Current Bureau of Reclamation Project

PROJECT TITLE: Membrane Concentrate Disposal: Practices and Regulation

OVERVIEW: The project was originally funded in October 1998; however, in 1999 the scope of work was upgraded to include software programming for development of an interactive cost model for disposal options.

The membrane drinking water industry has grown dramatically over the last 10 years. Yet, due to the complexity of technical, economical, environmental, political, and social interplay involved with bringing a new membrane plant into operation, a gap has developed between the reality of the cost-effective, environmentally safe, and technically sound capabilities of the technology and perception of the technology by many regulators, legislators, decision makers, the public, etc. This gap is affecting how the tremendous potential of membrane technology to provide drinking water unfolds. This gap is limiting the realization of this potential. A practices and regulation reference document that will benefit the industry, regulatory agencies, and utilities is needed to help reduce this gap

OBJECTIVE/TASKS: The major objective is to provide the drinking water industry with a valuable and useful reference source focusing on, characterizing, and documenting membrane sidestream disposal practices and regulations.

The following research tasks will be completed during the project:

1. Survey tasks: Provide a detailed characterization of the membrane drinking water industry, in general, and the concentrate disposal practices, in particular, through a plant survey and subsequent analysis of the survey results. Include discussion of thermal desalination plants. Develop an interactive database in CD format where users can access the survey information.

2. Regulatory tasks: Provide a complete documentation and characterization of the regulation of concentrate disposal through a review of federal and state regulations.

3. Disposal cost models: Develop worksheet and regression models for the various concentrate disposal options including:

a. Surface water discharge
b. Disposal to sewer
c. Deep well injection
d. Spray irrigation
e. Evaporation ponds
f. Zero liquid discharge
4. Documentation tasks: Prepare a hard copy final report and a CD format full report that also contains the interactive survey database and the interactive disposal cost programs.

ANTICIPATED RESULTS: When completed, the proposed effort will provide a means and a tool for: 1) determining, documenting, and representing the status of the membrane drinking water industry to portray industry growth, define industry trends, and define industry problems and needs; 2) communicating such information to interested parties to highlight the viability and feasibility of membrane-produced drinking water and to represent the importance, size, growth, and strength of the industry; 3) enabling utilities to set up a network among similar membrane plants that can result in cost reduction and savings during planning, design, and operation; and 4) using in the evaluation, planning, design, and operation of membrane facilities to avoid past failures and to capitalize on existing successes.

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