"Attrition is taking its toll on our industry, and it affects the experience level of our workforce," commented Jim Cuchens, Southern Company Services Inc., Birming-ham, AL. In his opening president's address at Cooling Technology Institute's annual conference, held February 25-28 in Corpus Christi, TX, Cutchens cited a number of factors impacting the cooling tower industry and its workforce. Among them, Cuchens stressed the need for adequate on-the-job training and development.

"What is in the minds of the people in this organization is our technology," he explained. "We should be developing upcoming leadership."

As a forum for sharing ideas and educating members, the conference included a program of 15 technical papers on subjects such as water reuse, film fill, fan failure, removal of copper during cooling tower startup and fiberglass tower erection procedures. In addition, CTI technical committees met to discuss engineering standards and maintenance, performance and technology and water treatment.

An all-day education seminar on February 28 focused on wet vs. dry towers. Speaker Wayne Micheletti of Wayne C. Micheletti Inc., Charlottesville, VA, compared the advantages and disadvantages associated with wet, dry and hybrid systems. Discussion of the disadvantages of wet cooling towers focused heavily on environmental issues, ranging from the aesthetics of plume to thermal discharge and entrainment and impingement.

"Believe it or not, fish protection is a big issue when it comes to cooling towers," said Micheletti.

That concern may affect future tower selection. While quick to note he cannot predict how the Environmental Protection Agency will side, Micheletti confided that a policy is under consideration to restrict new cooling tower construction to dry towers because their design does not include a water intake that can be potentially harmful to aquatic life.