Selecting a Water Treatment Service Provider To Meet Green Technology Requirements

Selecting a Water Treatment Service Provider To Meet
Green Technology Requirements
By: Jay Farmerie, CWT, President, Cyrus Rice Water
Selecting a water treatment company is very important in todayʼs environment. It is every facilityʼs desire to also
become greener in their technology by reducing their use of our earthʼs natural resources. In most facilities the
biggest user of energy and water are heating and cooling water systems.
To limit the use of energy, it is important to have a good water treatment program to keep these systems free of
scale, deposits, corrosion and microbiological growth. Scale and deposits decrease heat transfer efficiency
which will increase use of natural gas, fuel oil or electricity. Corrosion can cause equipment to operate
inefficiently and microbiological growth can cause disease and fouling. Thus water treatment is an
environmentally friendly process. Another aspect of water treatment is to try to limit the use of water. This could
include running higher cycles or recovering and reusing possible waste streams which will ultimately save the
facility money.
A key part of the water treatment process includes selecting the right water treatment professional who can work
with the facility to accomplish these goals. Normally, this can be done in many different ways, such as requests
for proposals (RFP), requests for quotes (RFQ), bid submittals, personal interviews or even personal
relationships. Whichever of these methods the facility manager uses, it is necessary to develop criteria for
deciding what kind of service is needed to protect the cooling and/or heating equipment from failure or
unexpected shutdowns that can cost the facility in lost revenue and increase utility costs.
Selecting the Level of Service
The facility manager must first decide what type of service the facility requires. There are basically three levels
of service:
1) Services designed to ensure proper application of the water treatment program. The water treatment
company provides a product and instructs the facility on how to operate within the specified limits of the
system. In this case, the water treatment provider is strictly a chemical supplier and not a true service
provider. This level of service is the cheapest, but it is not a good option if the facility does not have:
• full-time experienced operators who cover all shifts, understand water treatment and need
no training;
• a full-time engineering staff that can work on water related problems; or
• a water consultant on retainer who can provide help when it is needed.
2) Services designed not only to provide treatment products, but also to ensure adequate protection
against corrosion, deposition and microbiological growth. This level of service is the standard for a fullservice supplier, requiring the service representative to monitor the systemʼs performance by periodic
checks. These checks include water testing, corrosion coupons, microbiological testing and deposition
analysis. Water Testing should include all the characteristics to determine the standard scaling indices,
inhibitor levels and corrosion by-products for the system metallurgy. Microbiological testing can include
bacterial dip-slides, ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) and anaerobic bacteria testing. Corrosion coupon
analyses should be done continually with either coupons or by linear polarization. Deposition analysis is
done to understand any deposits and the causes of their formation.
In addition, pre-treatment systems, where no chemical treatment is utilized, yet which can impact the
performance of heat exchange equipment, also need to be monitored by the water treatment
professional. Illustrations of this type of equipment are water softeners, demineralizers, Reverse
Osmosis, EDI, make-up water, etc.
Such a basic program may also include assistance in solving minor problems, but frequently does not if
the service provider or representative is inexperienced.
3) Service that includes levels 1 & 2 above and also includes the initiation of projects to optimize system
performance and reduce energy or utility costs, reduce water or sewage costs, increase water reuse or
decrease chemical usage. Such a program is the highest level of service and attention and can only be
supplied by an experienced water treatment professional with full commitment and support from his or
her corporate technical staff and laboratories. We call this a provider who provides value added service.
This decision on the type of water treatment service required by a facility is important because, as
demonstrated in the chart below, the biggest factor in controlling costs is not chemical consumption, but
utility usage. This correlates well with getting LEED points and becoming green in your facility.
Cost Factors in a Process Cooling System
Setting Qualification Criteria
Once the facility has identified the appropriate type of service required, the manager must set qualification
criteria for the water treatment provider. Can they provide the service needed in a timely manner, provide
electronic and written service reports on an agreed upon frequency, maintain proper inventory of products (“just
in time delivery” is not acceptable), provide 24-hour response, proactively work with the facility as a partner and
be concerned about the performance of all the systems? Do they have the knowledge to reduce the facilityʼs
carbon footprint? Can they provide the client with projects and their Return on Investments (ROI) to allow the
facility to save money? The company that is selected must also support their water treatment professionals with
the latest information including feed and treatment equipment, testing techniques, regulatory information and
back-up technical personnel, if necessary.
Considering the Water Treatment Professional
Selecting a water treatment company is also about selecting the water treatment professional assigned to be
responsible for the treatment program. When reviewing an individual, the facility manager should consider
factors such as education, experience, integrity and the personality of the water treatment professional who
would be interacting with the personnel at the facility.
The education level can be measured in several ways. What is the highest level of formal education? Is the
professionalʼs education in the area of intended use? Knowledge about the types of systems that they will be
dealing with is imperative. Has the individual received continuing education through their company or other
training that has provided them with an understanding of the operation, maintenance and treatment of water
based systems? Do they understand the concepts of external treatment, corrosion and deposition control,
biological control, system performance management, data trending, feed and control systems, safety and
regulatory matters, and budgetary issues? All of these subjects need to be understood by an acceptable water
treatment professional.
The experience level of an individual is not just the number of years a person has been in the business. It is
much more.
• Do they have experience with various systems, especially the ones for which they will be
• Do they understand the key performance indicators (KPIʼs)?
• Can they identify areas that need immediate attention to prevent equipment damage, eliminate
a possible environmental incident or avoid a potentially unsafe condition?
• Have they helped other facilities reduce their carbon footprint or reduced utility usage?
• Do they have experience in zero liquid discharge or reusing process or waste streams in
cooling towers, boilers or other heat exchange equipment?
Integrity and Personality
Why should the facility manager evaluate the integrity and personality of the individual? They will work closely
with this individual to ensure the facility operates as efficiently as possible. If the water treatment professional
listens to them and their concerns, participates in team decision making efforts, provides good feedback and is
comfortable to be around, then the program will be monitored more closely and operation personnel will work
more effectively with the individual to keep the system functional. Ethics and integrity are also important. Is the
individual concerned about the facilityʼs systems mainly because doing so provides them a means to sell their
services and receive a paycheck or are they actually concerned with improving the performance of the systems,
reducing costs, maximizing the conservation of environmental resources and partnering with the facility to achieve
these goals?
Simplifying the Selection Process
There is a program that simplifies the search for the right water treatment professional.
The Certified Water Technologist (CWT) credential from the Association of Water Technologies (AWT) was
established to provide the water treatment industry with a designation representing a level of knowledge,
extensive professional experience and education in all aspects of water treatment and technology. Every CWT
has signed a Declaration of Ethics, proclaiming an obligation to honesty, integrity, safety, service excellence, and
a commitment to conservation of resources. The CWT credential is one way to ensure that the water treatment
professional is qualified to provide the facility with the highest quality of service possible. Demand that the water
treatment professional that is hired has this credential.
Developing Performance Checks
Once the facility manager has considered the qualifications of a water treatment company and its professionals,
the final step in the process is to develop precise performance checks that will allow an understanding of how
the systems are working. This type of criteria is often developed with the help of those members of the facilityʼs
engineering staff who have specific knowledge about the systems. They should know which pieces of equipment
are critical to the facilityʼs operation. These could include heat exchangers, condensers, boilers, cooling towers,
etc. The water treatment professional should help the client company develop the criteria to understand
characteristics of the equipment such as temperature differentials or flows that need to be maintained, boiler
efficiency, maximum stack temperatures, scaling or fouling factors at which the equipment can still operate
effectively, mass balance data to understand how a system is operating, system materials/metallurgy and
maximum tolerable corrosion rates for each. One of the most important system checks is defining bacterial
growth limitations to limit fouling and prevent the cooling water systems from becoming a disease source.
The Big Picture
The task of selecting the right water treatment service provider should not be taken lightly. Selecting the right
partner can improve a facilityʼs operational performance and control the operating budget for items such as
electricity, gas, water and sewage. Moreover, developing a relationship with the service provider will allow for
proper protection of the cooling equipment against failure or unexpected shutdowns and ensure that day-to-day
operations continue and also allow the facility to meet todayʼs green technology demands.
Jay Farmerie, CWT
Mr. Farmerie has been in the water treatment field for more than 25 years. He is a Past President of the
Association of Water Technologies and is a Senior Consultant for Cyrus Rice Water Consultants, an
independent water treatment consulting and engineering firm in Pittsburgh, PA and a recipient of the AWTʼs
prestigious Ray Baum Memorial Award. Cyrus Rice also has written performance specifications for many
facilities desiring to improve their water treatment program. For more information, visit
About AWT
AWT is an international trade association representing over 500 companies that specialize in industrial and
commercial water treatment for heating and cooling systems. These companies may also specialize in
wastewater treatment, potable water treatment, and other industry segments. For additional information about
AWT, please visit our web site at or call our headquarters at (301) 740-1421.