Highs and Lows Across the Industry

I'm a sucker for quotes. I like to write them down, hang them on my wall, tattoo them on my wrists. Some of my favorites, such as "If you're not part of the future, get out of the way" and "The future's so bright, I got to wear shades" come from the lips and pens of famous (infamous?) people around the world.

But quotes don't necessarily have to come from famous people to be enlightening. Take for instance statements from environmental professionals. Most people working in the environmental field will never be famous among the general public, but their contributions to the world will be felt for many generations.

Predicting what will happen in the future usually falls in the hands of psychics, soothsayers and prophets -- and more often these people are foreseeing trends in areas in which they have no experience. That is why we here at Environmental Protection turn to experienced environmental professionals to predict what they envision happening in the environmental field during the year 2002.

Our two future-watchers base their predictions on first-hand experiences from real-world scenarios and not from tarot cards, crystal balls or 1-800 late night TV ads. Every day they gather information and apply their know-how in ways that help ensure a fruitful future. Though not fail-safe, their visions do help many piece together what is ahead, especially after the terrorist attacks on the United States in September 2001.

Whether our environmental executives' statements about the future uphold or become famous remains in the hands of time. Nevertheless, what they have to say is important, timely and worthy of a spot on your reading radar. -- Jason Hensel

The Environmental Industry Post September 11
Tom Mills

The events of September 11, 2001, will no doubt, have significant and lasting impact on the U.S. environmental marketplace. The most immediate and direct effect has been the increased need for qualified laboratories and analytical devices capable of providing the expertise and the data necessary to identify a wide range of potential contaminants. Subsequent to testing, companies providing advanced remediation solutions as well as those providing technology for minimizing the hazards of bio-terrorism have experienced surging demand. Of course, this sudden popularity has not been without struggle and some investment. The wide range of possible environmental contamination along with the need to employ very stringent, often non-traditional cleanup procedures, has posed many new challenges to the companies involved.

Despite the complexity of environmental issues facing the United States, one can expect that prevention and security will become major components of the future focus for this industry. Just as the environmental industry has moved from "end of pipe" fixes to preventive measures over the past 15 years, it is likely that a similar progression will occur pertaining to the security and safety of our natural resources. More specifically, greater attention will be given to protection of resources that can be compromised or directly targeted by terrorism. Drinking water is a prime example, and while some argue that the potential for large-scale contamination is unlikely, there will be heightened security and planning around the protection of these resources. Also, to achieve these new objectives, municipalities may be required to develop or acquire expertise that does not currently reside within their organizations.

Finally, an indirect impact of September 11 is the potential for U.S. regulatory focus to move towards the pressing issues and concerns resulting from the attacks. While this may be appropriate, it is likely to draw funding from other deserving environmental programs resulting in a more targeted agenda in the near term. Likewise, both private and industrial sectors can be expected to direct resources toward matters of security, possibly deferring spending in other environmental areas. Overall, we expect that environmental spending in 2002 will be strong, but not in the traditional sense. September 11 has fueled new growth segments in detection, prevention and security while simultaneously stalling regulatory oversight and thus momentum for other environmental programs. As with most other aspects of our lives following September 11, we should anticipate and expect significant change for the environmental industry in the years ahead.

Thomas M. (Tom) Mills joined Severn Trent (Fort Washington, PA) in June 1999 with responsibility to develop and launch Severn Trent Services as a leading environmental solutions brand. In his capacity as Vice President of Marketing, Tom is responsible for corporate branding, marketing integration and strategy, public and media relations, employee communications, advertising, and new media development. Tom holds a BS in accounting from the University of Delaware, Newark, DE and a Masters of Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Tom and his family reside in West Chester, PA.

At the Water's Edge
Barry Weissman, Director, Pall Water Processing

As regulations governing water treatment continue to be a focus in 2002 and beyond, we see membrane technology as transforming the way new plants are designed -- and this pertains not just to the supply of drinking water, but to the total water supply train, including domestic, industrial and agricultural water usage.

With membranes we now transform wastewater into a reusable resource, be it for make-up water or cooling water at industrial facilities or as water for irrigation. In so doing, we conserve sources of domestic water supply and reduce waste that would otherwise be discharged to the environment. Lower costs are making water reuse practical and driving municipalities and industry to greater use of membrane systems.

In 2002, look for membranes to also be used in combination with biological reactors to transform the way municipal sewage is treated. In particular, facilities serving populations of 20,000 or less will look to replace sedimentation stages with a membrane unit. There are three major reasons for this trend.

  • Membrane systems will discharge a consistently cleaner effluent, having less suspended solids and less fecal coliform and reliable removal of viruses;
  • Membranes will discharge cleaner effluent while at the same time allowing biomass, i.e., mixed liquor suspended solids (MLSS) to increase by at least fourfold, thereby significantly increasing the capacity of the treatment facility without need to increase the civil works; and
  • The costs to treat municipal waste will be further reduced.

In 2002, the trend will be toward greater use of membrane units to not only reduce the volume of waste discharged to the environment, but to do so at substantially lower treatment cost.

Mr. Weissman has been involved with membrane technologies since introducing the first industrial ultrafiltration systems to be installed in the United States in 1968. At Pall Corp., he formed the Water Processing group and led the successful introduction of fluoropolymer hollow fiber membranes into the U.S. municipal water market. Mr. Weissman has advanced degrees in chemical engineering and currently directs Pall Corp's Water Processing global marketing operations.

This article originally appeared in the 01/01/2002 issue of Environmental Protection.

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