Hearings and Business Meetings

SD-366 Energy Committee Hearing Room 02:30 PM

Dr. Pankaj Parekh

Testimony submitted by
Pankaj Parekh, Ph.D.
On behalf of the
Awwa Research Foundation
Before the Senate Committee on
Energy and Natural Resources
Honorable Pete Domenici, Chairman
October 20th, 2005

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I am Pankaj Parekh of the Los Angeles
Department of Power and Water, and also Chair of the Awwa Research Foundation’s
committee for tailored collaboration. I appreciate the opportunity to testify before you
today on behalf of the Awwa Research Foundation, [AwwaRF] and in strong support of
S. 1860, the Energy-Water Efficiency Technology Research, Development, and Transfer
Program Act of 2005. There is a consensus among the water supply community that it is
essential for our nation to identify and develop innovative technologies to treat new
sources of water, including brackish groundwater and sea water, and to do so in the most
energy-efficient manner possible and with the least disruption of the environment. The
water supply community is deeply grateful and appreciative of the leadership and vision
as exhibited in S. 1860 that provides the framework for this crucial enterprise.
AwwaRF’s priority is to address, through research, the most pressing needs of the water
community. Over the past decade and a half, these challenges have included the control
and reduction of disinfection by-products, cryptosporidium, perchlorate, and arsenic, to
name only a few. In each case, AwwaRF sponsored research has taken a leading role in
ensuring that water utilities have had the tools necessary to meet these challenges and to
continue to fulfill their obligation to provide safe and affordable drinking water to the
public. S. 1860 focuses not just on drinking water contaminants but how our nation can
access previously unusable water sources to meet the water supply challenges of the 21st
century. One of the few certainties that we all live with is the fact that there is no “new”
water on the face of the earth. Faced with this reality there is no alternative but to
identify and develop cost-effective treatments that will allow our nation to make use of
all available water sources to help us meet the 21st century needs of our growing
population. The prospect of cost-effective and energy-efficient technologies to address
this challenge is truly exciting to all of us. We believe that S. 1860 offers not just the
vision and promise of how to achieve these ends but also a practical roadmap for a
federal-local partnership that will allow the water supply community to meet its
obligations to the public and to do so well into the 21st century.
AwwaRF is a member-supported, international non-profit organization that sponsors
research to enable water utilities, public health agencies, and other professionals to
provide safe and affordable drinking water to consumers. Our more than 900 subscribing
water utilities in the United States and in seven foreign countries invest $2.05 per every
million gallons of delivered water into the research subscription program administered by
AwwaRF. This produces over $13,000,000 in income each year which we leverage with
in-kind contributions from researchers and in funding partnerships which include a
number of Federal agencies. Over the past quarter of a century, AwwaRF has invested
and leveraged over $370 million in over 900 research projects on all aspects of drinking
water treatment and supply. This includes a number of projects which address
desalination and arsenic treatment, including our current research partnership with Sandia
National La bs and WERC at New Mexico State University and our cooperative
agreement with Sandia National Labs, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) and
WateReuse through the Joint Water Reuse and Desalination Task Force to implement the
Desalination and Water Purification Roadmap developed in 2003 by Sandia and USBR.

All AwwaRF research is done by sub-agreement with water utilities, universities, private
research organizations, consulting engineering firms, and other qualified organizations.
This sub-agreement approach allows the Foundation to avoid the cost of equipping and
maintaining separate laboratories and instead enables us to leverage existing facilities
throughout the academic and water supply communities in support of our research.
AwwaRF’s staff of over 50 manages this research. The results are published in the form
of a final report which is widely disseminated throughout the water community and with
federal and state agencies. AwwaRF also conducts an ongoing program of technology
transfer conferences and periodicals that bring the latest in priority research directly to
water agencies. AwwaRF holds no patents on any technology that is developed through
our research but instead publishes and disseminates its research results to a wide
audience. Interested parties are then free to use this knowledge and develop these
technologies for commercial application that ultimately improve protection of public
health.


The scientific expertise of our national labs is well recognized and we are excited over
the prospect of having some of these capabilities focused upon developing new, energy
efficient water treatment technologies. The purpose of my testimony today is to better
acquaint the Committee with what we consider the other crucial aspect of this enterprise
to ensure that these new technologies are applicable to, and implementable by water
agencies. Less than two weeks ago, AwwaRF, as part of the Arsenic Water Technology
Partnership was privileged to participate in an arsenic workshop in Albuquerque attended
by you, Mr. Chairman. The topic of concern was the pending EPA arsenic regulation and
how utilities, particularly smaller ones, are going to meet the new federal standards.
There were dozens of representatives from New Mexico water agencies at the workshop
and it was obvious how much these agencies are in need of affordable technologies which
will enable them to comply with the EPA mandated arsenic standards. Their concern
reminded us of how crucial it is that the knowledge that will be produced by S. 1860 be
applicable and usable at the local level and with all sizes of utilities to solve water supply
problems. But based upon my experience both with my own water agency and with the
larger water supply community, there is often a wide gap between what seems to work in
a laboratory and what does indeed work at a water treatment facility and also what will be
approved for use by state and federal regulatory agencies.


S. 1860 challenges three of our national laboratories to identify groundbreaking new
approaches to water treatment with particular emphasis on desalination technologies. I
believe they will be successful in this endeavor. But it is also essential that the research
expertise of the water community, as embodied by organizations such as AwwaRF, be a
partner in this research. I am not referring here to technology transfer activities, but
rather how S. 1860 can create the framework for a true and dynamic working research
partnership between the national labs and the water community. This ensures that cutting
edge next generation technologies developed by the national laboratories also have the
concurrent benefit of the practical research expertise offered by AwwaRF. With more
than a third of a billion dollars in either completed or ongoing research backed by
hundreds of researchers and thousands of project advisory volunteers, AwwaRF offers
this capability to the S. 1860 process at the outset of this journey. As a long-standing
and familiar supporter of good and useful water research, I cannot over-emphasize how
much the early and direct involvement by utilities during technology research and
development dramatically increases the likelihood of adoption and implementation of the
new technologies by the water supply community. In addition, such collaboration
expedites the application of research results in the field.


AwwaRF has pioneered the transfer of membrane technology from other industries into
the water supply sector. Membranes hold the promise of drastically reducing the cost of
utilities in meeting EPA’s Surface Water Treatment Rule and are the backbone of
desalination efforts in turning brackish waters into pure drinking water. AwwaRF
research proved the efficacy of UV light to inactivate Cryptosporidium, which is a much
more cost effective technology and will likely save water and wastewater utilities
hundreds of million of dollars. When perchlorate threatened several California water
supplies, AwwaRF research developed practical removal methods using available
technology to save millions of dollars and provide safe water to affected communities.
In addition to AwwaRF’s ground breaking research expertise and management
capabilities, we offer the financial support of our more than 900 subscribing water
agencies. Their annual investment in the research subscription program allows us to offer
a local leverage for federal funds. Since 1983, AwwaRF has provided a nearly seven to
one match for EPA and DOE funding which it has received from the Congress. The
goals embodied in S.1860 are so important to water agencies throughout the United
States and the world that AwwaRF would be willing to provide a substantial cash and inkind
match along with our research management expertise in support of the initiatives
addressed in S. 1860. We believe that in these times of federal deficits the best way to
address the national priorities outlined in this legislation is to create a federal-local
research partnership which includes investment from all levels of government. AwwaRF
stands ready with both its research expertise and a portion of its utility generated income
in support of the goals of your legislation.


AwwaRF is also aware that the Committee is considering S.1016 today and that this
legislation provides for incentive payment to owners of qualified desalination facilities to
partially offset the cost of electrical energy required to operate their facilities. S. 1016
calls attention to a large and growing concern among water utilities which is how to pay
for the cost of electricity associated with water treatment. The development of innovative
technologies under discussion today at this hearing will require ever growing amounts of
electrical power which will grow increasingly expensive in the future. Funding
partnerships between water agencies and the federal government, as proposed by S. 1016,
are one option for addressing this challenge. AwwaRF has long been involved with the
research aspects associated with the cost of electricity, including $6M invested in 18
projects and research partnerships with interested parties such as the California Energy
Commission. Paying for the energy costs associated with water treatment is a major
concern and priority throughout the water supply community and we appreciate the fact
that the Committee is addressing this issue in its hearings today.


In closing, we wish to once again express our appreciation to you, Mr. Chairman and the
Committee for holding this hearing and for the introduction of S. 1860. We hope that this
testimony has provided the Committee with some food for thought with regard to the
need to drive the research strategy to its ultimate application at a utility level and also
consider the readily available venue offered by AwwaRF to further leverage the costsharing
potential with water utilities in support of the goals of S. 1860. The challenges
and the vision embodied in this legislation are as important to the water community as
those of a century ago when drinking water disinfection rapidly became the norm and
saved countless lives. The resulting public good was crucial for our national wellbeing in
the 20th century. We believe that S. 1860 is a true bridge to helping us meet the
challenges of the 21st century in providing adequate water supplies and energy to the
nation and we thank you for the opportunity to present our thoughts.