Water News for July 2011
While you were focused on the debt ceiling, the meltdown of the democratic process, the drought, and the hot, hot summer,
a lot of important things happened in the world of water. Read on to hear all about it.
Exxon stuck again, with many gallons
of crude leaking into the Yellowstone River from its broken pipeline.Also read the EPA Update.
Approximately 162,000 gallons of
partially treated sewage overflowed from a wastewater treatment
facility in Woonsocket, R.I.,
prompting officials to advise
residents not to swim or fish in the Blackstone
The tap water of Ocean Shores, WA is
turning yellow because of naturally occurring manganese.
Fort Worth, TX used a
record-breaking 8 billion gallons of water in June.
that water off the famed beaches of the Indian holiday state of Goa was unfit for bathing and fishing due to high levels of bacteria from untreated sewage.
of Baghdad residents were admitted to hospital after a chlorine gas leak at a water purification plant.
Officials estimate that as many as 2,000 people in the Santa Clarita Valley own banned water softeners. A $1,000 fine threatens violators who do not remove illegal softeners.
An explosion at the North River
Wastewater Treatment Plant started a catastrophic fire, which shut
down one of New York's largest treatment facilities. Authorities
warned that recreational waters in the area should not be used for
The Woonasquatucket River, which forms
the border between Johnston and North Providence, R.I., has widespread dioxin contamination resulting from the former operations
of a chemical company and a drum recycler from the early 1940s to the
early 1970s. The EPA is addressing the issue.
A new report says groundwater
contamination from coal ash has been found at Gallatin and eight of
the nine other Tennessee
Valley Authority fossil power plant sites where testing is being
done. Beryllium, cadmium and nickel levels are above drinking water
standards at Gallatin, as are arsenic, selenium and vanadium at
Three people are facing charges in
connection with a water contamination scare in Somerset that caused a three-day ban on drinking town tap water.
Tucson will spend $10 million on a water treatment facility to clean up TCE left behind by the Air Force.
A Louisiana district judge ruled that the Dow Chemical Co. is responsible for contaminating the Upper Plaquemine Aquifer in Iberville Parish with vinyl chloride.
city of Pontiac, MI learned that its wastewater treatment system has two
leaks (one more than 10 years old) and that oil,
sludge and iron compounds may have seeped into its groundwater.
Twenty years after contaminated
groundwater was discovered in downtown Montgomery, AL, the
Environmental Protection Agency has identified the Montgomery
Advertiser and the Alabama Department of Education as two
entities that may have caused it.
its nature, ice is the purest form of water because it repels any
This is the principle behind a newly developed, environmentally
friendly water purification system called eutectic
freeze crystallization that has been developed in Cape Town, South Africa.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
announced an agreement with six entities to begin the first phase of the Superfund cleanup of Newtown Creek in New York City.
“Newtown Creek is one of the most polluted urban water bodies in the country."
The parties to the agreement include
the Phelps Dodge Refining Corporation, Texaco, Inc., BP Products North America, Inc., National Grid NY (formerly the Brooklyn Union Gas Company), Exxon Mobil Oil Corporation and the City of New York
The City of San Diego has launched a
year-long test of a new local source of water for the semi-arid city.
The Advanced Water Purification Facility is a small-scale,
state-of-the-art water purification facility that purifies 1 million
gallons a day of recycled water to distilled water quality.
A nine-year-old girl who died in an
auto accident has raised over $300,000 for African water projects posthumously.
California's Dept. of Public Health has
set a public health goal for Hexavalent Chromium at 0.02 parts per
|A 143 pound blue catfish was caught
at Buggs Island Lake in Virginia.
warn anglers to limit consumption of blue catfish due to PCB
contamination and other toxins. Blue catfish are voracious predators
and can live up to twenty years, absorbing PCBs and heavy metals such as
mercury from their prey."
Dr. Mercola on Nitrosamines, Chloramine, and Shampoo Ingredients
Editor's Note: Dr. Joseph Mercola's online and paper publications have long been a valued source of information about health-related issues. Some of his recent writings have underlined the subtle interactions of chemicals that we add purposely to our water (chloramines and fluoride, for example) and those that we unwittingly add in the form of by-products of common cosmetic items. Below are some cuts from recent newsletter postings by Dr. Mercola that I've put together. You will agree, I think, that the world of chemicals that we've created is not a simple one.--Hardly Waite.
Certain ingredients in shampoo, detergents and other cleaning agents may help form a suspected cancer-causing contaminant in water. The poorly understood water contaminant, called NDMA, is of ongoing concern to health officials.
NDMA and other nitrosamines can form during water disinfection with chloramine. Substances called quaternary amines, which are found in cosmetics and household cleaning agents, may play a role in the formation of nitrosamines.Eurekalert reports:
"... laboratory research showed that when mixed with chloramine, some household cleaning products -- including shampoo, dishwashing detergent and laundry detergent -- formed NDMA ... quaternary amines are used in such large quantities that some still may persist and have a potentially harmful effect in the effluents from sewage treatment plants."
Could your shampoo be contributing carcinogens to the water supply?
The last thing you need is one more contaminant in your water. But that is exactly what is happening within the mélange of complex chemical reactions that takes place at your local water processing plant. New research suggests that seemingly harmless consumer products, like your shampoo, are contributing to the formation of mysterious cancer-causing substances called nitrosamines.
You can add nitrosamines to the ever-expanding list of substances that magically make their way into the waters of the world, from birth control hormones to rocket fuel to cocaine.
The formation of nitrosamines during drinking water treatment is poorly understood, but there are some things scientists DO know, and there are steps YOU can take to reduce your water-contamination “footprint.”
What are Nitrosamines?
Nitrosamines are formed when nitrites combine with amines (often occurring in the form of proteins) under certain conditions such as an acidic environment or high temperatures. You may recall the issue of nitrites coming up in discussions about bacon and lunchmeats.
Nitrosamines are the reason you should avoid certain nitrite-containing meat products, like bacon and other cured meats, and avoid cooking meats at high temperatures.
There is an enormous amount of evidence that nitrosamines cause cancer in humans. In fact, nitrosamines are one of the most potent chemical carcinogens in tobacco products, and are generally regarded as the smoking gun linking the use of tobacco with cancer.
In addition to tobacco and cured meats, nitrosamines are also found in:
- Nonfat dry milk
- Rubber products and rubber manufacturing plants
- Metal and chemical industries
- Cosmetics, personal care products and detergents
- Your own gastric juices (“endogenous nitrosation” occurs when bacteria in your mouth reduce the nitrate in foods to nitrite, and the nitrite reacts with amines in your stomach to form nitrosamines).
In addition to cancer, nitrosamines are associated with multiple organ toxicity, allergies and immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, and biochemical or cellular changes.
Nitrosamines are so toxic, both Canada and the European Union have banned them from cosmetics, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
In 1996, the FDA asked American cosmetic makers to voluntarily remove ingredients that could form nitrosamines. In spite of this suggestion, the EWG found that one in every 10 products contains ingredients that can combine with others to form these dangerous carcinogens.
How Nitrosamines Form During Water Treatment
The formation of nitrosamines, particularly one called N-Nitrosodimethylanime or NDMA, has been associated with drinking water that was converted from wastewater.
It appears the nitrosamines arise from chemical precursors called quaternary amines. Quaternary amines are significant components of consumer products—especially shampoos, cleaning agents and detergents, fabric softeners, antibacterial soaps, and mouthwashes—which make their way into wastewater in large volumes as a result of our excessive product consumption.
When water loaded with these quaternary amines hits wastewater plants, it is treated with chloramine (the disinfectant of choice in American water treatment plants), forming NDMA as one of the byproducts.
Chloramine is simply a combination of chlorine and ammonia.
Water Softener Sizing 101, Part 2.
by Pure Water Annie
In last month's Occasional, I patiently explained at some length how water softeners have traditionally been "sized." We came up with the classical sizing formula: grains of hardness times number of people in the family times 75 times 7 = weekly softening requirement. I explained that softeners are usually
sized so that the softener has the capacity to treat a week's worth of water between regenerations.
Now we're going into this subject a little deeper. .
Your softener has a theoretical capacity, or "size," that is stated in grains. For example, if you have a "40,000 grain softener," it will in theory treat 40,000 grains of hardness between regenerations. If your water has 20 grains of hardness per gallon, your softener will treat 40,000 grains divided by 20, or 2,000 gallons of water between regenerations. If your family uses 500 gallons of water per day, the softener needs to regenerate approximately every fourth day. By traditional sizing standards, this means that the softener is a bit too small.
The example above is only theoretical because a regenerated softener has less capacity than its stated capacity and the real capacity depends on how much salt is used to recharge it. The more salt, the greater the capacity. The 40,000 gallon figure is based on your giving the softener its strongest salt dose, which is 15 lbs. of salt per cubic foot of softener resin. And as the chart below will show, the 40,000 grain softener, when salted at the 15-pound rate, will actually only be a 37,500 grain softener.
Here are the most common sizes of residential water softeners with the information needed to program the control valve for optimal performance. You will note that as less salt is used for regeneration, the softener's treatment capacity decreases, but its efficiency in terms of salt usage goes up at a greater rate.
|Common Size Designation in Grains
|Mineral Tank Size
|Cubic Feet of Resin in the Mineral Tank
|Actual softening capacity if dosed with 6 lbs salt per cubic foot of resin
|Actual softening capacity if dosed with 10 lbs salt per cubic foot of resin
|Actual softening capacity if dosed with 15 lbs salt per cubic foot of resin
|7" X 44"
|8" X 44"
|9" X 48"
|10" X 44"
|10" X 54"
|12" X 48"
|13" X 54"
|14" X 65"
Now, take a closer look at salt usage.
We'll use the 32,000 grain softener as an example since it has exactly 1 cubic foot of resin.
Note that it yields 30,000 grains of softening while using the full 15-lbs. of salt. It gives a 25,000 grain performance while using 10 lbs. of salt, and a 20,000 grain performance on only 6 lbs. In other words, as compared with full salting, you get 2/3 as much softening performance on 2/5 as much salt at 6 lbs., and 5/6 the performance for only 2/3 the salt at 10 lbs. In a month's time, you'll use several pounds less salt by reducing the salt dosage. However, since the softener will have to regenerate more frequently, you'll use more water. It takes just as much water to regenerate with six pounds of salt as with 15, and at the six pound setting you have to regenerate more frequently.
I'm not going to try to tell you where to set your salt dosage, but in many cases the middle ground works best, giving you good salt economy without excessive water use.
The current trend is the industry is to sell the idea that it's "green" to use an oversized softener to promote salt savings. It depends, I suppose, on whether it's more important to save salt or to save water. You can use more salt and less water or more water and less salt. It's hard to make either formula add up to "green."
There are many other considerations to be weighed if there are special conditions. The most common of these is iron in well water. If the softener is being used to remove iron, throw all the considerations above out the window and set the softener up to regenerate every second or third day. Iron should never sit in the resin bed more than two or three days.
Pure Water Gazette numerical wizard B. Bea Sharper reports the water facts that Harper's misses.
Please email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Number of current residential water treatment strategies that are recommend for the reduction of NMDA-- 0.
Percentage of NMDA removed by reverse osmosis--around 50%.
Pounds of salt dissolved by one gallon of water--around 3.
Percentage of dead sea turtles that are now found to contain plastic rubbish --30%.
Number of years the Mississippi River
could run on water that would result if the ice at the South Pole
Gallons of water emitted into the
atmosphere daily by a full-grown tree--70.
Gallons of water leaked in a month by
a 1/8-inch hole--108,000.
Gallons of water required to produce
a typical dinner meal in the U.S.--3,000.
Gallons of water required to produce
the average Sunday newspaper--150.
Average service call rate of water
treatment dealers who responded to Water Technology Magazine's 2011 dealer survey--$94.
Average monthly water softener rental
rate from the same survey -- $29.90
Percentage of surveyed dealers who said
personal referrals were their best promotion method--76%
Percentage who said the Internet is --
Percentage who said the Yellow Pages is
Percentage who said Telemarketing is
their best promotional method -- 9%.
Rank of "hardness" on the
list of contaminants most often requested for removal by customers --
Rank of iron-- #2.
Suggested reading this month from the Pure Water Gazette's archive: A Prayer for Water & Children, by David James Duncan.
Model 77: "The World's Greatest $77 Water Filter"
Sprite Shower Filters:
You'll Sing Better!
An Alphabetical Index to Water Treatment Products
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