The Pure Water Occasional for April 21, 2014

In this Earth-Day Eve Occasional, you'll hear about George Clooney's coffee problem, John Stossel's fracking endorsement, the rising popularity of underground water storage by cities, drunken spruce trees,  and an impending ban on microbeads. There's much about the now famous Portland reservoir peeing incident and, as usual, more about water pollution by the military.  Also, arsenic's effect on children, the cancer risks of fish eating, recycling of waste water, and a scary story about aluminum sulfate.   How to hook a reverse osmosis unit to your refrigerator and put a filter on your garden hose.   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 the Pure Water Gazette's website,  please go here.

Arsenic in well water linked to lower IQ in children

The presence of arsenic in drinking water may interfere with intellectual development in children, a new study by Columbia University and the University of New Hampshire has warned. Researchers spent five years testing and monitoring schoolchildren in Maine who were known to have been exposed to well water contaminated with arsenic. Results showed that arsenic could be linked to lower IQ in children, even if it was detected at levels as low as five parts per billion.

According to a state health official, about one in five private wells in Maine could have at least five parts per billion of arsenic in water. The effect of the chemical exposure could be compared to that of lead in the blood stream, said Joseph Graziano, professor at Columbia University. However, the research does not in fact conclude there is a cause-effect relation between the two and more research is needed to determine the mechanism in which arsenic exposure affects IQ test results, researchers said.

Children exposed to arsenic showed lower results in various sections of the tests, including Full Scale, Working Memory, Perceptual Reasoning and Verbal Comprehension scores, with their results averaging five to six points lower. Professor Amy Schwartz of the University of New Hampshire, test coordinator, commented that while the results point to a correlation between exposure to arsenic and lower intelligence, people should think of the research as informative, rather than as a cause for panic.

Article Source:  Water/Waste Processing

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More about arsenic in drinking water.


California water recycling facility reaches milestone

Modern Water Treatment Facility in El Segundo, CA

Water recycling is key for water companies in drought-stricken areas. Facilities that have been forward-looking enough in previous years to develop a water recycling process can now reap the benefits of having a reliable source of water to cover various municipal needs. The city of El Segundo, Calif., has already achieved this, as it was recently announced that its West Basin Municipal Water District (West Basin) has managed to recycle 150 billion gallons of water at its Edward C. Little Water Recycling Facility.

The milestone for the facility was reached in February this year. The total amount of water recycled is sufficient to meet the needs of 3.7 million people for a year, the West Basin Water District explained in a statement. In fact, the facility provides about 50 percent of the water used in El Segundo.

According to Donald Lear, vice president of the West Basin Board, the facility is one of a kind because it produces five different types of recycled water, with different properties and applications. Some of the recycled water is used for irrigation and is tertiary disinfected, while some of it is nitrified to be used as cooling tower water. The facility also recycles water to be used as low-pressure or high-pressure boiler feedwater, with the proper single pass or double reverse osmosis, and as indirect drinking water, which goes through microfiltration, reverse osmosis and UV light disinfection.

Source: Processing Magazine.

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Water News for the Week of April 21

Washington governor weighs tenfold increase in cancer risk for fish eaters. How much risk of cancer from eating fish is too much? Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has privately advanced a proposal that would likely pass legal muster but that worries Indian tribes and environmentalists. It would allow a tenfold increase in allowable cancer risk under the law.

China seeks solution to providing clean drinking water supplies. Large colonies of micro-organisms - some capable of causing serious disease - have been discovered inside pipelines carrying drinking water to homes in most major mainland cities.

Much ado about absolutely nothing

  As you might expect, the most commented water story of the week, topping even the water polo scores, was the urination incident at Portland's Mt. Tabor reservoir.

Here are a few news stories:

$175K of water flushed in Portland after teenager pees into reservoir.Portland reservoir urination case: Prosecution, cleaning and cost

Public health experts say risks scant though ick factor high after man urinates in Mt. Tabor Reservoir

Portland reservoir urination case: Draining the water is wasteful, thousands of readers say

Urine trouble: A sampling of national media accounts of Portland's decision to dump 38 million gallons of water

Man accused of urinating in Mt. Tabor Reservoir says he was peeing near, not in, the water.


Water policy: Major Obama proposal doesn't change farm rules. Agriculture is different, Congress decided when passing the 1972 Clean Water Act. For the most part, the people who grow the country's food can plow their fields, build roads, spread fertilizer and drain water off their crops without needing a permit for filling in wetlands or washing pollutants into streams.

Village of the damned: Mysterious suicides. Agonizing illness. It is a quarter of a century since massive quantities of aluminum sulfate, a chemical used to keep drinking water clear, were accidentally dumped into the public supply at Camelford’s Lowermoor treatment works.

New Jersey residents want to reduce coastal risks, but they don't want to pay. New Jersey residents support efforts to protect coastal communities from the hazards of storms and flooding, but they don't want to pay for them, a new research paper concludes from public opinion polling.  

Eight former military sites on Long Island may have hazardous waste, unexploded ordnance. Eight of the 17 former military installations on Long Island could have hazardous or toxic waste or unexploded munitions present, but the federal agency in charge of the sites lacks the funding to conduct recommended safety investigations.

Recycling issue brewing in George Clooney's Nespresso campaign. In marketing terms it's a match made in moneymaking heaven,  but George Clooney may be serving up a less-than-perfect brew as a caffeine pitchman. "George Clooney has almost single-handedly launched an entire new waste stream globally." 

Drunken trees: Dramatic signs of climate change. Sarah James, an Alaska Native elder, says global warming is radically changing her homeland. Even the forests no longer grow straight. Melting ground has caused trees to tilt or fall. 

 “A few years back, we were going to be killed by global cooling, overpopulation, pesticide residues, West Nile virus, bird flu, Y2K, cellphone radiation, mad cow disease, etc. Now it's global warming.” John Stossel endorses fracking.

State Considers Banning Microbeads

The tiny plastic particles found in many facial cleansers and soaps promise a gentle scrubbing and luxuriously smooth skin.

But those little beads of grit are also piling up in waterways, where they can suck up toxins and harm wildlife, environmentalists say. Because of those concerns, Illinois is one of several states considering legislation to force manufacturers to drop products that use the particles, called microbeads. Read the full article.

Alberta first in drinking water safety. Alberta has a new leader in water safety. Nicohlas Ashbolt is the Alberta Innovates Health Solutions' Translation Health Chair at the University of Alberta with a job to study water safety.

Underground Water Storage Is Being Used Increasingly by US Cities

Just northwest of the Twin Cities, in the bedroom communities of St. Michael, Albertville and Hanover, something unusual is happening. A pump is taking water from the jointly run treatment plant and rather than sending it to people's homes and faucets, it's injecting it into the ground at a rate of 300 gallons a minute. The pumping won't stop until 100 million gallons of treated drinking water have been stowed in an aquifer beneath the cities.

The process is called aquifer storage and recovery, and it involves capturing water during times of plenty, storing it underground and pulling it out later when it's needed. It's a strategy used a lot in the western and southeastern parts of the country, where drought and water shortages are common. There are hundreds of these storage wells operating in the United States; the project in St. Michael is the first in Minnesota. Read the rest of the story here.

Reverse Osmosis and Refrigerators: A Perfect Match, with a Few Problems

by Gene Franks

As refrigerators get more complex and offer features such as cold water dispensers, it is becoming more common to feed them with high quality water from an undersink reverse osmosis (RO) unit. The challenge in such hook-ups is how to provide sufficient water pressure for the refrigerator, especially since many of the newer refrigerators and ice machines require more feedwater pressure than older models.

With simple filters, just teeing into the undersink filter's faucet tube works fine, since filters put out essentially the same pressure as the tap water source. With reverse osmosis units,  however, a standard system puts out only about 2/3 of the tap water pressure when the RO storage tank is full, and, of course, less as water is taken from the storage tank.

If city water pressure is strong--say, 60 psi or more--a standard reverse osmosis unit will usually rise to the occasion and supply plenty of water pressure for the refrigerator. With low city pressure or with well systems that have variable pressure, however, the RO unit may need some help.

Various devices are used to enhance pressure output of RO units when they send water to a remote point of use like a refrigerator. Here's a look at the most common of these.
1. Booster Pumps.  The most commonly know of these are the popular Aquatec 6800 and 8800 booster pumps. These are electric pumps that increase the water pressure going into the RO unit. This, in addition to making the unit run more efficiently, increases the pressure coming out of the storage tank, but the out-of-tank pressure is limited to about 40 psi when the storage tank is full.  (There are tank switches that will run the pressure up to 60 psi, but we don't recommend them for most residential users.)

2. Permeate Pumps.  These non-electric pumps do not increase inlet pressure but they isolate the RO unit from the back pressure from the storage tank, allowing it to run much more efficiently.  They can be installed with or without a hydraulic shutoff valve.  Without the valve they will put much more pressure into the storage tank (and this is what we recommend if your aim is to send higher pressure to your refrigerator).

The permeate pump runs on water pressure from the RO drain line and needs no electricity. In addition to sending higher pressure to the refrigerator, it improves the RO unit's efficiency so that it uses less water.

3. Demand, or Deliver Pumps.  These electric pumps are installed after the RO unit and they push water directly from the output of the RO unit to the point of use--e. g., the refrigerator. They can deliver water with pressures up to 80 psi. They work on demand. When the icemaker calls for water, or if you activate the drinking water dispenser, the pump comes on and sends water to the refrigerator.

Pros and Cons

1. The booster pump is the best choice if your RO unit is starved for pressure.  If you have, let's say, tap water pressure of 40 psi.  A standard RO unit will run on this pressure, but not well. What's worse, it will put only 2/3 of that into the storage tank--25 psi or so even when the tank is "full"--so your refrigerator won't get much water.  The booster pump will run the RO unit excellently and you'll have a strong 40 psi of pressure in your full storage tank. Booster pumps are quiet and usually trouble-free.

2. With the same 40 psi inlet pressure, the permeate pump, if installed without the shutoff system (the pump itself will take over the shutoff function) will put almost 40 psi in the storage tank. It will also refill the tank much more quickly when water is taken from it. The permeate pump is trouble-free and needs no electricity. The model used with membranes that produce fewer than 50 gallons per day are very quiet. The over-50 gpd model makes a thumping noise that can be troublesome while the unit is producing water.

3. The demand pump will deliver 60 to 80 psi to the refrigerator regardless of the pressure in the tank (that is, unless the tank runs out of water, which can happen if the RO unit is a low producer).  The downside is that the pump won't actually improve the performance of the RO unit, as the other pumps do, but will simply increase the pressure to the refrigerator. Another issue is a phenomenon called "pump chatter."  This doesn't always happen, but if it does you won't be able to ignore it. Pump chatter can be described as the pump turning on when no demand for water is made, running briefly--a couple of seconds usually--then turning back off.  This problem can be cured by installing a second RO tank between the pump and the refrigerator.  The tank provides the pump with constant back pressure which keeps it turned off.  It has the added advantage of giving you a couple more gallons of water, stored at maximum pressure and ready to supply the refrigerator.

More information you might like to look at:

How Permeate Pumps Work.

A Practical Guide to Water Treatment Pumps.

How Reverse Osmosis Booster Pumps Work.

How Small Demand or Delivery Pumps Work.

This article appeared originally in the Pure Water Occasional.


Garden Hose Filters.  Don’t be the last on your block to own one.



The garden hose filter above, mounted on a stand built by its owner, is used to soften water used for rinsing roof-mounted solar panels.  Softening the water prevents streaking and scale build-up on the panels and allows the user to avoid the dangerous and difficult task of climbing onto the roof to hand-clean the panels.

This is only one of many uses of the very versatile garden hose filter.  Other common uses are providing clean, good-tasting drinking water for work crews via a garden hose, removing chlorine or chloramine from water used to irrigate organic gardens, providing chemical-free water for fish ponds and aquariums, removing sediment that can stop up irrigation emitters, providing soft water for washing cars, boats, motorcycles, patios, driveways, and, as stated, roof-mounted solar panels.

Pure Water Products offers the best variety anywhere of garden hose filters.  We make filters in four standard sizes (including the 20" "Big Blue" pictured above)  and provide cartridges for many purposes.  Our basic page for standard-sized garden hose filters links to other sizes and much information.


 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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