The Pure Water Occasional for September 23, 2013

 With  articles about emerging contaminants that are not removed by water treatment plants, the watering of lawns,  and "flushable wipes,"  plus Pure Water Annie on acidic water and how to deal with it. There is also  lots of world water news, and, as always, much more.

Warning raised about ‘emerging contaminants’ that aren't removed by water treatment plants

by Cynthia McCormick

A new study by the Silent Spring Institute in Newton (MA) shows that sewage treatment plants aren’t any better at removing a new class of contaminants from treated water than septic systems.

Researchers found that antibiotics and chlorinated flame retardants, for instance, pass through both systems relatively unscathed.

The results weren’t surprising because wastewater treatment systems are made to remove pathogens and solid waste, not the chemicals contained in medicine, herbicides, plasticizers and other products, Silent Spring Institute research scientist Laurel Schaider said.

But the study shows that systemsbeing developed to protect the Cape’s coastal waters from nutrient overloading and algae blooms should also take steps to protect drinking water from what scientists call “emerging contaminants,” she said.

Many of the chemicals are considered hormone disrupters that act like estrogen, which has caused breast cancer cells to grow in a laboratory setting.

For the report — available at — the Newton-based research institution analyzed 16 already existing studies of wastewater and septic system treatments, including two originating on Cape Cod.

In recent years, Silent Spring has released studies showing the presence of dozens of emerging contaminants in public and private wells on the Cape. The Cape now has “a critical moment” in deciding the future direction of wastewater treatment and how it affects drinking water, Schaider said.

“It is a concern, and the county will be looking at how best to deal with the issue,” Tom Cambareri, water resources program manager for the Cape Cod Commission, said. “We’re evaluating all possible alternatives.”

Bacteria break down some chemicals and use them as a food source, removing them from the water supply, Schaider said. Both sewage treatment systems and septic systems do a good job removing chemicals such as caffeine and acetaminophen, for instance, she said.

Other chemicals such as the antibiotic sulfamethoxazole and TCEP, a chlorinated flame retardant, pass through both systems largely unchanged, Schaider said.

Next, Silent Spring will look at whether ecological toilets of the type being evaluated for use in Falmouth remove the contaminants from treated water, Schaider said.

Source: South Coast Today.

Pure Water Gazette Fair Use Statement

How much water do lawns use?

According to Jordan Laio: When it comes to manicured lawns, the green choice is always to go without unless the lawn is functional and practical for, say, a play area for kids. Otherwise, lawns use a ton of water, and don’t offer many benefits. How much water does a lawn require to stay green? It depends on the size of your lawn, but according to the Handbook of Water Use and Conservation, the average lawn uses an estimated 10,000 gallons of water per year, not including rainwater.

Reprinted from The Pure Water Occasional for Sept. of 2011.

Sorry that we forgot to tell you earlier that September 10 was Protect Your Groundwater Day in Texas.  But at least now you know when it was.

 Acidic Water

by Pure Water Annie

Pure Water Gazette technical wizard Pure Water Annie offers a nutshell view of treating acid water.

Acidic water is, by definition, any water with a pH of less than 7.0.

Water that is low in pH can have undesirable effects on plumbing fixtures and piping. Green staining of fixtures is a common indication of acidic water. Copper pipe can be ruined by water low in pH.

Low pH is also an issue in water treatment. Sometimes it is necessary to raise the pH of acidic water in order for other treatment strategies to apply. For example, oxidizing iron to prepare it for filtration is difficult if the pH of the water is low, so raising the pH of the water is often the first step in removing iron from well water.

Almost all water treatment issues involve pH in some way. Water constituents change in nature as pH changes, so many treatments can be applied only if pH is within the desired range.

Although the sales strategy of a class of drinking water products called “ionizers” is based on raising the pH of acidic water, there is no evidence that drinking water low in pH has any negative effect on health. Taste, of course, can be an issue if the pH is very low.

Treating Acidic Water

The pH value of water decreases as the amount of carbon dioxide, CO2, increases, and pH increases as the amount of bicarbonate alkalinity increases. The ratio of carbon dioxide and bicarbonate alkalinity within the ranges of 3.6 to 8.4 is an indication of the pH value of the water.

Acidic water can be corrected by several water treatment strategies. A common treatment is injection of soda ash, and a more aggressive treatment is the injection of caustic soda (sodium hydroxide). This is usually accomplished by injecting a solution of the soda ash or caustic soda directly into the water pipe.

A second strategy is to run the water through a bed of calcite (the most common treatment mineral) or corosex. As the low pH water passes through the bed, the mineral dissolves into the water and raises its pH.

Calcite treatment raises the pH by adding calcium carbonate to the water. This has the sometimes undesirable effect of increasing the hardness of the water slightly. Calcite and corosex are most commonly used in backwashing filters, but calcite alone can be used with simple upflow filters if the water is reasonably clean. Calcite is also commonly used in cartridge form as a postfiltration treatment for undersink reverse osmosis units. RO lowers pH, and calcite filters are used to bring the pH back to neutral.

Go here for more information about calcite filters or soda ash feeders.

Also, more about pH and water.

Flush Only Human Waste and Toilet Paper

Disposable wipes are growing in popularity – and wreaking havoc on sewer systems.

Many consumers use disposable wipes because they're convenient for cleaning and disinfecting. Even people who would not normally embrace disposable products because of concern for overburdened landfills are using wipes that are being marketed as "flushable."  They don't toss them in the trash; they flush them down the toilet, believing they've done the right thing.

"Flushable" Wipes Should NOT be Flushed.

The "flushable" label simply means they will go down your toilet when flushed. What you should be concerned about is what can happen next.

Unlike toilet paper, disposable wipes (even those labeled "flushable") do not quickly disintegrate in water. Consumer Reports tested several brands of wipes labeled "flushable" and found that while toilet paper disintegrated after about eight seconds, the wipes still hadn't broken down after 30 minutes.

These products stay largely intact as they travel through sewer pipes and can easily get caught on roots or other debris, increasing the risk of clogs and sewage overflows.

As disposable wipes grow in popularity, sewer agencies are being forced to commit additional resources to removing mounds of wipes clogging up public sewer lines, pumps, and treatment facilities.
Disposable wipes are an even greater threat to your home's sewer pipe, which is much smaller and more easily clogged.

In addition to potentially causing clogs and overflows, many of the cleaning and disinfecting wipes contain chemicals that are difficult for sewer treatment plants to remove, and they can thus pollute local waters.

If you use disposable cleaning/disinfecting wipes, moist towelettes, baby wipes, personal hygiene wipes or similar disposable or "flushable" products, put them in the trash, never in your toilet.

Only human waste and toilet paper should be flushed down your toilet.

More from the Washington Post.


 Hot Items in the Water News for the Past Week

 Water news from polluted holy water to flooded oilfields to Asian carp.  Much about the Colorado floods and the Fukushima leak.  Stories about arsenic, toxic algae, and generating power with waste water. A hopeful story about the greening of China and, as always, a lot about fracking.

Holy water in Austria unsafe to drink, researchers say. Holy water at religious shrines and churches in Austria is often contaminated with faecal matter and bacteria, researchers have found, advising the faithful not to drink it, especially in hospital chapels.

Flooded oil and gas wells spark fears of contamination in Colorado. As Colorado reels from a prolonged flooding disaster that has killed at least eight people and left hundreds unaccounted for, environmental groups warn of potential contamination by ruptured oil and gas industry infrastructure.

Colorado floods: low risk from fracking chemicals. Stopping the sewage that continues to seep into some Boulder homes a week after flooding started depends in part on floodwaters receding, city officials said.

A new course for the Los Angeles River. After encasing it in concrete in the 1940s, the Army Corps of Engineers has a chance to help configure the Los Angeles River for modern needs.

The prophet of California climate: A dialogue with Bill Patzert. Are we running out of water? Not anytime soon, even with climate change. But we will have to manage and use it differently than we do today.

Lac Megantic: Environmental report details extent of contamination. A preliminary report into soil and water reveals that an estimated 5.6 million litres of crude oil spilled from the MMA train that devastated Lac Megantic in July.

Flood will cost City of Toronto more than $60 million. The most costly storm in the GTA’s history - with $850M in private insurance claims and rising - highlighted Toronto’s inadequate storm water infrastructure. ,

Oil and gas industry, regulators scramble in post-flood Colorado. Weld County in northeastern Colorado, one of the most drilled in the nation, was also among the hardest hit by this week’s historical floodwaters. State regulators and oil and gas industry workers are now scrambling to assess the damage and mitigate the health and environmental impacts. Colorado Public News, Colorado. 18 September 2013.

Large Asian carp found in water near Lake Michigan. The recent discovery of a large Asian carp near Chicago underscores the need to protect the Great Lakes from the voracious fish and other invasive species that could slip into Lake Michigan, two members of Congress said Tuesday.

Colorado floods spur fracking concerns. The devastating flooding that pummeled Colorado the past week also inundated a main center of the state's drilling industry, temporarily bringing production of natural gas to a halt. The mix of floodwaters and drilling operations has also spurred environmental and health concerns.

We must keep boat sewage out of Puget Sound. Puget Sound is the heart of Washington. It would probably surprise most Washingtonians that while government agencies and nonprofits are investing enormous resources to clean up Puget Sound, marine vessels are allowed to empty their sewage tanks directly into this cherished and invaluable ecosystem

Detroit’s water renaissance: A river in trouble. The Rouge River in Detroit is one of Michigan’s – and the Great Lakes’ – most polluted waterways. Generations of air and water pollution from heavy industry near the mouth of the river contaminated its sediments and made it unsafe for fishing.

Study: Few Asian carp needed to establish foothold. A small number of Asian carp might be enough to establish a population in the Great Lakes that eventually could pose a serious threat to other fish species and the region's economy, a Canadian scientist said Monday.

Poo power: How microbes in sewage can generate electricity to light up your home.Electricity could be generated from microbes in sewage, according to U.S. scientists. The team have created a ‘battery' driven by microbes that produce electricity as they digest organic material.

Revealed: Scotland's worst polluters. A record number of Scottish industrial sites have been officially condemned for their "poor" or "very poor" performances in failing to control pollution.

Roaring waters, deep scars: 'It chewed us up.' As the Colorado flood water has drained from the mountains to the plains, it has left a trail of devastation that state officials say will take years to wipe away and that one estimate has put at $2 billion. In the mountains, entire roads have vanished. Nearly 18,000 homes have been wrecked or damaged. At least 50 bridges are gone.

Big Thompson flood in 1976 still Colorado's worst. The recent rainfall along the Front Range was phenomenal, by some estimates a 1,000-year event in terms of duration, volume and area. But the flooding? Not so much, at least as measured by an obelisk along Boulder Creek in downtown Boulder.

Toxic algae strike Ottawa County water system; threat prevalent across Ohio. For two days early this month, 2,000 customers of a Northwest Ohio water supplier were told not to drink what came out of their taps. That water, even after treatment, contained too much microcystin, a potentially deadly toxin produced by blue-green algae.

Louisville water use down; rates may go up. Louisville water consumption, already down from conservation and an economy shifting from heavy industry to service-based, is falling even due to milder temperatures and more frequent rain. Time to brace for even higher rates, it seems.

China is a model for going green (despite what you read). Even though China’s skies are gray and waters run red, there is cause for hope that the country’s “long green march” will have a blue sky ending — thanks to the unique way China deploys new clean technologies and practices.

Major cleanup to begin at New Hampshire $50 million Superfund site. Cleanup at one of New Hampshire's major Superfund pollution sites, the Beede Site in Plaistow, is moving into high gear. The Beede Site in Plaistow was home for decades to the Beede Waste Oil disposal company, which accepted more than 28 million tons of soil contaminated with oil.

Future of Japan depends on stopping Fukushima leaks, PM tells workers. Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has told workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that "the future of Japan" depends on their ongoing struggle to contain leaks of highly radioactive water at the site.

More than just arsenic: 370 community water systems are contaminated. September 18th, 2013 ( A new report by the Comptroller General of the Republic (CGR) indicates that 370 community-operated water systems in the country are contaminated with microbiological and other elements in excess of allowed limits.

Did floods cause a fracking disaster in Colorado? As skies clear and rescue efforts wind down, Colorado is beginning to take stock of the damage wrought by its week of biblical floods. In Weld County, state agencies, researchers, industry personnel, and environmentalists are trying to figure out what’s happened to the hundreds of oil and gas wells that lie underwater.

California approves new water rules for farmers. State water regulators approved landmark groundwater rules Thursday for 850,000 acres of farmland across Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Kern counties. About 7,200 growers will be regulated in the program, which is part of a larger effort called the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Monitoring Program.Fresno Bee, California. 20 September 2013.

Colorado's problem turns from water to sludge. Colorado's epic rains brought more than just broken timber and broken homes. All across this state, from isolated mountain communities to low-lying suburban ones, the still-receding floodwaters carried tons of eroded mud and densely packed silt and deposited them onto residential properties. Los Angeles Times.

Pure Water Products Adds Sterilight

At Pure Water Products, ultraviolet water sterilizers have long been among our favorite products.  Chemical-free disinfection with light, the same way that nature purifies water with sunlight, is an excellent alternative to chlorination for residential well water.

Although in some applications the initial cost is a bit more than chlorination, ultraviolet's low operating cost ensures that it quickly pays for itself. Upkeep is normally just an annual lamp change, and with Sterilight UV units, changing the lamp is as easy as changing a light bulb in your home.

Sterilight UV water purifiers, made in Canada but for years a favorite the world over, have a decades-old reputation for simplicity, durability, and flawless performance. Made of sturdy polished stainless steel, Sterilight ultraviolet systems provide many years of trouble-free service.

While ultraviolet disinfection was once used mainly with non-chlorinated well water, UV is becoming much more common for city water users. As municipal water infrastructure ages and breaks in pipes and natural events like flooding cause more frequent “boil water” alerts, more and more city water users are relying on ultraviolet to provide a final barrier of protection from bacteria. With a UV unit installed in your home, you can ignore “boil water” warnings. You can also forget about cysts like giardia and cryptosporidium that are usually not controlled by chlorination.

As factory direct distributors of Viqua products, which include Sterilight and Trojan ultraviolet, we can offer fast and efficient delivery of Sterilight and Trojan units and replacement parts.  Please take a look at our new webpage featuring Sterilight Silver Series units.


Thank you for reading.  Please come back next week.

Places to Visit on Our Websites in the meantime

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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