Pure Water Occasional, July 31, 2017
In this late July Occasional, you'll read about PCBs in the Hudson River, contaminants in "legal" water, water testing in Charleston and Mt. Pleasant, turbidity, manganese, nitrates, recycled water, and Siliphos. Learn how heavy rains increase water pollution, how San Marcos, TX got rid of fluoride, how a Columbian dam is threatening endangered plants, how water temperature affects UV performance, how Paris cleaned up its canals, and, as always, there is much, much more.
Siliphos is a milk thistle extract. It is made of 100% food grade materials.
Siliphos prevents scale formation and stops corrosion of pipes. After months of use, it can actually slowly remove existing scale from pipes and appliances.
Siliphos acts as a sequestering agent, coating the inside of pipes and making a thin protective layer on metal surfaces to prevent scaling, corrosion, and brown or red water.
Siliphos does not alter the taste of the water. It dissolves slowly into the water and acts by preventing the adhesion of hardness minerals to metallic surfaces.
It can be added as an inexpensive whole house or point of use treatment. Siliphos spheres can be inserted into the center core of carbon block or sediment filters or dispensed through a separate filter housing installed in the water line.
Unlike a conventional water softener, Siliphos is inexpensive, easy to install, does not use salt or electricity, and does not add sodium to water.
Pure Water technical writer, Annie, clears up turbidity
Turbidity can be thought of as the general cloudiness of water. It is actually a measurement of the degree to which particulate in the water interferes with light transmission. Suspended particles absord and diffuse light.
High turbidity can be identified without a water test.
A turbidity test uses an instrument that passes light through the water and measures the amount of interference from suspended particles.The turbidity test reports results on an artificial scale using nephelometric units, or ntu. Anything above one ntu is technically an EPA “action level” violation, although the human eye only begins to detect turbidity in water at about 4 ntu. Therefore, water that appears completely clear to the eye can have excessive turbidity with health implications.
Turbidity in groundwater is often from tiny mineral particles. These can include precipitated iron, clay particles or calcium carbonate precipitation. In surface water turbidity is more likely suspended organic matter or other sediment.
The level of turbidity can, of course, range from invisible to the eye to highly colored water that is not transparent.
Turbidity in water is more than an aesthetic issue. It is a frequent indicactor of microbial contamination because microbes can attach themselves to suspended sediment. Turbidity also makes it more difficult to disinfect water with chemicals. The same is true with UV treatment because suspended particles can shadow microbial contaminants protecting them for the germicidal effect of the UV lamp.
Residential sediment treatment can range from the "sand trap" shown above, which relies on gravity to drop large particles from the water, to extremely tight membrane filters that can screen out sub-micron sized particles.
Treatment for turbidity is mainly by filtration. Sediment filters can be cartridge style, granular beds, or membrane-style. With large particles, simply holding the water in a tank will allow particulate to settle out. In municipal treatment, settling and filtration are often aided by chemicals, like alum, which promote coagulation and flocculation of small particles to form larger particles that settle or are easily filtered. The very tiniest of particles can be treated by membrane technologies like microfiltration, ultrafiltration, nanofiltration, and reverse osmosis.
This "microguard" cartridge filters out particulate (as well as bacteria and cysts) down to a tiny 0.15 micron solution.
It is important to realize that turbidity in water is not just an aesthetic consideration. While crystal clear water is certainly more appealing to the eye and to the palate, turbidity is also an important health consideration because microbes thrive in unclean water. Even if water appears clear, it is a good idea to test for turbidity and to take high turbidity readings seriously.
When cloudy water clears from the bottom upward as in the picture, the problem is not physical particulate but simply excess air trapped in the water. Sometimes this occurs with new carbon filters.
San Marcos Votes Out Fluoride
San Marcos, Texas, home of some of the earth’s most beautiful water, began artificially fluoridating its drinking water in 1987. In 2015, a major grassroots effort brought that to an end.
A strong coalition of campaigners, including Fluoride Free San Marcos
and Texans for Accountable Government
, weren’t discouraged by a city council that ignored their calls for an end to the practice. Instead, the multi-partisan coalition moved forward and collected the 1,600 signatures required to get a resolution amending the city charter on the ballot. Then, another obstacle arose.
Their referendum petition was illegally invalidated by the City Clerk, who even sued Fluoride Free San Marcos and three of its officers to have a judge void the petition and have the campaigners pay the city’s legal expenses. The judge ruled that the petition was legal and directed the city to place the question on the ballot.
In a November 2015 election, voters in San Marcos (population 45,000) approved a resolution ending and prohibiting the fluoridation of the public water supply with 61% of the vote. Voters passed the following language into law: “The City of San Marcos shall not add, or direct or require its agents to add fluoride in the form of hydrofluorosilicic acid, hexafluorosilicic acid, or sodium silicofluoride to the San Marcos municipal water supply.”
San Marcos joins a growing number of US cities rejecting public fluoridation in spite of heavily financed opposition.
Manganese and Nitrates as Health Issues in Water
Adapted from a Vermont Health Department Bulletin
You have probably heard about the big three contaminants that could be in your well water: arsenic, lead and E. coli bacteria. But what about lesser-known contaminants, such as manganese and nitrates? These contaminants can have harmful health effects, too, and testing is the only way to know if they’re in your drinking water.
Manganese is a naturally-occurring metal found in rocks and soil that can dissolve from bedrock and enter groundwater. We ingest manganese from the foods we eat and small amounts are also added to most vitamin supplements as well as baby formulas.
Nitrogen, also a natural element, can be found in water in the form of nitrate. Nitrate contamination of water usually comes from fertilized agricultural fields, septic system failures, or manure piles that are too close to wells.
Manganese and nitrates are required for health but we typically get all that we need from our diet. So, we don’t need extra manganese and nitrates in our water.
Exposure to high concentrations of manganese over many years has been linked to toxicity to the nervous system.
Babies who drink formula made with nitrate-contaminated water are at risk for blue baby syndrome, a condition where the baby’s blood is less able to carry oxygen. Affected babies develop a blue-gray color and need emergency medical help.
Infants are more susceptible to adverse health effects associated with high levels of manganese and nitrates in drinking water because their bodies are smaller and still developing.
Health Departments recommend that people with private wells or springs have their water tested every five years for manganese and nitrates. In fact, comprehensive tests that evaluate all significant well-water issues, not just nitrates and manganese, are recommended.
How Water Temperature Affects UV Performance
Hotter Isn’t Necessarily Better When It Comes To UV Output
Most ultraviolet systems that disinfect water flowing at less than 40 gallons per minute use what are called “low-pressure” UV lamps. These lamps contain a small amount of mercury that vaporizes when electric current flows through the lamp. This action produces what is considered the ideal “germicidal” UV wavelength of 254 nanometers.
The ideal dosage of 254 nanometers is dependent on some variables and not the least of these is temperature.
UV designers speak of the “cold spot” on the lamp. That is the coolest section on the lamp surface. The “cold spot” should be at about 108 degrees F (42 degrees C) for the UV unit to operate at the optimal 254 nanometers. As the temperature of the lamp changes, so does the dosage from the lamp.
In standard residential UV units the germicidal lamp is enclosed in a transparent tube called a quartz sleeve. The sleeve is immersed in water. It surrounds the lamp and protects it from exposure to water. Although water does not touch the lamp, the temperature of the water affects the lamp temperature since it cools the air between the sleeve and the lamp. A change in water temperature, therefore, can have a dramatic effect on the temperature of the lamp itself and consequently on the performance of the UV unit.
How Temperature Affects UV Output
There is an assumption that the higher the temperature within the UV treatment chamber the greater the effectiveness of the UV unit at disarming pathogens. Not so. In fact, varying in either direction from the ideal cold spot temperature results in diminished performance. Cold water can lower the cold-spot temperature so the UV output will drop as much as 50 percent below its maximum. Hot water around the quartz sleeve will also lower the UV output by as much as 50 percent. Ideal water temperature for operating a UV unit with the lamp inside a quartz sleeve is about 71 degrees F (22 degrees C).
One factor seldom considered in UV planning is that water standing in the UV treatment chamber can become very hot. In undersink UV units, the elevated temperature can send aesthetically unpleasing tepid water out of the spigot. Worse yet, elevated heat can also reduce the efficiency of the UV lamp. This could be a problem if a long period of inactivity is followed by a period of high flow rate.
Some modern UV manufacturers, like Viqua, offer an optional solenoid-controlled feature that moves water through the system periodically to prevent heat build-up.
Reference: Water Technology
Denver's Plan to Use More Recycled Water
Denver Water wants to double the amount of recycled water used in the city. The health department is not sure it's safe. Strain on the Colorado River and treatment budgets could be eased by recycling water for growing dope and flushign toilets.
by Bruce Finley
Gazette Introductory Note. This is a truncated version of a much longer article that we’re reprinting to illustrate the increasing reuse of water by cities as well as the legal intricacies of water recycling. The full article is here.
Denver Water is asking for state permission to expand the uses of recycled water to include flushing toilets in commercial buildings, washing cows and pigs at the National Western Stock Show, and irrigating crops including marijuana.
This could increase the number of big customers in metro Denver who already tap a 70-mile network of underground purple pipes carrying recycled water which cleaned to meet the drinking water standards that applied in the 1980s. There are currently 80 customers who use recycled water. But state health officials aren’t sure it’s safe to allow wider use.
A Denver Water plan calls for at least doubling the amount of recycled water the utility provides beyond the current 2.6 billion gallons a year to more than 5.6 billion gallons by 2020.
Using more recycled water could save money because stripping away contaminants to meet current drinking water standards increasingly requires costly, energy-intensive treatment. And, reusing water reduces Denver’s need to siphon more H2O out of the over-tapped Colorado River.
Denver’s marijuana sector alone could make a big difference.
Dope growers have emerged as significant guzzlers, feeding plants an estimated 146 million gallons a year of drinking water. That’s more than the 98 million gallons metro Denver brewers use to make beer.
“This is where the world is going,” Denver Water chief executive, Jim Lochhead, said. “Utilities are exploring this concept of ‘one water,’ the right water quality for the right purpose, and making the most efficient use of water.”
Rising temperatures from climate change and exhaustion of the river compel new approaches, he said.
“The demands on our system are going to increase simply because it is going to be warmer. People and plants are going to be using more water,” Lochhead said. “The prospects of a major new diversion project on the Colorado River are difficult at best.”
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has raised multiple concerns.
State water quality staffers are reviewing “adequate control of pathogens,” including the potential for bacteria to grow in the purple pipes, an agency spokeswoman said. That’s because irrigation of crops for human consumption could mean more people are exposed to bacteria. They’re also evaluating the potential for salts to build up in soils and groundwater. And they’re looking at issues surrounding build-up of “antibiotic resistant genes” that recycled water could accelerate. (Bacteria that develop resistance to antibiotics can reproduce and pass on that resistance.)
“We’re as much about water conservation as anyone else,” director Larry Wolk said. “If there’s reuse potential for that kind of water that doesn’t pose any type of health risk or has an acceptable health risk, then it is something we definitely should consider.”
“We won’t know until that technical assessment is complete if it is an acceptable risk or not. Just because it was OK in 1980 doesn’t necessarily mean it is OK today , because we know a lot more, after nearly 40 years, than we knew then,” Wolk said.
“But we are all about reuse,” Wolk said, “whether it is produced water, recycled water, graywater, if there is an acceptable health risk.”
A CDPHE meeting is scheduled for next week to launch a rulemaking process that will run through August 2018. Health officials said they want to hear from all sides and said any new uses of recycled water won’t hurt people or the environment.
State rules currently allow use of recycled water for car washing, landscape irrigation, industrial systems, and putting out fires.
For years, Denver Water crews have been capturing wastewater, treating it, and sending it back through the city. It is water initially diverted from the Colorado River and moved through tunnels under the Continental Divide. (Denver Water legally is limited to a one-time use of its other water that originates here in South Platte River Basin, because downriver agricultural producers have rights to use Denver’s “return flows.”) The purple pipe water is classified as nonpotable, but utility officials emphasized it meets the standards of water people were drinking in the 1980s.
The 80 current users of recycled water include irrigators and industrial plants, nine schools, 34 parks, five golf courses, and the Denver Zoo.
Source: Denver Post
Unlike many cities, the French capital has made good on its promise to re-open urban waterways to bathers.
It targets toxic chemicals, which can themselves stick around in the environment - potentially forever.
The Trump administration has proposed selling off portions of a vast system that produces nearly half of the nation's hydropower electricity.
A blistering summer has left parts of Europe parched and plagued by wildfires, but it is a particular indignity in the Eternal City.
Scientists say newly discovered palms will be the "first to drown" under a planned Colombian dam that critics worry will displace human communities, destroy fragile ecosystems and release potent greenhouse gases.
Researchers anticipate harmful nitrogen outputs to increase as a result of precipitation changes.
An environmental group's new report shows a broad range of contaminants occur in many drinking water systems in the Ohio Valley, even though the water meets federal requirements.
Due to recent community concern on social media about complaints of brain cancer cases, the Charleston Water System and Mount Pleasant Waterworks sent 15 water samples to be analyzed, all of which showed no detection of harmful compounds.
The crowd of protesters outside the Saratoga Hilton had a simple message for the EPA - remove PCBs from the Hudson River.
Follow daily water headlines and links to full articles from Environment Health News at the Pure Water Gazette.
Products we have but are not yet on the website.
Please call for details.
Siliphos spheres to prevent scale build-up in pipes and appliances.
The Fleck 5810 control valve. We are currently selling softeners and filters made with the 5810, but they won't be on the website for a while.
Large filters and softeners, in the above 14" diameter tank range.
Watts One Flow TAC scale prevention systems. We have all of Watts' One Flow (aka ScaleNet) scale treatment sizes, although we only show the three most popular residential sizes on our website (and we still call them ScaleNet). We also stock ScaleNet (One Flow) media.
Places to visit on our websites
Thanks for reading and be sure to check out the next Occasional!