The Pure Water Occasional for June 2, 2014

In this early June Occasional, you'll hear about lead, phtylates and other garden hose contaminants and learn the amount of water in a pound of cow manure. Read about a citizens' revolt against underground water storage, the environmental dangers of navigating the Arctic Sea,  and the water woes of Everglades National Park, Bloemhof, South Africa,  and Saint John Harbor.  You'll hear about an important fracking lawsuit, unsafe oil tank cars, and the daily water consumption of the average California pot plant.  Plus, the weird concept of "Senior Water Rights," tanneries in Bangladesh, and the ever present phosphorous problem.  Finally, at the very end there is a whole lot of information about backwashing water filters,  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 our website, please go here.

Watering gardens with lead, BPA and phthalates

Garden hoses suited to water flowers — not us

by Blair Sanderson

Garden hoses are a hot commodity these days as gardeners get their vegetables and flowers in the ground, but should we drink from them?

Kevin Hurst is assistant manager of a Lee Valley Tools in Halifax, Nova Scotia, he said most people don't read the fine print when they pick out a hose.

"On the back here, [there's] a warning, 'this product contains one or more chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects'".

"I certainly wouldn't let my kid, or any kid that I knew drink from a hose, it's a completely unnecessary risk," said Gideon Foreman, the Toronto, Ontario based executive director of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

"One of the concerns certainly around the garden hose is they are not meant to go into a child's mouth," he explained. "They're not meant to be drunk from ... they're not regulated, and there is some danger that the chemicals in the hose, just like other plastics, can leach.

Many Garden Hose Manufacturers Now Market the Safety of Their Product

A non-profit research group in the U.S. called The Ecology Center decided to study which chemicals might be leaching into water being ingested by kids and sprayed on fruit and vegetable gardens.

Last year it tested 21 brands and models of hoses. Lead researcher Jeff Gearhart said they found a range of chemicals, including lead, leaching from those hoses.

"The level of phthalate plasticizers that leached into the water [were] four times higher than drinking water standards, and bisphenol A, which is another chemical we're worried about, was 20 times higher than drinking water standards that are commonly used to measure water safety."

The research found that hoses made with PVC and vinyl tended to leach more phthalates and BPA, while those with copper fittings were the worst for lead content.

Health Canada has also weighed in on this. The agency recommends people not drink from hoses, because in addition to the risk of leaching chemicals, dirt, bacteria and small insects can also present a health risk. In an email, a Health Canada spokesperson also suggested that people flush the hose thoroughly with cold water to remove material that may have accumulated in the standing water.

Nicole Mensour lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia with her two children, aged nine and seven. She said she's not going to stop her kids from taking a drink out of the garden hose.

"I grew up and we all drank from the garden hose, none of us died from it," she said. "It's not like they're drinking from it every day and filling up their water bottles ... so it must be minimal."

Still, the federal government is cracking down on chemicals like phthalates and BPA, banning or limiting them from a range of consumer products.

The California-based Ecology Center recommends you:

Source: CBC News.

Pure Water Gazette Fair Use Statement

 New Technology Extracts Water for Cattle from Manure 

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- A technology for extracting drinkable water from manure is on its way to commercial application this year, Michigan State University said Thursday.

The technology is particularly useful for animal operations in dry regions where water is at a premium, the school said.

The McLanahan Nutrient Separation System is an add-on to an anaerobic digester, which extracts energy and chemicals from manure. The system adds ultrafiltration, air stripping and a reverse osmosis system to produce water that's clean enough for cattle to drink.

This unspectacular pile of cow manure  is 90% water.  One thing that the United States has plenty of is cow manure.  Our vast manure holdings may become a significant source of water for animals (and people?)

The system has value both in conserving resources and protecting the environment, said Steve Safferman, an associate professor of biosystems and agricultural engineering who is working on the project.

"If you have 1,000 cows on your operation, they produce about 10 million gallons of manure a year," Safferman said in a statement. "Here in Michigan we have a tendency to take water for granted," said Safferman. "But out west, for example, where drought remains an issue, the accessibility of clean water could make the difference between a farm remaining viable or going out of business."

Manure also "contains large amounts of nutrients, carbon and pathogens that can have an environmental impact if not properly managed," said Safferman.

A particular issue is ammonia "that would otherwise be lost in the atmosphere," said Jim Wallace, a former Michigan State student now employed by McLanahan Corp., which is working to develop the technology. "Ammonia is a negative from an air-quality standpoint."

About 90 percent of manure is water. The system now extracts about 50 gallons of water from each 100 gallons of manure, and Wallace said developers are aiming at raising that to 65 gallons.

Source:  South Bend Tribune.

Pure Water Gazette Fair Use Statement


Rockledge drops well plan for reuse water

by Scott Gunnerson 


Rockledge, FL – Paint is peeling away on the large handmade, roadside sign on Florida Avenue that protested a plan in the city to store treated wastewater underground for future irrigation.

The sign, that features a guinea pig, was erected in 2010 by the Save Our Aquifer group that fought the city’s efforts to pump reused water underground because a fear of arsenic contamination.

The image of a vulture is perched on similar sign on Barton Boulevard near City Hall that draws attention to about $3 million in taxpayer money that had been spent on the aquifer storage and recovery well.

This month, Rockledge city officials abandoned plans to use the controversial well, and the weathered signs throughout Rockledge are the next to go.

“We are going to take the signs down,” said Mark Jacobs, president of Save Our Aquifer, a grassroots group that Rockledge residents formed to oppose the well.

“I’m tired of looking at the signs. It is over and they are not going to do anything that would release the arsenic.”

The Rockledge City Council accepted a recommendation from the city’s water resource committee to rescind the potable water well ban within one mile of the city’s water plant, where the well is located.

“It is something on the books that we would basically have to do again, so it makes sense to rescind it,” said Rockledge City Manager Jim McKnight, who expects the ban could be lifted in July after the city council votes on the issue at the next two meetings.

The council also instructed city staff to monitor technological advances that might allow the well to be used without a concern that oxygen-rich water would release arsenic from limestone.

“We are concerned about the arsenic levels,” McKnight said. “We are watching different places and what they are doing to condition the water so it doesn’t mobilize arsenic.”

The well, located at the city’s sewer plant, was expected to store up to 120 million gallons of treated wastewater underground to meet anticipated demand for irrigation use during dry periods.

The introduction of a metered system to track customer usage and the addition of surcharges for using more than 30,000 gallons a month has muted the need for added capacity.

“We had some people using over 200,000 gallons a month on a single-family lot,” McKnight said. “We went to metering and it has probably given us 30 percent more water.”

Jacobs believes the meters were a major reason plans for the ASR well stalled.

“Once they put the meters in, they found they didn’t have a shortage,” Jacobs said. “People are conserving more, so there is no need to store it.”

Now Jacobs has a new mission, removing the hand-painted Save Our Aquifer signs that were made from hurricane-shutter plywood that his neighbor threw out.

“They are getting weathered,” Jacobs said. “Some are in need of a paint job, so that is another good reason to take them down.”

Source: Florida Today.

Water News for the Week of June 2

Environmentalists warn fire retardant used in wildfires may have toxic consequences. In the effort to save homes and lives, more than 100,000 gallons of fire retardant were dropped during the fires in San Diego. Now, some environmentalists are warning that the retardant can have a dark side. It is toxic in certain amounts and has the potential to kill fish and contaminate our waterways.

 Eco Pond in Everglades Nat'l Park (Click for larger view.)

$2 billion plan to restore Everglades stuck in Congressional limbo. In the 20th century the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers drained much of Florida's Everglades to prepare the wetlands for development. At the dawn of the 21st century, Congress directed the corps to restore the Everglades to a more natural condition. It's proving to be a very slow process.

Saint John harbor cleanup completion to bring 'priceless' results. Saint John's habit of pumping raw sewage into the ocean is about to come to a formal end.   The New Brunswick city will soon be celebrating the completion of its harbor cleanup, an infrastructure project that started nearly a decade ago and cost almost $100 million.

Officials pitch lake cleanup plan. Top officials with several Vermont state agencies said they are ready to collaborate to clean up phosphorus pollution in Lake Champlain, as the state submitted a new plan for doing so to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The three biggest contributors are agricultural lands, producing 40 percent of the phosphorus flowing to the lake; river bank erosion, blamed for 22 percent; and forestry, contributing 15 percent.

Among the fixes: fencing to keep cows out of rivers; temporary bridges so logging machinery doesn’t have to roll through streams; and stormwater ponds on the edges of housing and commercial developments. On the first one, the problem is less cows “pooping in rivers” than trampling the vegetation along their banks.

New technology extracts valuable fertilizer from waste. A new $3 million wastewater treatment process to be unveiled next week is designed to earn money for Madison’s sewage plant while reducing runoff of harmful nutrients into lakes and streams.

 As Arctic sea ice melts, new sea routes are connecting the Atlantic and the Northern Pacific Oceans for the first time in two million years. Click for larger view.

Arctic shipping: Good for invasive species, bad for the rest of nature. Some marine biologists worry that ships carting cargo through the Arctic's newly opened waterways are introducing invasive species to the area—and bringing invasive species to some of America's most important ports.

Bloemhof, South Africa, reeling from water failure. The town of Bloemhof was still reeling late Thursday from a water-depleted week that saw a baby dying, schools shutting down and back-up water tanks running out. By nightfall, the municipality was confident that water had been restored. But residents of Boitumelong township were skeptical.

An incredible amount of water pollution in Bangladesh comes from tanneries set up to produce cheap leather goods for the US and Europe.

Nearly 4,000 California companies, farms and others are allowed to use free water with little oversight when the state is so bone dry that deliveries to nearly everyone else have been severely slashed.

Their special status dates back to claims made more than a century ago when water was plentiful. But in the third year of a drought that has ravaged California, these "senior rights holders" dominated by corporations and agricultural concerns are not obliged to conserve water.

More people drink fluoridated water in the United States than the rest of the world combined.

Why do these tank cars carrying oil keep blowing up? Millions of gallons of crude oil are being shipped across the country in "the Ford Pinto of rail cars" - a tank car whose safety flaws have been known for more than two decades.

Texas fracking verdict puts industry on notice about toxic air emissions. A nearly $3 million jury verdict against a Texas oil and gas company highlights regulatory failures and health risks linked to fracking. Although the case concerned air quality mainly, the verdict may set a precedent that will open the way for water damage suits. 

A study maintains that medical marijuana is draining some of California's streams. A pot plant, according to this article, consumes about 6 gallons of water a day. 

Basics of Backwashing Water Filters

Editor's Note:  The article below is adapted from an information page from Pure Water Products' main website, It is one of scores of similarly informative pages on the site.  If you want to find out something about water treatment, is the best place to start. It is well indexed and supported by an internal Google search that makes things very easy to find.

A backwashing filter is a water filter that cleans itself periodically by rinsing away impurities it has filtered from water.

Although a backwashing filter may look like a water softener and be the same size, it's a different animal. Softeners are "ion exchangers", not filters.

A backwashing filter is a simple device that consists of a large tank called a "mineral tank" that is filled with a filtering substance called a filter medium. (The plural is media.) Water enters the top of the tank through a special control valve and passes downward through the medium, which removes impurities and holds them. Some media do not hold impurities, but cause a change to occur. Calcite, for example, dissolves and in the process increases the pH of acidic water. Carbon changes chlorine to chloride. The treated water then enters a tube at the bottom of the mineral tank, passes upward through the tube (called a riser), and exits the filter via the control valve.

When the filter medium is saturated with contaminants, the control valve initiates a backwash. The backwash is an operation in which water passes backward through the filter at a rapid rate. It enters the tank at the bottom via the riser tube, then passes upward through the filter medium, exiting at the top, via the control valve, and flows to drain. The rapid upward flow, in addition to washing away stored impurities, fluffs and resettles the medium bed, preparing it for another filtering cycle.


Filter media are selected according to purpose. Some of the more common are Birm (iron removal), Filter Ag (sediment removal), Calcite (increase pH of acidic water), KDF55 (chlorine and lead removal), KDF85 (iron and hydrogen sulfide reduction), Manganese Greensand (iron and sulfide removal), etc.

Some media have numerous applications, like the very useful and widely used GAC, or Granular Activated Carbon, which is used to remove chlorine, the by-products of chlorination, pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals in general. GAC, following proper pretreatment, also removes iron and hydrogen sulfide. It comes in various formulations made from a variety of materials (bituminous coal, coconut shells, wood, etc.), each with its own special properties. Centaur® catalytic carbon, a specially processed version of GAC, is aimed at special problems like chloramines in city tap water and iron and hydrogen sulfide in well water.

Our main website includes a useful Filter Media Guide and a second guide that gives flow and backwash features of the various media.

How To Choose

Choosing a backwashing filter can be a simple or a complex matter. You should not expect a backwashing filter to be a magic, one-step solution to any problem. Often, in fact, it is the final stage of a more complex treatment system.

Below is a brief problem-oriented suggestion list. It will give you a place to start.

City Water Problems

Well Water Problems

Links to Backwashing Filter Information

General Media Guide

Properties of the most common filter media.

Backwash and Flow Characteristics of Filter Media

Simple 5600 Backwashing Filters

Our most popular backwashing filter in a convenient size that fits most residential situations.

Backwashing Filter Selection Page for Fleck Filters

Includes a variety of filter sizes. All filters have Fleck control valves.

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.


 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

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