New Drinking Water Treatment Book Adeptly Straddles the Simple and the Technical

A new reference book aims to give water professionals an up-to-date, comprehensive and understandable look at the basic processes.

In my exploration of books about water and wastewater treatment, I usually find two extremes: highly technical tomes that are the basis for licensing exams and other formal purposes, and lightweight volumes that are too thin and too basic to be of value to anyone intent on really learning about the profession.

A new book by professional water educator Dennis Wanless aims to split the difference. Drinking Water Treatment – Principles & Insights is a 275-page paperback that walks readers through 10 chapters that cover essential water treatment and water-quality topics. It’s written as a certification study guide, textbook and reference manual for waterworks operators, students, young engineers, treatment plant managers, administrators and members of the public.

That’s casting a pretty wide net — one book can’t be all things to all those people. Still, to my admittedly less-than-expert eye (I am not a water operator, just an editor), Wanless seems to have found a good niche.

Wanless calls it “a readable and career-long self-education resource for both water novices and water professionals.” In the foreword Jay H. Lehr, author of many books on environmental and policy topics, observes, “It is clear that Dennis Wanless has had a passion for his subject throughout his three-decade career … he separates the wheat from the chaff by providing information of daily value that is commonly ignored or forgotten.”

The book opens with a chapter on preparing for and taking licensing exams. That’s a smart move, since for many aspiring and established water professionals, exams are obstacles to be feared. That’s followed by chapters that cover, among other topics, source water, disinfection, microbiology, water chemistry, sample collection and handling, conventional treatment steps, pumps and pumping, distribution systems and backflow/cross-connection control.

I suspect many readers will gravitate toward the back of the book, where Wanless has included a set of commonly used conversion factors and, much more significant, some 38 pages of math review examples, and practice problems, answers to which appear in a following section.

The one question I came away with after reviewing this book: Why no visuals? Pictures and diagrams certainly would help the presentation of many of the concept this book contains. That said, this appears to be a book worth exploring for people interested in entering or advancing within the water treatment profession. You can get this book by visiting or calling 336-538-2262.


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