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March Upfront News & Views

March Upfront News & Views

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    CityFIRST may be more appealing to homeowners than refinancing over 20 years or taking out a home equity loan.

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    The “filtering flux sensor” measures ammonia and nitrite levels to reveal the ion flux, or how many ions are being transported into and out of the bio-film per minute. Photo: Purdue University

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    In honor of National Engineers Week, the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York promoted the profession with billboards, ads in state publications, and posters with this image. “Greater understanding of the engineer's inventive role should enhance the perception of the profession and its essential — and often overlooked — contribution to our quality of life,” says Hannah O'Grady, the council's deputy executive director.

Berkeley is financing its debt through a company called Renewable Funding, which administers the CityFIRST (financing initiative for renewable and solar technology) program. The company also is working with Palm Desert, San Diego, San Francisco, and Solana Beach; and Santa Monica and Sonoma counties.

After Colorado passed similar legislation last year, Boulder County passed a measure allowing it to issue up to $40 million in special assessment bonds to finance clean energy improvements.

Legislation has been introduced in seven states: Arizona, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Vermont. Michigan, New Jersey, and Washington are considering statutes. Visit www.renewfund.com.

How pollution affects water pricesResearch

Kansas State University reports that nitrogen and phosphorous affect Americans on a level as basic as how much they spend on drinking water: If they're concerned about what's in tap water, they're likely to pay more for the bottled variety; if a treatment plant has to spend more money to treat water, water bills increase.

Using EPA data from bodies of water throughout the country, researchers calculated the economic impact of nonpoint source pollution by considering lakefront property values, drinking-water treatment costs, and the revenue lost when fewer people take part in recreational activities such as fishing or boating.

Of the $4.3 billion that pollution costs government agencies, drinking water facilities, and consumers, at least $44 million goes toward protecting aquatic species from nutrient pollution.

New method to monitor bacteriaWastewater

Researchers at Purdue University have developed a new technique using sensors to constantly monitor the health of bacteria critical to wastewater treatment facilities and have verified a theory that copper is vital to the proper functioning of a key enzyme in the bacteria.

The researchers used the method to study microorganisms referred to as nitrifying bacteria because they convert toxic ammonia from human wastes and fertilizer runoff into nitrites, which are further broken down by other bacteria into harmless nitrogen gas.

Sensor data reveals how well the bacteria are absorbing ions from the waste. The “filtering flux sensor” measures ammonia and nitrite levels to reveal the ion flux, or how many ions are being transported through the biofilm per minute.

The new method senses even the smallest changes in chemistry related to bacterial health and yields results immediately, unlike conventional technologies, which require laboratory analyses taking at least a day. That immediate reporting could make it possible to detect when bacteria are about to stop processing waste and correct the problem before toxins are released into waterways.