Non-toxic treatment system may be cost-effective method to combat stormwater bacteria
BY STEVE SMITH
LITTLE RIVER, S.C.—Working jointly with Coastal Carolina University to identify drainage areas here with significant bacteria counts following storm events, Integrated Environmental Technologies Ltd. (IET; www.ietltd.net) is proposing its EcaFlo technology as a solution to quickly killing fecal coliform bacteria.
Based on electrochemical activation (ECA) technology developed in the former Soviet Union in the 1970s, water that passes through a specially designed electrolytic cell (called a flow-through electrlolytic module—FEM) produces solutions that can be used to destroy microorganisms, neutralize chemical agents, purify water and clean and degrease surfaces.
IET's EcaFlo equipment, licensed in the U.S., produce two basic types of solutions—anolytes and catholytes. Anolytes are strong oxidizing solutions that can be used as germicidal agents to kill viruses, fungi and bacteria, while catholytes are anti-oxidizing, mild alkaline solutions that can be used as detergents and degreasers. Both are non-toxic to humans and animals, do not require special handling, are fast-acting, and can be safely disposed in sewage systems.
The Myrtle Beach area, in which IET is located, is especially susceptible to poor drainage and unsafe levels of bacteria flowing into stormwater and then the ocean, which can necessitate closing of public beaches in this tourism-driven community.
According to Larry Jones, senior vice president/business acquisition at IET, the city of Myrtle Beach is constructing extended drainage structures at several locations to carry stormwater about 1,000 feet offshore. In many cases, the ocean's salt water is toxic to most bacteria.
"This process can bring bacteria concentrations in stormwater to safe levels, but this does not entirely eliminate the problem," says Jones.
Teaming with Coastal Carolina University, which has been monitoring bacteria levels for the city, IET is conducting research and testing using its EcaFlo solutions to treat stormwater flowing into estuaries and the ocean so that harmful bacteria are killed or reduced to safe concentration levels. The company is identifying drainage areas with significant bacteria counts following storms, designing equipment that will provide sufficient treatment of the drainage area, and installing the ECA equipment so that stormwater flowing toward the ocean is treated quickly.
In initial tests conducted by the university on aliquots of a water sample taken from an area known for elevated bacteria counts, less than a one percent addition of the EcaFlo solution essentially killed all fecal coliform bacteria. The biocide solutions, Jones says, can be produced on-site or by HydroSan devices located at the university or at IET's production facility and then transported to the site in need of application.
The HydroSan units typically produce solutions requiring sterilization and cleaning of vessels, piping and mechanical systems, food processing and equipment, as well as pharmaceutical and other manufacturing systems. HydroPure units typically provide safe drinking water at every point of use and are designed to provide for water purification beyond disinfection. HydroCide units produce large quantities of solutions for industrial and municipal applications.
IET says its EcaFlo solutions offer municipalities a less costly and environmentally safer alternative to many current water-quality methods. "The cost for an effective program is expected to be much less than other technologies, including pump-and-treat methodologies like ozonation and ultra-violet light treatment," says Jones. "And the maintenance of the treatment system is limited primarily to the dosing equipment itself."III