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Drought relief: Lawrenceville, Georgia removes uranium, radium from water wells

Staff report

March 28, 2008

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Lawrenceville, Georgia has begun a program to clean naturally-occurring uranium and radium from three closed water wells, enabling the community to cut its dependence on drought-drained Lake Lanier by 20 percent, officials at Colorado-based Water Remediation Technology said Friday.

"By this time next year, we should have 150 million gallons in water replacement for the city of Lawrenceville," said Rick Zahnow, WRT's eastern regional sales manager. To visualize how much water that is, imagine 7,500 backyard swimming pools.

Severe drought in the southeast United States this year seriously strained the capacity of Lake Lanier to meet demands for drinking water for the city of Atlanta and the surrounding area, as well as supply water for downstream mussel habitats and other needs in southern Georgia and Florida. Georgia, Florida and Alabama have been fighting for decades over water allocations and negotiations this winter initiated by Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, failed to resolve the issue.

Lawrenceville, north of Atlanta, is a community of 28,000 and the Gwinnett County seat. The town contracts with Gwinnett County to supply about 90 percent of its drinking water and the county draws the water from Lake Lanier.

To ease its dependence on the lake, Lawrenceville hired WRT, which specializes in the removal of radium, uranium and other contaminants from water and disposes of them in federally-approved sites, said company founder and CEO Charlie Williams. The treatment system in Lawrenceville will operate under WRT's Radioactive Materials License.

WRT is currently working with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to obtain the required Radioactive Material License for the storage, removal, and handling of natural radium and uranium from the state's drinking water.

According to the EPA, uranium can be found naturally in soil, water and food at low concentrations. But high levels of these contaminants ingested over a long period of time can lead to serious health problems.

Installation of the WRT uranium removal system is the first of its kind in Georgia, according to a company news release.

One of the town's wells had concentrations of uranium that exceeded the federal Environmental Protection Agency's maximum contaminant level for drinking water and the other two wells are contaminated with naturally-occurring radium.

WRT has begun removing the naturally-occuring uranium from one well and will clean radium from two more wells in coming months, said Zahnow, adding each well will provide about seven percent of the community's water, or about 50 million gallons apiece.

Wheat Ridge, Colorado-based Water Remediation Technology previously installed systems in California, Illinois, Wisconsin, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

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WRT uranium removal from Lawrenceville, Georgia well helps with drought
 
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