Phosphorus Runoff Phosphorus Runoff
droplet Providing Effective Treatment for Phosphorus Runoff

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This article here was originally written by the Palms West Press. Follow the address at the bottom of the page to read the original article.





"Oil industry technology said to clean phosphorus runoff"
By Bob Markey II

Nov. 1, 2002 - A coalition of companies known for their work in removing oil from water has unveiled a clay-based filtration system that it claims will remove all phosphorus from Wellington's Everglades runoff.

Officials of Aqua Technologies Inc., which produces the special clay called ET-1 Activated, and major partners PSI Engineering, Consulting and Testing and Project Integration, Inc., on Wednesday released lab tests from a two-week pilot water treatment project showing that levels of phosphorus were undetectable.

"We didn't know the results were going to be this good," said ATI marketing vice president Anthony Brown II, standing beside a flatbed trailer-mounted water treatment system next to Wellington Pump Station 2, a stone's throw from the Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge.

The South Florida Water Management District has given the Village of Wellington and other designated "polluters" of the Everglades a mandate to limit to 10 parts per billion the phosphorus content of all drainage water by 2006. Phosphorus - sent into surface water primarily through equine waste and fertilizer - is blamed for causing toxic algae blooms and causing the growth of plants that damages the ecosystem.

ATI's system operates much like those of competing companies and municipalities. Water is pumped through a series of vats, in which chemicals are injected that cause phosphates to separate and coagulate. The water and resulting suspended solids called "flocculation" solids are then passed through the special clay, which causes the material to "adsorb" (or stick to its edges). Finally, the mostly phosphorus-less water is then filtered through special sand.

"We've added this (clay) filter on the back side to ensure the contaminants are removed consistently and economically," Brown said. "We can make it (water) very close to potable."

The companies spend $50,000 to conduct the pilot project at the southwest Wellington pump station. In the most recent test, on Oct. 16, water with 80 parts per billion of phosphorus was removed form a holding pond. After the first phase of the treatment, when an aluminum salt and other chemicals were was added causing the phosphates to separate from the water, the phosphorus content dropped to 36 ppb. After the clay and sand treatment, no phosphorus could be detected in the water, according to independent testing lab USBiosystems.

In initial laboratory tests, water measuring 810 ppb of phosphorus was cleaned to undetectable phosphorus levels, according to lab reports.

The South Florida Water Management District has also been approved to conduct a test of phosphorus filtering. SFWMD and Department of Environmental Protection officials on hand for the announcement Wednesday did not know the results of that test.

Stephen Cooper, senior geologist with PSI, said other similar tests, which did not use ATI's exclusive clay, were unable to cut phosphorus levels to approved levels because they relied too heavily on using aluminum to separate the phosphorus. In addition, those tests resulted in a great amount of solid waste material that could be expensive to dispose of, he said.

Officials said the clay can handle 100 times more contaminants than traditional filtering material, and the used clay can then be re-used in oil and gas operations, or disposed of without adverse environmental impacts, in landfills.

The clay-based system, in addition to Wellington's current Best Management Practices (BMPs) regulations and water pumping controls, could bring the village under the mandate as a reasonable cost, Brown said. He would not estimate the costs of building plants capable of cleaning much of Wellington's Basin B runoff, but said it would be less expensive than the $25 million to $30 million mentioned by various experts.

"We can accomplish the task," said Brown, promising to present the firms' findings to the Village Council, SFWMD, DEP and other agencies as soon as possible. "If we sit down together, we can make a common solution."

The Casper, Wy.-based ATI manufactures the clay primarily for use by the oil and gas industry to remove petroleum from water. Brown said it has varied uses, including as a cleanser of birds and other animals whose coats are fouled by oil spills.

ATI became involved in Florida ecology last year when one of its sales representatives asked company officials if the clay could be used in filtering the chemical.

In addition to removing the chemical, company officials said their system could be used to clean water - back-pumped from the Glades or elsewhere - for use by Wellingtonians. The systems could be made portable for use after a hurricane or disaster that might overwhelm traditional water treatment facilities, they said.

SFWMD and DEP officials who toured the pilot system Wednesday were intrigued by the process and results. None would comment on their opinions of its use or results, but said they would study the companies' method and data.

"We're willing to look at this and other technologies," said Melissa Meeker, director of the DEP's southeast district.

Just one high-ranking village official was on hand Wednesday. Wellington Public Works Director, who oversaw the process for the village, said he would schedule a presentation for the Village Council and staff.

Company officials - admittedly not used to dealing with slow-moving government entities - indicated time is of the essence if the village is to meet three-year mandate.

"This might be the answer to a lot of questions," Cooper said.

View the original article:
Palms West Press



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