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DO EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES HOLD THE KEY TO RECLAIMING IMPAIRED GROUNDWATER RESOURCES IN THE NYC METROPOLITAN AREA?

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New York City and surrounding metropolitan areas are typical urban settings that place substantial demands on limited natural resources, particularly drinking water supplies. Former users in these highly industrialized settings have contaminated regional aquifers, with resulting abandonment and increased pressure on alternative water supplies from surrounding communities and regions where clean waters still exist. Once pristine drinking water, derived from undeveloped recharge areas adjacent to productive aquifers, is now often lost to the Atlantic Ocean as runoff. Salt-water intrusion and other water quality threats impact many areas adjacent to Metropolitan New York City. A look toward alternative sources for drinking water has resulted from depletion of groundwater and safe surface water resources. This practice often leads to excessive withdrawals of unaffected resources to meet regional demand for safe drinking water.

Significant research and applied development projects have been completed in search of cost effective treatment alternatives for MTBE contaminated drinking water supplies. Two of the more promising alternatives under evaluation have been demonstrated on a pilot scale, address MTBE, TBA and other MTBE reaction intermediates, with the capability of achieving drinking water standards with low operating costs. While much of this research has been focused in the far west, these same processes deal readily with other recalcitrant compounds common to former drinking water supplies in the New York City metropolitan area.

This paper presents an overview and relative comparison of some of the leading treatment alternatives and presents an economic case for their consideration as a means of restoring regional aquifers to productive use. This paper will discuss how demonstrated operating costs for some of the more promising treatment approaches may offset costs of operating the extensive delivery systems needed to bring water to the metropolitan user, while protecting alternative sources from depletion and other risks.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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