Water & Waste Water Services

Water & Wastewater Services

Matergenics offers a truly unique suite of specialized services within the water and wastewater arena.   In a general sense, solutions developed by our team of highly experienced materials scientists and process engineers serve to successfully resolve one or more of the following common client directives:

  • halt or prevent damage to critical infrastructure from corrosion;
  • reduce the cost of treatment or water conditioning programs;
  • determine the root cause of, and remedy for, water-related damage to products; &
  • improve the quality of effluents or finished waters and associated compliance metrics.

Investigations are aided by advanced analytical instrumentation located within our Pittsburgh Office (e.g., a scanning electron microscope, x-ray diffractometer, and Fourier-transform infrared spectrometer), and used routinely by Matergenics professionals to examine samples and material specimens, well as field instruments available for use at job sites in order to, for example, measure parameters such as soil resistivity, or to help to identify stray electrical currents.

Matergenics has solved challenging problems for industrial, municipal, and private water and wastewater systems in both the United States and at several locations overseas.   We have addressed problems that have arisen in wet wells, reactors, and storage tanks; on the wetted portions of process equipment such as traveling screens, pumps, agitators, and sludge dewatering equipment; and within contact and non-contact cooling water systems, sanitary sewerage systems, potable water distribution networks, and plumbing systems within individual buildings or developments.

Regular services lie within the four practice areas summarized below.   Typically, these services are provided with Matergenics functioning as the Prime Contractor, reporting directly to the Owner of the water or wastewater system, but often we are retained as a sub-consultant to Architecture/Engineering firms – functioning as part of a larger design team for new systems or systems to be upgraded.

Corrosion Assessment & Protection Programs

  • Corrosion Rate Surveys & Monitoring
  • ID Corrosion Mechanism(s) & Failure Modes
  • Problems with Coatings and Liners
  • Scale, Sludge, & Deposit Identification
  • Soil & Backfill Characterization Programs
  • Specifications for Coating Systems
  • Specifications for Water Conditioning
  • Specifications for Construction Materials
  • ID Stray Currents or AC Interferences
  • Design of Cathodic Protection Systems
  • ID Problematic Inputs to Sewerage Systems
  • Sewerage System Modifications

Troubleshooting & Failure Analysis

  • Infrastructure Condition Assessments
  • Pipe and Tank Failure Analysis
  • Water Characterization Programs
  • Treatment Process Troubleshooting
  • Optimization of Chemical Reagent Use
  • Minimization of Sludge Production
  • Water Damage to Manufactured Products
  • Benchmarking Reports & “White Papers”

Engineering Design Assistance

  • Wastewater Treatability Studies
  • Alternatives Analysis for Treatment
  • Process & Equipment Recommendations
  • Process Design & Process Modification
  • Basis of Design Reports
  • Third Party Review of Process Designs
  • Specifications for Materials & CP Systems
  • Cost Estimates & O&M Manuals 

Compliance Assistance

  • NPDES Permits and Permit Renewals
  • NPDES Permit Negotiations
  • Water & Wastewater Litigation Support
  • Compliance Sampling & Reporting Services
  • Non-Compliance Investigations & Reports
  • Treatment Plant Operational Audits Spill & Pollution Prevention Plans



Matergenics is a firm  with specialization in corrosion/materials engineering.  In combination with WATTA we offer practical and cost-effective options for remedial action, and prevention of future risk and failure.  Our joint services will evaluate your assets and systems for impact, and provide practical cost-effective options for remedial action and prevention of future failure.  Our team will help you understand your problems and needs through study and multi-disciplinary collaboration – and to help you achieve the required outcome and be better prepared for future challenges. We work to improve both the short- and long-term performance of your systems, projects and core assets.

  • Building water system components are at ever-increasing risk of damage and outright failure due to corrosion as they approach the end of their useful design lives – and often much earlier! Plumbing and process piping systems may exhibit following: accelerated corrosion, perforation, deposit buildup (plugging or tuberculation), discoloration, excessive dissolved copper and/or lead, and microbiologically-influenced corrosion (corrosive bacteria).
  • In both residential and commercial building systems, corrosion of materials is of concern due to health issues it may cause, not to mention the risk of catastrophic property damage – especially in high-rise buildings.
  • Keeping water systems in service requires an understanding of root causes such as municipal water chemistry or inadequate treatment. Corrosion protection for system infrastructure and residential plumbing is therefore a major priority.

Existing and potential clients include:

  • Building managers and high-rise residential condominium associations, or engineering companies directly retained by them – have been our biggest client base
    • Projects have mainly involved corrosion impacts involving multi-component plumbing systems, but also non-destructive testing evaluations such as UT wall thickness surveys on riser pipe
  • Large public facilities such as stadiums and convention centers, including a major Midwestern city
    • …. and other large operators performing onsite treatment processes such as water softening
  • Legal or forensic firms that investigate and may seek remedies for clients due to faulty design and construction
    • Improper or poorly considered materials selection is very common, especially when “aggressive” or corrosive water is involved – was “due diligence” exercised?
  • Public utilities such as municipal water authorities – some are operated by private companies
    • Copper / lead prevention; iron / manganese removal; pathogens such as legionella – SDWA, LCR considerations
    • Chemical treatment options for water quality stability including pH and alkalinity
    • Anti-corrosion and disinfection additives; and maintaining adequate residuals throughout distribution system
    • Includes sewer/wastewater systems for problems such as excessive copper in low-flow stream discharges
  • Matergenics-Pittsburgh’s predecessor company, Matco Services Inc., performed work at a West Coast nuclear power plant to improve the consistency of chemical treatment concentrations in their cooling water systems

Our experience in problem identification and resolution involves many factors including:

  • Copper, including pitting (pinhole corrosion) and cuprosolvency (dissolving excessive copper in water)
  • Brass dezincification (dealloying) in valves and other copper alloy plumbing devices
  • Stainless steel – especially pitting and crevice corrosion
  • Cast iron graphitization in pumps; also in sanitary or storm drain piping
  • Galvanized steel in fire suppression system (FSS, or sprinkler) pipes and potable lines
  • Dissimilar metal couples that cause galvanic corrosion, and prevention via effective dielectric isolation
  • Perforation due to stray electrical currents or grounding issues
  • Coating-related corrosion failures, and proper coating selection – Exova’s Coatings Group gets involved
  • Plastics such as CPVC; mainly with respect to incompatible chemical exposures


Matergenics – Materials Testing Brochure


Examples of accelerated corrosion causing failures 



Manganese-rich deposits were found on the inside of this severely pitted copper pipe, which failed only a few months after installation.  It was a domestic hot water riser pipe from a high-rise residential building in the Northeast,where the particular combination of chemical attributes in the municipal potable water was uniquely problematic






  Note internal microstructure attack (“dezincification”) and pitting underneath the nickel-copper plating layers of this brass bathtub faucet


Particles that were trapped by a newly installed strainer unit from an open loop recirculating (HVAC) system, with strainer/screen (left image).  These particles would otherwise have entered the heat exchanger and could have plugged the small passageways. The right-hand image shows a close-up of the strainer/screen, with the strainer in foreground and 20-mesh screen in background


Disassembled building main backflow preventer: General corrosion of the body and internals was not extensive, but localized corrosion tubercles were apparent on internal surfaces.  Following forensic examination at Matergenics,plus chemical characterization of corrosion products, it was concluded that leakage failure on the inlet side was due to hard, abrasive corrosion products breaking off of the valve body and interfering with proper seating of the check valve operation. The entire unit was recommended for reconditioning rather than scrap




Butterfly (gate) valve from closed loop recirculating system, cast iron construction with nickel-plated internal disk – a poor material combination in corrosive water.  Note how much of the opening is blocked.The chemical analysis of the corrosion deposit shows it was very high in chloride (Cl), a common corrodent.  Note also that the Langelier Saturation Index (LSI) for the source water raised a big red flag.LSI says whether a certain water will be scale forming or non-scale forming – but can also serve as an indicator of corrosivity to susceptible materials of construction


The left side of this copper pipe (from a 2-story senior citizen apartment complex) with the corrosion pits also contained a through-wall pinhole leak. Some areas beneath the tubercles exhibit over 50% wall thickness loss.The wall thickness in non-pitted areas was within the specification range for Type L copper pipe, but on the lower side. The dark ID surface layer contains aluminum (Al) and silicon (Si) compounds that point to water treatment practices, lead (Pb) probably from an adjacent solder joint, and chloride (Cl) from flux.






Example of internal leak in brass isolation (stack) valve in line with elbow and copper pipe; for potable water distribution in high-rise building.  The brass stem engaging the handle can stick and become inoperable due to corrosion.The image below the valve is an example of how the microstructure of most brasses can rapidly degrade from exposure to corrosive water – demineralized except for high chlorides. The degraded brass microstructure, called “dezincification” can become spongy and cause a leak path to open up through threaded or soldered joints.  Better material selection can avoid these costly problems from developing


Example of leaks in galvanized steel sprinkler piping, usually related to incoming quality issues such as bad seam welds; also see photo below, left



Severe graphitization corrosion of internal cast iron structure of a potable water distribution pump for a high-rise condominium structure



Internal leak through a cast iron sanitary pipe


Pitting of Type 304L stainless steel heat exchanger tube in industrial application was found to be related to elevated manganese in the process water – an often overlooked factor. Manganese compounds destroy the natural passive layer of stainless steel and make it susceptible to severe and accelerated localized corrosion

James Datesh

Mr. Datesh received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at MIT in chemical engineering in five years while lettering in three intercollegiate sports: tennis, squash and baseball. He then entered Carnegie Mellon’s business school, earning an MBA. He and his wife, an attorney, have two children, one living in the San Francisco area and the other in Budapest, Hungary. He is well versed in corrosion engineering, including issues related to corrosion risk assessments, materials selection and surface chemistry of alloys. Mr. Datesh has extensive experience in water treatment and failure analysis. He has formulated products used in water treatment programs to control and mitigate corrosion.  Throughout his career, Mr. Datesh has worked on a range of products and processes, plus investigations and problem solving in a broad range of industries. His technical expertise includes corrosion risk evaluation, corrosion mitigation and coatings, surface preparation, with targeted work on in-service water programs. He has actively worked with clients ranging from major corporations to small regional businesses. Mr. Datesh has been president of the Association of Water Technologies and served as General Chair of the International Water Conference.


George Kay

George P. Kay, P.E. is an environmental engineer who possesses 41 years of experience solving water quality and treatment problems across 40 states and in four foreign countries.  He has completed troubleshooting assignments, failure and non-compliance investigations, and water and wastewater treatment plant design projects for five federal government agencies, twelve state government agencies, four municipalities, and industrial clientele across 34 SIC Codes.  Insightful solutions with cost savings developed for issues involving domestic wastewater, a vast array of industrial wastewaters, process and non-contact cooling waters, acid mine drainage, potable water, contaminated stormwater, and contaminated groundwater at RCRA and CERCLA sites.   Mr. Kay also has been called upon to develop water quality management recommendations for agencies, construction companies, and institutional clients confronted with problems in ponds, lakes, and reservoirs as well as to provide third-party review of treatment recommendations, process designs, and bid documents prepared by others.

Prior to his association with Matergenics, Mr. Kay served as Senior Consultant – Water Quality and Treatment and Project Manager with an ENR Top 50 design firm for seventeen years.  Prior to this engagement, he was Senior Staff Engineer (Water & Wastewater) for a leading producer of specialty steel, where he provided troubleshooting and project management services to six production facilities and four legacy properties.   Mr. Kay is profiled in “Who’s Who in Science and Engineering”, and has authored contributions to major environmental engineering journals on a variety of topics.

We are here to help

We respond to all clients promptly by sending a technical proposal to address testing, investigation and the proposal costs. If we need more information, our engineers will contact you.Whether you are a large corporation or a small enterprise, we will provide you with the attention you need and deserve. In so doing, we hope to work with you for many years to come.Please call Dr. Zee at 412-952-9441, or contact James Datesh (  and let us know how we can assist you in your investigation. Alternatively, you can also send your request to

Looking forward to hearing from you!


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