The Pure Water Occasional for March 10, 2014


In this Daylight Savings Time Occasional, you'll read about  SXT and AIO controls, vacuum breakers, imploded tanks, and "toilet to tap" recycling. The fracking moratorium in LA,  radioactive waste woes in Tokyo, and serious problems with road salt, arsenic, and polychlorinated biphenyls.  Learn why soldiers are suing the military, how the drought affects hydropower, and the difference between 100% recycled water and zero water discharge.  And, as always, there is much, much more.

The Pure Water Occasional is a project of Pure Water Products and the Pure Water Gazette.

To read this issue on the Pure Water Gazette's website, please go here.

Levi Strauss tests 100% recycled water in parts of its jeans production

The jeans manufacturer has developed a new water recycling standard to reduce its impact on the world's water resources

Editor's Note:  This article works toward a definition of "100% recycled," which can mean different things in different contexts and from different sources.  Since in a sense all water is "100% recycled," none of it being used for the very first time or the very last time, you could apply the label to any water you use, even if you use it only one time and discharge it.  On the other extreme, 100% recycled water would mean that no new water is introduced into the closed loop of a particular process, with the same water being recirculated for reuse ad infinitum.  As the article below indicates, Levi Strauss's definition falls somewhere in the middle.  The company is to be applauded for its effort in any event. -- Hardly Waite.

Levi Strauss has created a process for using 100% recycled water in parts of its garment production, Michael Kobori, vice president of sustainability at the company, has told the Guardian.

In what the jeans manufacturer claims to be an industry first, the process is the result of a new water recycling standard – verified by third parties – that aims to reduce the impact of garment production on fresh water resources.

The process is being used in one of the brand's key Chinese factories, which bleaches, dyes and stone washes garments to achieve specific looks or feels.

The factory, located in southern China, worked with Levi Strauss to engineer a system to pipe 100% recycled water into an industrial laundry machine used for finishing one of its jeans lines. Some 100,000 pairs have now been produced with the new technology.

Kobori says the company looked at Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines on reuse of water, as well as World Health Organization guidelines on managing waste water.

"We then hired engineers from the textile industry to adapt these general guidelines into a set of standards that can be specifically used in our industry," he says.

The process is still in the testing phases, but the goal is to eventually use 100% recycled water to finish a broader range of Levi Strauss products at factories in other parts of the world, he says.

Different Different Definitions of 100% Recycled

One of the third parties Levi Strauss asked to review the standard was Gilbert O'Neal, president of the Institute of Textile Technology.

O'Neal has worked with some of the largest textile and apparel makers in the world to help them use less water, and discharge less polluted water.

He says it's not impossible to finish a garment with recycled water, but that the term "100% recycled" can be misleading because saying a garment is made from 100% recycled water is not the same as saying that 100% of the waste water is recycled.

"The garment industry is really good at establishing standards and talking a great game about sustainability," O'Neal says. "But the challenge is in the implementation."

For example, there's no economically feasible way to recycle 100% of laundry machine water in a closed loop system, he says.

"It requires membrane technology that may triple or quadruple the cost of water treatment," O'Neal says. "That's a cost that most consumers won't accept."

So what does Levi Strauss mean by 100% recycled water? O'Neal says the he has not seen the engineering or other information from the Chinese factory, so he doesn't know for sure. But he suspects to keep the process economical, they recycle a portion of the waste water that is most easily treated.

O'Neal says Levi Strauss is probably using 100% recycled water, but isn't achieving "zero liquid discharge" – or zero waste water – the highest standard in industrial water recycling. However, the process likely does reduce the amount of effluent, or waste water, from the factory, he adds.

Levi Strauss, which is expected to announce this news later today, says it hopes the standard will help other apparel brands and retailers increase their use of recycled water and reduce industry effluent.

Article Source-- The Guardian.

Pure Water Gazette Fair Use Statement


California Drought: Orange County expands 'toilet to tap' water recycling

by Ed Joyce


One way state officials hope to make California better able to withstand the ongoing drought is to stock underground drinking water supplies with recycled wastewater. Water managers across the state could learn a thing from the Orange County Water District: It was an early adopter of recycled water. And now, the district is expanding its use of what some call "toilet to tap."

But calling it "toilet to tap" isn't fair. The recycled sewage water makes quite a journey on its path to purification before it comes out of faucets at home. About 2.4 million Orange County residents get their water from a massive underground aquifer, which, since 2008, has been steadily recharged with billions of gallons of purified wastewater.

But, that toilet to tap moniker hangs around. So, we decided to put the Orange County tap water to a blind taste test.

Longtime Orange County resident John Hart sampled one glass filled with Newport Beach tap water and another glass filled with bottled water. He said he couldn't tell the difference between the tap water and the bottled water.

Hart remembers when the Orange County Water District (OCWD) first proposed taking treated wastewater and turning it into drinking water.

The "yuk factor" associated with the phrase "toilet to tap" had doomed a similar proposal years earlier in San Diego. (The city of San Diego now has a pilot project underway). Orange County Water District officials avoided that fate with a massive public relations campaign that involved more than 2,000 community presentations.

"Most of my neighbors, we talked about it," said Hart, who lived in Huntington Beach at that time.  "If they [OCWD] could do it and do it right and make sure that it's proper, then it's probably a good deal."

Recycled water's been such a good deal for Orange County, the water district is spending $140 million to expand its capacity to purify wastewater by 30 percent.

It starts in Fountain Valley where the water district operates a 24-acre facility that takes sewage fom the sanitation plant next door and converts it into millions of gallons a day of pure H2O.

OC Water District President Shawn Dewane said the cost is 30 percent cheaper than imported water.

"So it's a tremendous savings for our local community to be able to pump from the groundwater basin and about 70 percent of the local demand is supplied from the groundwater," said Dewane.

Dewane and OCWD Assistant General Manager Michael Wehner showed us around the treatment plant, where shiny stainless steel tubes and tanks fill several large buildings.

Microfiber membranes

First, to filter out bacteria, particles and protozoa, the sewer water is forced by air pressure through a series of microfibers, straw-like plastic membranes, with holes so tiny you can't see them with the naked eye. The next stop is a pump station.

Wehner said the pump station is "where the water that's been vacuumed through those hollow fibers is basically accumulated in a tank and transferred over to the reverse osmosis facility."

Wehner said reverse osmosis or "R-O" is the heart of the largest potable reuse facility in the world. The water is pushed through plastic R-O membranes that remove nearly everything that isn't H2O. The R-O process removes dissolved chemicals, pharmaceuticals and viruses.

"There is 70 million gallons a day of R-O capacity," said Wehner, as he pointed to hundreds of tubes. "Each of these units represents five million gallons a day. And you can see all of the units as you look across, you look at endless pressure vessels that hold these spiral wound R-O membranes."

The last step is to add peroxide (H2O2) to the water before it is sent through pipes where it is exposed to ultraviolet light that "kills anything that's alive," Wehner said.  The end result is distilled water.

"It's actually purer than any other source of water that we have to put into our groundwater basin," he said.

The water is then shipped northeast through a 14-mile pipe where it feeds a series of recharge basins, which resemble small lakes.

"It percolates through the native soils here at a very high rate up to 14 feet a day," said Bill Hunt, OCWD executive director of operations, as he showed us where the purified water fills a recharge basin. "We're putting a lot of water in the ground here. It goes into the ground here in Anaheim, which is sort of the upper end of the (350 square mile) aquifer system. It creates a mound of water underground and it pressurizes the aquifers throughout the county."

The water is so blue it looks like glacial snowmelt.

"Our Caribbean water," is what Hunt calls it.

The OC Water District says 1.3 billion gallons of treated wastewater flows through Southern California sewers into the Pacific Ocean every day.  The water district takes some of that water from the Santa Ana river and diverts it to a recharge basin.

While other counties, and even the portion of south Orange County not served by the OCWD, rely heavily on imported water from Northern California and the Colorado River, the district's Groundwater Replenishment System combined with the aquifer, provide 70 percent of the supply.

So why aren't more counties moving to 'tap the toilet?'

The OC Water District's Wehner says public acceptance and political support are the main obstacles. He also pointed out that there are groundwater resources in Los Angeles County that remain untapped.

"The San Fernando Valley and the San Gabriel Valley have groundwater resources," said Wehner. "But they face greater challenges in terms of contamination (of that groundwater) over the years. They need to address those issues, but they have groundwater resources they can manage in those areas."

But California drought cycles and climate change may force more California counties to reclaim their sewage water.

UC Irvine Professor of Earth System Science Jay Famiglietti said reusing wastewater needs to be a greater part of the supply mix going forward.

"Population growth is too great, the traditional sources are being depleted, so there really is no choice," said Famiglietti. "We need to invest in projects like sewage recycling in a lot more places then we're currently doing it."

As for the "yuk factor" of the old toilet to tap objections, Famiglietti has this simple advice: "get over it."

Meantime, the Orange County Water District has a $142 million expansion project underway at the Fountain Valley reuse facility. By the end of 2015, OCWD officials say the plant will be producing 100 million gallons of potable water a day - at half the cost of imported water.

Source: Southern California Public Radio.

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Water News of the Week


Los Angeles City Council approves fracking moratorium. The Planning and Land Use Management Committee of Los Angeles has approved two motions that could lead to a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and other unconventional oil and gas extraction practices.

Radioactive waste piles up in Tokyo area with no place to go. Kikuji Enomoto is stuck residing near more than 500 tons of radioactive waste – part of the thousands of tons of radioactive waste that remain in temporary storage in the Tokyo area nearly three years after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Australian coal seam gas project contaminates aquifer. A coal seam gas project operated by energy company in north-western New South Wales has contaminated a nearby aquifer, with uranium at levels 20 times higher than safe drinking water guidelines, an official investigation has found.

Lawsuits revived by soldiers over waste disposal. A federal appeals court on Thursday revived dozens of lawsuits by soldiers and others who claim they were harmed by improper waste disposal while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is one of many instances of poor water management by the US military.

How Road Salt Pollutes Water Supplies. The salt that is put on roadways ends up eventually in the water.

Much of New Jersey’s sewer infrastructure, while still functional, is old and overburdened. In some cities, untreated waste runs into streets and waterways every time it rains. Experts say that only much-needed upgrades can prevent continuing breakdowns, increasing the already-present threat to public health and the environment. PICTURE

Wolfforth, TX has received EPA warnings about excess fluoride and arsenic in its water supply. The city has a new water purification system in the works.

Dredging up the truth. Newly uncovered documents reveal that as early as the 1960s -- decades before the government ordered GE to undertake the river dredging that is scheduled to resume this spring -- company officials were warned of the potential serious health threats of polychlorinated biphenyls. 

Duke Energy’s $1 billion cleanup: Who would pay? As public pressure builds to dig up coal ash from waste lagoons in North Carolina, Duke Energy is facing a potentially massive cleanup bill that has loomed for years.

Surviving Beijing's pollution while pregnant: 'I feel like a lab-rat.' The risks of high pollution levels for pregnant women are potentially significant. A number of international studies have indicated risks to children whose mothers are exposed to high levels of pollutants at pregnancy, include low birth weight and long-term impacts on intelligence.

Drought hastens end of a region's hydropower era. The yearslong drought in Central Texas could eventually snuff out a renewable power source that fueled the region’s early growth: hydropower.

Wastewater injection triggered Oklahoma's earthquake cascade. One of Oklahoma's biggest man-made earthquakes, caused by fracking-linked wastewater injection, triggered an earthquake cascade that led to the damaging magnitude-5.7 Prague quake that struck on Nov. 6, 2011.

Sunken Great Lakes Pipeline May Be a Water Disaster Waiting to Happen

The Straits of Mackinac is drawing attention for something that is out of sight and usually out of mind, and which some consider a symbol of the dangers lurking in the nation's sprawling web of buried oil and natural gas pipelines.

Stretched across the bottom of the waterway at depths reaching 270 feet are two 20-inch pipes that carry nearly 23 million gallons of crude oil daily. They are part of the 1,900-mile Lakehead network, which originates in North Dakota near the Canadian border. A segment known as Line 5 slices through northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula before ducking beneath the Straits of Mackinac and winding up in Sarnia, Ontario.

The pipes were laid in 1953. They've never leaked, according to the system's owner, Enbridge Energy Partners LP, which says the lines are in good shape and pose no threat.

But a growing chorus of activists and members of Congress is demanding closer scrutiny as stepped-up production in North Dakota's Bakken region and Canada's Alberta tar sands boosts the amount of oil coursing through pipelines crossing the nation's heartland.

Concern has risen in the past year following serious spills in Arkansas and North Dakota, and as the government weighs the proposed Keystone pipeline project that would stretch from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The issue is especially sensitive in Michigan, where another Enbridge line ruptured in 2010, spewing more than 840,000 gallons of crude into the Kalamazoo River and a tributary creek.

The Straits of Mackinac epitomizes a potential worst-case scenario for a pipeline accident: an iconic waterway, ecologically and economically significant, that could be fiendishly hard to clean up because of swift currents and deep water that's often covered with ice several months a year.

Read the rest in the Deseret News.

How Backwashing Filter Controls Work

by Gene Franks

Large tank-style water filters that have the ability to clean and renew their filter media bed are called backwashing filters.  Backwashing is the process by which water is run backward through the filter bed  from bottom to top, lifting and tumbling the media, rinsing away impurities and allowing the bed to resettle without channels created while the filter was in service.  After the backwash operation, the filter is rinsed by running water rapidly downward through the media bed and out the drain,  resettling and packing the bed before it is returned to service.

Although these simple functions of backwash followed by rinse are essentially the same regardless of the control mechanism that performs them, there is a surprising variety of filter control valve styles.  The table below shows the two most basic series of Fleck controls (5600 and 2510). Note that these are filter valves and that similar but different controls are required to run water softeners. Prices are Pure Water Products' current filter prices and are given for cost comparison.


Fleck Filter Control Valve Prices


Fleck Control Valve

Current Price


Fleck 5600 Standard Timer


 Probably the most popular filter valve in the US.

Fleck 5600 SXT Timer



Fleck 5600 Metered SXT (softener and filter)



Fleck 5600 AIO Electronic Aerator Control



Fleck 2510 Manual Control



Fleck 2510 Standard Timer, without Cover


Cover: $31

Fleck 2510 SXT Timer, without Cover


Cover: $31

Fleck 2510 Metered SXT (softener and filter)


Cover: $31

Fleck 2510 AIO Electronic Aerator Control


Cover Included.


Here is a concise description of what these controls do, beginning with the most basic.

Fleck's Simple 2510 Manual Control.  No Electricity Required. It Isn't Sexy, But It's Very Functional.


Fleck 2510 Manual.  This is the most basic of filter valves, yet in many situations it can be the best.  In spite of the low price, it's a tough and durable piece of equipment.  The 2510 Manual is a  non-electric control that requires manual backwash and rinse.  It is, therefore, not practical if backwashing needs to be performed daily (as with many iron filters, for example), but for a clean city water application where chlorine removal is the main purpose, a monthly backwash is sufficient and performing it can be a 15-minute task.  The valve operates with a simple selection lever and has only three choices: Service (means the filter is in service, providing water for the home), backwash, and rinse.  Performing the backwash and rinse is like shifting gears in an car: pull the lever to backwash and let it run for five to ten minutes, pull it down to rinse for a couple of minutes, then return it to service.

Fleck 5600 Standard Timer Control.  America's Most Popular Water Filter Controller

Standard Timer models are available in both 2510 and 5600. The 5600 timer is most most widely used filter control in the United States and is sold under the manufacturer's name as well as many "private label" brands.  The user needs only select the days the filter will backwash (the most common format has a 12-Day-Clock) and set the time of day. On the 2510 model, the duration of backwash and rinse can also be changed in two-minute increments.  Regeneration times are preset but can be changed by lying to the timer about the time of day.

Fleck 5600 SXT Timer.  

SXT Timer. SXT controls feature a simple electronic face and allow easy programming of the basic functions of the filter. They have the advantage over the standard timer of much greater flexibility in setting up regeneration schedules and length of backwash and rinse. A simple 5600 timer, for example, has a pre-set backwash duration, but with the SXT unit the user can choose and easily change the duration of backwash and rinse or the time that they occur. If the power goes off, the user has only to reset the time of day: the computer remembers the programmed settings.

This control system counts time, not gallons used. The metered system below  keeps count of both time and gallons used.

Fleck 2510 Metered SXT Can Control a Filter or a Water Softener.  Shown without Protective Cover, which is sold separately.

SXT Meter Available in both 2510 and 5600 Formats.  This controller is much more frequently used to control water softeners than filters, but it can be easily adapted for use with a filter by simply shortening or turning off  functions like "brine draw" and "brine refill" that apply only to softeners. The control system offers much more programming variety.  A sediment filter, for example, could be set up to regenerate after every 1000 gallons of service water but to not allow more that 7 days to pass without  regeneration. This system offers more complexity than most filters need, but it works great where precise control of gallon usage is required.

Fleck 2510 AIO Control Valve with Environmental Cover. This is a specialty valve used only on "single tank aeration" filters.

Fleck AIO Electronic Timer Aerator Control.   Available in both 2510 and 5600 Formats.  The AIO is a specialty product designed specifically to control single tank aeration filters for iron and hydrogen sulfide treatment.  It is a very simple electronic timer that keeps time of day and days between regeneration.  Its uniqueness is that it is set up to draw air into the filter for oxidation of iron and hydrogen sulfide during the phase where a softener control would normally bring in water for the making of brine.  This is a very effective product with a limited application.  Programming is simple with only the time of day and the day of regeneration needing attention.

Go here for more information about backwashing filters.

What Makes Water Tanks Collapse?


Here's how the The Wikipedia defines implosion:

Implosion is a process in which objects are destroyed by collapsing (or being squeezed in) on themselves. The opposite of explosion, implosion concentrates matter and energy. True implosion usually involves a difference between internal (lower) and external (higher) pressure, or inward and outward forces, that is so large that the structure collapses inward into itself. An example of implosion is a submarine being crushed from the outside by the hydrostatic pressure of the surrounding water.

That's what happened to the reverse osmosis tank pictured above.  The tank, which at 24" X 57", is larger than it appears in the picture, is an 80-gallon "fiberglass" reverse osmosis tank.  It imploded while in service in an office building in Ft. Worth, TX. The force of the implosion was so strong that the tank slammed against a wall and knocked a hole in the siding. 

Familiar water treatment tanks, including  "mineral tanks" (the tanks that backwashing filters are made with), retention tanks, and well and reverse osmosis tanks, are usually called "fiberglass" tanks although they are actually composed of many plastic materials materials.  These are at risk of implosion.  That is because they are made to be very strong from the inside out so that they can withstand high water pressure, but they are not constructed to be strong from the outside in. Only minimal pressure caused by the development of a vacuum inside the tank can cause them to implode.

Fiberglass tank makers always exclude implosion from their warranties.  The tank above shows why.  Although the tank is large, it collapsed because of vacuum created by a small delivery pump.

Tank manufacturers also recommend installation with a vacuum breaker to prevent implosions. The tank in the picture was installed without a vacuum breaker. A vacuum breaker is a simple plumbing device that has a small plastic disk held in place by water pressure.  When the pressure goes away, the disk falls and allows air to enter the pipe, breaking the vacuum and preventing backflow due to siphoning and implosion cause by atmospheric pressure.

Vacuum Breaker





Please visit our RO Parts Page for tanks and accessories.

Thank you for reading.  Please come back next week.

Places to Visit on Our Websites in the meantime.

Garden Hose Filters.  Don’t be the last on your block to own one.

Model 77: “The World’s Greatest $77 Water Filter”

Sprite Shower Filters: You’ll Sing Better!”

An Alphabetical Index to Water Treatment Products

Our famous whole house Chloramine Catcher

Pure Water Occasional Archive: Sept. 2009-April 2013.

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