News - Summer 2014 Newsletter

Summer 2014 Newsletter

UCLA Tests Cargo Container-Sized Desalination Plant

The Los Angeles Times reported on May 2, 2014 that UCLA was about to test a new mobile water treatment system for treating brackish groundwater and agricultural runoff. A 40-foot cargo container holds the test desalination plant, which uses membrane technology to produce fresh water. The unit can be controlled remotely to adjust operations to deal with changes in water quality and potential membrane fouling, eliminating the need for on-site maintenance personnel. Treating up to 25,000 gallons of brackish water per day, the mobile treatment plant is being tested on high-salinity drainage water in the San Joaquin Valley. Inventor-designer Yoram Cohen of UCLA said the technology is scalable from household size up to serving entire cities. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the California Department of Water Resources and several water districts in the San Joaquin Valley are supporting the testing.

Microbes Power Wastewater Treatment and Energy Production

A wastewater treatment system that produces electricity is being employed in the beer brewing and wine making industry, according to a Planet Forward report ( and a story on the Guardian Water Hub. The production of beer uses five times the amount of water contained in the beer, and wine production uses considerably more. The rest of the water is waste in need of treatment. The company Cambrian Innovations has created a waste treatment system called Ecovolt, which uses microbes to turn the constituents of wastewater from these production processes into electricity and heat. The energy is used to reduce electricity costs. Although Cambrian is not the only group exploiting this technology, it has the advantage of an almost off-the-shelf product. Units are modular and operated remotely by Cambrian.

Proposed Rule on Waters of the U.S. Encounters Opposition

The Waters of the U.S. (WOUS) Proposed Rule released on March 25, 2014, is intended to clarify the definitions of streams and wetlands regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA) including those considered seasonal. According to the EPA, the rule does not propose to cover any new types of waterways, while others feel it will extend the reach of the CWA. At the request of agencies meeting with representatives of states, local governments, stakeholders and elected officials, the comment period for the proposed ruling has been extended an additional 91 days from July 21 until October 20, 2014. The Western Governors’ Association says the rule-making will hinder state authority in water management and outreach conducted by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers does not satisfy Executive Order 13132 designed to include states, when possible, in designing federal regulation. Pushback has also come in the form of criticism from industrial and agricultural interests, which say the ruling will greatly increase mandates for CWA permits that could paralyze the economy.  Information about the proposed rule can be found at Comments are being taken at!submitComment;D=EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880-0001.

Direct Potable Reuse Comes to Wichita Falls, Texas

The city of Wichita Falls, Texas announced plans for a direct potable reuse system that will create a blend of 50 percent treated wastewater and 50 percent lake water that regularly supplies the city. The ongoing drought in West Texas is pinching existing water supplies and new sources are needed. The waste water that would normally be treated and discharged into the Big Wichita River, a source for downstream water users, will be piped to the drinking water treatment plant and purified to drinking water standards. The plant will use chlorination, advanced filtration and reverse osmosis in the purification process. Although Big Springs, Texas has been drinking its treated wastewater since 2013, Wichita Falls is the first of several Texas cities to embrace direct potable reuse on a city-wide scale. The system is expected to come on line in July when water quality testing, required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, is completed and results are analyzed to ensure that the water is safe to drink.

Catch the Rain: 2014 WRRC Summer Photo Contest

The theme of the 2014 WRRC photo contest is “Catch the Rain”, which challenges photographers to capture Arizona-specific ways rain is captured—from water in our natural environment, to the ingenious ways we catch and use rainwater.

Each photograph submitted in the contest should place an emphasis on one of two categories:

Water in Nature: Including (but not limited to): rainfall; rivers, streams, washes and watersheds; rain-fed native landscapes and natural habitats; people and/or wildlife and rainfall, monsoons and storms; wetlands and waterways; etc.

Catch and Reuse: Including (but not limited to): natural and built water collection; low water use landscapes; rainwater harvesting; rainwater runoff/collection; rainscapes, xeriscapes, rain gardens, food gardens; cisterns, tanks and earthworks; etc

The WRRC will select three winning photos: Best of Show, and Best of Category for “Water in Nature” and “Catch and Reuse.” A $100 cash prize will be awarded to the Best of Show winner and each Best of Category winner will receive $75. Additional photos will be selected to round out a Top 20.

Readers can learn more and submit photos at: