LAS VEGAS — With an attendance increase over last year of 26%, the Water Quality Association’s Aquatech USA conference and show here in early March offered the industry a deep look into final barrier technology, the issue of salinity, a new WQA strategic plan, and much else.
“The vibrancy of our industry continues to grow,” said Pete Censky, executive director of WQA. “At this crucial time, it was important that so many people came together to help shape the future of water treatment and to learn about new technology and approaches.”
The number of exhibitors increased 5%, with an 8% increase in the number of exhibiting companies represented. The overall increase in attendance reflects non-booth personnel.
While many of the exhibitors were looking for traditional water conditioning dealers, a number of them showed products aimed at plumbing contractors.
Watts Water Technologies displayed a variety of undersink and whole house equipment, including its One-Flow anti-scale central treatment system that uses template-assisted crystallization (TAC) technology. TAC falls into a category of water treatment often referred to as physical water treatment.
TAC media starts out as polymeric beads or resin in the 20 to 40 mesh size range. Catalytically active sites, or templates, are “imprinted” or coated on the bead surface through a batch-coating process.
The template influences the water solution at localized sites, on bead surfaces, forcing hardness ions and their counter-ions (bicarbonates) to combine to form small, inert “seed crystals.” This process, called nucleation, occurs when dissolved molecules, or ions, dispersed throughout a solution gathered to create clusters in the sub-micron size range.
The seeds provide an enormous area for preferential growth of remaining hardness ions still in solution. The remaining dissolved ions attach to the seed crystals and continue harmlessly downstream.
Kinetico showed its Plumbline brand of drinking water filters. The filters are equipped with a monitoring device that shuts off the system when 500-gal. have been filtered — about a year’s worth of drinking water for a family of four. The system includes quick-disconnect sanitary filter cartridges and decorator faucets. Kinetico also displayed its whole-house filters with flow rates from 9 GPM to 15 GPM. The filter media may be carbon, calcite or macrolite, depending on the model selected.
Elkay Commercial Products showed its EZH2O drinking fountain with a built-in bottle filler. The dispenser is another shot in the war against expensive bottled water. Elkay noted that Americans went through 50 billion plastic bottles in 2006, according to an article in Fast Company magazine. The EZH2O comes in a variety of configurations: a combination water cooler and bottle filler; a side-by-side version with the cooler on one side and bottle filler on the other; and coming in June of this year, a vandal-resistant recessed model.
Oasis Intl. similarly showed a line of coolers with built-in sports bottle fillers in combo, side-by-side, standalone and recessed configurations. Addressing concerns about unseen bugs, Oasis announced a partnership with Philips Lighting to incorporate Philips InstantTrust UV disinfection technology into point-of-use applications. The UV technology zaps most viruses, bacteria, spores and cysts, including Cryptosporidium and Giardia.
Stinky water heaters
Attendees also heard about stinky water heaters, a problem typically confined to those with well water that can react to the anode in a water heater. The problem typically does not happen with a municipal water supply. Larry Weingarten and Randy Schuyler, both of California-based Water Heater Rescue, presented the seminar.
The contractor has to ask the homeowner what the odor smells like, the two men noted. Among the answers they’ve heard are rotten eggs, septic, muddy, metallic, chemical, fishy, and even sauerkraut. Does the smell arise when hot water or cold water is used? Is there a softener in use?
They had one case where the odor came only from the showerhead closest to the water heater. They tried changing the anodes, setting the water heater at different temperatures and turning the softener on and off. It turned out that the problem had nothing to do with the water heater — the smell came from bacteria in the shower drain.
Possible odor solutions include switching to a tankless water heater or to an appliance like the Rheem Marathon that has a plastic tank and no anode.
Other solutions include installing a service valve at the top of the water heater, shutting the water to the house off and pouring either bleach or peroxide into the tank. Two pints of drugstore peroxide usually will suffice. Bacteria that live in water heaters are anaerobic and peroxide is an oxygenator, so it kills them.
The Aquatech show also offered an overview of the final barrier, emphasizing the fact that 99% of water coming into homes is not ingested. Attendees also heard about regulatory concerns, particularly in the western U.S.
Attendees paid tribute to Censky, who is retiring after 25 years as executive director of WQA. To honor Censky’s efforts, the Water Quality Research Foundation and WQA created the Censky Challenge, an effort to raise funds for future studies.