluate the efficacy of these procedures for identifying the causes of toxicity at Switzer Creek. Toxicity was assessed using the estuarine amphipod Eohaustorius estuarius. The results indicated that toxicity of San Diego Bay sediment was likely partly due to mixtures of pyrethroid pesticides. These experiments showed that the effectiveness of the individual TIE procedures varied by treatment. Variability was mainly due to inconsistency between results of samples subjected to various Phase II TIE procedures, including chemical analyses of samples subjected to high-pressure liquid chromatography and direct analyses of acetone extractions of carbonaceous resin. The procedures require further refinement to ensure maximum sorption and complete elution and detection of sorbed chemicals. Despite these inconsistencies, the results indicate the utility of these procedures for identifying chemicals of concern in this system. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.

Falk M.W.,HDR | Reardon D.J.,HDR | Neethling J.B.,HDR | Clark D.L.,HDR | Pramanik A.,Water Environment Research Foundation
Water Environment Research | Year: 2013

This Water Environment Research Foundation study considered the relationship between varying nutrient-removal levels at wastewater treatment plants, greenhouse gas emissions, receiving water quality (measured by potential algal production), and costs. The effluent nutrient concentrations required by some U.S. permits are very low, approaching the technology-best-achievable performance. This study evaluated five different treatment levels at a nominal 40 ML/d (10 mgd) flow. Greenhouse gas emissions and costs increase gradually up to the technologies' best-achievable performance, after which they increase exponentially. The gradual increase is attributed to additional biological treatment facilities, increased energy and chemical use, and additional tertiary nitrogen and phosphorus removal processes. Within the limited focus of this study, the evaluation shows that a point of diminishing return is reached as nutrient-removal objectives approach the technology- best-achievable performance, where greenhouse gas emissions and cost of treatment increases rapidly while the potential for algal growth reduce marginally.

Sinha S.K.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Graf W.,Water Environment Research Foundation
Pipelines 2013: Pipelines and Trenchless Construction and Renewals - A Global Perspective - Proceedings of the Pipelines 2013 Conference | Year: 2013

This paper presents a methodology for developing a national database for wastewater and drinking water pipe infrastructure system. The database is titled as "WATERiD" and can be accessed at There are over 50,000 water utilities in the United States and no two are alike. However, there are common technologies used and lessons learned from their application can be shared. Until now, there has not been a platform where utilities can learn from the experience of others. The creation of WATERiD is enabling utilities to share their experiences and knowledge in a single point information center. Here, utilities can find relevant information on buried infrastructure sustainability from more than 150 American and 35 international utilities that participated in this research project. The data from utilities were compiled, taxonomically classified, and uploaded in WATERiD for sharing between the utilities. This paper describes a process for developing the database, including the architecture, critical functionalities such as upload and categorization, and future development work. Development of WATERiD was part of a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF). The proposed WATERiD+ the pipeline performance data project will build on the experience gained from developing and implementing WATERiD. © 2013 American Society of Civil Engineers.

Houdeshel C.D.,University of Utah | Pomeroy C.A.,University of Utah | Hair L.,U.S. Environmental Protection Agency | Moeller J.,Water Environment Research Foundation
Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering | Year: 2011

Tools were developed for estimating costs of vegetative roofs, rainwater catchment systems, and bioretention facilities. These tools provide a detailed framework to facilitate cost estimation for capital costs, operation and maintenance costs, and life-cycle net present value. The tools can provide users with planning-level cost estimates and serve as a format for cost-reporting for past, current, and future projects. Very little cost data was available in the public forum, and prolific inconsistencies of supporting details were found in the available cost data. To address this, design assumptions were established for each facility type and professionally prepared cost estimates based on these design assumptions were used. Electives in design, such as plant selection and media depth, also greatly affected costs. To make the user aware of these effects, the model separates each option into line items that can be elected or excluded as appropriate. To facilitate collecting future cost data, best management practice (BMP) designers and builders should use these tools to record actual costs and report them to a clearinghouse such as the BMP Database. © 2011 American Society of Civil Engineers.

Water Environment Research Foundation | Date: 2010-11-09

Downloadable software for analyzing and predicting effective storm water and waste water management; electronic downloadable publications in the nature of scientific reports and research studies in the fields of environmental protection, water quality, waste water and storm water management.

Water Environment Research Foundation | Date: 2010-05-04

Downloadable software for analyzing and predicting effective storm water and waste water management; electronic downloadable publications in the nature of scientific reports and research studies in the fields of environmental protection, water quality, waste water and storm water management. Administering and managing research grants; association services, namely, promoting public awareness in environmental protection, water quality issues and the effective treatment and management of waste water and storm water.

News Article | November 17, 2015

R&D Magazine selects the 100 most innovative scientific and technological breakthroughs of the year from nominations spanning private, academic and government institutions. These honors bring PNNL's total to 98 since the awards' inception in 1969. Cybersecurity software that knows its stuff If you're a hacker aimed at stealing credit card information from a retail company and you want to evade detection, massive amounts of network data are your ally. Analysts have the know-how to sort through this digital mess, but they often identify attacks too late. Analytical software developed at PNNL can help find these and other threats in near-real-time. That's because the software, called Columnar Hierarchical Auto-associative Memory Processing in Ontological Networks or CHAMPION, has the knowledge to sort through data like an analyst, but on a much greater scale. Scientists designed CHAMPION to use human analysts and historical data to learn about the company it's protecting. Starting with advanced Semantic Web technologies, which translate human knowledge into something that's machine readable, CHAMPION then uses descriptive logic to reason whether activity is suspicious. For example, if a retail company's HVAC data back-up account tries to access the point-of-sale system, CHAMPION could use historical data to conclude that this is unusual. Once identified, the software alerts an analyst of the suspicious activity—in time to potentially thwart an attack. Cybersecurity isn't CHAMPION's only trick. Change its diet of knowledge and the software can learn to analyze financial services or health care data. PNNL licensed the software to Champion Technology Company Inc. to pursue all three applications. The CHAMPION development team includes PNNL's Shawn Hampton, Rick Berg, Katya Pomiak and Patrick Paulson; Champion Technology Company's Ryan Hohimer, Alex Gibson and Peter Neorr; and former PNNL scientist Frank Greitzer. A new SPIN on an old technology At the heart of mass spectrometry is the ability to precisely measure tiny samples of substances such as chemicals in soil and water or cancer cells in a tissue sample. Collecting the most molecules possible into the device is a key step: the more molecules, the more sure scientists can be that their findings are accurate. The latest work builds on a previous PNNL creation of a device known as the Electrodynamic Ion Funnel. The ion funnel comprises a series of electrically charged rings that effectively funnel charged particles of interest into a small space where they can be measured and manipulated. But collecting those particles and getting them into the ion funnel is challenging. Many of the ions simply escape before passing through the small aperture into the funnel. The new development, known as SPIN or Subambient Pressure Ionization with Nanoelectrospray, eliminates this problem by removing the aperture completely. The ion source now creates and sends particles to the funnel in a single system under the same atmospheric conditions, at just one-tenth the atmospheric pressure on top of Mt. Everest. The net effect? Nearly 50 times as many gas-phase ions enter the mass spectrometer than without SPIN. That could mean greater sensitivity for assessing runoff of chemicals in soil, for example, or the ability to catch signs of cancer in the blood earlier than was previously possible. The SPIN team includes PNNL staff members Keqi Tang, Gordon Anderson and Richard D. Smith, and Ryan Kelly, a staff member at EMSL, the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a DOE user facility at PNNL. The team also includes Randall Pedder of Ardara Technologies, which has licensed the technology, and former PNNL staffers Jason Page, Ioan Marginean, and Jonathan Cox. From wet to jet (and other fuels) A new chemical processing system can convert natural substances as diverse as waste treatment sludge, food scraps and algae into a variety of useful fuels. The system is remarkably efficient, in many cases converting 99 percent of a feedstock like algae into fuels, including biocrude oil, which can then be refined into aviation fuel, gasoline, and diesel fuel. The process also produces another fuel—methane gas—as well as clean water and useful plant nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Exotic though it sounds, the ability to make useful fuels out of biological materials like plants has long been possible. The difficulty has been doing so economically. The technology created by the PNNL team hurdles previous challenges by making it possible to skip a long, expensive, energy-intensive step that most processes require—drying out the raw material. Instead, the PNNL process works directly with the wet slurry of raw material, be it a waste stream from thousands of homes, scraps from a food-processing facility, or long strands of algae. Alternate technologies typically recover much less energy from the raw material—often about one-third as much energy—and they typically cost much more. They also generally don't also produce other useful substances, such as clean water, burnable gas, and fertilizer. Utah-based Genifuel Corp. has licensed the technology and built a pilot plant for its partner, Reliance Industries Ltd., to create biocrude oil from algae. The PNNL team is also working with the Water Environment Research Foundation to demonstrate the process's effectiveness with municipal wastewater. The team includes Doug Elliott, Dan Anderson, Rich Hallen, Todd Hart, and Andy Schmidt, as well as James Oyler from Genifuel. A PNNL team created a way to make a sophisticated scientific tool much more useful for a variety of studies, including several aimed at answering important questions about energy and the environment. The method boosts our ability to look at complex samples under conditions that more closely mimic their real-world environments. The technology brings together the power of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, which yields a remarkable peek into molecular interactions, and the ability to re-create the extreme conditions found on the tundra, in the deep ocean, or underground—conditions relevant to some of the biggest questions that scientists at DOE laboratories such as PNNL ask. In the past, scientists have not been able to analyze solid materials, such as soil, minerals, biomass, biological materials or other structures, using NMR spectroscopy in its most effective mode, known as "magic angle spinning," while the samples were held under the high pressures or temperatures relevant to real-world reactions. The trouble is, once the samples are removed from those conditions, their physical properties or reactions can change significantly, limiting the usefulness of the data. The new technology allows scientists to tap NMR spectroscopy to watch molecular interactions as they occur in conditions that mimic their real surroundings. The team has already applied the technology, called pressurized magic angle spinning, to several questions: The multidisciplinary team is based largely at EMSL. The team from EMSL and PNNL includes David Hoyt, Jian Zhi Hu, Jesse Sears, Eric Walter, Hardeep Mehta, and Kevin Rosso, as well as former PNNL researcher Flaviu Turcu. Accurately forecasting future electricity needs is tricky, with sudden weather changes and other variables impacting projections minute by minute. Errors can have grave repercussions, from blackouts to higher energy costs. The Power Model Integrator is a new forecasting tool that delivers up to a 50-percent increase in accuracy and the potential to save millions of dollars in wasted energy costs. Energy forecasters working for utilities and other power organizations currently rely on a combination of personal experience, historical data and their own preferred forecasting model. Each model tends to excel at capturing certain grid behaviors, but not necessarily the whole picture. The Power Model Integrator simultaneously evaluates multiple models and determines how to best combine those models to make a single forecast that more accurately predicts future power needs. More accurate energy forecasts help reduce excess power generation, decrease the need to suddenly buy emergency power at a high cost and reduce the energy's carbon footprint. The Power Model Integrator team includes PNNL researcher Luke Gosink as well as former PNNL researchers Ryan Hafen, Alex Venizin, Maria Vlachopoulou, Ning Zhou and Trenton Pulsipher.

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