Pure Water Occasional, June 25, 2018
In this first-of-the-summer Occasional, you'll hear about subsidence, balloon slingshots, Pele's hair, plastic straws, GenX, moganite, TDS, TCP, water savings, water loss, the Santa Cruz River, and NSF/ANSI 244. Then, there are proposed fees for pharmaceuticals makers, manganese in Michigan city water, water shortage in India, and water reclamation via distillation. You'll learn where to get a really big aeration unit, how to water a tree, and how much water it takes to make a loaf of bread. And, as always, there is much, much more.

The Pure Water Occasional is produced by Pure Water Products and the Pure Water Gazette. Please visit our websites.

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For article archives and water news, please visit the Pure Water Gazette.

Water News Briefs

There were many news stories this month about water main breaks throughout the nation. Probably the most spectacular was a giant leak at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.

Single-use plastic straws are one of the most serious polluters of the oceans, and there is a strong environmental push to persuade restaurants to replace plastic straws with biodegradable paper straws.

Recent Stanford University research shows that overpumping of wells for agriculture in California's San Joaquin Valley has not only caused an alarming lowering of the water table and serious subsidence (sinking of land--as much as 28 feet since the 1920s-- that damages infrastructure, like roads and bridges), but is also contributing significantly to the pollution of drinking water in the area. Especially serious is the increasing level of arsenic in groundwater.  More information.

A new report says India is suffering the worst water crisis in its history. "By 2030, the country's water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people and an eventual 6 per cent loss in the country's GDP . . . .  With nearly 70 per cent of water being contaminated, India is placed at 120th among 122 countries in the water quality index."

The city of Battle Creek, Michigan is distributing bottled water to residents due to elevated levels of manganese in city water.

Residential activated carbon filters being tested for Gen X  removal from contaminated wells in North Carolina are proving completely effective, with filtered water tests showing "no detection of the chemicals."

President Trump is repealing an executive order drafted by former President Obama that was meant to protect the Great Lakes and the oceans bordering the United States.

Severe water restrictions were placed on services at Grand Canyon National Park's North Rim because of a malfunctioning water pump.

NSF International announced a new American National Standard for drinking water filters designed to reduce potentially harmful microorganisms from municipal drinking water systems during the critical period between a water-supply contamination and a boil-water advisory. NSF/ANSI 244: Supplemental Microbiological Water Treatment Systems – Filtration establishes minimum requirements for mechanical water filtration devices that reduce bacteria, viruses and protozoan cysts, including point-of-entry, or "whole house" filters, and point-of-use filters, such as plumbed-in units under the kitchen sink, faucet-attached units and refrigerator filters.

Aspen, Colorado is working on a plan to establish a large water storage pool under its golf course. The pool would protect water from evaporation and hold enough water for a year's supply for 2400 families.

A plan is being considered in Germany to assess fees on makers and users of pharmaceutical products that pollute water. The proceed would be used to improve wastewater treatment plants so that the offending products can be removed from waste water.

A meteorite from the Moon that was found in NW Africa contains moganite, indicating there is water on the Moon.

The Santa Cruz River was once the lifeblood of Tucson, Arizona. Due to heavy development and groundwater overdraft, it hasn’t seen year-round flow in 70 years. The city has plans to restore the river by adding to it 3.5 million gallons per day of treated waste water.  Details.

Pele's Hair

The mats of Pele's hair—a product of the ongoing eruption from Kilauea volcano—consist of thin glass fibers that form when gas bubbles within lava burst at the lava's surface. These gossamer strands, named after the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes, are thin; just a micron (one-thousandth of a millimeter) or two in diameter, although some of them are coarser. Though they are beautiful, they can be a problem for residents who depend on rainwater for drinking. The glass strands land in rainwater that falls on people's roofs and is then funneled into a catchment system. Nothing worse than finding a hair in your drinking water, even if it's a goddess's.  More from Scientific American.

Foxconn Technology, a Taiwan-based company,  is building a $30 million recycling system for its southwest Wisconsin manufacturing complex that will reduce its intake of Lake Michigan water by 3.5 million gallons per day. What is more, it will virtually eliminate return of waste water into the lake. The method of reclamation is distillation.

Water-related devices figured big when the group called World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH) released its list of the ten most dangerous summer toys. On the list: water balloon slingshots, swimming pools, baby pools, garden buckets, backyard water slides, and high powered water guns.
 Follow water headlines and full articles at the Pure Water Gazette.
Water Used in Food Production: 

How Much Water is Really Used in Food and Beverage Production?

People concerned about their water footprint often make an effort to turn the faucet off quickly, take shorter showers, and cut back on watering the lawn.

While these efforts are important, they ignore one of the biggest water-use culprits found in virtually every household: food and beverages.
The production of food and beverages is a water-intensive process. According to the Water Footprint Network, a single apple requires an average of 33 gallons of water to grow. Here’s what other common food and beverage products cost in terms of water consumption according to the Water Footprint Network.

Beef: Beef is one of the biggest water-use culprits in the food industry, and is one of largest amongst meat products, utilizing an average of 1,845 gallons of water per pound of beef producedNinety-nine percent of the water used is for animal feed, with the remaining 1 percent coming from drinking and service water.

Coffee: Another big hitter for water use in the food and beverage industry is coffee.

To create one pound of coffee beans it requires 2,264 gallons of water. This means that the average cup of coffee, using .24 ounces of coffee beans, requires 34 gallons of water to produce.

Pork: The production of meat from pigs uses a global average of 717 gallons of water per pound. From 1996 to 2005 the global water footprint for pigs accounted for 19 percent of the total water footprint of animal production in the world.

Wine & Beer: To produce one gallon of wine requires 870 gallons of water. When looking at this fact from a standard serving size perspective, 34 gallons of water are needed for 5 fluid ounces of wine.  In France, Italy, and Spain, the largest wine producing countries in the world, the average water footprint of wine is 24, 24, and 52 gallons per glass of wine, respectively.

Beer production uses 296 gallons of water per gallon of beer, requiring an average of 28 gallons of water for 12 fluid ounces of beer.

Bread: Bread created from wheat flour has a global average footprint of 218 gallons of water per pound. Most of that water use, about 80 percent, is due to the flour that is derived from the wheat, so the exact water footprint of bread depends on the origin of the wheat and how it was grown. From 1996 to 2005, global wheat production contributed 15 percent to the total water footprint of crop production in the world.

Citrus and Stone Fruits: On average the global water footprint per pound are as follows: 67 gal./lb for oranges, 61 gal./lb for grapefruit, and 77 gal./lb for lemons.  A single orange requires approximately 21 gallons of water to produce. Orange juice comes at a higher water cost, utilizing 122 gallons of water to produce one gallon of orange juice. Plums require 261 gal./lb, apricots 154 gal./lb. and peaches 109 gal./lb. Apples, bananas, grapes, and kiwis all take less than 100 gal./lb. Strawberries, pineapple, and watermelon require less than 50 gallons of water per pound of fruit.

Potato: The global average water footprint of a potato is 34 gallons per pound. China, the largest potato producing country in the world, contributed 22 percent to the total water footprint of potato production in the world.

 Source: Water Online.


At Pure Water Products we're happy to announce that we've added a new dimension to our aeration offerings. Aeration is an extremely effective oxidizer of iron, hydrogen sulfide and manganese. For many years we have offered AerMax standard units.

More recently we've added single tank aerators in various sizes, and a complete line of aeration parts, including venturi valves and air vents for older style aeration strategies for residential treatment.  As the article below indicates, we are expanding our closed tank "AerMax" style systems to much larger sizes, with aeration treatments now for flow rates up to 35 gallons per minute.

Small Commercial Aeration for Iron and Hydrogen Sulfide Treatment

Aeration is a powerful pre-treatment for filters removing iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide. AerMax closed tank systems offer an efficient, economical, chemical-free method for oxidizing contaminants for easy removal by filtration.

Standard AerMax units come in one size — a 10″ X 54″ mineral tank powered by the standard 115 volt or 230 volt compressor. This unit is effective at flow rates up to nine or ten gallons per minute. The same compressor and installation parts can be used with larger 2.5" top hole tanks (12″ X 52″ and 13″ X 54″) to make aeration units for treatment at flow rates up to 12 gpm and 14 gpm respectively.

For higher flow rates, we now offer larger units built on tanks with 4″ top holes and powered by the CAP high capacity air pump. The chart below shows aeration units up to 35 gpm using 65″ tanks.

It should be noted that the 65″ tank units include the pump, installation kit, and the tank. The inner riser and inlet tube can be easily made with standard hardware store PVC parts. Complete instructions are included with the purchase of a unit.

Tank Size Pump GPM Rating
Unit Price
12″ X 52″ (2.5″ top hole)

Head is for standard 1″ pipe
Standard AP1 (115 volt)


AP2 (230 volt)
(115 volt)

(230 volt)

13" x 54" (2.5" top hole)

Head is for standard 1" pipe

Standard AP1 (115 volt)

AP2 (230 volt)

(115 volt)

(230 volt)

14" x 65" (4" top hole)

Head is for 1.5" pipe
CAP 19 $1,254.00 (same price for 115 or 230 volt units)
16" x 65" (4" top hole)

Head is for 1.5" pipe
CAP 26 $1,375.00 (same price for 115 or 230 volt units)

18" x 65" (4" top hole)

Head is for 1.5" pipe
CAP 35 $1,424.00 (same price for 115 or 230 volt units)

Prices above include shipping. They are subject to change.

The high quality CAP high volume air pump is used to power larger systems built on tanks with 4″ top holes.  This quiet (65 decibel) 1/4 horsepower pump is available in 230 volt or 115 volt. (This pump is also recommended for  all sizes of Aeration systems installed on “constant pressure” wells.)

Higher flow rates can also be achieved by using two units in parallel. For example, two standard 10″ x 54″ AerMax units can be installed in parallel for a combined flow rate of 18 gpm, and you could treat up to 70 gpm with two of the 18″ X 65″ units installed side by side.

How to Water Trees in Time of Drought
The Colorado Forest Service offers these tips to keep trees healthy during summer drought:

Use mulch: Mulch is an inexpensive solution to retain soil moisture and save water. Apply 4 inches of organic mulch to bare soil around trees, 2 to 3 feet from the base of the trunk. Remove grass from the area around the tree’s base before doing so, if necessary, and make sure mulch is far enough away from the trunk.

Water a wide area: Root systems of trees grow outward, rather than downward, underneath the ground and spread two to three times wider than the tree’s height, with most absorbing roots within a foot from the top of the soil. With this in mind, apply enough water to soak the entire area of soil underneath the span of the tree’s branches.

Water slowly: Use an 8-inch-deep root fork to perforate the soil before watering the base of the tree and water soil on a low setting or use a soft-spray wand to apply water gradually to the area.
Keep yards green: Trees planted in irrigated lawns generally do not require additional water if areas around trees receive adequate moisture. A dry, yellow yard means roots of trees are also dry.

Focus on smaller and non-irrigated trees: Trees that do not receive water from sprinkler systems or irrigation require additional water. Every week, apply 10 gallons of water for each inch of tree trunk’s diameter. Water small and newly-planted trees more frequently because they have less extensive root systems.

Extracted from a Durango Herald article.

1, 2, 3-Trichloropropane (TCP) in California Water

TCP, or 1, 2, 3-Trichloropropane, has been found recently in the water of Tulare, CA in excess of the state’s newly established limit of 5 parts per trillion. Water from six wells in Tulare flunked the test for the cancer-causing chemical.

TCP is a waste product from making plastic. For years, it was added to fumigants that farmers put in the soil to kill tiny worms called nematodes.
To solve the TCP problem, the city will install water treatment tanks containing granular activated carbon that strip away the TCP.

Until recently, there was no state standard for the amount of TCP in drinking water, but last year the state said public water systems could have no more than 5 parts per trillion of TCP. The Tulare wells tested at 8 parts per trillion. The cancer risk is low. It is estimated that you would have to drink a couple of liters of TCP-contaminated water daily for several decades to run even a slight risk of getting cancer from it.

There is no federal drinking water regulation of TCP.  This means that if you live anywhere but California, you’ll probably never know whether it’s in your water or not. TCP has been called a “garbage chemical.” It was most likely added to fumigants not because it was needed but simply to get rid of it and avoid the cost of disposal. (It is widely believed that this is a strong motivation for putting the industrial waste product fluorosilicic acid commonly called “fluoride” into drinking water–just to get rid of it without the expense of toxic waste disposal.)

Tulare is getting four new water treatment tanks containing activated carbon and two new wells to be financed by litigation, still in progress, against Dow Chemical and the Shell Oil Company; the companies who provided TCE in the 1940s to be added to fumigants.

Several cities in California in addition to Tulare have sued the two companies, with Clovis reaching a $22 million settlement in 2016.

TCP is readily removed from water by granular activated carbon, so if you have a good quality home drinking water system–either a carbon filter or a reverse osmosis unit–you don’t have to worry about TCP.

Source Credit: The Fresno Bee.

Pure Water Annie FAQ: Reverse Osmosis "Percent Rejection"

Gazette Technical Wizard Pure Water Annie Takes on the Persistent Questions about TDS Measurement in Home Reverse Osmosis Units

 How do I know when to change my RO membrane?

Some sellers say every two years, other say every three.  Actually, the only really good way to know is to own a TDS tester, test the water from the unit once or twice a year, and change the membrane when the meter tells you it’s time. Membranes can last many, many years, and there is no reason ever to change a membrane that is performing well.

 What does TDS mean, and what’s a TDS meter?

TDS stands for “Total Dissolved Solids.” It is basically a measurement of all the “solids,” or minerals, dissolved in the water. The “dissolved solids” consist mainly of calcium and magnesium (hardness minerals) and sodium, chloride, and sulfate. A TDS tester for home use is a small electronic tester that measures these solids by passing a weak electrical current through the water and determining how well the water conducts electricity. The higher the dissolved solids content, the more easily the water conducts electricity and the higher the number shown on the meter.

 Does my RO unit remove the TDS from the water?

Yes, a healthy RO membrane will normally “reject” 90% or more of the dissolved solids and send them down the drain pipe. RO units and distillers lower dissolved solids, as do “deionizers.” Filters don’t remove dissolved minerals. No matter how many sediment filters or carbon filters you run the water through, the TDS reading will remain the same.

 Is TDS bad?  How high should it be?

Within the normal range of fresh water, TDS isn’t a big health issue. The EPA sets a limit of 500 parts per million (ppm) Total Dissolved Solids as a drinking water standard, but many US cities violate that and their citizens do fine. Obviously, there is a point where water starts tasting bad. This varies depending on which minerals are involved. Naturally soft water with a TDS of 500 that’s mainly sodium, for example, can taste very good. There is, of course, a limit: sea water is over 30,000 parts per million and is undrinkable. When water gets over 1,000 ppm TDS you normally won’t like the way it tastes.

 My local tap water is 250 ppm Total Dissolved Solids. If you’re saying this isn’t “bad for me,” why bother to measure my RO unit’s dissolved solids performance?  What does it matter whether the RO unit reduces the TDS or not?

TDS measurement is the standard way of evaluating overall performance of the RO unit. The assumption is that if the unit is making a 90% reduction of calcium and sodium, it’s also reducing arsenic and fluoride with equal effectiveness. As it loses its ability to reduce TDS, it loses its ability to remove chromium. In other words, TDS readings are taken to determine how well the membrane is working.

 What does “% rejection” mean?

Percent rejection is a calculation used to express how well the RO unit is working.  It is determined as follows:

TDS of the feed water (determined by testing your tap water at the kitchen sink) minus the TDS of the permeate (the water that comes out of the RO unit’s faucet) divided by the TDS of the feed water and multiplied by 100.

So, for example, if your tap water reads 280 and your RO product water reads 15, you determine the percent rejection of the RO unit by subtracting 15 from 280 to get 265, dividing 265 by 280 to get 0.946, then multiplying by 100 to get 94.6% rejection.  Your RO unit is running well.

You actually don’t have to work through this whole formula to know if you’re RO unit is running well.  If the RO water tests 1/10 or less of the tap water, it’s doing fine. If your tap TDS is 280 and the RO water reads 28 or less, leave the membrane alone.

 At what TDS reading should you change the membrane?

That’s a personal choice and there isn’t a specific answer that fits all situations. Consider, for example, that if your tap water TDS is only 65  you might want to cut your membrane some slack and not stick strictly to the 10% rule.

 Are there factors that affect TDS readings that should be considered?  

First, never test your TDS immediately after changing your filters. You’ll get an artificially high reading because of impurities that your eye can’t see being put out by the new post filter. Also, keep in mind that cold water reads lower than warm and a stopped up pre-filter can rob the membrane of pressure and diminish its performance. Lots of things can affect TDS readings, so don’t pull the plug on your membrane if you get one bad test reading. 
Water Loss by Cities

Every municipal water system leaks.  Billions of gallons of water are lost every day from U.S. drinking water systems.

The city of Joliet, Illinois recently raised its water rates but was also forced to enter into a serious discussion about where 1/3 of its water goes. A full 33 percent of the water produced by the city is not being sold and, for the most part, is unaccounted for. What’s worse, the amount of “lost” water is increasing every year. “Acceptable” water loss for cities is around 8 percent. Leaks account for most of this.

A certain amount of leakage is inevitable, and it’s hard to find leaks in pipes that are 10 feet underground. Big leaks, like main breaks, can be estimated and thus “accounted for.”  Also, the city can keep estimated records on water used for firefighting and street cleaning.

Inaccurate meters also account for a lot of the lost water. Meters, especially old ones, sometimes underestimate usage and the water that doesn’t get billed makes up part of the city’s lost water total. It isn’t unusual for some customers to get free water simply because of glitches in the billing system. What they get is, to the city, “lost” water.

Finding lost water is much harder than one might think. The city of Joliet hired a consulting firm that took a hard look and concluded it did not know where the unbilled water was going. What they did conclude, however, was that the city was spending way too little to maintain it’s water lines.

The city of Joliet is not a rare case. It is not uncommon to hear of water utilities that only bill for 50 percent or less of the water they treat and pump to distribution.  

Studies have estimated as much as 5.9 billion gallons per day of water is lost to leakage, poor accounting, and other unbilled consumption in the United States.  This is more than enough water to supply the ten largest cities of the United States.

Positive Trends in Water Consumption
We’re Learning to Use Water More Wisely
(But We Still Have a Long Way to Go)

by Hardly Waite

Gazette’s Summary: In spite of talk of water shortages and the dire consequences of global over-consumption, it is encouraging to note that in some areas we’re getting smarter and making better use of our water resources. 
While there is an assumption that humans will continue to use more and more water, there are signs that we’re learning to use water more wisely in some areas.

For example, improvements in irrigation techniques have resulted in considerably less water being lost to evaporation. And even the compulsion to maintain lush lawns in areas where grass was not meant to grow seems to be losing its stranglehold on the American psyche.

Another big positive for sensible water consumption is that Americans are eating less beef. The eating of cattle is one of our most outrageous wasteful practices when it comes to water consumption. A plant-based diet not only leads to much less consumption, but it is one of the most powerful step we can take to prevent pollution. We have also made great advances in improving water-using appliances.

Common home appliances like washing machines and toilets now do a better job using less water than their predecessors. Industry has also learned to save expenses by conserving water and many commercial machines use remarkably less water than previous models.

Another important advance we are making in conservation is the reuse of treated wastewater. The reuse of wastewater is still in its infancy, but more and more cities as well as businesses are converting to direct or indirect reuse of their treated waste stream. The idea of recycled water takes time for people to accept.  

Although all the water we use is recycled whether by the hydrologic cycle or through water treatment systems, the idea of drinking today what was yesterday’s sewage doesn’t sit well with us. As the practice becomes more common, though, its use will accelerate and wastewater reuse will probably become our most powerful water conservation tool.

Places to visit on our websites
Thanks for reading and be sure to check out the next Occasional!

Pure Water Products, LLC, 523A N. Elm St., Denton, TX, www.purewaterproducts.com