Bird And FishPure Water Occasional

An Email Publication About Water and Water Treatment

April 2011

In this brand new Occasional you'll hear about the Dead Sea, dead dolphins, and the Heart of Dryness. Oil spills, gasoline leaks, and GM insecticide in rivers. Reservoirs with a putrid stench, high sediment, and no water. Learn about the Big Bucket, the Mighty Eliminator, the Lower Mekong Dam, Mark Ruffalo's war on fracking, and the astounding Law of Mother Earth. The revival of rain barrels, plus a nostalgia song for rain barrel shouters and cellar door sliders. Hear how all plastics aren't created equal, plus news of high density polyethylene and synthetic xenoestrogens. You'll learn how became, what took down the water plant at Henryetta, OK, when Drinking Water Week will be celebrated and, as always, much, much more.

The Occasional is overseen by Pure Water Gazette editor Hardly Waite.

To Read This Issue on our Website

Hardly Waite

While you were planning your Earth Day costume, dying your Easter eggs, and keeping your eye peeled for tornados, a lot of important things happened in the world of water. To hear all about it, read on.

Water News for April 2011

A water treatment plant employee in Gilbert AZ was arrested on domestic terrorism charges after he apparently attempted to cause an explosion at the plant. "He wasn't a gun toting radical by no means," said a neighbor.

Three officials of Ecological Systems Inc. (ESI), an oil reclamation company that operates a centralized waste treatment facility in Indianapolis, have been sentenced in U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana for felony violations of the Clean Water Act.


Dead Sea Floating

Green Planet has given us its choices for the world's most stunning bodies of water.

One is the Dead Sea, where the water has such a high salt content that the human body floats like a cork.

Mass dolphin deaths are being linked to the BP oil spill.

Texas Water Day was celebrated April 27. In a ceremony in Austin,. James Workman, author of “Heart of Dryness,”explained how the last Bushmen can offer unexpected solutions to help us endure the coming age of permanent drought. . According to Mr. Workman, “We don’t govern water. Water governs us."

Kansas State University students participated in a project designed to provided clean water in Guatemala.

In a disturbing development:, it has been discovered that an insecticide resulting from genetically modified (GM) crops grown extensively in the United States and other parts of the world has leached into the water of the surrounding environment.

The enlightened government of Bolivia is set to pass the world's first laws granting to all nature rights equal to those of humans. The Law of Mother Earth, now agreed upon by politicians and grassroots social groups, redefines the country's rich mineral deposits as "blessings" and is expected to lead to radical new conservation and social measures to reduce pollution and control industry. The right to clean water is one of the eleven basic "rights of nature" specified in the law.

National Parks and Forests are not only sources of entertainment and relaxation. You may not know that national forests are the source of drinking water for over a million Americans. Like to sign a petition urging the administration to protect these invaluable water sources?

" In the past century, poorly-planned, large dams have choked more than half of our world's big rivers, wiping out species, flooding vast swaths of land, displacing millions of, mostly poor, marginalized and indigenous people. We don't need more of these when there are better renewable energy options out there that we can, and must, explore. Big dams need to go the way of the dinosaurs." Read about the growing resistance to the dam across the Lower Mekong.

In Tampa, gasoline-contaminated water as well as an estimated 210 tons of gasoline-contaminated soil were excavated after the discovery of a gasoline leak at the Chevron Petroleum Terminal.

A hazardous materials team was called out to contain a chlorine spill at a Columbia, SC water treatment plant.

American Water, the largest publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company, celebrated its 125th anniversary. (At the celebration, tap water flowed like champagne.)

Workers in Sultan, WA discovered mud coming from a water pipe and on investigation learned that the lake, which supplies 95% of the community's water, had been drained completely through a hole in the bottom of the dam.

Actor Mark Ruffalo urged President Obama to call a vote for more comprehensive hydrofracking regulations. "Horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or 'hydrofracking,' is a process by which natural gas is extracted by pumping a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into the ground. The natural gas is forcibly released when this high-pressure "frack" fluid comes into contact with shale. Environmental groups claim the process pollutes groundwater and contaminates drinking water supplies."

A mysterious putrid, sewer-like stench that appears to be emanating from Elkhart, Indiana's wastewater treatment plant is puzzling officials and causing residents in one neighborhood to hold their noses.

The National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) has been designated as presenting sponsor of the inaugural Water for People Gala to Honor Women in Water. The charity event will be held in Washington, D.C. on Monday, June 13, at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Heavy rains in Henryetta, OK have caused a water shortage by overwhelming the city's treatment plant with turbidity.

Residents in Douglas County, CO are having to rely on cisterns as groundwater supplies dwindle.

Legionella, the bacterium that is said to cause Legionnaires disease, was detected in the water supply of the Sacred Heart Medical Center in Seattle. Three patients have contracted Legionnaires since January and one has died, though hospital officials deny that the bacteria were the cause of death.

The Obama administration released a national clean water framework that outlines a series of actions underway and planned across federal agencies to ensure the integrity of the waters Americans rely on every day for drinking, swimming and fishing, and that support farming, recreation, tourism and economic growth.

The American Water Works Association and its members have celebrated Drinking Water Week for over thirty years. This year's event is scheduled for May 1-7.


In Praise of Tap Water

From the press release announcing American Water's 125th Anniversary celebration:

"The seemingly small decision to drink tap water rather than bottled water can have a major impact on the environment," commented Dr. Mark LeChevallier, director of Innovation and Environmental Stewardship for American Water. "Disposable plastic bottles are burdening our landfills and increasing fuel consumption through their production and delivery." More than 1.5 million gallons of oil are used each year to produce the disposable plastic water bottles consumed in the U.S., and significant amounts of fuel are required to transport the bottles, as well.

Additionally, consumers can realize significant savings by relying less on disposable water bottles and more on tap water in refillable bottles. Tap water is typically available from the faucet for less than a penny a gallon as a national average. Depending on the brand, bottled water costs 250 to 10,000 times more than tap water. Consumers drinking their recommended eight glasses of water a day from the tap, may spend approximately $3.65 (based on a glass of water being 8 ounces) a year. Purchasing the same amount in bottled water can add up to $1,400 annually. Ounce-for-ounce, bottled water can cost more than gasoline or even milk.

The Occasional's Comment: Assuming even a five to one usage ratio, home-produced reverse osmosis water would cost (according to American Water's figures) about $18 per year vs. $1,400 for bottled water. This puts all the "RO wastes water" concerns in a different perspective. From the environmental point of view, saying "I don't want to waste water with a home RO unit, so I'll drink bottled water," ignores the water and energy used in producing the bottled water and the bottle, plus the large energy expenditure for transporting it to the consumer. Long live tap water, but make it better than bottled water by treating it in your home with a point-of-use drinking water filter or reverse osmosis unit.

Green Rain Barrel

Rain Barrels, which used to be as American as apple pie used to be, are staging a comeback as water becomes scarce and more expensive.

Warning. If you own a rain barrel, or even look at one, you run the risk of getting the Rain Barrel Song from the 1940s in your head. You can never get rid of it.

Below is an Earth Day contribution to the growing body of rain barrel literature from the Everett, WA Herald,


Barrels Provide Gardeners Savings from a Rainy Day

Barrels Provide Free Irrigation Water for Use in Dry Summer Months

by Sarah Jackson

Gardeners use a lot of water, especially during the summer months when local rains slow to a trickle right when our lawns, flowers and vegetables need moisture the most. 

And so we turn on the tap, and we water, water everywhere, using drinking water for everything we like to do outdoors, even washing off dirty tools. 

Conservationists and green-living advocates are asking: Do we really need to be using drinking water on our ornamental landscapes? 

There is a green solution: Install a rain barrel and harvest some rainwater this summer. 

If you haven't jumped on the rain-barrel bandwagon yet, Friday, which is Earth Day, might be a good time to get motivated.

Part of your home rain-harvesting system is already in place: your roof

Every inch of rain that falls on a 1,500-square-foot roof can provide about 900 gallons of free water, more than 30,000 gallons in Everett in an average year. 

You just need somewhere to put it. 

Because the average rain barrel holds only 50 to 75 gallons, you'll have to install rain barrels near numerous downspouts to reclaim even a small percentage of the rain that falls on your property.

Fortunately, rain barrels are available in a variety of styles, including basic 50-gallon plastic barrels outfitted with basic hardware for about $35. There also are more aesthetically pleasing models designed to look like urns, whiskey barrels, even outdoor storage bins. 

Flat-backed rain barrels help you save space as do collapsible varieties you can use seasonally. Extra-large models can hold up to 300 gallons. And wooden types are available if you want to avoid buying plastic. 

Some come with top covers that can be planted with your favorite flowers. 

You can even make your own rain barrel with kits that contain all the key parts.

If space is bountiful near your home, you can connect numerous barrels together for a much larger water supply. 

Here are some tips about rain barrels.

Don't drink the water: Collected rainwater is only as clean as your roof and gutters, where birds and animals may drop their waste. Use it with caution for watering some vegetables, but it is best used on ornamental plants and lawns. Avoid overhead irrigation of food crops when using rain barrel water, especially leafy greens. Always wash garden vegetables with tap water before eating them.

Know your roof: Roofing materials are sometimes treated with chemicals to fight rot and other problems. Moss-killing products, including zinc strips and zinc or copper-based moss killer, can leach into roof runoff and can affect plants and animals. 

Direct the overflow: Rain barrels tend to fill quickly, even during light rain. Be sure your barrel has an overflow outlet and a tube or hose to divert excess water away from your house.

Cover it: To prevent mosquitoes from using the barrel to breed, cover any openings with fine mesh. 

Raise it up: Build a raised platform from cinder blocks and place your rain barrel on top. This give you more room to fit a watering can beneath the spigot. 

Secure: A full 50-gallon rain barrel can weigh more than 400 pounds. Find a sturdy, level site for your barrel. Strap it to the house with metal straps, especially if it is raised.

Rinse: Clean your barrel at the end of each season and scrub off any algae growth.

Check for clogs: Make sure intakes and overflows are not blocked with debris. Downspout diverters can easily be clogged with leaves if they don't have built-in filters. 

Prevent ice damage: If the temperature is predicted to drop below 32 degrees for several days, drain the barrels and disconnect them from the downspouts. Reconnect them when the cold snap is over.

Basic Anatomy of a Rain Barrel
Rain Barrel



Pure Water Annie

Pure Water Products To Celebrate Its 25th Anniversary, and other notable events.

by Pure Water Annie

Good , sincere, and heartfelt news from the Occasional's Technical Department.


In May, Pure Water Products will be 25 years old.

Also in May, we're doubling our physical space and will have room for a lot more stuff.

In April, we acquired a much-coveted (by us, anyway) web address and officially changed our main website address to ( and will still work, and if you have our email address with a in it, it will forward to our new addresses at

We're celebrating not having to spell Gazette on the phone anymore. Yes, that's one "z" and two "t's." The original domain name, by the way, was chosen for an online variety magazine that was eventually cut loose from the commercial content and moved to That was in the 1990s, when we could have had for pocket change if we had had the foresight. We had to pay dearly for it in 2011.

We also have some new products. One, the Big Bucket, an emergency filter not to be confused with the Big Berkey, which the Big Bucket puts to shame, will be formally introduced next month.

But for now . . .

The Mighty Eliminator

We really like aeration systems for hydrogen sulfide and iron removal. Not only are they chemical-free, they are also economical to operate and easy to maintain. No chemicals to mix, no salt to buy, no metering pumps to adjust. Air, moreover, is such a quick oxidizer that no giant retention tank is needed as it is with chlorine.

So we're happy to add to our line of aeration product the Eliminator, a product of the Nelsen Corporation. The Eliminator comes in two versions. Both treat both iron and hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg odor), but one emphasizes iron and the other odor.


The iron version treats up to 7 ppm of ferrous iron and up to 4 ppm hydrogen sulfide. It uses a specially blended media pack that relies on Birm, Filter Ag, and KDF 85.

The hydrogen sulfide version treats up to 8 ppm hydrogen sulfide and 2 ppm ferrous iron and uses Centaur Catalytic Carbon, Birm, KDF 85 and Filter Ag as its main filtration media.

Both system are controlled by the advanced Fleck 2510 AIO STX control valve which creates a compressed air pocket in the top third of the filter tank and renews it with each regeneration.

Both versions of the Eliminator are user-friendly, preprogrammed systems, designed to install easily and go right to work.

Prices and more information are available on our temporary product page on the Occasional's website, but you'll have to call to order.

We added the Eliminator because we wanted an affordable, single-tank treatment system for homes with a small amount of iron or hydrogen sulfide in the water. For more challenging iron and sulfide situations we've got more muscular solutions like AerMax, chlorination, hydrogen peroxide, and Filox.


A frequent question we hear is about which plastic water bottles are safe to use. Since we aren't in the bottled water business, we don't know a lot about water bottles, but here's some advice (which we've trimmed down a bit) from a popular health blog.

Which plastics are safe for water?

Choose your water bottles very carefully in order to prevent chemicals in the plastic from leaching into your water.

Plastic water bottles are very convenient for carting water around when we are on the go, as they don't break if we drop them. However, it is worth paying attention to the type of plastic your water bottle is made of, to ensure that the chemicals in the plastic do not leach into the water. If you taste plastic, you are drinking it, so get yourself another bottle.

To be certain that you are choosing a bottle that does not leach, check the recycling symbol on your bottle. If it is a #2 HDPE (high density polyethylene), or a #4 LDPE (low density polyethylene), or a #5 PP (polypropylene), your bottle is fine. The type of plastic bottle in which water is usually sold is usually a #1, and is only recommended for one time use. Do not refill it. Better to use a reusable water bottle, and fill it with your own filtered water from home and keep these single-use bottles out of the landfill.

Unfortunately, those fabulous colourful hard plastic lexan bottles made with polycarbonate plastics and identified by the #7 recycling symbol, may leach BPA. Bisphenol A is a xenoestrogen, a known endocrine disruptor, meaning it disturbs the hormonal messaging in our bodies. Synthetic xenoestrogens are linked to breast cancer and uterine cancer in women, decreased testosterone levels in men, and are particularly devastating to babies and young children. BPA has even been linked to insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes.

Unfortunately, most plastic baby bottles and drinking cups are made with plastics containing Bisphenol A. In 2006 Europe banned all products made for children under age 3 containing BPA, and as of Dec. 2006 the city of San Francisco followed suit. In March 2007 a billion-dollar class action suit was commenced against Gerber, Playtex, Evenflo, Avent, and Dr. Brown's in Los Angeles superior court for harm done to babies caused by drinking out of baby bottles and sippy cups containing BPA. So, to be certain that your baby is not exposed, use glass bottles.

Check the recycling numbers on all your plastic food containers as well, and gradually move to storing all food in glass or ceramic.

For the full article, with references.

If there is a question about how to reduce a specific water contaminant, you can find information on most in the Occasional's Water Treatment Issues section.



Pure Water Gazette numerical wizard B. Bea Sharper reports the water facts that Harper's misses.

Please email your comments to

Percentage of people who entered my contest in the last Occasional who were richly rewarded: 100.

Number of plastic water bottles that go to US landfills each year as a result of bottled water consumption: 38,000,000,000 (that's billions!)

Percentage of the total US waste stream that consists of bottled water containers: one third of one percent.

Percentage of Dead Sea water that is dissolved salts: 35.

Number of Americans whose drinking water comes from our national forests: 124,000,000.

Gallons of bottled water, soft drinks, and other non-alcoholic beverages containing water that were imported from Japan in 2010: 5 million.

Recycling symbol of the polycarbonate plastic which may leach BPA: #7.

Suggested reading this month from the Pure Water Gazette's archive: Dr. Batman Thumbs His Nose at "Bad Cholesterol," by Hardly Waite.

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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