American Water - BIRD Grantee



American Water Applies Innovative Technologies from Israel to its U.S. Operations

With the recent approval of its third BIRD project, American Water continues to bring innovative technologies from Israeli industry and apply them to its water/wastewater operations in the U.S. Israeli ideas in the water industry offer promise, given the country’s ability to get full value from its limited sources of potable water using demonstrated skills in desalination operations, conservation and water reuse technologies.  Since 2012, American Water and its Israeli partners have received BIRD awards on three projects totaling over 2.5 million dollars.

The first project with Steam Control Inc., started in April 2013, is now nearing completion.  The technology involves a product called Aqua Guard, a device that can modify the typically fixed downstream pressure of pressure reducing valves (PRV).  Like many U.S. utilities, American Water has some portion of systems whose water pressure is maintained by a PRV at one or more such stations into a water pressure zone.  Though the pressure remains steady at the PRV outlet or point of entry, pressure at more remote locations within the pressure zone elevate as flow into the zone reduces at night as pressure loss from flow friction in the pipeline diminishes.  The Aqua Guard changes the dynamics of the zone by lowering pressure as it reads flow, but is responsive enough to respond as needed when flow suddenly increases.  The pressure reduction has several benefits including a less leak flow with lower pressure, a reduction in pipe stress and the bonus of monitoring flow more carefully in systems to know when leaks may be starting.

To test this product in North America required extensive coordination and cooperation between two companies separated by an ocean, language and the characteristics of their water systems. The spirit of cooperation was most evident when the Stream Control technician teams travelled to the U.S. and visited a few sites across the country in less than two weeks to resolve issues that arose, requiring modifications as the testing progressed.  Issues ranged from balancing flow to the PRV unit, overcoming sporadic changes in leak flow, high moisture conditions and power interruptions.  American Water had surprises as well, as leaks could happen at any time, increasing flow outside the settings of the Aqua Guard and changes in supply that delayed or shifted piloting sites.

The Aqua Guard was modified in several ways to meet expectations of American Water with regard to function, security, power and communication, and ultimately it appears ready for the U.S. market.  A gathering of the American Water staff will be held in September to discuss how the unit can be improved and sustained, one of the best values that American Water can offer for such projects. 

Two other projects for which American Water has been approved for funding include IOSight and WellToDo. In the project with IOSight, American Water is helping to develop analytical tools to help identify data trends in water and wastewater treatment plants and allow plant operators to respond to these trends, thereby improving operational efficiencies. The project started in April 2015 and will continue for two years. For more information see the recent press release from July 1, 2015.

In its newest project, approved in BIRD’s latest cycle, American Water will be working with Israeli company, WellToDo. In this project, an innovative nitrate removal system will be commercialized. Nitrate is one of the most common groundwater pollutants throughout the world and is especially prevalent in agricultural areas including the Midwestern U.S. and California’s Central Valley. While other nitrate removal technologies exist, the WellToDo technology utilizes very little energy and does not produce any waste streams. This two-year project is scheduled to begin in October 2015.

American Water is grateful to BIRD for the opportunity to work with Israeli companies to further test and develop technologies to help benefit its customers and the U.S. water industry. 

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