The Water Industry has been in agreement about the importance of sustainability in decision making; however, there has been no common approach or methodology to evaluate the triple bottom line as part of establishing drinking water regulations. Our project, which is now nearly completed, demonstrates a framework to evaluate regulatory impact based on principles of sustainability.

By: Paul Swaim, CH2M HILL Vice President, Jason Curl, CH2M HILL Senior Technologist, and Dr. Bill Bellamy, Senior Vice President

Paul Swaim, Jason Curl, and Bill Bellamy will present the paper, “Demonstration of Using Sustainability Principles in Developing the Perchlorate Regulation” at the AWWA Sustainable Water Management Conference in Denver, CO on Monday, March 31, at 10:30 a.m.

One of the recurring comments from regulatory development workgroups has been a need to conduct a triple bottom line assessment for each potential new drinking water regulation. Currently, different groups within our industry and society are working in different directions (e.g., potential greenhouse gas limits, limiting use of non-renewable resources, enacting more stringent discharge standards), but there is no common approach or methodology to evaluate the triple bottom line associated with potential drinking water regulatory actions. Until recently, incorporating triple bottom line considerations has not been possible because our industry lacked the tools and technology.

CH2M HILL and the American Water Works Association (AWWA) established a project (WITAF project 404) to address this gap. The purpose of the project is to demonstrate a methodology to rapidly determine regulatory impacts based on principles of sustainability. The work uses CH2M HILL’s tools and represents proof of concept that triple bottom line principles can be applied to perchlorate regulatory decision-making using existing tools.

We are looking forward to presenting the project during the AWWA Sustainable Water Management Conference in Denver, Colorado. This project includes the assessment of public health impacts against cost (as has been done for decades) and also measures other sustainability metrics such as greenhouse gas emissions, use of non-renewable resources, solid waste production and disposal, impacts on the public, and more. We can address sustainability in developing new drinking water regulations, and in so doing, the industry can move toward making decisions that look beyond cost and public health protection to address the full triple bottom line of economic, societal, and environmental considerations.

The process begins with use of new design and evaluation tools and models. The method uses state-of-the-art design tools based on process inputs resulting in design parametrics and a conceptual design that produces quantification of materials and equipment for cost estimates that are both transparent and reproducible. Each module from such an approach (e.g., pump stations, pre-treatment, ion exchange) uses operational inputs and the design parametric outputs generate quantities for the identified, applicable sustainability measures.

The project proves the ability to quantify triple bottom line metrics for different perchlorate MCLs on a national basis. Impact curves were developed for triple bottom line measures. These outputs are specific to the current development of perchlorate discussions and anticipated regulatory development. Stay tuned for next steps as this concept moves forward in support of the perchlorate regulation and other future drinking water regulations.

Paul Swaim has more than 20 years of experience in the successful completion of drinking water and reuse projects. Paul is a CH2M HILL Vice President, Senior Principal Technologist and the Deputy Global Service Leader for Drinking Water and Reuse in CH2M HILL’s Water Market.

Jason Curl has more than 11 years of experience in water treatment delivery projects for both municipal and industrial clients, As CH2M HILL’s Global Service Team Leader for Software Applications & Integration, he provides vision for the development of software technologies that enhance our client’s ability to address their most pressing challenges.

Dr. Bellamy has more than 32 years of experience managing and participating in more than 150 water, wastewater, and reuse treatment plant evaluations, designs, construction, and operations. He is an internationally recognized expert in water supply and treatment and has developed innovative applications for conventional, disinfection and advanced treatment including membranes, biological filtration, UV, ozone, chlorine dioxide, high rate clarification, and filtration technologies.