a heartbeat. When our water comes out of the tap, it sparkles,
largely because of the impact of ozone on water quality.
Looking back, how much was WRF’s ozone research a
game changer for Milwaukee and others?
Ozone’s properties were investigated in many WRF research
projects, including those that compared ozone to other
disinfectants and looked at its effectiveness treating various
targets. The ozone retrofit at the Milwaukee Water Works was
the largest retrofit of an operating water treatment plant in
the world at the time, so that was a huge game changer for
the entire industry. Water utilities are pretty risk averse; we
want to implement things that are tested, tried, and true. Not
only does WRF fund research on new technologies to show
how they are applicable to drinking water treatment, they
take the next step and show utilities how to implement the
technology, optimize it, and measure its effectiveness.
How else does MWW benefit from its relationship
Milwaukee Water Works has been a subscriber of the Water
Research Foundation since the mid-1980s. I think we were one
of the original utilities to come on board. When I came to MWW
and understood the debt that we owed to WRF in getting our
facilities upgraded after the 1993 event, I thought we would be
subscribers in perpetuity, even if WRF never did another good
thing as long as it was around. Fortunately, that is not the case!
We have been a participating utility on 25 research projects
over the past 20 years, on topics ranging from biological filtra-
tion, to particulate removal, to customer communication, and
more. We have benefitted tremendously from this participation.
By knowing the trends and direction of WRF’s research agenda,
MWW has stayed ahead of the curve. It is worth every penny of
our investment to have WRF’s body of research at our fingertips.
What other projects and research has MWW been part
of with WRF?
Before 9/11, when WRF was starting to focus on water system
security, MWW was the first utility that was examined by Sandia
National Labs for physical security against intruders. We had a
great time when the spy guys from Albuquerque showed up
here in February, and walked around in the snow and freezing
cold outside to show us our vulnerabilities for system security.
As a result, we became a template for water system security.
We have also had significant help from WRF with our biologically active filtration. An unanticipated consequence of using
ozone as a primary disinfectant is that the filters became biologically active, so we’ve done studies with WRF on particulate
characterization and removals through the biological filters.
What do you see strategically
for Milwaukee Water Works
or other utilities long-term?
I think we will have to re-evaluate
our water treatment processes.
The upgrades that were put in
place are now 22 years old. They
are going to be coming to the end
of their useful lives in the next 5
to 10 years and we will have to
make decisions about how we
move forward with them. We
have two very large water plants,
we have declining water usage
just like other utilities around the
country. This results in declining revenues. How we balance
declining revenue with all of the
investments we are going to have
to make going forward is going to
be one of our biggest challenges.