News Feature | October 11, 2013

Utilities Share Mobile Purification Systems

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


Utilities are finding ways to bail each other out in a jam by sharing mobile purification systems. Just look at Baker City, OR. 

"When residents of Baker City recently found themselves unable to drink the water produced by their eastern Oregon town [due to a parasite], they looked elsewhere for a safe, clean source. One of their fallbacks turned out to be across the state — in Lake Oswego," KOIN reported

That's because Lake Oswego has a "trailer-mounted emergency water treatment system" and loans it out, viewing it as a "regional asset." It’s available to nearby water agencies "in case their water infrastructure is somehow compromised, whether because of a prolonged power outage following an earthquake, wildfire or flood or because of contamination of a water source or reservoir."

And the sharing goes even further than that. "It’s also available to cities outside of that network through the Oregon Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network, or ORWARN, a group of utility providers who offer voluntary assistance to each other during the same types of emergencies," the outlet said. 

“We all rely on each other when things break down,” said Jane Heisler, an official at the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership, in KOIN. “It is groups like ORWARN that allow cities (and) districts to come together to share equipment and resources — we all know we could be in that position someday.”

The interesting and notable part is this: Towns sometimes think the new equipment will go to waste if a local crisis does not occur. But sharing it across municipalities has ensured that the costly equipment, in this case over $100,000, remains in use. 

“We just hadn’t quite realized how many situations come up in a year where it may be needed,” said Kari Duncan, an official at the water treatment plant in Lake Oswego. “We were expecting it would be sitting, waiting for a big emergency to occur in 10 years.”

Local officials there are noticing an increasing rise in the demand for this equipment. Some in industry are making a similar observation. 

Culligan Matrix Solutions, a water treatment equipment company, "is expanding its mobile water treatment solutions business in response to increasing demand for this service," the company said last year. 

Allan Connolly, the company's chief operating officer, said: "Customers are looking for an easily transportable compact technology. Mobile plants fulfill a variety of needs and address a myriad of situations such as peak demand, capacity expansion, equipment breakdown, emergency rentals, plant commissioning, and wastewater minimization - any circumstance where production demand for clean water exceeds existing system capacity."

Beyond the obvious situations, how would mobile water treatment come in handy? GE Water counts the ways. For instance, if "a plant needed a complete steam blow to remove deposits resulting from repairs to the superheat and reheat sections." Solution? Deploying a "720 gpm (164 m3/hr) deionized and deoxgenated mobile water system using alternate raw river water source." 

Click here for more from Water Online which companies provide mobile water purification.

Image credit: "Lake Oswego Railroad Bridge," © 2010 soulrider.222, used under an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license: