Water News November 2023

Posted November 30th, 2023

November WATER NEWS  — November 2023

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The War Against Lead Pipes

In announcing a significant expansion of the federal government’s efforts under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to get “100% of lead pipes out of the nation’s water supply, once and for all,” the EPA estimated that there are still 9.2 million water supply pipes in the nation that contain lead. It noted that most of these pipes serve older homes.




A devastating outbreak of sea lice attacking Icelandic salmon farms has led to the slaughter of countless farmed salmon and has become a major animal rights controversy.  See The Guardian for full details.

The Chemical Industry Has Spent $110 million in Recent Months to Thwart Legislation to Control PFAS 

The US chemical industry likely spent over $110m during the last two election cycles deploying lobbyists to kill dozens of pieces of PFAS legislation and slow administrative regulation around “forever chemicals”, a new analysis of federal lobbying documents has found.

The industry’s onslaught was effective: only eight pieces of legislation that targeted PFAS made it through Congress, the paper prepared by the Food and Water Watch (FWW) nonprofit found.

“There’s an extreme amount of money that’s going into fighting [PFAS legislation],” said Amanda Starbuck, FWW’s research director and the lead author on the report. “It’s hard to win these fights when there’s so much funding being put in from the opposing side.”

PFAS are a class of about 14,000 compounds used to make products resist water, stains and heat. They are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down, and they have been linked to cancer, high cholesterol, liver disease, kidney disease, fetal complications and other serious health problems.

As the dangers from PFAS have come into sharper focus over the last decade, lawmakers, the Environmental Protection Agency and other administrative agencies have come under an ever-increasing amount of pressure to rein in the chemicals use and clean up pollution. Chemical manufacturers’ spending has jumped in response, the report noted

“The chemical and associated industries are powerful and have used their army of lobbyists and campaign finance war chests to thwart meaningful action,” the paper states.

Full article from The Guardian.

Measuring PFAS


A major problem in enforcing the EPA’s proposed new 4 parts per trillion limit on the “forever chemicals” is that instrumentation capable of measuring an amount that small is hard to find and very expensive. A practical solution may be to raise the allowable a bit to an amount that city water suppliers can measure. The lesson here is that all EPA allowables are based on science that has been negotiated to meet the realities of the world we live in. 

Nitrates in Wells in Eastern Oregon

High levels of nitrates that are getting worse by the year are making the water impossible to drink in rural areas of Eastern Oregon.”Thousands of Oregonians in Umatilla and north Morrow counties rely on private wells for drinking water, tapping into a massive underground aquifer. But pollution has steadily contaminated that groundwater source in recent decades, turning what was once safe water into a potentially toxic supply.” KGW8 News.

“Toilet-to-Tap.”  Arizona is in the process of making the switch.

It’s often referred to informally as “toilet-to-tap’’ technology. Arizonans eventually will be drinking treated sewage – what the state Department of Environmental Quality and City of Phoenix prefer to call the product of “advanced water purification’’ – for the simple reason that there just isn’t enough water to serve a growing population. Robin Silver, co-founder of the Center for Biological Diversity, said it’s not a question of “if’’ but of “when.’’ The use of reclaimed effluent is inevitable in the arid Southwest, period. That’s not really debatable anymore.’’  Capitol Media Services.

Fraudulent Claims Are Disrupting Camp LeJeune Damage Payouts

According to Bloomberg News, “The government plan to pay billions of dollars to victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune has unleashed a wave of fraudulent claims that threatens to disrupt or taint what could be one of the largest-ever mass tort cases.  Veterans’ advocates and lawyers also say the fake claims — and the time and effort to identify and weed them out — could dilute the empathy for legitimately ill victims and slow the process of compensating them.”  Water Online.

A Thriving City Is Dying from Lack of Water


The gripping story of a French island city in the Indian Ocean that is literally dying of thirst.  Full story.




Lithium, an unregulated water contaminant, was found in surprisingly high occurrence levels in ongoing EPA monitoring. In fact, 22% of the community water supplies tested exceeded the the EPA’s established health reference level.

According to a recent Water Quality Association (WQA) statement, “The health implications of lithium in drinking water are still being studied, and they may not all be negative. In the pharmaceutical industry, lithium is used as an antidepressant, and some studies have correlated high lithium levels in drinking water with a reduction in suicide rate. A study in Denmark had conflicting results: High levels of lithium in drinking water were correlated with a decreased risk of dementia, but medium levels of lithium in drinking water correlated with an increased risk of dementia. A study in Argentina found that high levels of lithium can interfere with child development by making it difficult for pregnant women to maintain healthy calcium levels in the blood.”

The WQA reaches the familiar conclusion: “More studies are needed.”

In the meantime, if you want to remove lithium from your drinking water, an undersink reverse osmosis unit is the best way to go about it.

Source: WQA email newsletter, November 2023.


Can’t Open the Filter Housings on Your Undersink Water Filter or Reverse Osmosis Unit?

1. The first thing of all is relieve the pressure on the housings.  With a filter, turn off the inlet water and open the faucet.  Leave it locked open while you work.  If you have a reverse osmosis unit, also turn off the valve on the storage tank. When no water is coming from the faucet, you should be able to open the housing.

2. To open, turn the housing counterclockwise.  Think of it this way: If you put the filter wrench on the extreme right housing and point the handle away from the housing to the left, you would use your right hand and pull back toward your body to open the housing.

3. Get into a comfortable position. If the unit is installed in an awkward, hard-to-reach location, you may have to pull it out to a place where you can address it comfortably. In the worst case, you may have to uninstall it so you can lay it on its back to get more leverage.  (Remember that the housings are full of water, so it’s going to run on the floor when it opens if it’s lying sideways.)

4.If all else fails, you can get more leverage by lengthening the wrench handle with a pipe or a vacuum cleaner wand.  Or you can even buy a special wrench designed for very tough jobs.  See WR012 on this page.

5. Extreme methods: Someone suggests using a hair dryer to warm the filter cap causing it to expand and thus loosen more easily.  Another suggestion, and I’ve seen this work with larger housings, is to apply the wrench to the housing and tap on the wrench handle with a small hammer or rubber mallet. The shock from the mallet tapping can break the housing loose and let you open it.

6. Finally, this may sound strange, but it is important.  When you apply steady pressure to the wrench to loosen the housing, believe that it will open.  In fact, think about what it will feel like when it breaks loose and opens.

How To Sanitize a Standard Undersink Reverse Osmosis Unit  (according to AI)

The very direct instructions created by an AI search are printed in bold type below. They  work great for our standard Black and White reverse osmosis units. They require some elaboration and modification  if you have an RO unit with disposable cartridge housings (like our Q Series units), one or more  disposable inline filters (like our “Economy” RO unit), or an encapsulated membrane (like any of our units with the 50/50 GRO membrane upgrade).
The AI instructions are in bold. See my comments in standard type below the AI instructions:

  1. Turn off the cold water supply connected to the RO system.
  2. Drain out the old tank of water through the dispensing faucet.
  3. Remove all pre-filters (stages 1, 2, and 3) from their housings. Also, remove the membrane from its housing.
  4. Scrub the inside of the housings with dish water and rinse thoroughly.
  5. Add bleach into the housing of filter stage 1.
  6. Install all empty housings and turn on the water supply.
  7. Open the RO faucet until water comes out.

My comments’ numbers refer  to the topic number in the AI instructions.

  1. On the Black and White unit, turn off the blue handled inline valve that feeds the Black housing.
  2. If it doesn’t drain completely, now would be a goodd time to add some air to drive all of the water out. This isn’t absolutely necessary to sanitize the unit, but you’ll do a much better job if the tank is healthy.  See Pure Water Gazette » Reverse Osmosis Tanks Cannot Live Without Air
  3. Remove the cartridges from the 2 or 3 vertical housings and the membrane from the horizontal housing.
  4. This step is optional. Unnecessary if the unit is running on reasonably clean water.
  5. About 3 tablespoons of household bleach is more than enough.
  6. Turn the valve half way on and let the water fill the unit fairly slowly.
  7. After you can smell bleach coming from the faucet, turn the water off and let the unit sit for a few minutes with bleach in it.  (The longer you wait, the more thorough the sanitation job will be.)

When sanitation is complete, turn off the inlet valve, open the faucet and let all the water drain from the storage tank. When the tank is empty, you can reinstall the filters and membrane (or replace them with new ones).  When everything is back in place, open the inlet, open the tank valve and close the faucet.  Let the RO unit fill the tank, open the faucet and let the tank drain, then close the faucet and the unit is back in service. When there is enough water in the storage tank, you can go back to using the RO unit as usual.

If  you want to sanitize the storage tank only, here are some easy instructions.

Sanitize your reverse osmosis tank.



Aer-Max Aeration Units:

Dealer Installation and Setup Video.  This is a complete installation guide furnished by a vendor of the product. Caveat: There are more ways than one to install the unit. This isn’t our favorite way.


Fleck Control Valves:

Instructional Videos from Pentair Water University: Fleck 5600 & 2510 Valves  — Links to the manufacturer’s support videos for Fleck 5600 and 2510 Controls


Dealer’s video on Seal and Spacer change for Fleck 2510 AIO.   Excellent step-by-step instructions from start to end of seal and spacer repair for Fleck 2510 AIO.  It works for all 2510 controls. Includes how to do it with or without the special tool set.

Rising Groundwater Could Release Toxic Chemicals From More Than 100,000 Contaminated Sites Across U.S.

By Peter Chawaga

Researchers have uncovered a new climate-induced threat that could imperil thousands of water systems across the country, introducing harsh contaminants left in soil by industrial facilities into the influent that passes through drinking water treatment facilities.

“A little-known climate threat lurks under our feet: rising groundwater that could release toxic chemicals from more than 132,000 contaminated sites in coastal areas of the U.S.,” Bloomberg reported. “When groundwater rises toward the surface, whether from sea level rise or increasingly intense climate-driven storms, those contaminants can leach into it and spread to other waterways, potentially poisoning people and wildlife.”

Drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities are no strangers to climate change-induced obstacles. Drier weather has introduced drought conditions throughout the nation, growing wildfires have devastated water infrastructure, and toxic algae is growing in source water at alarming rates, just to name a few.

Now, highlighting a lesser-known water threat, researchers have mapped the areas most likely to see their groundwater inundated with industrial pollutants as sea levels continue to rise. Making matters worse, the researchers believe some of the volatile organic compounds in the soil can vaporize and enter homes through buried wastewater infrastructure.

In the Bay Area, for instance, pollution introduced by rising groundwater can put thousands of areas at risk.

“A new report finds that over the next century, rising groundwater levels in the San Francisco Bay Area could impact twice as much land area as coastal flooding alone, putting more than 5,200 state- and federally-managed contaminated sites at risk,” according to Berkeley News. “Many of these sites are near communities already burdened with high levels of pollution.”

But even as more attention turns to this emerging source of contamination, this climate-driven water issue will have to compete for resources already dedicated to so many others. Even as we only begin to understand the drinking water and wastewater issues this contamination could pose, it’s clear that solving them won’t be an easy task.

“Climate-related groundwater rise can scramble the calculus on cleaning up toxic sites,” per Bloomberg. “Rehabilitating these locations can drag on for years, if not decades, and the high cost of removing soil has resulted in it being left in place at many sites, covered by an impermeable clay or concrete cap meant to contain the contamination.”

Source:  Water Online.

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Water News October 2023

Posted October 30th, 2023


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The “how much water should you drink” question has been visited so many times that we’ll spare you the details, but Healthline has a good article that addresses the issue well.  Spoiler: It doesn’t say drink eight glasses a day.  


Exceptional Drought in Kansas and other Mid-US States


Pervasive drought conditions have now reached the middle of the U.S., as cities in Southeast Kansas and beyond are facing never-before-seen water scarcity problems. Persistent drought is now affecting Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska. The situation in Kansas is now classified as “exceptional drought” and is threatening not only agriculture but drinking water supplies as well. Water Online. 

Arizona’s governor has canceled a deal that sold vast amounts of Arizona’s scarce water to Saudi Arabian cattle ranchers.  Full story at MSN.COM.

Do Water Fleas Hold the Answer to Water Pollution and Improved Human Health?

According to Water Online, “Tiny water fleas could play a pivotal role in removing persistent chemical pollutants from wastewater – making it safe to use in factories, farms and homes, a new study reveals.

“Scientists and engineers have discovered a method to harness Daphnia to provide a scalable low-cost, low-carbon way of removing pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and industrial chemicals from wastewater. This approach avoids the toxic byproducts typically associated with current technologies.”  Full article.

Giant Lake Cleanup Project Announced by EPA

In mid-October, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced funding for the largest cleanup project to ever be implemented under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes Legacy Act, thanks to historic resources from President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda. Under a new project agreement between EPA and five non-federal sponsors, an estimated investment of $450 million will go toward the cleanup of nearly two million cubic yards of contaminated sediments from the Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern. Full story.

EPA Declares War On TCE


On October 23,  the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposal to ban all uses of trichloroethylene (TCE), an extremely toxic chemical known to cause serious health risks including cancer, neurotoxicity, and reproductive toxicity. TCE is used in cleaning and furniture care products, degreasers, brake cleaners, and tire repair sealants, and a variety of safer alternatives are readily available for many uses. This action, taken under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), would protect people from these health risks by banning the manufacture, processing, and distribution of TCE for all uses.


The toxicity and dangers of TCE have been known for many years and the EPA’s action is long overdue. EPA found that TCE causes liver cancer, kidney cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It also causes damage to the central nervous system, liver, kidneys, immune system, reproductive organs, and is dangerous for fetal development. These risks are present even at very small concentrations of TCE.The best protection for homes and businesses against TCE are carbon filtration and reverse osmosis.


Encroaching water from the Mississippi River has necessitated more thorough disinfecting, which leaves behind dangerous chemicals


The water for a community along Louisiana’s Gulf coast has seen a significant increase in the levels of contaminants known as disinfection byproducts, according to recent state water tests reviewed by the Guardian. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), long-term exposure to such substances poses an increased risk of cancer.


The findings have emerged as many residents along Louisiana’s southern coast have faced saltwater intrusion from the Gulf of Mexico.


Since early summer, the combination of drought and rising sea levels has helped drag salty water from the ocean up the Mississippi River. The high levels of saltwater have made much of the region’s water undrinkable. But public health experts have also voiced worries that the saltwater intrusion could, over time, corrode the region’s ageing water infrastructure, leach heavy metals into the drinking water and create other knock-on problems.


The findings have emerged as many residents along Louisiana’s southern coast have faced saltwater intrusion from the Gulf of Mexico. Full article from The Guardian.




Faucet Adapters for Countertop Filters


As sink faucets get more diverse, it is getting harder to install water filters that get their water from the sink faucet. Among our standard products, our Model 77 countertop and our countertop reverse osmosis units are most often connected to the sink faucet for their water source.  Ideally (but increasingly rarely) the faucet’s aerator is removed and the filter’s diverter valve screws right on to the threads on the faucet.

If the diverter doesn’t match the faucet (all diverters are the same, but faucets can vary a lot), an adapter is used to make the connection.



The diverter valve from the filter screws directly to the sink faucet. If it doesn’t fit, there are many adapters available to make the connection. 

We provide the two most standard diverter adapters with our new units, but if these don’t work, the best plan is to buy an inexpensive pack of the most commonly used adapters.  We don’t sell adapters other than the two most common, but a customer suggested a really good Amazon source.  Their basic adapter pack should work with almost any faucet. See link below.

Amazon source for a good selection of inexpensive diverter valves. 


Saltwater Intrusion Creates A Drinking Water Emergency For Millions In Louisiana

By Peter Chawaga


Gazette Introductory Note: As the article below explains, because of severe drought conditions and rising sea levels, saltwater is invading the drinking water of parts of Louisiana. Rising sea level attributed to climate change contributes to this as it does to the danger toxic chemicals from storage pits created by chemical cleanup projects reentering the water supply.The article does not mention that the pollution of the drinking water sources has also created a demand for  increased chlorination of drinking water in these areas,  which has in turn led to dangerously high levels of the chlorination by-products called THMs. In short, the climate-related saltwater intrusion and drought conditions are working together to create a really serious threat to drinking water supplies.  As with most water issues the best defense for individuals is carbon filtration and reverse osmosis.


Dwindling levels in one of the nation’s most important waterways has now led to a drinking water crisis for the millions of consumers who rely on it, and the federal government is stepping in to alleviate the danger.“President Joe Biden announced … that federal disaster assistance is available for Louisiana, which is working to slow a mass inflow of salt water creeping up the Mississippi River and threatening drinking water supplies in the southern part of the state,” the Associated Press reported. “Biden’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate all disaster relief efforts … Additionally, the declaration will allow for more equipment, resources and federal money to address the saltwater intrusion.”


Historically, the Mississippi’s water flow is enough to keep salt water coming in from the Gulf of Mexico at bay, but ongoing water scarcity over the last two years has changed that. Since this summer, Louisiana residents who live closest to the gulf have been relying on bottled water. And now, the saltwater could reach New Orleans as soon as mid-October.


In addition to Biden’s most recent actions, the looming drinking water crisis has spurred local and federal agencies into action.


“To help mitigate the intrusion, (Louisiana) and the Army Corps of Engineers are working to add 25 feet of height to a 1,500-foot-wide underwater levee in the Mississippi River, which was constructed in July to slow the saltwater’s progression,” CNN reported. “The corps also plan to barge millions of gallons of water daily to local water treatment facilities.”


As drought causes more drinking water issues for more water systems across the country, it’s likely that drastic federal assistance like this will become increasingly common. As is now the case for Louisiana, such systemic water issues clearly call for engineering and treatment facility interventions.


“Federal assistance is ‘necessary to save lives and to protect property, public health and safety or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster,’ the governor wrote,” per AP. “While officials say they are praying for rain to help increase the velocity of the drought-stricken river they are also taking matters into their own hands — raising the height of an underwater levee used to block or slow the salt water and bringing in 15 million gallons of fresh water to treatment facilities in impacted areas.”


To read more about how water systems across the country are dealing with the challenges posed by drought, visit Water Online’s Water Scarcity Solutions Center.


Water Online


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Water News, September 2023

Posted September 30th, 2023

Water News for September 2023




Can the Great Salt Lake Be Saved?

Environmental and community groups have sued Utah officials over failures to save its iconic Great Salt Lake from irreversible collapse. The largest saltwater lake in the western hemisphere has been steadily shrinking, as more and more water has been diverted away from the lake to irrigate farmland, feed industry and water lawns.

A megadrought across the US southwest, accelerated by global heating, has hastened the lake’s demise. Unless immediate action is taken, the lake could decline beyond recognition within five years, a report published early this year warned, exposing a dusty lake bed laced with arsenic, mercury, lead and other toxic substances. The resulting toxic dust bowl would be “one of the worst environmental disasters in modern US history,” the ecologist Ben Abbott of Brigham Young University said earlier this year.

Despite such warnings, officials have failed to act, local groups said in their lawsuit. “We are trying to avert disaster. We are trying to force the hand of state government to take serious action,” said Brian Moench of the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, one of the groups suing state agencies.

Can the lake be saved? Despite growing political momentum on the issue, scientists say the proposed measures are not nearly enough to save the lake, which has lost about 40 billion gallons of water annually since  2020.  The Guardian

Five American cities are one intense climate issue away from being in serious trouble.

CNN in an in depth report listed five American cities –Buffalo, New York; Prichard, Alabama; St. Louis, Missouri; Central Coast, California; and San Juan, Puerto Rico as all facing existential vulnerabilities that could leave drinking water or wastewater systems in total disrepair should climate-induced calamity strike. And these potential worst-case scenarios range from drinking water scarcity to stormwater inundation.   Water Online.

In September,  Antarctic sea ice shrank to the lowest level ever recorded.  Full story from The Guardian.


Salt Intrusion in Louisiana

The very low water level of the Mississippi is allowing Gulf water to seep into drinking water sources in parts of Louisiana. As a result, grocery stores are struggling to keep up with bottled water sales.Residents have reported skin irritations and damaged appliances, including water heaters and washing machines, from salt exposure.  “Unimpeded salt water continues to creep upriver and threatens municipal drinking water. That makes it unsafe to drink — especially for people with kidney disease, high blood pressure, people on a low-sodium diet, infants and pregnant women.” U.S. News.   New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has signed an emergency declaration over an intrusion of saltwater into the Mississippi River that officials say could impact the water supply in the region.

The Carbon Footprint of Pet Fish



A lot has been written about the environmental impact of owning pets like dogs and cats, but not a lot has been said about the carbon footprint of pet fish ownership.  As you might guess, there’s a world of difference between owning a goldfish and maintaining a full-fledged aquarium for tropical fish. What’s the carbon footprint of owning pet fish?  looks at the environmental consequences like water and energy use of maintaining an aquarium in some detail. Environmental concerns related to fish ownership are mainly water used, which can be considerable for large aquariums requiring reverse osmosis water and frequent water changes, and energy used for pumping and heating water.  The Conversation.


A recent poll reported by Greenwire found that 79% of voters want more water infrastructure funding.


Study Finds Disparities in Public Water Quality Associated with Race and Income

Recent studies funded by the Superfund Research Program (SRP) reached the not-surprising conclusion that socioeconomic factors, such as race and income, may be associated with disparities in exposure to drinking water contaminants. For their studies, researchers evaluated contaminants in private wells and community water systems in various regions across the country. 

These disparities stem from a long history of unequal environmental protections and investments in water infrastructure. As a result, water is more likely to become contaminated in poor communities and these communities face greater technical and financial challenges in maintaining water quality that meets safety standards.Environmental Factor