How Lead Got Into Flint’s Water
The following is excerpted from an excellent article by Michael Torrice in Chemical & Engineering News. It gives a concise and clear explanation of the procedures that city water departments use to keep contaminants like lead, copper, and iron in the pipes and not in the water, and it shows how fragile this system is and what happens when, through ignorance, greed, or lack of concern, water officials fail to follow the rules.–Hardly Waite.
Lead contamination is the most troubling in a series of water problems that have plagued Flint since the summer of 2014. All of them were caused by corrosion in the lead and iron pipes that distribute water to city residents. When the city began using the Flint River as its water source in April 2014, it didn’t adequately control the water’s ability to corrode those pipes. This led to high lead levels, rust-colored tap water, and possibly the growth of pathogenic microbes.
The pipes in Flint’s old distribution system had seen the same water for decades. Switching water supplies in 2014 changed the chemistry of the water flowing through those pipes. When a switch like this happens, the water system is going to move toward a new equilibrium, says Daniel Giammar, an environmental engineer at Washington University in St. Louis. “It could be catastrophic as it was in Flint, or it could be a small change.”
You’ll sing better with softened water (once you realize that the slimy feeling is really good for you)
Even small amounts of hardness minerals, calcium and magnesium, cause the water to exhibit typical hard-water characteristics. The higher the hardness level, the more evident the problems will be. Residential and commercial water users typically identify two significant problems when dealing with hard water:
Soap interactions: Laundering results aren’t satisfactory; dishes, glasses and silverware are not clean enough and larger amounts of cleaning materials are required. (more…)
How We Can Better Plan Our Cities to Utilize Stormwater
We are finally learning that stormwater can be an asset to communities but now we need to make some urban planning and engineering changes to take advantage of it
by Rinaldo Veseliza
Our urban areas have lost their ability to naturally recycle stormwater due to the impervious nature of infrastructure engineering over the past 100 years. We have been building roadways and streets to capture the runoff and send it somewhere else, usually to the river or ocean. For decades in California, controlling stormwater was the main goal but today, with more water scarcity, we are beginning to see this same water more as an asset and less as a liability. (more…)
Upflow Carbon Filters, for Excellent Whole House Water
For City Water Users
Simple “in/out” upflow carbon filters offer an inexpensive way to remove chlorine or chloramine from city water. Among the simplest of water treatment devices, they require no electricity, no drain connection, no setup programming, no cartridges to change, and, for years, no upkeep.
Our version of the in/out upflow is the best product we can make, and we think it’s the best anyone can make. Our in/outs feature the best parts available for simplicity of operation, long service life, effective performance. We use the superior Vortech mineral tank and the tough, reliable Clack In/Out Head. We provide a clear-bowl media trap to assure that no filter media enters the home’s service lines, plus a specially designed installation adapter to make startup of the filter easy. An optional bypass valve is sold separately. (more…)
Adding a 4th Stage to your 3-Stage Black and White RO Unit
Black and White filters and RO units are designed for easy modification. If you want to add a fourth stage to your three-stage Black and White RO unit (a calcite post filter to raise pH is the most common addition), we have a kit with everything you need.
The picture shows the finished modification.
To install, just turn off the inlet water, turn off the tank valve, open the faucet to relieve pressure, then remove the faucet tube from the white housing. (Quick connect fittings release by pushing in to the collet and simultaneously pulling out the tube. See website for details. )
Install the inline filter on top of the membrane as shown in the picture. You’ll want to determine which way the water flows through the filter by looking at the directional arrow.
When the inline is mounted on the membrane, use the 1/4″ tube to connect the white vertical housing to the inlet of the inline filter, then attach the faucet tube to the outlet side of the inline filter.
Turn on the water and check for leaks. The new filter will need to be rinsed for 3 or 4 minutes.
by Matt Weisser
Like his vow to build a border wall, Trump’s promises around water issues will be difficult to fulfill. And the path to get there could be disruptive for water agencies and the environment.
Donald Trump made some big campaign promises about water during his election campaign. Now that he has been elected president, those promises could dramatically shake up how water is managed in the arid West.
In one of his few direct statements about water, Trump has said he wants to invest in treatment systems to prevent problems caused by aging distribution lines, citing as an example the drinking-water contamination in the Michigan city of Flint. To do this, he proposes to triple funding for a federal loan program, called the state revolving fund, from the current $2 billion to $6 billion.
This could be a boon to local water and wastewater utilities struggling to pay for decaying infrastructure.
Paradoxically, Trump has also vowed to slash Clean Water Act regulations. In particular, he is targeting rules adopted by the Obama administration to protect wetlands and marshes, the nation’s natural water filters.
Like Trump’s vow to build a wall on the Mexican border, these proposed changes would encounter a host of inconvenient realities associated with government. Working that out is certain to be disruptive, whatever the outcome. (more…)
California Is Sinking
Joseph Poland of the U.S. Geological Survey used a utility pole to document where a farmer would have been standing in 1925, 1955 and where Poland was then standing in 1977 after land in the San Joaquin Valley had sunk nearly 30 feet.
In the 1930s, scientists noticed that the land in the fertile San Joaquin Valley was sinking. The cause was a mystery. No one blamed corporate farmers who in the 1920s had begun massive pumping of groundwater to support the growth of highly profitable but very thirsty crops. (more…)
Bathing in Well Water With Arsenic
by Gene Franks
Is it safe to shower in water that is contaminated with arsenic?
Are US Dams Safe?
Editor’s Note. The piece below is excerpted and adapted from a Circle of Blue article by Brett Walton.
If you live downstream from a dam, you hope that someone is maintaining it and monitoring its safety. This is not always the case. In Alabama, for example, all but 10% of the state’s dams are privately owned and regulatory oversight is minimal.
The universe of American dams is expansive. There are tailings dams that hold back a slurry of mine wastes, stock ponds for irrigation or watering cattle, and artificial lakes for sailing and speedboats. There are dams to detain flood waters and dams to filter debris. Then there are the hydropower behemoths such as Grand Coulee and Hoover, symbols of 20th-century engineering might. Though iconic, these canyon-bridging concrete plugs are the minority. Most dams are small structures less than 25 feet tall made of packed dirt and rock and built more than 50 years ago.
Surprisingly little is known about why individual dams fail. Few states do autopsies to learn precisely what went wrong. That is why a Stanford University professor founded the National Performance of Dams Program in 1994. The program’s goal is to learn from past failures so that managers can identify problems before they become tragedies. The program’s researchers have found that the U.S. dam industry is far behind the nuclear power and oil and gas pipeline industries in the amount of data it collects. (more…)