The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC), Alaska Cruise Association (ACA), international waste water experts, sanitation engineers and wastewater treatment vendors converged on Juneau recently for a day-long, wastewater technology workshop. This important workshop was designed to harness new technology discussions relevant to finding onboard wastewater treatment solutions that would put cruise ships in compliance with the new water quality standards imposed by the voter- approved initiative in 2006.

The workshop was part of an on-going effort by the ADEC to bring together industry experts, cruise lines and vendors and share the results of a draft feasibility study conducted by Oasis Environmental, a comprehensive environmental consulting firm.

ADEC staff confirmed during opening remarks that while there are numerous emerging technologies, there is likely no solution for 2010. “The findings of the summit confirm the ADEC’s original suggestion that there is currently no technology available that could be installed today that would meet the final standards required by 2010,” said Bruce Bustamante, Vice President of Community and Public Affairs, Princess Tours.

Wastewater treatment vendors such as NORAM, ROCHEM, Burns and McDonnell, and Hamworthy shared current capabilities on how land-based wastewater treatment systems could be applied to ships given the restrictions of space limitations, areas of dilution zones, labor requirements for maintaining equipment and the need for consistent results that would keep ships in compliance.

Several questions surfaced that left the group’s attendees wondering about the feasibility of installing any new marine-based systems or even retrofitting existing systems with proven technology within the 2010 deadline.

Next steps for the ADEC include taking a closer look at realistic timelines for installation of new technologies presented during the workshop, cost of each system, treatment of water that is taken onboard in the ports of call, and shared off-loading capabilities with ports of call.

Because the new wastewater standards are among the most stringent in the world, it will take an on-going collaboration with industry and wastewater treatment experts to manufacture a solution that works on board a ship. The ADEC is actively seeking solutions from the industry. “We applaud the efforts of the ADEC and will continue working with them to establish the best practices for the treatment of wastewater,” said John Binkley, ACA President.

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