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WERC, Sandia to participate in Arsenic Water Technology Program

A cooperative agreement between the American Water Works Association Research Foundation (AwwaRF) and the U.S. Department of Energy includes WERC and Sandia National Laboratories as partners in a new Arsenic Water Technology Partnership Program.

Abbas Ghassemi, executive director of the WERC consortium, which will participate in a new Arsenic Water Technology Partnership Program.

The program was created to develop and deploy technologies that will assist communities in meeting new federally mandated arsenic requirements for drinking water to be implemented in 2006.

The partners will investigate new arsenic removal technologies and related issues, as well as perform public education and outreach. WERC: A Consortium for Environmental Education and Technology Development, headquartered at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, will manage technology transfer, outreach and cost analysis for Phase I of the program, which is expected to include four additional phases and run through 2006.

WERC will receive $300,000 through the cooperative for its Phase I activities.

WERC will perform education, training, economic analysis and outreach activities and will participate in the Partnership Management Committee that is responsible for the oversight of the entire Arsenic Water Technology Partnership Program.

WERC will also participate in the strategic planning and establishment of policies, procedures and other issues, as needed, for the removal of arsenic from drinking water. Additionally, through its annual Environmental Design Contest, WERC will invite university teams to develop and demonstrate innovative approaches to remove arsenic from water.

Throughout this project, AwwaRF will oversee the laboratory and bench-scale portions of the research program and Sandia National Laboratories will direct the pilot and demonstration-scale program.

A partnership workshop was conducted Aug. 21 and 22 in Golden, Colo., for representatives of utilities, federal and state regulatory agencies, national laboratories, universities, the consulting community and large and small municipalities. The workshop focused on arsenic removal technologies and identified research needs and opportunities for the Arsenic Water Technology Partnership Program. Attendees also looked into issues such as community needs management, improving existing technologies, developing innovative technologies and cross-over technologies.

"WERC is already committed to addressing arsenic issues through our funding of several successful arsenic-related projects that show great promise," WERC Executive Director Abbas Ghassemi said. "We are pleased to be working with others in the field in the pursuit of innovative ways for our communities in meeting the arsenic removal challenge."

The WERC consortium includes New Mexico State University, New Mexico Tech, the University of New Mexico, Diné College, Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories and program affiliates. WERC's mission is to develop human resources and technologies that assist various levels of government and private sector companies in addressing environmental issues. For more information about WERC, visit www.werc.net..