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Part I. Alternatives to Pilot Plant Studies for Membrane Technologies

Part I. Alternatives to Pilot Plant Studies for Membrane Technologies

Mancha, Erika, W. Shane Walker, Justin Sutherland, Tom Seacord, Dan Hugaboom
Published In: 
Texas Water Development Board - Final Report,  
January 2014
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) estimates that an additional 8.3 million acre-feet of water will be needed in Texas by 2060 if new water supplies are not developed to offset population growth and existing water supply reduction due to drought. By 2060, the Texas population is projected to be 46.3 million people, almost twice the 2010 population of approximately 25.4 million people. Development of alternative and new water resources is critical to sustainable growth of the State of Texas, and the use of reliable membrane water treatment systems will likely play an important role in developing these sustainable water resources. Membrane technologies are applied for either particle filtration or removal of dissolved constituents. The technologies used for these applications have very different capabilities. Microfiltration and ultrafiltration membranes are low-pressure filtration processes that are principally designed to remove physical and microbiological contamination. Nanofiltration and reverse osmosis membrane systems are typically used for desalting brackish groundwater and surface water. Under the current Texas Administrative Code, membranes (both low-pressure and desalting) are considered “innovative technologies” for water treatment. To implement membrane treatment for drinking water, municipalities and water districts are required to perform demonstration-scale pilot testing for permitting approval by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, regardless of whether groundwater or surface water are used.  The principal disadvantage of this approach is that the requirement for piloting may, in some cases, be unnecessarily slow, and thereby delay or deter the construction process for communities in desperate need of new drinking water sources. As a result, the extra time, cost, and exception process steps required for the use of membrane technologies in water treatment facilities can deter owners and public water systems from developing new and much needed water supplies. The goal of this project is to develop a guidance document for more efficient pathways to safely approve desalting membrane systems in the State of Texas. The objectives of this project are (1) to perform a review of membrane performance evaluation methods (especially alternatives to demonstration-scale pilot testing) for predicting full-scale performance and (2) to collect data from past piloting alternative approaches and analyze these data to establish confidence for predicting full-scale performance and (3) to prepare a guidance document on alternatives to membrane pilot studies for Texas Commission on Environmental Quality acceptance and outreach.
Mancha, E., W. S. Walker, J. Sutherland, T. Seacord, D. Hugaboom. 2014.  "Part I. Alternatives to Pilot Plant Studies for Membrane Technologies." Texas Water Development Board Final Report. January 2014.