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article imageCompanies purifying water are cleaning up Special

By Ken Wightman     Apr 20, 2010 in Technology
London - Big companies and small are discovering that dirty water means big bucks. Smaller players like Green Turtle Technologies Ltd. and massive, global competitors like Siemens, with their water technologies unit, are both finding profitable niches to fill.
Less that one percent of our water is drinkable but all water is recyclable and will be recycled, mostly by nature but more and more by us. One way or another, dirty water becomes clean water time and time again.
Sadly, long before contaminated water is naturally purified, it is often used yet again by people demanding water. Lightly contaminated water become heavily contaminated after multiple uses and is a threat to fish, wildlife and even future human users.
The assaults on our supply of clean water may be many and increasing but where there is a will there is a way, especially if there is money to be made -- and there is money to be made in solving our water problems.
The 39th annual Water Environment Association of Ontario (WEAO) technical symposium and Ontario Pollution Control Equipment Association (OPCEA) Exhibition presently being held in London, Ontario, made this very clear. 120 vendors filled a large space at the London Convention Centre with dozens of approaches to solving our water problems.
Barry Orr  Wastewater Operations  London  Ontario
Barry Orr, Wastewater Operations, London, Ontario
The City of London is well-known for its summer festivals held in the massive Victoria Park in the city’s core. According to Barry Orr with Wastewater Operations for the city, the dumping of grey water into nearby storm sewers by food vendors once posed a serious water problem.
Oil is lighter than water and rises to the surface where it spreads into a thin layer hindering the oxygenation of water. Orr said that under the right conditions, "One litre of light oil can contaminate as much as 1 million litres of water." This can result in thousands of dead fish floating in the Thames River which flows through the Southwestern Ontario city. (The dumping of small amounts of gasoline into storm sewers is especially dangerous and yet has been known to occur.)
Orr said the city found a two-fold solution: First, people had to be educated to understand “. . . the difference between sanitary and storm sewers . . .” Sanitary sewers take sewage from bathrooms, kitchens, basement drains and the like and ideally carry it to a wastewater treatment plant; Storm sewers carry rainwater, often discharging the water untreated into nearby creeks or rivers. Disposal of chemicals or other substances in the storm sewer system is illegal and can damage the environment. Once vendors understood that not all drains are alike, the dumping stopped.
The second part of the solution was supplying a safe place to dispose of the contaminated water. To this end the city permanently installed two fat, oil and grease interceptors. A 200 gallon tank and a 50 gallon tank are now buried in the park. The system uses the different specific gravities of water, fat, oil and grease to its advantage as it separates the contaminants.
The Green Turtle units installed by the city are not the usual concrete type but fiberglass units. Fiberglass does not support the formation of hydrogen sulfide, the gas responsible for the “rotten egg” smell sometimes associated with these installations.
Of course, all water problems are not as easily solved but big companies, which were once part of the problem, are now striving to become part of the solution. Siemens Water Technologies is a case in point. A German company, naturally much of the Siemens R&D is done in Europe, but Siemens is also a far-flung, global company conducting research around the world.
As Bryan Haan, account manager with the odour control solutions team, said, “Siemens is not a one trick pony.” They are a big operation able to tap into a variety of technologies to supply clients with multiple answers to their problems with contaminated water.
In fact, Siemens may be the largest supplier of eco-friendly technologies in the world. In fiscal 2009 revenue from the Siemens' Environmental Portfolio totaled about 31 billion U.S. The work done at the Wuxi Xincheng Wastewater Plant in China's densely populated Yangtze River Delta benefits Taihu Lake which was becoming increasingly polluted. The expanded plant reduces both nitrogen and phosphorus in the treated effluent.
What is learned fighting water pollution in one country is helping others around the world solve their water problems.
More about Water, London, Siemens, Ontario
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