Lawsuit Launched Over Trump’s Massive Rollback Of Pollution Protections For Rivers, Wetlands

 Below is a press release issued by The Center for Biological Diversity, a party in a lawsuit brought forth in reaction to intended rollbacks to the Clean Water Act. An interesting map is provided demonstrating areas that would be affected. 

For Immediate Release, February 18, 2020


Brett Hartl, Center for Biological Diversity, (202) 817-8121,
Maia Raposo, Waterkeeper Alliance, (212) 747-0622 x 116,
Annalisa Batanides Tuel, Turtle Island Restoration Network, (408) 621-8113,

Lawsuit Launched Over Trump’s Massive Rollback of Pollution Protections for Rivers, Wetlands

Rule Threatens Millions of Acres of Wetlands, Hundreds of Endangered Species

WASHINGTON— Conservation groups filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Trump administration today for eliminating longstanding protections for the nation’s waters, including approximately half of all wetlands and potentially millions of miles of streams. The Trump rule allows polluters to pave over wetlands and dump pesticides, mining waste and other pollutants directly into these now-unprotected waterways.

The impacts of this Clean Water Act rollback were revealed by a leaked Environmental Protection Agency analysis that indicates arid states like Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada could lose protections for the vast majority of their waters. The loss of protections puts hundreds of endangered species at greater risk of extinction, including the Chiricahua leopard frog, Chinook salmon and southwestern willow flycatcher.

“Trump’s despicable giveaway to polluters will wipe out countless wetlands and streams and speed the extinction of endangered wildlife across the country,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Even as we’re fighting this in court, the polluters will rush to fill in wetlands and turn our waterways into industrial toilets. So go outside, take a swim, or go fishing at your favorite spot now, because the deluge of pollution unleashed by Donald Trump will soon touch waterways from coast to coast.”

The final rule limits protections only to wetlands and streams that are “physically and meaningfully connected” to larger navigable bodies of water. The radical change repeals longstanding protections for wetlands, streams and rivers that have been in place since the Nixon administration and that are responsible for major improvements in water quality nationwide.

President Trump’s Executive Order 13778 required the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to review the rule defining which waters deserve Clean Water Act protections. The agencies decided to protect only those waters that have “a relatively permanent surface connection” to a territorial sea or commercially navigable body of water such as a shipping channel — a myopic legal interpretation that ignores decades of settled law and the basics of hydrology. The rule partially follows the minority legal view of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, which was never adopted by the Supreme Court, but goes even further to eliminate protections for many other waters across the country.

“This reverses more than 40 years of progress and settled law,” said Kelly Hunter Foster, a senior attorney at Waterkeeper Alliance. “Because the rule establishes arbitrary categories of protected waters, EPA and the Army Corps do not have the data necessary to fully identify the waters that will lose protection and they haven’t even assessed the impacts of leaving these waters unprotected where adequate data is available. Their actions are not only reckless — they are illegal.”

In rushing to comply with Trump’s executive order, the agencies violated both the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act. Both laws require the federal government to “look before you leap” and ensure that the environmental consequences of a particular action will not cause unintended environmental damage.

“Clean water is the single most important resource for countless species, including humans,” said Annalisa Batanides Tuel, advocacy and policy manager at the Turtle Island Restoration Network. “Right now we’re facing the reality of climate change and widespread habitat loss. It is critical to expand Clean Water Act protections — not shrink them — if we want to avoid mass extinction.”

Today’s notice of intent was submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity, Waterkeeper Alliance, Center for Food Safety, Turtle Island Restoration Network, Humboldt Baykeeper, Lake Worth Waterkeeper, Missouri Confluence Waterkeeper, Monterey Coastkeeper – A Program of the Otter Project, Rio Grande Waterkeeper, Sound Rivers (Upper Neuse, Lower Neuse and Pamlico-Tar Riverkeepers), Russian Riverkeeper, Upper Missouri Waterkeeper and Snake River Waterkeeper.

The organizations are represented by the Indian and Environmental Law Group of Oklahoma.

WOTUS map by Center for Biological Diversity Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.






Our Coconut Shell Catalytic Carbon Backwashing Filter for Whole House Treatment

For City Water Treated with Either Chlorine or Chloramine


We’ve been selling whole house filters to city water for several years in a variety of styles, with different carbon choices and different control valve configurations. This page features the best filter we can build for city water users. We present it in four basic sizes, with recommendations based on family size.

American cities use either chlorine or chloramine as a basic disinfectant. Both have advantages and disadvantages, but it’s no secret that when they reach your home they’ve done their job and you will like the water much better if you remove them from water that you bath in and drink.

An issue in filter choice is that although chloramine and chlorine are removed by filter carbon, chloramine is much harder to remove, so a specialty carbon known as “catalytic carbon” is the carbon of choice if your city uses chloramine. The high quality catalytic carbon used in the filters below is Aquasorb coconut shell catalytic. It is excellent for chloramine and much better than it has to be for chlorine removal.  Aquasorb is a hard carbon carbon for long life and it is exceptionally clean carbon that does not put carbon particles into home service lines.

The mineral tank is the water saving Vortech and the control valve is the SXT electronic version of the tough and reliable Fleck 5600.























5600 SXT



Unit Description

Tank Black Vortech. No support bed needed. Excellent service flow. Saves thousands of gallons of backwash water over its lifespan as compared with conventional media tanks.  10 year manufacturer’s warranty.
Control Valve Fleck 5600 SXT. Digital version of the old faithful 5600. Programmed before shipping. Five-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Extras Stainless steel bypass. Drain tubing. Instructions for installation and startup. Support by phone or email.
Media The best carbon available. Jacobi coconut shell catalytic. Extra clean, effective for both chlorine and chloramine plus all the other chemicals that carbon removes. Extremely hard and durable carbon for a long life and minimum release of particles (fines).
Shipping Shipped UPS. We pay shipping. Ships within one or two days of receipt of order.
Recommended media replacement 5 years.



Note: These filters are for homes with ¾” or 1″ service pipe.Please call for information about equivalent filters for larger applications.

Part Number Tank Size. Media Load. Family Size Recommendation Full Price. (We pay shipping.)
AS0948 9″ X 48 – 1 cubic foot.

Chlorine: Up to 2 people.

Chloramine: 1 person.

AS1054 10″ X 54″ – 1.5 cubic feet.

Chlorine: Up to 4 people.

Chloramine: 2 to 3 people.

AS1252 12″ X 52″ – 2 cubic feet.

Chlorine: Up to 4 to 6 people.

Chloramine: up to 4 people.

AS1354 13″ B 54″ – 2.5 cubic feet.

Chlorine: Up to 7 people.

Chloramine: Up to 5 people.


Jacobi Aquasorb Coconut Shell Catalytic Carbon Spec Sheet


Not All In-Home Drinking Water Filters Completely Remove Toxic PFAS

Research by Duke and NC State scientists finds most filters are only partially effective at removing PFAS. A few, if not properly maintained, can even make the situation worse.

Pure Water Gazette introductory note. We’re reprinting WaterOnline’s reporting on Duke University research that appeared recently. We take issue with the “glass is half empty” title, which more appropriately should be “All Home Reverse Osmosis Units Tested In Duke Research Removed PFAS Handily.” Are we supposed to be surprised and disappointed that a $35 end-of-faucet filter from Walmart failed to remove tiny amounts of perfluoroalkyl sulfonic acids, perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids, and per- and poly-fluoroalkyl ether acids from tap water? We take issue as well with the implication that home reverse osmosis units are luxury items beyond the reach of homeowners because of cost. A home appliance that costs less than a smart phone and provides years of superb drinking water? We added the image below from the original Duke research because it summarizes the findings: small carbon filters were partially effective, double undersink filters were very effective (though researchers could not explain why), and undersink reverse osmosis units of various brands, states of upkeep and age were uniformly effective.


The water filter on your refrigerator door, the pitcher-style filter you keep inside the fridge and the whole-house filtration system you installed last year may function differently and have vastly different price tags, but they have one thing in common.

They may not remove all of the drinking water contaminants you’re most concerned about.

A new study by scientists at Duke University and North Carolina State University finds that – while using any filter is better than using none – many household filters are only partially effective at removing toxic perfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS, from drinking water. A few, if not properly maintained, can even make the situation worse.

“We tested 76 point-of-use filters and 13 point-of-entry or whole-house systems and found their effectiveness varied widely,” said Heather Stapleton, the Dan and Bunny Gabel Associate Professor of Environmental Health at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

“All of the under-sink reverse osmosis and two-stage filters achieved near-complete removal of the PFAS chemicals we were testing for,” Stapleton said. “In contrast, the effectiveness of activated-carbon filters used in many pitcher, countertop, refrigerator and faucet-mounted styles was inconsistent and unpredictable. The whole-house systems were also widely variable and in some cases actually increased PFAS levels in the water.”

“Home filters are really only a stopgap,” said Detlef Knappe, the S. James Ellen Distinguished Professor of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering at NC State, whose lab teamed with Stapleton’s to conduct the study. “The real goal should be control of PFAS contaminants at their source.”

PFAS have come under scrutiny in recent years due to their potential health impacts and widespread presence in the environment, especially drinking water. Exposure to the chemicals, used widely in fire-fighting foams and stain- and water-repellants, is associated with various cancers, low birth weight in babies, thyroid disease, impaired immune function and other health disorders. Mothers and young children may be most vulnerable to the chemicals, which can affect reproductive and developmental health.

Some scientists call PFAS “forever chemicals” because they persist in the environment indefinitely and accumulate in the human body. They are now nearly ubiquitous in human blood serum samples, Stapleton noted.

The researchers published their peer-reviewed findings Feb. 5 [2020] in Environmental Science & Technology Letters. It’s the first study to examine the PFAS-removal efficiencies of point-of-use filters in a residential setting.

They analyzed filtered water samples from homes in Chatham, Orange, Durham and Wake counties in central North Carolina and New Hanover and Brunswick counties in southeastern N.C. Samples were tested for a suite of PFAS contaminants, including three perfluoroalkal sulfonic acids (PFSAs), seven perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (PFCAs) and six per- and poly-fluoroalkyl ether acids (PFEAs). GenX, which has been found in high levels in water in the Wilmington area of southeastern N.C., was among the PFEAs for which they tested.

Key takeaways include:

  • Reverse osmosis filters and two-stage filters reduced PFAS levels, including GenX, by 94% or more in water, though the small number of two-stage filters tested necessitates further testing to determine why they performed so well.
  • Activated-carbon filters removed 73% of PFAS contaminants, on average, but results varied greatly. In some cases, the chemicals were completely removed; in other cases they were not reduced at all. Researchers saw no clear trends between removal efficiency and filter brand, age or source water chemical levels. Changing out filters regularly is probably a very good idea, nonetheless, researchers said.
  • The PFAS-removal efficiency of whole-house systems using activated carbon filters varied widely. In four of the six systems tested, PFSA and PFCA levels actually increased after filtration. Because the systems remove disinfectants used in city water treatment, they can also leave home pipes susceptible to bacterial growth.

“The under-sink reverse osmosis filter is the most efficient system for removing both the PFAS contaminants prevalent in central N.C. and the PFEAs, including GenX, found in Wilmington,” Knappe said. “Unfortunately, they also cost much more than other point-of-use filters. This raises concerns about environmental justice, since PFAS pollution affects more households that struggle financially than those that do not struggle.”

Nick Herkert, a postdoctoral associate in Stapleton’s lab, was lead author on the study. John Merrill of NC State and Cara Peters, David Bollinger, Sharon Zhang, Kate Hoffman and Lee Ferguson of Duke were co-authors. Funding came from the N.C. Policy Collaboratory through the N.C. PFAS Testing Network and from the Wallace Genetic Foundation. Duke and NC State scientists finds most filters are only partially effective at removing PFAS. A few, if not properly maintained, can even make the situation worse.

Source: WaterOnline.

More PFAS information from the Pure Water Gazette website.

Pure Water Gazette Fair Use Statement

More Byproducts of Chlorination

Posted February 6th, 2020

Common Water Disinfecting Method May Result In Toxic Byproducts, Study Finds

Toxic and carcinogenic compounds are produced when phenols in drinking water mix with chlorine, the most common chemical used to disinfect drinking water in the U.S.

Chlorine, the most common chemical used to disinfect drinking water in the United States, creates previously unidentified toxic byproducts in the very water chlorinebyproductsits meant to disinfect, according to a new study from researchers at Johns Hopkins and the University of California, Berkeley, as well as in Switzerland.

The researchers’ findings were recently published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology

“There’s no doubt that chlorine is beneficial; chlorination has saved millions of lives worldwide from diseases such as typhoid and cholera since its arrival in the early 20th century,” says Carsten Prasse, an assistant professor of Environmental Health and Engineering at Johns Hopkins and the paper’s lead author. “But that process of killing potentially fatal bacteria and viruses comes with unintended consequences. The discovery of these previously unknown, highly toxic byproducts raises the question of how much chlorination is really necessary.”

Phenols, chemical compounds that occur naturally in the environment and are abundant in personal care products and pharmaceuticals, are also commonly found in drinking water. When these phenols mix with chlorine, the process creates a large number of byproducts. Current analytical chemistry methods, however, are unable to detect and identify all of these byproducts, some which may be harmful and can cause long-term health consequences, says Prasse.

For the study, Prasse and his collaborators added N-α-acetyl-lysine, which is almost identical to the amino acid lysine that makes up many proteins in our bodies, to detect reactive electrophiles, harmful compounds which have been linked to a variety of diseases. The technique of identifying compounds based on their reaction with biomolecules like DNA and proteins is commonly used in the field of toxicology.

The researchers first chlorinated water using commercial methods: they added excess chlorine, which ensures sufficient disinfection but also eliminates harmless smell and taste compounds that consumers often complain about. Then the team added the aforementioned amino acid, let the water incubate for one day, and used mass spectrometry, a method of analyzing chemicals, to detect the electrophiles that reacted with the amino acid.

Their experiment found the compounds 2-butene-1,4-dial, or BDA, and chloro-2-butene-1,4-dial, or BDA with chlorine attached. BDA is a very toxic compound and a known carcinogen that, until this study, scientists had not detected in chlorinated water before, says Prasse.

While Prasse stresses that this is a lab-based study and the presence of these novel byproducts in real drinking water has not been evaluated, the findings also raise the question about the use of alternative methods to disinfect drinking water, including the use of ozone, UV treatment, or simple filtration.

“In other countries, especially in Europe, chlorination is not used as frequently, and the water is still safe from waterborne illnesses. In my opinion, we need to evaluate when chlorination is really necessary for the protection of human health and when alternative approaches might be better,” Prasse says.

He adds: “Our study also clearly emphasizes the need for the development of new analytical techniques that allow us to evaluate the formation of toxic disinfection by-products when chlorine or other disinfectants are being used. One reason regulators and utilities are not monitoring these compounds is that they don’t have the tools to find them.”

Source: Johns Hopkins University. Reprinted from Watertech Online.

Which sediment filter cartridge is best? Wound string, melt-blown, or pleated?


Water filter cartridges whose function is to trap suspended particles come in three distinct styles.  Mr. Robert LeConche, President of Shelco, one of the largest makers of sediment filtration products, describes them like this:


Wound Filters. Wound filters are versatile all-purpose filters that exhibit rather high dirt-holding capacities. They are relatively low cost, depending on the materials of construction, and work well in most applications. This style of filtration offers great compatibilities because of a wide range of raw materials available for production. Its distinct diamond patterns create fluid channeling from the outer diameter to its center core making it a true depth filter. One caution is that low-quality wound filters used under high differential pressures have a tendency to “unload” or release sediment that was previously filtered out of the solutions.


Melt blown or Spun. Melt-blown or poly spun filters are almost always made of FDA-grade materials for use in potable water and food and beverage applications. There are two levels of product efficiencies, Nominal and Absolute rated. Nominally rated cartridges should offer efficiencies ranging from 70% to 80%. Absolute or High Efficiency Melt Blown Cartridges will offer efficiencies in the range of 90% to 99%. Melt-blown filters are usually a lower cost option to wounds or pleated cartridges (although they may require more frequent cartridge changes).


Pleated. Pleated filters offer higher flow rates with lower clean differential pressures and extended filter life than most cartridge filters. They are almost always made of FDA grade materials for use in potable water and food and beverage applications. Pleated filters can be used alone or as final stage filtration in multi-stage filter systems. Although pleated filters typically are more expensive than other filters, they have a longer filter life and some can be clean and reused (when appropriate). Pleated cartridges also offer nominally rated and  bsolute rated alternatives.

As to which is “best,” our answer is usually that it depends on the individual case. Some customers prefer one, others swear by another.  Whichever works best in your situation is the best.

Wound string and melt-blown cartridges are called “depth” cartridges because they can trap and hold particles beneath the surface, while pleated filters trap and hold sediment on the surface only. However, pleated filters have much more surface area than the other styles because of the unique accordion shape.  Although pleated cartridges usually cost more, they can be washed and reused in most cases. The rule of thumb is that pleated cartridges of 5-microns or more can be reused; tighter than 5 microns, reuse usually is impossible. Because of their great surface area, pleated cartridges can often support a higher service flow rate as well.


fc108dirtyA well-used wound string filter. Note the diamond patterns mentioned by Mr. LeConche.

Residential Chlorine Cartridge Filters



Cartridge-style whole house filters for city water have many advantages.  They install easily without need for a drain connection and electricity, they are compact and can be wall mounted, they require little upkeep,  and they are very effective.

Below are specially priced cartridge-style whole house  filters designed for city homes whose water supplier uses chlorine (rather than chloramine).  The chloramine version of the same filters are also available. The chlorine filters on this page  use the exceptional Pentek Radial Flow Carbon Filter.  This unique cartridge offers long life, excellent taste/odor performance, and almost no pressure loss.  The radial flow granular style of the RFC20BB restricts flow less than 1 psi at 4 gallons per minute, a fraction of the pressure drop from comparable carbon block filters.  The filter uses powdered carbon that is held in place by a uniquely designed cartridge that eliminates the need for the plastic binders used in carbon block filters.

These units cost a bit more than our standard carbon block whole house units, but their free-flowing performance makes them worth the added expense.

The package systems we’ve put together include a filter wrench, housings, extra O Rings,  brackets, and cartridges.  All housings have 1″ ports (3/4″ or 1.5″ available upon request).  All housings, both 20″ and 10″,  are tough, reliable Pentek “Big Blue.”  All housing packages include mounting screws, heavy duty metal brackets, and one extra housing O Ring.

These systems are designed for parallel installation for larger homes to assure minimal pressure drop and optimal chenical/chlorine performance. See the reference pages listed below for installation pictures. Note that all carbon filters are 20″ and all sediment filters are 10″. The housing caps and brackets are identical for easy installation.

Whole house cartridge filters offer many advantages as compared with tank-style filters.  They install easily (no drain connection and no electricity needed). They are reliable, simple, easily serviced units with a very long lifespan. As compared with backwashing filters, these compact whole house carbon units save hundreds of gallons of water per year because no backwash is needed.

The RFC20 is a NSF-42 certified cartridge with a manufacturer’s rating for 70,000 gallons of chlorine removal @ 4 gpm. PSI drop at 4 gpm is only 0.9 psi. (The cartridge will support a higher service flow. See sizing notes below.)



Price (shipping to lower-48 addresses included)

System 1. One 4.5″ X 10″ 5 micron sediment filter plus one 4.5″ X 20″ high performance carbon filter. Homes with 1 to 3 people. Flow rates to 5 gpm. $303.00
System 2. One 4.5″ X 10″ 5 micron sediment filter plus two 4.5″ X 20″ carbon filters installed in parallel. Homes with up to 5 people. Flow rates to 10 gpm. $507.00
System 3. One 4.5″ X 10″ 5 micron sediment filter plus three 4.5″ X 20″ carbon filters installed in parallel. Homes with up to 8 people. Flow rates to 15 gpm. $714.00

 wh101_306Basic 20″ Big Blue Housing


Multi-filter installation. Water passes through sediment filter on the left, then splits to pass through two carbon filters.  (The sediment filter is a 10″ cartridge and the two carbon filters are 20″.)

See also:

High Performance Cartridge-Style Chloramine Filters.  (This is the chloramine version of the products on this page. Chloramine reduction requires specialty carbon and in general needs a slower flow rate or greater filter capacity than chlorine reduction.)

Compact Whole House Filters.

More Multi-Filter Installation Pictures.

General Installation Instructions for Compact Whole House Filters.

U.S. drinking water widely contaminated with ‘forever chemicals’: environment watchdog


By Timothy Gardner

The contamination of U.S. drinking water with man-made “forever chemicals” is far worse than previously estimated with some of the highest levels found in Miami, Philadelphia and New Orleans, said a report on Wednesday by an environmental watchdog group.

The chemicals, resistant to breaking down in the environment, are known as perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. Some have been linked to cancers, liver damage, low birth weight and other health problems.

The findings  by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) show the group’s previous estimate in 2018, based on unpublished U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data, that 110 million Americans may be contaminated with PFAS, could be far too low.

“It’s nearly impossible to avoid contaminated drinking water from these chemicals,” said David Andrews, a senior scientist at EWG and co-author of the report.

The chemicals were used in products like Teflon and Scotchguard and in firefighting foam. Some are used in a variety of other products and industrial processes, and their replacements also pose risks.

Of tap water samples taken by EWG from 44 sites in 31 states and Washington D.C., only one location, Meridian, Mississippi, which relies on 700 foot (215 m) deep wells, had no detectable PFAS. Only Seattle and Tuscaloosa, Alabama had levels below 1 part per trillion (PPT), the limit EWG recommends.

In addition, EWG found that on average six to seven PFAS compounds were found at the tested sites, and the effects on health of the mixtures are little understood. “Everyone’s really exposed to a toxic soup of these PFAS chemicals,” Andrews said.

In 34 places where EWG’s tests found PFAS, contamination had not been publicly reported by the EPA or state environmental agencies.

The EPA has known since at least 2001 about the problem of PFAS in drinking water but has so far failed to set an enforceable, nationwide legal limit. The EPA said early last year it would begin the process to set limits on two of the chemicals, PFOA and PFOS.

The EPA said it has helped states and communities address PFAS and that it is working to put limits on the two main chemicals but did not give a timeline.

In 2018 a draft report from an office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said the risk level for exposure to the chemicals should be up to 10 times lower than the 70 PPT threshold the EPA recommends. The White House and the EPA had tried to stop the report from being published.

Source: Reuters report via Yahoo News.

Pure Water Gazette Fair Use Statement

Water Softener or TAC?

Posted December 19th, 2019

TAC or Water Softener: Pros and Cons

With the growing popularity of alternatives to conventional water softeners, most notably Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) systems, residential customers are finding it more difficult to choose a home treatment system for hardness.

Below here are some issues that come up and our comments on them, based both on our direct experience with the products themselves and on discussions we’ve had with customers who use them, In each case, we’re comparing a standard TAC unit to a standard conventional water softener.

Adds salt to water:  The softener works by exchanging salt for calcium and magnesium, so, yes, it adds salt.  TAC does not use salt.

Removes hardness.  Calcium and magnesium are the minerals that cause water to be hard. A softener removes them.  TAC “conditions” them so that they are less offensive; it does not remove hardness, so it really should not be called a softener. There is currently no way to quantify the effect that TAC units have on hardness.

Gives the water a feeling of slickness.  Softener, yes; TAC, no.

Makes soap lather better, thus saving soap.  Softener, yes; TAC, perhaps a little.

Makes plumbing and appliances last longer.  Yes in both cases.

Initial cost comparison. Softeners vary in price, a lot, depending on style and manufacturer.  In general, TAC units cost more than good quality softeners but less than high-end softeners.

Upkeep. Operating Cost.  If the user’s labor is considered, or if the user pays someone to keep the softener cleaned and full of salt, the softener costs more. The single “upkeep” cost for TAC units is media replacement, which is expensive, but it only happens about every third year.  TAC uses no salt, no water for regeneration, no electricity, and has no moving parts that break. TAC is so simple that most users can do the occasional media replacement themselves.

Environmental impact.  TAC uses no water for regeneration and adds nothing to the waste stream. Softeners use considerable amounts of water for regeneration and add salt to the city’s waste stream or the septic tank. Why is this a big deal? Because city water departments are hard-pressed to dispose of the waste water, which usually can’t be used for irrigation because of the salt content. Softeners, by the way, can be regenerated with potassium chloride rather than sodium chloride, which is regarded as more environmentally friendly but which is considerably more expensive than plain old softener salt.

Health issues.  Although we believe that amount of salt added to drinking water by a softener probably has no negative health impact unless you drink outrageous amounts of it, not everyone would agree. The salt can be removed from softened water by an undersink reverse osmosis unit. RO removes salt handily.  TAC adds nothing objectionable to drinking water–at least nothing we know about yet. Softeners add salt and remove calcium and magnesium; TAC units neither add nor remove minerals.

Aesthetics. Some people (usually people who grew up with softened water) like the “slick” feel and the illusion that soap can’t be washed off the skin. Some people (usually people who grew up bathing in hard water) don’t.  TAC units do not affect the water aesthetically. The water feels, smells, tastes, and looks the same as untreated water.

Installation.  The TAC unit is easier to install. The softener needs electricity and a drain connection.  TAC needs neither. The softener has a control valve to program and a startup procedure to follow; TAC units require no programming or setup.

Pre-treatment — A sediment filter is essential in front of the TAC unit and is usually a good idea in front of a softener. In general, softeners are tougher and require less protection. Softeners actually remove small amounts of iron and manganese, but TAC units must be protected  from them by pre-treatment. Likewise, TAC units are very sensitive to copper and have to be protected from new copper piping by remaining in by-pass mode until new copper piping is seasoned. Both softeners and TAC units last longer with pre-treatment for chlorine or chloramine  in city water, but this is not essential.


 The conventional softener in the picture consists of the tall resin tank, the control valve on top, and the brine tank where salt to regenerate the resin is stored.  TAC units have only the tall tank and the top valve does not require electricity. No brine tank is needed. 

Dark Waters: Water Contaminants in the Movies



A highly promoted movie called Dark Waters came out in late November 2019. It stars Mark Ruffalo and tells the story of Cincinnati lawyer Rob Bilott and his dozen-year battle against the centuries-old American chemical company, DuPont.  From an effort to gain justice for a single client whose livestock were poisoned by Dupont’s chemical PFOA, Bilott’s efforts resulted in large class-action settlements for hundreds of injured parties. Ruffalo, who is known as an environmental activist as well as an actor, produced the film as well as starring in it. Other top actors featured are Anne Hathaway and Tim Robbins.

Dark Waters joins other important movies that brought significant water contaminants to public attention. The stories of all are similar. They feature an individual who takes on a powerful company that seems to be above the law.  The best known of these is Erin Brockovich, starring Julia Roberts, which tells the story of the hexavalent chromium (aka chromium-6) poisoning of the water in Hinkley, CA by Pacific Gas and Electric. A lesser known but equally compelling story is that of the TCE poisoning of the wells that supplied Woburn, MA by the W.R. Grace company. The incident inspired an outstanding book by Jonathan Harr that in turn inspired the 1998 movie A Civil Action, starring John Travolta and Robert Duvall. (The book was better than the movie, but both deserve your attention.)

Why Don’t Tiny EOT (End of Tap) Filters Work As Well As Standard Filters? Well, Because They Are Tiny

Most of the bad publicity (“filters don’t work”) that resulted from poor performance on tests done on lead filters supplied to homeowners in Flint and Newark ignored the fact that the filters provided were novelty-sized units meant for off-the-shelf purchase. They could not be expected to “work” as well as full-sized filters actually designed for long-term  use in homes.

Here is sizing information from the manufacturer of MetSorb®, a heavy metal removal medium that is added to carbon block filters to give them lead-removal capacity.


A nominal 10 – inch carbon block, standard for most countertop and undercounter applications, will provide more overall volume and more functional media than the 2 to 2-1/2 inch blocks typically used in end-of-tap (EOT) applications. For example, a nominal 10 – inch carbon block can easily perform for 1000 gallons or more of contaminant reduction, while the smaller EOT blocks are rated at several hundred gallons.

The larger block design also gives longer contact times (EBCT or Empty Bed Contact Time) for better contaminant reduction. For example, a nominal 10 – inch block will provide an EBCT of 10 -15 seconds, while a typical 21/2 inch EOT block gives only 3 seconds EBCT. Devices designed for slower flow rates, e.g., 0.5 gpm (gallons per minute) versus 1.0 gpm will provide longer contact times and better percentage contaminant reduction.


This 10″ carbon block fits standard sized countertop and undersink filters and provides 2500 gallons of lead-free water at 0.75 gallons per minute.