By Kerry Meyer, P.E., CH2M HILL Water Business Group Process and Design Engineer

Biological drinking water treatment is gaining more attention in the water treatment community as a result of increased focus on affordable “green” treatment approaches and technologies capable of contaminant destruction. This is rather than contaminant concentration or generation of a brine stream typical of reverse osmosis or ion exchange, which often results in high, ongoing operations and maintenance costs. As first-use raw water supplies continue to become more limited, the challenge of producing high-quality, reliable finished water has become even more complex and, at the same time, utility capital improvement project budgets are shrinking. In many applications, biological drinking water treatment can offer an affordable, green treatment approach alternative to conventional methods and meet the industry’s growing demand for reliable, effective and sustainable treatment alternatives.

Noticing the great need for partnership and communication on this issue, I collaborated with the American Water Works Association (AWWA) to establish and lead the Biological Drinking Water Treatment Committee. The committee works to promote innovative drinking water treatment technologies, establish best practices and encourage cutting edge developments. Since its inception in 2008, the committee’s membership has reached more than 100 participants and is now one of AWWA’s largest and fastest growing committee. The committee has increased awareness on this topic and catalyzed increased funding and attention for the topic by international water research organizations like the Water Research Foundation and the International Water Association.

As research in biological drinking water treatment continues to grow and many design and implementation strategies are being seen across the industry, it was a natural progression to begin facilitating a broader discussion. This March, the AWWA hosted the 2013 Biological Treatment Symposium. In approximately 30 different technical sessions, the symposium focused on the benefits of engineered and passive biological treatment systems from research and utility perspectives. Topics ranged from public perception, performance and practices, unique applications (e.g. membrane pretreatment and anoxic treatment) as well as enhancements to widely-used processes like aerobic biologically active carbon filtration. More than 180 industry professionals participated in the Symposium.

CH2M HILL participation in the conference included presentations by me, Dr. Bill Bellamy, and attendance by several other CH2M HILL staff.

With the continuing water supply and capital improvement funding shortages persisting, it is imperative that we continue to strive for innovative and sustainable solutions on a global scale. The recent AWWA Biological Drinking Water Treatment Symposium is one more step towards that ultimate goal and a good start to encouraging water industry leaders to continue collaborating on this hot topic.

To learn more about biological drinking water treatment, contact us.

Ms. Meyer has more than 10 years of consulting and academic experience in drinking water treatment, wastewater treatment and reclamation, indirect potable reuse and industrial water treatment, in the United States and abroad. She received her master’s in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder and her bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire. Kerry served as the founder and first chair for the AWWA Biological Drinking Water committee.