7/24/2009 12:00 AM
Protecting and monitoring the quality of the state's drinking water supply is the goal of a joint effort by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and TEEX - an effort aimed at detecting a variety of toxins that could contaminate a community's water supply, either accidentally or intentionally.
After 9/11, many public water systems across the state and nation acquired an ECLOX field analyzer to measure drinking water contaminants. But there was a big problem, says TEEX Water & Wastewater Laboratory Instructor Keith McLeroy: the equipment came with minimal instructions and no protocols for establishing baseline data for comparing the ECLOX readings.
TCEQ turned to the TEEX Water and Wastewater Program to establish baseline data for 24 public water systems in Texas, and to develop a protocol for effectively measuring possible contaminants. Following the 2008 TCEQ project in which TEEX developed specific protocols for the ECLOX luminometer, TEEX has become recognized for its expertise in ECLOX baseline data development, protocols and training. McLeroy even conducted a customized, one-day ECLOX training workshop for the city of Fort Worth, after it acquired nine ECLOX units.
Originally designed by Dr. Gary Thorpe of the University of Birmingham, U.K., to measure the effluent discharged by factories, no one had used the ECLOX machine for drinking water, and TEEX and TCEQ are believed to be the only ones developing drinking water protocols for the ECLOX.
"We've discovered that the ECLOX makes a great drinking water monitoring tool when used correctly," said McLeroy, of TEEX's Infrastructure Training & Safety Institute. "We've been able to fine tune the procedures for collecting background data, and we've established the methodologies and protocols of detecting toxin levels." He added that the results have been verified by faculty at two universities.
The most recent collaboration involved laboratory studies of quality assurance and quality control and the analysis of laboratory water standards, said McLeroy, who was assisted by Jeff Bowman and Mark Adams. "This year, our evaluation involved setting up detection levels of different toxins. We were able to establish new protocols with precision and accuracy. This will help users verify the data collected. We are rewriting the ECLOX protocols, which will further enhance the overall effectiveness of the ECLOX luminometer as a multi-purpose analyzer for both security and daily monitoring of drinking water."