The Board of Trustees of the Awwa Research Foundation (AwwaRF), the nation’s leading drinking water research organization, approved $610,000 in funding for a number of new studies at a meeting in Atlanta, Ga., on June 7. The studies will focus on pharmaceuticals and personal care products in drinking water, climate change impacts and utility workforce issues, among other topics.
A portion of the approved funding falls under AwwaRF’s Climate Change Strategic Initiative for studies on utility issues related to climate change. The new studies will include the project “Developing Climate Change Resources for Water Utilities: A Guide Book and Clearinghouse Website.” A request for proposals for this solicited project is expected to be released by the fall of this year. The funding will also be used to co-sponsor a study in collaboration with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University of Colorado, both in Boulder, Colo., addressing the impacts of hydrologic and climate variability on raw (untreated) water quality, as well as other climate change-related studies.
The funding approved for the Climate Change Strategic Initiative brings the 2008 funding level for the initiative closer to the funding allocated in January 2008 for the other two strategic research initiatives: Distribution System Water Quality and Endocrine Disruptors/Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in drinking water.
In addition, co-funding was approved for an initiative being led by the American Water Works Association on how water utilities can sustain a knowledgeable technical workforce in the face of changing demographics. The project aims to identify collaborative approaches to address impending workforce issues for a single, unified water sector-wide initiative. The project will also identify a strategy for educating public decision makers such as mayors, council members and city managers on the workforce crisis and its impact on the public.
“The objective of AwwaRF research is to advance the science of water to assist drinking water utilities in providing safe, available and affordable water to their customers,” said Robert C. Renner, executive director of AwwaRF. “The research funding approved by the Board this month will help move drinking water science forward toward meeting that objective.”
The money allocated by the Board will expand AwwaRF’s Tailored Collaboration Program, which provides matching funding and project management to selected utilities conducting research in-house.
The Board also approved six new projects recommended by the Unsolicited Proposal Review Committee under the Unsolicited Research Program. The Unsolicited Program focuses on fundamental research that has the potential to lead to practical applications for utilities. The program relies on ideas that are developed externally and submitted to AwwaRF in the form of research proposals for funding consideration. The six newly funded projects are:
• “Development and Application of a Total Nitrosamine Assay for Disinfected Drinking Waters” (project #4209, William Mitch, Yale University);
• “Development of Acceptable Daily Intakes (ADIs) for Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Product Ingredients, Hormonally Active Compounds, and Other Potentially Highly Toxic Compounds of Emerging Interest in Water Using the Minimum Anticipated Biological Effect Level (MABEL) Approach” (project #4214, Richard Pleus, Intertox, Inc.);
• “Early Detection of Potential Taste and Odor Episodes in Waters” (project #4210, Paul Monis, Australian Water Quality Centre);
• “Lead (IV) Oxide Formation and Stability in Drinking Water Distribution Systems: Rates and Mechanisms of Processes at the Solid-Water Interface” (project #4211, Daniel Giammar, Washington University); and
• “Rapid Concentration and Detection of Microcystins and Other Cyanobacterial Byproducts in Drinking Water” (project #4212, Peter Vikesland, Virginia Tech).
Lastly, the Board approved changing the name of the AwwaRF organization to Water Research Foundation. The new name, which is part of a larger effort by the Foundation to develop sources of research funding in addition to subscribers fees, will go into effect beginning in 2009. Subscribers and partners will receive regular communications from AwwaRF prior to the change to keep them informed of how and when the Water Research Foundation name will be introduced.
The next meeting of the Board of Trustees will be in January 2009.