News

Mar. 28, 2017 U.S. Environmental Protection Agancy

Upcoming Webinar: March 29th - Research on the Impacts of Water Conservation on Water Quality in Premise Plumbing

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pleased to invite you to attend

Upcoming Research on the Impacts of Water Conservation on Water Quality in Premise Plumbing

March 29, 2017

2 – 3 p.m. EDT

The presentation will be live-streamed as a webinar via Adobe Connect.


Click here to register!

Meeting Information

Ever wonder how water quality is impacted under low flow conditions in buildings and distribution systems? The recent use of low-flow plumbing fixtures such as faucets, toilets, and shower-heads has resulted in waterborne disease outbreaks and other water quality problems in building plumbing (premise plumbing) systems. This webinar features two recently awarded National Priorities grantees presenting upcoming research and new science on the impacts of water conservation on water quality in premise plumbing systems. The projects are intended to inform how to better design, renovate, and manage building drinking water systems so that water can be delivered efficiently while protecting public health.

U.S. EPA Safe and Sustainable Water Research

SSWR research program efforts are being done in partnership with other EPA programs, federal and state agencies, academia, nongovernmental agencies, public and private stakeholders, and the global scientific community. Through an integrated science and engineering approach, the SSWR research program is developing cost-effective, sustainable solutions to these 21st century complex water issues and proactively addressing emerging concerns.

Agenda and Speakers

Water Conservation and Water Quality: Understanding the Impacts of New Technologies and New Operational Strategies – Drexel University

Project Team and Scope of Work – Patrick Gurian, lead principal investigator (PI) working to improve water quality in buildings, will describe the experience of team members and their role in synthesizing knowledge and identifying strategies to protect human health. The presentation will cover the initial scope of work, including key informant interviews and case studies of how water conservation affects water quality in buildings. Information derived from the eventual development of meta-analysis of the literature will be used to inform a decision support tool for building water management.

Presented by Patrick Gurian, Ph.D. – Dr. Gurian is an associate professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering at Drexel University. His research involves the application of mathematical models to evaluate alternative regulatory frameworks and resource management strategies.

Experimental Component and Engagement with the Drinking Water Community – Sheldon Masters, co-PI for the effort, will discuss the experimental approach supporting development of the decision support tool. The phases of experiments include bench-scale experiments; experiments investigating on opportunistic pathogen growth; DBP formation potential and energy efficiency; and examination of the impact of pipe materials, water use pattern and water chemistry on pathogen growth and DBP formation using pipe racks.

Presented by Sheldon Masters, Ph.D. – Dr. Masters is a Research Engineer at the Environmental Science, Policy and Research Institute and an Environmental Engineer at Corona Environmental Engineering. His work involves field investigations of chemical and microbial contaminations in drinking water distribution systems and premise plumbing. Sheldon earned a Ph.D. and M.S. in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech and a B.A. in Mathematics from The College of Wooster.

Right Sizing Tomorrow’s Water Systems for Efficiency, Sustainability, and Public Health – Purdue University, Michigan State University, San Jose State University

Working Towards Safer Drinking Water at Home, Work, and School: Research to Improve Plumbing Safety – To better understand how unsafe drinking water can occur in buildings, the Purdue research team is developing integrated water quality models and identifying piping network design and operational conditions that can decrease health risks. Andy Whelton, lead PI on this grant will describe the project goals and objectives, ultimately leading to a risk based decision support tool for building plumbing systems. Dr. Whelton will also describe the wide variety of industrial partners and stakeholders supporting the project and the various roles and backgrounds for the joint Purdue/Michigan State/San Jose State research team.

Presented by Andrew J. Whelton, Ph.D – Dr. Whelton has 15 years of experience as an environ­mental engineer and is an assistant professor of Purdue University’s Lyles School of Civil Engineer­ing, Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering. His research efforts have concentrated on the interface of technology, the environment, and public health. He earned a B.S.in Civil Engi­neering, an M.S. in Environmental Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech.

Yesterday’s Demand, Tomorrow’s Water Systems: Adjusting to Normals – As water fixtures, appliances, and water-use practices have become more efficient, aggregate and per-capita usage has declined. Systems serving legacy cities have seen further declines in the wake of lost economic activity and populations. Due to these and other factors, existing water utility and premise plumbing systems may be oversized relative to needs and pose potential health risks associated with stagnant water. Dr. Beecher will review the planned approach to analyzing and summarizing these trends for the purposes of this study.

Presented by Janice Beecher, Ph.D. – Dr. Janice Beecher has served as Director of the Institute of Public Utilities at Michigan State University since 2002. Her areas of interest include regulatory in­stitutions, governance, and pricing, and she specializes in the water sector. She is presently serving on EPA’s Environmental Finance Advisory Board and recently completed service on Michigan’s 21st Century Infrastructure Commission. She has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Northwestern Univer­sity and faculty appointments in MSU’s College of Social Science, where she has taught graduate courses in public policy and regulation.

Water Microbiology Associated with Plumbing and Health Risks – Water conservation can lead to low flows and increased water age in distribution systems and premise plumbing. The reduced chlorine residual over time can subsequently allow for microbial growth in drinking water and biofilms along the piping materials. Additionally, organic carbon from certain types of pipes may provide nutrients for increased growth. Dr. Mitchell will review how the synergy among these events contribute to microbial risks, especially those produced by opportunistic pathogens.

Presented by Jade Mitchell, Ph.D. – Dr. Jade Mitchell is an assistant professor in the Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Department at Michigan State University. Her research broadly focuses on applications of quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) to water quality, food safety and other environmental exposure pathways. Dr. Mitchell obtained a B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from University of Pittsburgh, and an M.S. in Civil Engineering and a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from Drexel University.