Remediation-ideas-for-home-1-300x250Published by, Written by, Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative Reporter and author,

Source: Homeowners look for ways to mediate water supplies at the tap in addressing water sources that have been affected by pollution. Advances in water filtration technology have drastically improved, allowing for more affordable options for homeowners to choose solutions in addressing this rising challenge.

As more municipalities continue to have challenges with containing outside pollution sources from entering public water supplies, home owners are now taking responsibilities of clean drinking water into their own hands, and are instituting technology and practices to assure they have healthy and clean drinking water for their households and their families. Cities like Flint, Michigan, are still struggling with aging water delivery systems and decaying infrastructure, while also trying to source drinking water from supplies less influenced by pollution.

Even private wells may be affected by outside influences that have made their way into their water supply deep in the ground. Some private wells are in areas known for heavy minerals and metals naturally found in the ground; hence having “hard water,” which will require some sort of filtration. Concerns and negative effects associated with the practice of fracking for oil and natural gas have only driven up the need to filter underground water sources at the tap. Home owners search out for the best options that will give them more comfort in assuring better water quality at the tap. We take a look at a number of available technology options in mitigating effected water at the tap.

Water treatment systems can improve the quality of water supplies and reduce the hazards created by bacteria, chemical pollutants, and toxic substances. Before you purchase a system for your home, you should have your water tested first, to decide what the top risk is affecting your water, if any, and to determine the best option to address your situation. No two homes are the same. Some homes, even if they are next door, can differ. A home’s infrastructure (piping, well, water basin, tanks, coils, etc.) can also effect water quality before it is poured from the facet.

The most common water treatment systems for the home generally utilized will fall into one of the following types: disinfection practices (chlorination, ultraviolet light, radio frequency); filtration (using carbon filters and disposable cartridges); reverse osmosis; distillation, and ion exchanges (water softener units). There are a number of additional methods that can be instituted for purifying your water supply in your home. Some of these practices cost little or no money to sophisticated systems that can cost upwards to thousands of dollars.

Disinfection practices and systems are designed to bacteria which are harmful to humans, viruses, and other agents that can be found in water that can cause great illness and disease. Four disinfection methods to address these concerns include chlorination, treating water with ultraviolet light, radio frequency, pasteurizing, and you can deal with disinfecting your water simply by boiling it. The oldest and most common method of disinfection is chlorination. An automated pump is designed to inject chlorine in small doses into water supplies, acting as an oxidizing agent that kills most bacteria and viruses. Using chlorine must be applied with caution. Chlorine will react to heavy metals, so additional filters with disposable cartridges are recommended.

Pasteurization and boiling water are cost effective ways to address cleaning water supplies, however it is time consuming. Both practices aim to destroy bacteria by heating the water to a high degree of temperature, however boiled water has a flat taste since the carbon dioxide within the water is removed. Most municipalities that experience a disruption in service, when water pipe infrastructure is serviced, recommend boiling your water before usage. This is meant as only a short term remedy.

Ultraviolet light uses a system of low pressure mercury lamps to produce ultraviolet light which then projects its radiant heat to the targeted source of treatment; will kill bacteria, however it is less effective on viruses and other living matter that cause illnesses. Lamps have to be replaced, as they have a short life expectancy and become less effective as the lamps degrade over time. Radio frequency also works in as similar fashion. Radio frequency of light pulses of electrical current will charge pipes and tubes, making for water scale less prevailing. You will still need an additional filter system to deal with granular material left behind to either process.

There are several types of filters to choose from for treating water. Depending on how your water test results reveal, will usually help you in selecting the type of filtration system you purchase for your home. Mechanical filters are designed to remove material from water such as sand, dirt, grit, salt, clay, and other organic matter. These systems are usually stacked together with other water treatment options because mechanical filters do not have the ability to address bacteria and or virus living in tainted water supplies. These filters are made from a host of materials including paper, fabric, ceramic, or metal screening materials, and need to be serviced on a regular basis as granular material is collected in these filters.

Active carbon filters soak up water impurities into the filter cartridge. These types of filters are commonly used in filtering chlorine chemical residue, odors and horrible agents that influence taste. Some advanced carbon filters are designed to even remove radon gas. These filters can be very highly effective in dealing with basic water treatment contaminates, but they are unable to treat highly effected polluted water sources. These filters need to be integrated into the home using other types of water treatment, or the water source should be abandoned for a healthier clean drinking water source. These filters lose their ability to treat water as these filters collect impurities, and must be changed from time to time.

Oxidizing filters have the ability to remove iron, manganese, and sulfur. This is an alternative to water softener treatment systems. To treat acidic water supplies, naturalizing filters are a viable option. This filtration system used broken up limestone chips as the catalyst in addressing such lead, copper, and other toxic heavy metals that leach into water from aging water infrastructure such as decaying metal pipes. This is in part the cause of Flint, Michigan’s, and many other metro cities dilemma that have experienced the tragedy of neglecting aging infrastructure.

Another option for home water treatment is by way of reverse osmosis. This process includes pressurizing and forcing water through a filtering membrane which removes up to 80-90% of contaminates impurities, and glandular material. Mechanical and or carbon filters are always accompanied a reverse osmosis system. The filters are first in charge, to remove granular material, impurities, and contaminates, before the water subject to passing through the membrane. These systems are costly, however they are most recommended for cooking and food preparation, and must be checked on a regular basis for form and functionality.

Distillation is a process of water is boiled to a steam and then the steam is collected and cooled back to a water state then filtered. This removes all minerals, impurities, bacteria, since the unwanted agents are left behind. This is a relatively slow process, where only five to ten gallons of water are distilled at a time, and five gallons of regular unfiltered water from the faucet will equal just one gallon of distilled water. Stills must be maintained more than other systems and can be costly based on the quality.

Ion exchangers are a fancy way of saying water softener systems. Most homes supplied by private well water have an issue with being “hard water,” where the mineral content makes the water very course. Iron, calcium, magnesium in excessive amounts can be reason for hard water. These minerals can wreak havoc on copper pipes, coils, and faucets because they react to metal. In this process of an ion exchanger, water is pumped through a system of a tank which is treated with salt crystals used to dissolve the mineral count. The water then passes through a series of filters to extract the impurities and smaller granular materials. These are the most common systems found in homes that have their own private wells.

Before considering a final purchase on any one system, you will want to consider a number of factors. In long term, is it cheaper to rent or buy a system, and what is the life span and return of investment of each system? Take into consideration consumer ratings on these systems. Know that some water treatment systems are more popular than others depending on the region of geographic area your home may be located in. These systems should be installed by a professional since they do involve tying into plumbing and/or electrical systems. Check your local town for permit requirements when installing your water treatment remediation system.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water, Main Street Survival Guide for Small Businesses, and Life in the Green Lane-in Pursuit of the American Dream.


So You want to Own Your Own Business…

Written by, Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative Reporter and author of The Green Lane, a syndicated column Published on 01/31/17, a Exclusive

Source: So you have decided you are tired of working a nine-to-five day job and want to be your own boss. Maybe you are in a position to finally start your own business that you’ve always dreamed of? Possibly, like some folks, you have worked for the family business and now your parents or relatives are retiring and giving you have a chance to continue the family legacy. Whatever the reason, you are ready to begin your new life as a business owner or entrepreneur. So where do you begin? What type of business do you choose to form? We take a look at the options available, and the advantages each type of business provides.

So you want to own your own business. Before you can determine the path in which your entrepreneurship career will be headed, you may want to take a moment to explore all of your options and review some of the hard facts about becoming an entrepreneur in today’s economic and technology climate. There are a number of types of businesses that you can choose from, spanning thousands of product and/or service categories and industries.

The most common business is a sole proprietorship. This type of business is more localized and usually operated by the owner. Most sole proprietorships have anywhere from one to a few employees, sometimes involving family members and relatives as the majority of the staff. In a sole proprietorship, one person is responsible for all of the decisions, operations, sales and marketing, and advertising. The advantage of this kind of business is that the owner is in complete control of what kinds of products and/or services are offered, the hours of operation, who to hire/fire, and the success and/or failure of that said business. In some cases, a sole proprietorship is passed down from generation to generation. Within a sole proprietorship, you will find a single operator, where someone has decided to specialize in one area or craft of expertise, and is for hire on a project-to-project basis. Commonly found examples of a sole proprietorship could be a locally owned barber shop or hair salon, a cafe, deli, or restaurant, an automotive repair shop, a single doctor’s practice, a certified public accountant practice, a single lawyer practice, or local hardware store.

The downside of having a sole proprietorship is that you are responsible for everything. Even if you do not have all of the acquired skill sets in every area of business, you must step up and handle each of these situations. They are part of the operations; no matter the type of product or service being offered. For instance, if you are very good at marketing but not very skilled at bookkeeping, you are still responsible for having the knowledge to be able to do your own accounting. In situations where you might be very good at one area of your business, but lack the skill sets in other areas, you have a few options. A sole proprietor can either enroll in additional educational or training classes and seminars to enhance or acquire new skills, or they can source out specific tasks to other professionals that specialize in areas of skill sets the sole proprietor recognizes they themselves do not have.

Some folks that choose to start their own business, but don’t want to start from scratch, may choose to buy a franchise, keeping it to a specific area of product or service offering. The upside of a franchise is that a sole proprietor usually gets corporate support, branding, marketing, and advertising support, as well as a working model on how the franchise must function. Franchises are in essence a ready-made business. Most franchises require a substantial monetary investment up-front, requiring a sole proprietor to adhere to all of the terms and conditions of the franchise agreement. Limitations to a franchise are that the owner-operator of the franchise location cannot change the corporate model. They have very little or no control over the cost of goods sold, pricing, advertising, store location design and appearance. When owning a franchise, the owner-operator has very limited or little way of adding in their own creative input or creative control into their local business and cannot change the corporate model.

Advantages to a franchise is that most of the difficult guess work is eliminated from the equation as it relates to product development and product offerings, branding and marketing, advertising, product/service pricing, business model, and even employee hiring and training programs. Franchise models have the buying power of media buying and launching national advertising campaigns, aimed at driving potential customers to the door of local stores. Most franchises have major brand recognition, where consumers immediately recognize the product and services offered.

An alternative to a franchise is a cooperative membership model. Co-operative membership business models are popular in the industry segments of grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, auto part stores, and other regional variety stores. Some of the most well recognized co-op brands include Hardware Hank, Ace Hardware, True Value, NAPA Auto Parts, and IGA. The co-operative business model consists of many independently owned stores by individual sole proprietors that pay a fee to use the headlined branding, and also agree to only buy all of their goods from the warehouse that supports that specific brand. For instance, a Hardware Hank hardware store is independently owned, however, has an agreement to purchase the inventory it desires to sell only from the warehouse that supports that brand. In the case of Hardware Hank, they must purchase their inventory from United Hardware.

A co-operative model allows for the independent sole proprietors to have more control over their own stores, with the support of name recognition of a national brand. Part of the fees and costs paid by the store owner to their co-operative provider assist in regional and/or national advertising campaigns, product development and introduction, and supports the central distribution center. In a co-operative business model, the members each have a vote or can cast a suggestion in how to improve the overall co-operative central focus. In essence, every co-op member is an owner in the corporate side of the business. Store owners still have the freedom to market to their local community, while rules and regulations on how to operate their individual store are not as rigid as a franchise.

Maybe you and a friend or a family member both have something equally important to contribute to a business enterprise, and decide it would be advantageous to team up with this person to start a business. This type of business is a partnership. More sophisticated types of partnerships are limited liability partnerships. A partnership can have one or more partners that have agreed to either contribute money, time, property, and/or  labor, singularly or in a combination of any of these areas equally or in part. One of the keys to a successful working partnership is to have a very strong operating agreement in place that is signed by all of the partners, so that each person is aware of how the business should function, how decisions are made, how to resolve a dispute among partners, and how to distribute profits/losses to the members of the business.

Each partnership is different. In some situations, each partner may have an ability to contribute a greater amount of resource than the other partner. Some partnerships have a model that one can mimic, such as the model used for vetting partners in a law firm or doctor’s practice. As the saying also goes, be careful who you choose to partner with. Two people that may have the same passion for the same type of business in the same industry may not always be the best fit. Differences in opinion on how money should be treated, how people should be paid, where a business focuses its growth on, what products and/or services are offered, and even a difference in core values can either keep a partnership working or split it apart. Before you decide to enter a partnership, make sure that both parties have a clear understanding of the rules of engagement, expectations, and commitments.

Some businesses are employee owned. An employee owned business is one where every employee has a stake in the business. This type of business model encourages ownership responsibility throughout every level of job duty, allowing for every employee to feel that their voice and contribution is recognized and heard.  The employee owned company model was designed to elevate the “team” operating model, so that no employee feels that if they choose to slack on the job, their lack of taking responsibility only hurts the company. Within the employee owned structure, every employee and manager are viewed as being on the same team, having equal footing, and managing is just one of the roles that allow for better continuity of the team’s efforts.

On the flip side of an employee owned business, if the business is too small, employees may feel they are entitled to more than the founders or stakeholders that have more financial risk on the table. Employee owned businesses have become popular in the industry segments of grocery stores, variety stores, club stores, car rentals, and other specialty industries. Employees have no upfront cost, and their ownership stake is part of their compensation. Not every employee at an employee owned company is an owner, for it takes time to achieve and earn this status. The better one performs, and the more responsibility to their job an employee assumes with their job, the more stake they can earn. This incentive allows for people in specific roles to take on additional work, knowing that their contribution adds to the overall success of the business enterprise and they will receive a benefit of that.

A corporation is reserved for the career entrepreneur. A sole proprietorship becomes a corporation when the individual’s idea is widely expanded from the local market and offered to a national or worldwide market. The sole proprietorship has outgrown its local market, and now employs a large number of employees, and has a deep infrastructure in place to support larger business enterprise orders. This type of company may also offer multiple products and services to the general consumer, wholesale market, other commercial and industrial businesses and clients.

A corporation may have multiple investors who all have an ownership stake, known as shareholders. A corporation usually has a board of directors, with a company structure that includes executives, management, employees, vendors, suppliers, as well as outside third party professionals and consultants. When it comes to reporting requirements, a corporation has different legal protections and responsibilities than a sole proprietorship does. Tax treatment is also handled differently depending on the type of corporation structure.

There are two types of corporations: “S” corporations and “C” corporations. The major differences between these two types of corporate structures are in the areas of ownership, shareholder rights, and taxation. An “S” corporation can have no more than 100 shareholders, have only one type of share category, and in tax treatment are another form of a pass through. This means that profits and/or loss liabilities are passed to the owners/founders. “C” corporations have the ability to have different stock categories; voting rights can be segmented out differently based a series of financial contribution or management factors, and profits/dividends have two tax treatments. First, the corporation is taxed on gross revenue and profits, then each shareholder is taxed on the dividend they receive from the company as a result of their return on their risk.

A simpler version of a corporation is the Limited Liability Company (LLC). An LLC will allow for a sole proprietor or group of partners many of the same legal protections that can be found associated with a corporation. However, the major differences are tax treatment and ownership structure. LLC’s cannot sell shares, and protections afforded to a LLC can be revoked and the liability forwarded to the owner(s) if the business does not stay within compliance.

It is always better to get an expert opinion from a professional before you decide on the direction of your business structure. Many factors have to be considered before making a final decision, including such as the type of business, what products and services you plan to offer, the audience of consumer you plan to offer your product/service to; how big or small you wish to grow your business, and how much of your finances you will be putting at risk. The SBA offers many resources on their website as does the United States Department of Commerce regarding how to start a business. You can also engage the services of a business consultant to conduct research on your behalf and provide you options that best fit your entrepreneurial vision.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water, Main Street Survival Guide for Small Businesses, and Life in the Green Lane-in Pursuit of the American Dream.

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