Process Research Solutions, LLC has worked with numerous water systems since 1997. Clients have been owners of municipal water systems, private water systems and large and small buildings in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Florida, Rhode Island, Alaska, and Oregon. Types of projects have included:
  • Water quality investigations at municipal water utilities and private water systems

  • Water quality investigations of building plumbing systems

  • Proactive routine monitoring for water quality control and process improvement

  • Applied research projects

Techniques for determining the causes of drinking water quality issues in complex piping systems have been developed by Abigail Cantor, P.E., president of Process Research Solutions. Her first discoveries began around 1993 while investigating the cause of elevated lead in the Madison (WI) Water Utility distribution system. Data gathered from residences and from her off-line experiments using jar tests and pipe loop apparatuses contrasted with the Lead and Copper Rule drinking water regulation and many technical articles on the subject. Her findings led to the conclusion that the water was not corrosive to lead as predicted by the US EPA guidelines. Instead, lead was accumulating on crumbly manganese scales and being transported to consumers' taps. In addition, her experiments exposed side effects for all available chemical lead corrosion control methods.

She encouraged the water utility manager to not use any chemical adjustment for lead control as required by the Lead and Copper Rule because the chemicals were irrelevant to the lead transfer problem; the answer was to get rid of the lead and, ultimately, the manganese. The utility manager found a way to legally and politically skip the chemical addition step required by the Lead and Copper Rule and to remove the complete lead service lines in the city, including the private property section. Later, a utility program of efficiently cleaning the water mains and of preventing further manganese from entering the distribution system, improved the water quality even more.

In 2015, Madison has become a shining example of resolving lead problems in drinking water systems. While it took the astute work of the utilty manager to arrange for the physical removal of the complete lead service lines, the whole lead control plan was set in motion by Ms. Cantor's approach to data collection, evaluation, and questioning commonly held assumptions.

Her subsequent projects not only applied the new perspective that she had gained from the Madison project but also uncovered other nuances of lead and copper transfer to water, especially the predominance of microbiologically influenced corrosion in water systems as well as significant influences by chloride and sulfate on metal corrosion.

Her current perspective is that water quality issues in distribution systems - including aesthetic issues, Total Coliform Rule compliance, disinfection by-products control, Lead and Copper Rule compliance - are all related. If water systems efficiently clean out chemical debris and develop biologically stable water, water quality to consumers will be greatly improved and health concerns and regulatory compliance issues will be minimized.

Premise plumbing water quality follows the same rules as distribution system water quality. A major issue in premise plumbing is that modern plumbing design is tending to increase water residence time in a building greatly. This leads to excessive microbiological growth with issues of microbiologically influenced corrosion of metals and the potential for harboring Legionella within the protection of biofilms.

Current projects are demonstrating the Process Research Solutions techniques in cleaning up water distribution systems and other techniques for cleaning up premise plumbing.