AFM could be used in an industrial town in the USA to vastly improve its water quality, lower costs and save its crumbling economy.
In the town of Flint, Michigan in the USA April 2014, the Local council decided to switch its municipal water source and chaos ensued.
A mere 60 miles from the bustling metropolis of Detroit, Flint has an industrial pedigree similar to the erstwhile automotive powerhouse, albeit on a smaller scale.
Since the 1830s the booming lumber industry brought jobs and revenue to Flint, which was originally a town surrounded by thick forests, hence the lumbar industry was a natural fit. Shortly thereafter came the paper mills and chemical processing plants and when the forests around Flint had been decimated, the automobile industry rolled into town.
Since the automobile industry was doing so well nobody cared about the environmental conditions and the decline in water quality. So when Flint had to switch its water supply and draw from Detroit City, no one batted an eyelid. Quite the contrary the industrialists were delighted because it meant that they could now begin dumping into the local Flint river with less effluent processing, now that the Flint River was not being use as a drinkable water source.
Things came to a head in1999 when a series of incidents lead the river to become so polluted that one resident reported dozens of dead fish floating belly up passed her property. A post mortem analysis of the fish by a researcher at the University of Michigan concluded the cause of death to be from industrial pollutants but more so due to suffocation; the high levels of pollutants and organic waste, which in turn led to an increase in bacteria created a high chemical oxygen demand (COD) and biological oxygen demand (BOD). These factors coupled with the BOD of the species indigenous to the river led to an overall dramatic decrease in dissolved oxygen (DO) and ultimately the demise of the fish and other large fauna living in and around the river.
For the city of Flint the timing could not have been worse. While trying to deal with the decline in the automobile industry, the Flint city council were attempting to lower their Detroit water bill , which the host city had been steadily increasing. Flint had been trying to prove to Detroit that in an emergency situation the city could draw potable water from the Flint river, at least on a short term basis. The dead fish incident left them without a leg to stand on. Detroit refused to lower their tariffs, the price of Flint’s water went up, which in turn further suffocated the economy. Jobs were lost, businesses closed down, residents moved away, environmentalists picketed; and in 2014 when proposals for a return to the Flint river as a potable water source were repeatedly turned down, there were even calls to abandon the town and resettle its citizens.
How could AFM help solve this crisis? For starters its an easy way to address Flint’s issue of proving it has a potable water source in a state of emergency. AFM filtration systems attached to even a small-scale water treatment facility would easily remove the biological and chemical pollutants with twice the effectiveness of any sand filter. Even a low performance filter with AFM as its filter media would filter polluted local river water at a rate of 5-10m/hr which equates to 30-60k gallons of clean potable water every single day. That is a half gallon of water for every citizen in Flint, in an emergency situation, no warning, no planning and no prep time.
Now imagine if the whole municipal water treatment facility was filtered through AFM. Aside from the clean water drawn from a local water source, the economic benefits would be staggering. Over a 5 year period AFM has consistently shown a higher return on investment with lower running and maintenance costs. (How AFM can save money) No longer would Flint be dependent on its big brother for a clean water supply and no longer would its citizens have to shell out high fees to draw this water. The city saves money, its taxpayers save money everybody is happy.
What about conservationism and actually cleaning up the river? Activated filter media (AFM) could be the solution. AFM filters fitted to waste water and industrial effluent systems would drastically decrease the level of organic and chemical waste pumped into the river. Rivers and estuarine ecosystems have proven to be highly resilient when given a chance to thrive. We would see the creation of a non-toxic environment, a rapid recovery in local flora and fauna, the river would look more aesthetically pleasing and Flint would become a shining light in a world where industry and conservation are frequently at odds. Did I mention the tax credits, which are frequently given to individuals and companies that are sensitive to the environment. Having AFM at the center of a municipal water filtration is the industrial and commercial equivalent of driving a Prius.