National Association of Water Companies Presents Two Innovation Awards to Cal Water Service

California Water Service (CWS) was recently recognize with two awards from the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) at NAWC’s 2018 Water Summit in San Antonio, TX. NAWC’s Management Innovation Awards has awarded their members for unique, industry-defining ideas for more than 40 years.

Two of CWS’s submissions – one for its large-scale treatment installed to meet the new regulation for 1,2,3-trichloropropane and the other for its sample tap adapter kit – came out on top of the impressive entries received this year from across the nation. NAWC evaluates entries on the degree of innovation, the idea’s ability to be replicated at other companies, short-and-long-term benefits to the company, value to water utility industry, and presentation quality.

“The submissions we received this year for the Management Innovations Awards are a wonderful representation of the incredible innovation of NAWC members,” said Robert Powelson, NAWC’s president and CEO. “Entries ranged from the creation of programs to spur employee engagement and educate customers to cutting-edge technologies that are advancing the delivery of water service. Today’s innovation is tomorrow’s industry standard, and our members are moving water forward through their leadership and work at the forefront of the water industry.”

While the state of California was working to establish new standards and regulations for 1,2,3-trichloropropane (TCP), CWS began working to resolve this health hazard ahead of the state’s decisions. Before the state issued the new standards in mid-July 2017, CWS conducted a detailed analysis and determined six of its districts could be impacted. This could include 38 facilities in three Central Valley districts that would need treatment to be installed in potentially a very short period of time. Installing this large-scale treatment would also be an expensive undertaking.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) TCP is exclusively a man-made chemical, typically found at industrial or hazardous waste sites. TCP is not likely to contaminate soil based on its low soil organic carbon-water partition coefficient but it is likely to either leach from soil into groundwater or evaporate from soil surfaces.

Short-term exposure to high levels of TCP may cause irritation of eyes, skin and the respiratory tract, and depression of the central nervous system and it may affect concentration, memory and muscle coordination. Animal studies have shown that long-term exposure to TCP may cause liver and kidney damage, reduced body weight and increased incidences of tumors in numerous organs. The EPA has classified TCP as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans” based on the formation of multiple tumors in animals.

While monitoring groundwater supplies, researching the best available treatment technologies, beginning design for the treatment facilities, and securing contractors to construct and install treatment at impacted well sites, CWS also reached a settlement with Dow and Shell, the manufacturers of the soil fumigants that contained TCP, which enabled the company to construct the treatment facilities without impacting customers’ rates.

When the state’s 1,2,3-trichloropropane standard was adopted in mid-year 2017, CWS was able to install the granular-activated carbon treatment those opted to use to be concurrently installed at the 21 sites with the highest TCP concentrations before year-end 2017. Treatment was installed at the remainder of the sites in summer 2018 to enable districts to bring additional sources back online to meet demand.

The second award CWS received was for their innovative sample tap adapter kit. The kit helps eliminate non-representative samples for bacteriological testing. It has the potential to save anywhere from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs for collection, testing, and customer notification when necessary.

Unlike many water utilities that flame or bleach the sample tap prior to collecting water for bacteriological testing, CWS has found a better way to ensure “clean” samples. The California State Water Resources Control Board does not endorse the practice of flaming or bleaching so water utilities   collect non-routine bacteriological samples from hose bibs or other non-dedicated sample sites, which can create non-representative samples or false positives.

Enter the CWS sample tap adapter kit and its hose bib adapter. The adapter has been used throughout CWS’s operations in California, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Washington with great success. It also provides the benefit of avoiding unnecessary loss of customer confidence in the utility and the quality of the water it provides.

CWS is one of 150 NAWC members throughout the country whereby colleagues can collaborate and share best practices. The association estimates that through its members they provide some 73 million Americans with safe and reliable water service each day.

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