IT’S ONE OF the most iconic images of the Surrealist Movement. When in 1929 René Magritte painted a brown and black tobacco pipe above the words, “This is not a pipe,” in French, he dared us to question our perceptions. While the painting is a representation of a pipe, it is not a real pipe. And with the introduction of this intelligent paradox, the artist asks us to reconsider the intricate relationships between what we see and what we think we see and to reevaluate everyday conventions.
Similarly, the image on the cover of this issue of Water Efficiency invites us to recalibrate our perception. It baffles the eye at first glance. With the city’s reflection in a puddle, it inspires us to question what should be where. This visual puzzle illustrates an important conversation taking place today in water utilities across the country. What water belongs where? And how do various water resources come together to provide water for a thirsty public?
Stormwater, groundwater, wastewater, and drinking water are increasingly accepted as interoperable pieces in a complex hydrologic puzzle. As utilities work to develop sustainable water sources, many are reimagining their systems, blurring the boundaries of previously siloed water resources, and redefining utility roles. When disparate water sources are approached as all one water, many find that they function interdependently to provide an intelligent solution.
We take an in-depth look at efforts such as this to balance and connect water supplies in “Recharging our Water Resources”. We learn that supporting the care of below-ground resources is the emergence of Groundwater Sustainability Agencies, organizations that ensure the coordinated management of aquifer withdrawal and replenishment. Through a variety of examples and case studies, we see that water agencies across America are benefitting from careful groundwater management while protecting their local water resources.
In “Critical Support” we review a 2017 event that underscores the importance of reliable backup power sources for water systems. After days of rain in Seattle, WA, the failure of four pumps led to the discharge of untreated wastewater into Puget Sound, endangering public health. In an effort to prevent similar events, we explore the many backup power options available for pumps today, from generators and batteries to UPS systems.
In “Tank Linings and Coatings” we look at the materials used to protect drinking water systems up close as we examine the chemistries and properties of coatings and linings. From UV-resistant polypropylene to solvent-free epoxies and cross-linked polymers, we evaluate today’s tank lining solutions from the inside out and discover that there’s more to this technology than meets the eye.
UV technology has improved in efficiency and reliability in a myriad of ways. In “Illuminating Technologies” we explore the many scientific discoveries that paved the way for today’s treatment technologies. From early photobiological breakthroughs in the 1800s to contemporary UV lamp improvements, these advances not only changed the way we think about light, they have made clean water available to populations around the world.
In “Phosphorous Removal” we explore an Idaho project that required a complete rethinking of standard nutrient removal procedures. When the City of Boise needed to achieve a 98% reduction in phosphorous levels in the Boise River, the consulting team chose to design and construct two separate facilities to address the nutrient levels in areas both upstream and downstream—an unconventional yet highly effective approach.
Just as Magritte’s masterpiece of Surrealism encourages observers to reevaluate their perceptions of reality, in this issue of Water Efficiency magazine we invite readers to reconsider their systems and what water belongs where. From managing stormwater and groundwater to drinking water and wastewater treatment, with each article, we aim to elevate the conversation about the ways in which water agencies and resources can effectively work together to quench a thirsty planet.