Without it, feedwater from aging city pipes can overwhelm downstream treatment.
Around the country, our aging water delivery infrastructure is coated with sediment and scale from a century or more of buildup. Those same tuberculated pipes are constantly challenged by daily tie-ins, repairs, flow tests and fire hydrant use in most cities and towns.
The result is that drinking water that left the municipal treatment plant at top quality arrives in users’ glasses - or in their showerheads or medical equipment - carrying large amounts of sediment and scale.
And although turbidity can be unsightly and distasteful, or even destructive of sensitive equipment, there is little hope of a massive infrastructure overhaul in most areas. The result is a boom in point-of-use (POU) filtration to purify water, ranging in sophistication and cost from activated carbon to cartridge filters to POU membranes.
Increasingly, engineers and developers are seeing the value of point-of-entry (POE) filtration as well, which delivers cleaner water to users in their hospitals, hotels, and luxury high rises, and helps POU filtration operate with added efficiency and effectiveness.
Daily hydrant challenges
Sometimes, such as the case of a hotel guest expecting to drink pristine water from their room’s bathroom tap, it’s a matter of convenience. In other cases, such as a dialysis unit in a hospital faced with turbid feedwater, it’s much more serious.
Richard Kulinski, a plumbing/fire protection engineer with Bard, Rao + Athanas Consulting Engineers, a New York Citybased engineering firm with research and healthcare clients around the country, has several hospital and laboratory construction projects in the works. In those projects, POE filtration is specified to combat total suspended solids (TSS) coming from aging, overtaxed infrastructure in urban areas that have seen a tremendous amount of development in recent years.
“Over the last 10 years [building] owners are used to daily openings of the [city water] system,” Kulinski says. “In the case of a dialysis machine or a laboratory instrument, opening a hydrant in front of the building can release enough sediment to foul the machine’s filter instantly. That would shut you down until you can comwill be used for. Drinking water needs to be free of pathogens and off-flavors. Industrial water will have different purity demands based on whether it is ingredient water, process water (used in processing or cleaning the product) or service water (for seals and cooling). Specialized uses such as laboratory or medical equipment may need to be especially clean to ensure proper functioning and avoid quickly overloading POU filters such as cartridges or membranes.
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