Aug 31, 2018

Accelerating the Pipeline

Water Quality Research Foundation expands positions & research projects

Water Quality Research Foundation expands positions & research projects
Water Quality Research Foundation expands positions & research projects

The Water Quality Research Foundation (WQRF) has a new approach to expanding the foundation’s impact and research agenda. WQRF, formerly the Water Quality Research Council, was formed in 1949 to serve on behalf of the Water Quality Assn. (WQA) as a universally recognized, independent research organization. Its long-term goal is to achieve sustained growth to conduct and fund scientific research on subjects related to the water quality improvement industry. 

Historically, WQRF board membership has consisted solely of past presidents of WQA, with three officers and three directors. WQRF recently added three new director positions, with one position filled by the immediate past president and two that are open to past presidents or non-past presidents of WQA, for a total of six directors and three officers. The purpose of this change is to provide flexibility to bring in specific knowledge scientific expertise is needed and to maintain alignment with the strategic objectives of the industry. 

Additionally, two new staff members have been added to the foundation’s team. Kim Redden, foundation relations and research manager, has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from North Central College and a master’s degree in public health from Elmhurst College. Redden has worked for WQA since 2013 in the regulatory and technical affairs department, as well as the professional certification and training department. Kayla Heriaud, WQRF research project leader, has a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of St. Francis and conducted grant-funded research during her undergraduate studies.

These changes have enabled WQRF to accelerate the timeline of its research pipeline. This year, we will be launching three new projects in addition to the annual grant program. In the first half of 2019, we are planning to launch another request for proposals (RFPs) selected by the WQRF Research Advisory Committee. 

Ongoing & Completed Research

The “Cost-Benefit of Point-of-Use Devices in Reduction of Health Risks from Drinking Water” study is complete, and the section of this report regarding lead has been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication. The lead section reviewed the case of Flint, Mich., which brought to light the benefits of a point-of-use (POU) risk mitigation strategy that public health departments could use in high-risk situations, such as source water changes, construction or partial lead service line replacements. 

A study conducted by Virginia Tech on benchmarking technologies for scale prevention is underway. The study’s purpose is to generate a repeatable protocol for testing the performance of scale prevention technologies. The protocol evaluates the reduction of scale on a heating element, the reduction of scale residue on glass and a soap lather test. The mechanical test setup is complete, and the researcher presented an update at the 2018 WQA Convention & Exposition. 

The 2017 grant recipient embarked on a study to investigate if POU devices could be used to monitor the microbial quality of water. The results indicate that household water treatment filters are effective at monitoring drinking water quality at points of use. This study is expected to be completed by the end of 2018. 

On the Horizon

The foundation will have at least seven active projects by the fall of 2019. Proposals to be submitted in response to the “Predictive Modeling of U.S. Drinking Water Emergencies” study were due Sept. 3, 2018. The goal of this project is to utilize past water emergency occurrence data with future water emergency modeling to predict the rate of occurrence and contaminants most likely to cause concern. This will allow the national industry to be prepared with solutions for future water emergencies.  

Four proposals were submitted in response to the 2018 grant program. WQRF will award one proposal that falls under the research agenda categories of emerging contaminants or regulatory affairs. Research is expected to start in November 2018. 

WQRF staff currently is working with industry members to develop RFPs for two new project concepts. The purpose of the “MCLG (Maximum Contaminant Level Goal) Occurrence” study is to compile occurrence data to identify frequency, concentration and population exposure to contaminants that are detected at levels below the enforceable maximum contaminant level, but more than the MCLG. The second research concept will consist of a case study that compares the sustainability of centralized versus decentralized treatment for small communities.

For a glimpse into 2019, WQRF will be developing two additional RFPs for the Research Advisory Committee’s 2019 selection and the 2019 grant program. For the grant program, WQRF will award one proposal that falls under either the emerging contaminants and/or final barrier research agenda categories. 

Fundraising Fun

Lastly, the foundation hosted several fundraising events at the WQA Mid-Year Leadership Conference in Hilton Head Island, S.C., Sept. 12 to 14, 2018. Attendees participated in the annual golf outing and took a nature cruise around the island. The Sept. 14 benefit dinner included an oyster roast overlooking the ocean.

Because of the evolving landscape of the water quality industry, research serves as a powerful tool to help identify key needs and gaps within the industry. Support at all levels of the industry is essential to the many projects and accelerated timeline now underway.

About the author

Ned Jones is president of the Water Quality Research Foundation. Jones can be reached at [email protected] or 330.337.8754.

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