Pure Water Occasional, March 17, 2019
Mid-March Issue

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

Rural Water Taste Contest
Tahlequah Public Works Authority, a rural water utility that dates back to 1970 and serves 7,500 connections in its community in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, earned the 2019 title of America's best tasting drinking water at the 20th Anniversary of the Great American Water Taste Test, held on February 6, 2019 in Washington, D.C. as part of the Rural Water Rally. Judges rated each water sample based on its clarity, bouquet and taste. A total of 42 entries from all over the United States were tested during the event.

There is no federal regulation for PFAS chemicals

“The science to fully understand these chemicals is not yet as robust as it needs to be,” said David Ross, assistant administrator of the EPA's water office, defending the agency's long delay in setting a national standard for PFAS.
Unsafe levels of arsenic have been found in tests at the federal penitentiary in Atlanta and inmates are currently being furnished bottled water for cooking and drinking.
In the far north of Canada, thieves stole 30,000 liters of water harvested by a company from an iceberg to use in vodka production.

Pittsburgh has launched a $50 million program to combat high lead levels in its drinking water. Pittsburgh's lead levels are blamed mainly on its 10,000 public-side lead service lines, and it has yet to estimate its total number of private-side lead service lines. The lead-reduction program is based on feeding Orthophosphate, a chemical that forms a protective coating inside lead pipes, plus replacement of pipes and use of tap water filters. Pittsburgh has had lead contamination issues since at least 2016 and, according to an analysis of recent U.S. EPA data, it is the second largest water system in the nation to have exceeded the EPA’s action level for lead.

Studies show that how manure is spread on farm fields affects water quality.

In a four-year study, shallow-disk injection of manure onto agricultural fields was found to result in less phosphorus loss in runoff from farm fields compared to broadcasting, or spreading manure. The research findings have implications for Chesapeake Bay water quality. It is expected that selling farmers on the idea of shallow-disk injection, however, will not be easy. Read more.
University of Florida researchers say the U.S. population is becoming less reliant on rivers and lakes for drinking water. Trends have reversed to an increased demand for groundwater. More.
Drinking Water Advice from Quarterback Tom Brady: “Tap water is water that comes from a municipal source. Depending on where you live, most sources of tap water contain fluoride, chlorine, and, in some cases, lead. Excessive amounts of both fluoride and chlorine have now been linked to a number of health risks. Drink tap water only if you filter it first, which gets rid of many impurities. Even when you use tap water for steaming vegetables, it’s better to filter it first.”
Political Correctness of Bottled Water

Brooklyn residents lodged a strong protest against a bottled water product sold in a 40-ounce container that looks like the bottle of a popular brand of malt liquor. Protestors argued the shape of the bottle perpetuates negative sterotypes about black communities and also has the potential to promote alcoholism among children. Fox News 

A new law in Texas restricts the number of wells that can be drilled on country acreage and is making it hard for developers to practice business as usual. The law addresses the problem of decreasing output from existing wells that is caused by so many new wells being drilled. Ft. Worth Star-Telegram.

Google is expanding its data center near Moncks Corner, South Carolina. The center currently uses around half a million gallons of groundwater per day for cooling. The expanded center will require 1.5 million gallons per day. Environmental groups are opposing the expansion.

The Washington State Department of Health discovered that 97 percent of schools had at least one water source with levels of lead above one part per billion.

Millions of Californians are expecting higher water bills because FEMA is refusing to reimburse the state for $306 million in repairs to the Oroville Dam. The dam—the nation's tallest—provides water for 27 million Californians. It is recovering from damage caused by a hole in its concrete spillway caused by flooding in 2017.

There was record flooding in Northern California. The Russian River rose over 45 feet.
 Follow water headlines and full articles at the Pure Water Gazette.

Brine From Desalination Can Be Put To Use

Currently, the world produces more than 100 billion liters (about 27 billion gallons) a day of water from desalination, which leaves a similar volume of concentrated brine. Much of the brine is pumped back out to sea, and current regulations require costly outfall systems to ensure adequate dilution of the salts to prevent damage to marine ecosystems.

A new MIT study shows that through a fairly simple process the waste material can be converted into useful chemicals — including ones that can make the desalination process itself more efficient.

The approach can be used to produce sodium hydroxide, among other products. Otherwise known as caustic soda, sodium hydroxide can be used to pretreat seawater going into the desalination plant. This changes the acidity of the water, which helps to prevent fouling of the membranes used to filter out the salty water — a major cause of interruptions and failures in typical reverse osmosis desalination plants.

Another important chemical used by desalination plants and many other industrial processes is hydrochloric acid, which can also easily be made on site from the waste brine using established chemical processing methods. The chemical can be used for cleaning parts of the desalination plant, but is also widely used in chemical production and as a source of hydrogen.

Converting the brine can thus be both economically and ecologically beneficial, especially as desalination continues to grow rapidly around the world. Environmentally safe discharge of brine is manageable with current technology, but it’s much better to recover resources from the brine and reduce the amount of brine released.

Adapted from MIT News.

PFAS Contamination Is Not New

A dangerous chemical has tainted N.J. water for decades and the feds are still dragging their feet

by Sol Warren

It is a problem that has tainted New Jersey’s drinking water for years.

Areas of the state are contaminated with a cocktail of dangerous, cancer-causing chemicals known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) after decades of hazardous disposal by manufacturing plants across New Jersey. Since the 1940s, when use of the chemicals began, PFAS chemicals were discharged in the plants’ wastewater, which then mixed with drinking water supplies. The industrial use of PFAS has been phased out of American facilities in recent years, but the damage has been done.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the health effects of PFAS exposure range from increased risk of cancer to stunting the growth of children. Exposure to these chemicals, which have been used to manufacture everything from nonstick cook-wear and stain-resistant carpets to cosmetics, is even linked to lower chances of pregnancy in affected women.

But efforts to rectify the issue — particularly on the federal level — have moved slowly.

On Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unveiled its first nationwide “action plan” to deal with the PFAS family of chemicals. The plan includes expanded monitoring of the chemical around the country, continued enforcement actions to cleanup contamination hotspots and further research of the health effects stemming from PFAS consumption.

Yet there are still no federal drinking water standards for the chemicals.

“The PFAS action plan is the most comprehensive cross-agency plan to address an emerging chemical of concern ever undertaken by EPA,” said Andrew Wheeler, the EPA’s Acting Administrator.

The new action plan was announced Thursday morning in Philadelphia, just up the Delaware River from Paulsboro and West Deptford, where New Jerseyans have been grappling with PFAS contamination for years due to the area’s heavily industrial past. It was there that, from 1985 to 2010, Solvay Solexis Specialty Polymers used a member of the PFAS chemical family known as PFNA.

The Solvay plant discharged the chemical within its wastewater and now Gloucester County is home to some of the highest levels of PFNA contamination on Earth. The EPA plan comes months after New Jersey established statewide drinking water standards for PFNA.

PFAS pollution has been found elsewhere in the Garden State, with particularly high concentrations near New Jersey’s military installations like Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and Naval Weapon State Earle, where the use of fire-fighting foam containing the chemicals has dirtied nearby waters.

Wheeler said that the EPA will continue to take enforcement actions against PFAS polluters based on a 2016 health advisory issued by the agency, but drinking water standards under the Safe Drinking Water Act won’t be proposed until the end of the year.

Even after that proposal is unveiled, the rules-making process can take years and is not guaranteed to establish new drinking water standards.

Environmental groups slammed the EPA for not proposing drinking water standards for the chemicals in the new plan.

“While the agency fumbles with this ‘mis-management plan,’ millions of people will be exposed to highly toxic PFAS from drinking contaminated water,” said Erik Olson, the senior director for health and food at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “As a guardian of public health, Administrator Andrew Wheeler should revisit this embarrassing decision.”

Source: NJ.com
Whole House Water Treatment: Keeping It Simple, And Easy

Simple whole house treatment for city water consists of a sediment filter, a carbon filter, and a TAC scale prevention unit. 

One of the best-kept secrets about water treatment equipment is that to be effective it does not have to be complicate, expensive, and large. The truth is that much of the innovative energy of water treatment professionals in recent years has been directed toward greatly improved performance of traditional items like filter cartridges and toward the development of technologies that provide simpler solutions to problems like scale prevention.
Filter cartridges for city water applications, because of improved efficiency, often outperform large tank-style systems. Similarly, recently developed alternatives to conventiona water softeners, like TAC units, can greatly improve water quality and prevent scale buildup without complicated control programming, drain connections, salt purchases, or service agreements.
It is easy to be impressed by the size of a large tank-style whole house carbon filter and to assume that because it is big it works better than a filter that is relatively small. Looks can be deceiving. Compact filter cartridges, made from very tightly packed powdered filter carbon, actually follow a different set of rules than large filters. Concepts like "empy bed contact time" used to design and to size tank style filters filled with granular carbon do not apply to modern filter cartridges. In many ways a well-engineered 4.5" x 20" carbonb lock filter cartridge can outperform a carbon tank with several cubic feet of granular carbon.
Here are some advantages of cartridge-style whole house filters as compared with large tank-style backwashing units:
Easy to install. No drain or electrical connection needed. Thus, fewer plumbing connections, no wiring, and greater flexibility in choosing a place to install.
Low purchase price. Typically, a cartridge filter array costs less than 1/2 as much as a tank-style equivalent. 
Easy to service. With cartridge units there is little that can go wrong, so an easy cartridge change and an occasional o-ring replacement are all that's needed. Changing a cartridge is a much easier "do it yourself" job than rebedding a tank-style filter.
Versatile. There are many cartridges to choose from. When you put in a new cartridge, you have a new water filter. If your city changes its disinfectant from chlorine to chloramine, you just change your filter cartridge. If you have a standard-sized filter housing, which is what we recommend, you have literally dozens of cartridges to choose from.
Perhaps the greatest mark of versatility is the ability to easily increase filter capacity by installing two or more carbon filters in parallel, so that each cartridge gets a fraction of the service water. If your cartridge supports a service flow of six gallons per minute, installing a second in parallel gives you twelve per minute. The extra carbon unit(s) can be added at the time of the initial installation, or later, to accommodate an increase in family size or other expanded need for filtered water.
For scale prevention, passive TAC systems are becoming a popular substitute for conventional water softeners. TAC units require no drain connection and no electricity. The only upkeep is an easy media change, recommended for every three years.
The products featured on this page do not require electricity, drain connections, chemicals, or even water for regeneration. There are no electronic controls to program, no manuals to study, no salt to buy, no brine tanks to clean. Annual filter service is so easy most homeowners can do it themselves. Even the media change in the TAC tank (recommended every 3 years) does not require special equipment or great technical know-how. 
More information about cartridge-style whole house units and salt-free scale treatment:

Two carbon cartridges in parallel double the capacity and greatly reduce pressure drop. The multi-cartridge system provides higher flow rates for larger homes.

Remineralizing Reverse Osmosis Water
by Gene Franks and Emily McBroom
This simple inline cartridge manufactured by a leading filter company costs $16. It can be easily added to any standard RO unit. It contains Calcite to boost pH by adding calcium carbonate and improves the taste of the water with coconut shell carbon. It is inexpensive because it lacks any exotic ingredients.

A product that has gained surprising popularity in the last few years is the “remineralizing” postfilter cartridge for undersink reverse osmosis (RO) units.

The process of reverse osmosis removes some 95% of water’s mineral content and, as a consequence, produces water that is temporarily low in pH.  For many years, vendors of non-RO drinking water systems have raised the argument (driven more by marketing than by science) that RO water lacks “healthful minerals” the body needs. This ignores the fact that our bodies obtain minerals readily and easily from the organic minerals in foods and really don’t need the difficult to assimilate inorganic minerals found in water. More recently, sellers of “alkalizers,” or “ionizer” machines which produce alkaline drinking water, have added fuel to the argument by claiming the pH of RO water is too low to be healthful.

To counter these arguments, RO vendors have created postfilter cartridges that add minerals while also raising the pH of low-mineral, slightly acidic reverse osmosis water. These cartridges are comprised mainly of two common water treatment minerals, Calcite and Corosex. Both have been used for decades in tank-style filters to raise the pH of acidic well water. Calcite is a pure form of crushed marble or limestone, refined into a granular medium suitable for use in a water filter. It works by dissolving slowly into the water, adding calcium and raising pH. Corosex is a brand name for manganese oxide, another natural mineral that dissolves to add magnesium and neutralize free carbon dioxide; thus, driving the pH down.  Calcite is a milder pH treatment than Corosex, so the standard mix in most filters is at least 4/5 Calcite.

For RO remineralizing filters, Calcite is the main ingredient, and a dash of Corosex can be added to give the pH an extra upward bump.  (Too much Corosex overcorrects and can produce alkaline, strong-tasting water.)

While Calcite and Corosex are clearly the workhorse media of all RO remineralizing filters, an in-house survey of a dozen websites turned up a lot of other ingredients. Some ingredients were commonplace and some pretty exotic. It also revealed a wide range of prices and some interesting product claims.

Prices on the random sites we looked at go from $19.95 to $149 with the average around $65.

Here are some common product descriptions:

“Raises pH from 6.4 to 7.6.”
“Increases pH by 1.0-1.5 and provides alkaline water.”
“Increases pH, lowers ORP.”
“Remineralizes and raises the pH of water by at least 1 to 2 points.”
“Alkaline water. Boosts minerals and antioxidants.”
“To balance out and stabalize pH.”
“Makes water safer to drink.”
Provides “balanced mineral elution.”
“Balances the pH and puts essential minerals back into your water that your body can use.”
“Neutralizes acidic water, reduces leaching of metal plumbing components, and for use post RO to raise TDS.” (Obviously intended for multiple uses.)

Now for the ingredients.

There are the expected (Calcite and Corosex), the unexpected (KDF), plus a lot of exotic and unknown. Tourmaline figures prominently. According to Wikipedia, tourmaline is a semi-precious gemstone found in granite, pematites, and metamorphic rocks. It can also be found in sandstone. There is no indication what this might have to do with adding minerals to water, but one health and healing website explains:

Although it might be a stretch to say tourmaline has supernatural powers, it does have the uncommon and very special ability to generate an electric charge and emit negative ions and far infrared rays. Far infrared rays are invisible waves of energy. They’re able to penetrate all layers of the human body and reach the inner-most regions of tissues, muscles and bone. Through this, far infrared rays and negative ions gently soothe, stimulate and detoxify the body and mind. Negative ions are also incredibly important in determining mood.. . . Research has shown that mood disorders may be improved just as well through negative ion generators as antidepressants — but without the negative side effects. Why? Because these ions promote oxygenation to the brain and regeneration of the blood.

Other devices include neodyminium magnets (aka NdFeB, NIB, or Neo Magnet), whose contribution to RO water is not detailed.  Then there is Pi Ceramic,

[which is] . . . induced from the highly energized state of infinitesimal amount of ferric ferrous salts that have excellent antioxidant effect of protecting human bodies from active oxygen (free radicals) that causes various diseases and stresses (removing harmful active oxygen cause cancer, diabetic, hypertension, etc.), neutralization actions from harmful toxins (controls oxidation reduction reaction; detoxification action) and prevent rotting (inhibition of microbial growth, such as virus and bacteria) in the intestines. In addition, they have calcium antagonism (Calcium antagonist properties), high vital activation energy (Life energy), small water molecule structure, contains abundance oxygen, equal pH to body (pH balance), boost immune system, and bio memory and ability to transfer biological information. . . . 

Also there are Infrared Ceramics, which “. . .remove impurities from the water by cleaving the water molecule cluster. The impurity sticks to the ceramic, not allowing it to leach back into the water before it’s used.” Infrared ceramics, when used with tourmaline, according to one vendor, “help soften the surface tension, improve taste and increase drinkability.”

 There are ceramic negative ion balls that that are made mainly of tourmaline plus “kaolin and high-grade clay by nanometer comminution technology, special formula and agglomeration techniques. . . .”

Then there is “Super Ceramic” which “contains over 10 Minerals and imparts a pleasant taste to the water emitting even more Far Infrared Rays.”

Finally there is “Edox,” which we could not identify. It is most likely a brand name for one or more of the other ingredients mentioned.

Taste and Common Sense

Regardless of the exotics, the main ingredient of all remineralizing products is plain and simple Calcite. Calcite is mainly pure calcium carbonate, CaCO3. It is the principal constituent of limestone and marble. It may also have traces of other minerals such as manganese, magnesium, iron, boron, and bromine. (See Britannica.com).

If you believe reverse osmosis water needs mineral supplementation to be “healthful” (we don’t!), RO water filtered through a small bed of Calcite will meet the requirement. And, if you want a pH above the low 7’s, you can buy a Calcite cartridge that has a just pinch of Corosex added to it.

Although water straight  from the RO unit is wonderful, we like Calcite filters because they can make exceptionally good tasting water. With or without remineralizing, pure reverse osmosis water tastes great and is the best value drinking water that can be produced in the home.

Easy-to-install Aermax Vertical Mount System
Our AerMax installation kit mounts the air pump on the tank itself. 

The traditional AerMax that we've sold formany years now comes with an optional installation kit. With the traditional AerMax unit, the air pump is wall mounted beside the treatment tank. The new optional installation system, pictured above, allows the air pump to be installed on top of the tank itself, providing a more compact, vibration-free mounting. The vertical mount system is now available, as is a timer control that makes installation much easier than before.

Please call 940-382-3814 or go to this link for details.

USGS report: Pesticides contaminate nation’s streams

by Laura Lundquist

A new U.S. Geological Survey study shows that pesticides continue to infiltrate the nation’s streams, however, the types of pesticides mixing with the water are changing.

As part of a continuing survey of water quality, USGS scientists found that, over the past decade, one or more pesticides still contaminate close to 100 streams sampled nationwide, indicating that the problem is pervasive.

“The information gained through this important research is critical to the evaluation of the risks associated with existing levels of pesticides,” said William Werkheiser, USGS associate director for water.

Scientists analyzed stream samples collected regularly between 2002 and 2011 for pesticides, which include both herbicides and insecticides. They also divided streams into agricultural, urban and mixed-use categories.

The high occurrence of pesticides between 2002 and 2011 was consistent with findings from the previous decade, 1992 to 2001, but now fewer streams exceed the human health limits for pesticides. Only one stream exceeded the health standard this decade, compared to 17 percent of agricultural streams in the previous decade.

However, water quality is still bad for aquatic life, such as frogs, fish and insects. Nearly two-thirds of agricultural streams and half of mixed-use streams had pesticide concentrations that exceeded limits for aquatic life in both decades.
But urban streams became worse, with 90 percent containing pesticide concentrations exceeding aquatic life limits compared to half in the previous decade.

The authors noted a change in the pesticides present between one decade and the next, which is one of the reasons they say direct comparison between decades is problematic.

They credited most of the change to pesticide regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency causing a reduction in the use of some toxic pesticides.

For example, in the 1990s, the herbicide cyanazine was found to cause birth defects and could leach through the soil into the groundwater, so cyanazine use dropped.

Residential use of the insecticide diazinon also dropped in 2004 after it was shown to be highly toxic to birds and bees.

Concentrations of both cyanazine and diazinon have dropped in samples from the recent decade. In the meantime, though, new pesticides were developed, and their concentrations have surged.

The insecticide fipronil, for example, was approved for use as recently as 1995, so it wasn’t widely used during the first sampling decade. Since then, studies found that the fipronil concentration steadily increased in urban streams between 2000 and 2008, indicating increasing use in residential areas.

Fipronil disrupts an insect’s central nervous system. That means that, like diazinon, it also kills good insects such as honeybees.

A 2003 University of Greenwich study found that fibronil degrades into a more toxic substance that can accumulate in fish.

The recent decade of sampling found that six main pesticides, including atrazine and fipronil, were found in all streams at least half the time, and fipronil exceeded the concentration limit for aquatic life in 20 percent of streams.

The insecticides fipronil and carbaryl were found in urban streams more than half the time.

The authors say the other major change has been the switch to the herbicide glyphosate, made possible by the increased use of genetically modified crops.

Glyphosate levels weren’t included in this report because scientists can’t easily measure how much is in streams.

Some research has indicated that glyphosate is also contributing to honeybee colony collapse.

Montana streams that were sampled included the Yellowstone River at Forsyth and Sidney, and the Clarks Fork Yellowstone River near Edgar. Other rivers in the region included the Bighorn River at Kane, Wyoming, and the Teton River near St. Anthony, Idaho.


Plastics in the Deep Ocean
Plastic-eating amphipods consume plastics in the deepest ocean waters

A new U.S. Geological Survey s Plastic litter is now virtually inescapable throughout every crevice of the world's oceans, and a newly published study finds, for the first time, that the creatures living in the deepest, most remote environs on Earth are eating it in startling amounts. 

A British research team captured amphipods, tiny shrimp-like crustaceans that scavenge on the seabed. from six of the world's deepest ocean trenches and took them back to their lab. There, they discovered that more than 80 percent of the amphipods had plastic fibers and particles in their digestive systems, known as the hindgut.

The deeper the trench, the more fibers they found. In the Mariana Trench, the deepest at more than seven miles beneath the waves in the western Pacific, the scientists found fibers in 100 percent of the samples–in every amphipod collected.

Prior studies of plastic particles ingested by marine organisms caught near the surface have found far smaller percentages.The new research, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, adds new details to earlier research that only discovered plastic bits in sea floor sediment in 2014 and fleshes out the picture shaping up of ocean trenches as the final sink for marine debris.
That is not good news. Once the plastic particles sink to the deep sea, they’ve got nowhere else to go.

“If we could magically snap our fingers over 10, 20, 50 years time and stop making plastic, what would happen to the plastic in the river? It would flush and wash out,” says Alan Jamieson, a marine biologist at Newcastle University and the study’s lead author. “The coastlines would dilute and disperse. In the open ocean, the UV and wave action would act on that plastic and the surface would be clean again. What happens when you get to the deep sea, there’s no dispersal or flushing. It’s only going to get more and more and more.”

He adds: “This is not a one-off find. The Pacific Ocean covers half the planet. Our study sites were off Japan and Peru and Chile in places separated by thousands of miles. We can now say with confidence that plastic is everywhere. Let’s not waste our time looking for more. Let’s concentrate our efforts on what it is actually doing.”

Read the full article in National Geographic.
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Pure Water Products, LLC, 523A N. Elm St., Denton, TX, www.purewaterproducts.com