The Pure Water Occasional for December 23, 2013
In this 2013-ending issue you will find some recycled articles from earlier this year about National Garden Hose Day, chloramines, fluoride, ocean tides, artificial fish, and reverse osmosis tanks. And as always, you’ll find the best of the week’s world water news.
To read this issue on our website, please go here.
Happy New Year
I boldly wish you a Happy New Year knowing full well that someone will soon condemn New Year’s greetings as morally and politically reprehensible. I apologize in advance to the offended.
This issue, with the exception of the World Water News section, consists of reruns: pieces that appeared in previous 2013 Occasionals. My plan was to do a “best of 2013” issue, but the amount of material I had to review made me settle for a selection of a few representative articles–not necessarily the best, just typical.
When I looked back over the year and then over previous years I was a little astonished at the amount of information the Occasional has put out. The earliest Occasionals weren’t saved, but we started archiving issues in September 2009. Issues from September 2009 to mid-April of the present year can be found indexed here, on the Occasional’s website. Issues from April 15, 2003 to the present are held on the Pure Water Gazette’s website. Here’s the index. The move to a parking place on the Gazette site was done simply to take advantage of the much easier organizing properties of the WordPress software used for the Gazette.
Thank you so much for reading the Occasional. If you have a friend who might enjoy reading it (or at least looking at the pictures), please ask him or her to sign on. We need readers.
And thank you especially for your purchases from Pure Water Products. We sincerely appreciate your business. We wish you a happy and prosperous 2014.
Gene Franks, Pure Water Products
For the Dog Days of Summer, there’s nothing like a garden hose to make you happy. Read the Occasional’s stirring coverage of National Garden Hose Day 2013.
Chloramines in Drinking Water
The EPA’s webpage on chloramines begins with this paragraph:
Chloramines are disinfectants used to treat drinking water. Chloramines are most commonly formed when ammonia is added to chlorine to treat drinking water. The typical purpose of chloramines is to provide longer-lasting water treatment as the water moves through pipes to consumers. This type of disinfection is known as secondary disinfection. Chloramines have been used by water utilities for almost 90 years, and their use is closely regulated. More than one in five Americans uses drinking water treated with chloramines. Water that contains chloramines and meets EPA regulatory standards is safe to use for drinking, cooking, bathing and other household uses.
In spite of the EPA’s assurances of safety, the use of chloramine in city water supplies has provoked continual controversy.
Treatment for Chloramines: Removing Chloramines from Water
Reduction of chloramines from city water is a commonly misunderstood issue. For those unfamiliar with the details of water treatment, there is often an expectation that there is a “filter” for every contaminant that specifically identifies that contaminant and, as if by magic, “takes it out.” A frequent question is “How much does it take out?” It isn’t quite as simple as that, especially with “problem contaminants” like chloramines.
Here is an excerpt from technical writer David Bauman. This is from a Water Technology article on chloramines. By way of explanation, the “catalytic carbon” Mr. Bauman refers to is commonly known by its most common brand name, Centaur carbon.
The Centers for Disease Control Provides Easy Access to Information About Your Local Water’s Fluoride Content
Fluoride is one of the more controversial issues in water treatment. A part of the issue that is frequently overlooked is that the amount of fluoride added or maintained by the water supplier should be an important part of the discussion, as should also the nature and origin of the fluoride that is added.
Certainly there is a difference between naturally occurring fluoride and the industrial waste product that usually serves as a tap water additive, but there is probably a more significant difference between 4 ppm fluoride (currently the EPA upper allowable) and 0.7 ppm, which is what is now being recommended for cities with warm climate. (There is an assumption that in warm weather areas, people drink more water and therefore should have less fluoride in their tap water.)
We should note that many of the recent studies that show the brain-killing effects of fluoride were done in areas whose water has very high fluoride levels. Does this mean that if a lot of fluoride damages children’s brains a lot, a little fluoride will damage children’s brains a little? Perhaps, but not necessarily. Everything, including water and tomato juice and vitamin C, is toxic if the dose is high enough. It doesn’t take much fluoride to be too much, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that a small amount is toxic.
US water suppliers add fluoride at different levels. Optimal fluoride levels recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service and CDC for drinking water range from 0.7 ppm for warmer climates to 1.2 ppm for cooler climates to account for the tendency for people to drink more water in warmer climates.
To illustrate, two major US cities, fluoridate as follows:
New York City, a northern city — 1 ppm.
Denton, TX, a southern city — 0.7 ppm.
The Centers for Disease Control maintains a website where you can check the current fluoridation practices of your local water supplier.
One final comment. An infrequently mentioned fact about fluoridation of municipal water supplies is that it is not as exact a science as the public often believes. Fluoride levels can vary considerably from one part of a city to another and from one day to the next. This is especially true of small water supplies where a lot is being entrusted to personnel whose training is not always up to the job. The very realistic concern that what is intended to be 1 ppm may well arrive at your home as 4 or 5 ppm should make you consider a protective drinking water treatment for your home.
This Weeks Top Water News Stories
Ice storm leaves 500,000 without electricity. Repair crews worked around the clock to restore power to nearly half a million customers who faced a cold and dark Christmas in parts of central and northeastern U.S. and into eastern Canada after a weekend ice storm. At least 24 deaths have been linked to the storm.
China ban on West Coast shellfish hits tribal divers. In early December, the Chinese government instituted a ban on all shellfish imports from a large swathe of the West Coast after finding two bad clams. The crushing economic impacts of China’s move are hitting tribal fisherman in Puget Sound hard for the holidays.
Two days on the river with Batman of the Hudson. My tour of the Hudson River with John Lipscomb started early on a fog-laced dock just south of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge in Catskill, New York. It ended late in the afternoon a few weeks later on one of the nation’s most polluted waterways, Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal.
Hydraulic fracking for gas uses less water than coal plants, University of Texas study finds. A new University of Texas study suggests that the steam turbines on coal plants consume 25 to 50 times more water than is used in both gas extraction, or fracking, and the natural gas-powered generation.
Report backs EPA order on water contamination in Parker County, Texas. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was justified in ordering that drinking water be provided to several Parker County residents whose water wells were contaminated with methane and cancer-causing benzene in 2010, but additional work needs to be done to assess whether a risk still exists,
With national treasures at risk, DC fights against flooding. The cherry-tree-lined Tidal Basin, fed by the Potomac River, laps at the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. And, especially since Superstorm Sandy, officials in Washington have a clear idea of what would happen in a worst-case storm scenario.
Crap advertising: the city launches a campaign to teach us what a sewer is. Spotting ads for the sewer system on the side of a bus is jarring: Simply put, what’s the need to advertise the presence of the city’s sewer system?
Rhode Island town to curb runoff. Barrington is joining neighboring East Bay communities seeking to improve water quality and resiliency to storms and rising sea levels. A $358,000 project that began in October is intended to curb contaminated runoff from reaching the beach and limit the potential damage from storm surges.
Court upholds convictions in Louisiana pollution case. A federal appeals court in New Orleans has upheld the convictions and prison sentence of a former owner of a Shreveport wastewater treatment facility who instructed employees to illegally dump untreated wastewater into the Red River and the city’s sewer system.
World’s great lakes face conflicting demands for ecosystem services. The first time aloft over the Canadian North offers an unforgettable sight: Thousands of lakes filling the raw scars of recent glaciers, shimmering in the slanting subarctic light. It’s an astounding abundance of water. Big as they are, these lakes are not immune to harm.
Smelly sewage prompts call for Raritan Township to extend sewer system. Septic systems are failing in the area south of Barley Sheaf School and in some of the developments near the intersection of Voorhees Corner Road and Old York Road.
City, counties ordered to curb storm-water pollution. Baltimore city, Baltimore County and Prince George’s County have been directed by the state to step up their efforts to reduce polluted runoff fouling local streams and the Chesapeake Bay. But environmental groups contend the mandates are too vague and weak.
Zachary man indicted, accused of dumping industrial wastes into Baton Rouge sewer system. The owner of a Baton Rouge business accepted $371,000 to dump more than 6.3 million gallons of unpermitted, untreated or undertreated industrial wastes into the city-parish sewer system, according to a federal indictment.
Report: Fish swim past electric barrier meant to block Asian carp. The electric barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal that is considered the last line of defense to stop an Asian carp invasion of Lake Michigan has a problem: Fish can swim through it.
Colorado’s immigrant families meet dead ends on road to flood recovery. In a modular home not much bigger than a double-wide trailer in Weld County’s cow country, the walls seemed to vibrate with the giggles of children and the quiet desperation of some of the poorest refugees of Colorado’s September flood.
The threat to Florida’s manatees. With this year’s die-off, the mystery over what’s happening in the Indian River Lagoon and the declining health of Florida’s springs, this is no time to begin scaling back protections for manatees. This is a time for science and caution, and an urgency of effort.
New Jersey Coast after Sandy
Natural defenses can best protect coasts. It isn’t just the catastrophic storms and tropical cyclones that threaten disaster for the world’s coastal cities. Simple, insidious things like sea level rise, coastal subsidence and the loss of wetlands could bring the sea water coursing through city streets in the decades to come.
Revealed: How global warming is changing Scotland’s marine life. Global warming could cut commercial fish catches around Scotland by 20 percent while they increase by 10 percent around the south of England, according to a new study by more than 150 Government and university scientists.
Boys water polo scores: 7-3, 6-4, 9-5, 8-7.
Editor’s Note: Science (our religion) is mainly about cataloging events and objects, measuring them, and assigning them a cause. It uses the moon to explain the periodic bulging and surging of the ocean that we call tides. Could be, but someday we may discover that it is the tides that cause the moon.
Most of the information below is adapted from an interesting website called Keith’s Moon Page.–Hardly Waite.
The word “tides” is a generic term used to define the alternating rise and fall in sea level with respect to the land, produced by the gravitational attraction of the moon and the sun. To a much smaller extent, tides also occur in large lakes, the atmosphere, and within the solid crust of the earth, acted upon by these same gravitational forces of the moon and sun. Tides are created because the Earth and the moon are attracted to each other, just like magnets are attracted to each other. The moon tries to pull at anything on the Earth to bring it closer. But, the Earth is able to hold onto everything except the water. Since the water is always moving, the Earth cannot hold onto it, and the moon is able to pull at it.
Each day, there are two high tides and two low tides. The ocean is constantly moving from high tide to low tide, and then back to high tide. There is a period of about 12 hours and 25 minutes between the two high tides.
When the moon is full or new, the gravitational pull of the moon and sun are combined. At these times, the high tides are very high and the low tides are very low. This is known as a spring high tide.
Read the full article about the how the Moon affects Ocean Tides here.
Can A $31,000 Artificial Fish Help Keep Water Pollution in Check?
For the purpose of tracking sea pollution, a group called SHOAL Corsortium has launched a number of artificial fish off the northern coast of Spain. The fish, which are around 5 feet long and cost about $31,600 each , are designed to swim like real fish. They have sensors that pick up and report pollutants.
The great advantage is that the technology allows pollutants to be detected and reported in seconds as compared with the weeks required by the traditional method of collecting samples and sending them to a laboratory for analysis.
According to one writer:
Equipped with artificial intelligence, the fish can navigate their surroundings and find their way back to shore when their batteries need to be recharged. If one fish detects significant or unusual pollutants, it can communicate with the others so that all can search together for the source, potentially spotting leaks or spills much faster than by conventional means. In addition to detecting pollutants, the robotic fish might also be used for applications like underwater security and search-and-rescue efforts, their inventors say.
The development of the robot fish was funded in part by the European Union aided by a weapons maker and various universities.
The fish were made to resemble real fish because Nature’s excellent design gives them a short turning circle. They are even provided with an alarm system to alert monitors of mishaps, such as being caught by fishermen.
If all goes well, the Consortium hopes to produce the fish commercially.
How Reverse Osmosis Tanks Work and How to Take Care of Them
By Pure Water Annie
Gazette Technical Wizard Pure Water Annie Clears Up the Nagging Questions about Reverse Osmosis Tanks That Have Been Troubling You
- A reverse osmosis tank is simply a miniature well tank. Pressure tanks on wells and RO tanks work the same way.
- Water enters and leaves the tank through the same tube.
Does Water Come Into Contact with the Plastic/Metal Shell?
- Inside the tank is a bladder made of a material called butyl. Water does not touch the metal or plastic shell of the tank. It touches only the butyl bladder and spout (usually stainless steel or hard plastic) as it enters or leaves the tank.
Air Pressure and Reverse Osmosis Tanks
- There is a small air charge between the outside of the bladder and the inside of the tank. It’s the air pressure that pushes the water out of the tank when you open the faucet.
- When you purchase an RO unit or a new tank, the tank is usually pre-charged with air. But tanks are like automobile tires: you have to put air in them as part of normal maintenance.
- The air valve to check the pressure is located on the side or on the bottom of most RO tanks. It has a cap like an auto tire air cap.
- The standard air charge for undersink RO tanks is about seven psi when there is no water in the tank. You have to empty the tank of water in order to check the air pressure.
- To check the pressure accurately, you need a low pressure air gauge. You can find these at auto parts stores or hardware stores.
- To add air to the tank you need a high tech tool called a bicycle pump. These are also available at hardware stores.
Putting too much air in the tank will not give you more pressure at the faucet; it will just give you less water in the tank.
Servicing Reverse Osmosis Tanks
RO tanks are interchangeable. You don’t have to replace the tank on your RO unit with one of the same brand or same size.
- If you want more capacity, it’s usually easier and more economical to use two (or more) standard-sized tanks rather than a large tank. To join two tanks, all you need is a single tee and some tubing. The orange tube in the picture connects the tanks to the RO unit. The tanks don’t need to be the same size or the same style. They will interact perfectly together.
- Some of the tank’s inner capacity is taken up by air and part is taken up by the bladder. Therefore, for practical purposes, the stated volume in gallons of the tank is about twice what the tank will actually hold in terms of usable water. You’ll get about two gallons of usable water from a four gallon tank. This will vary according to your inlet water pressure, the temperature of the water, the condition of the membrane and prefilter of your RO unit, and a few other variables. But don’t expect four gallons of water from a four gallon tank. On the other hand, two gallons is a lot of water unless you’re filling an aquarium or hosting a dinner party for 18.
Metal or Plastic?
- Metal tanks and plastic tanks yield water of equal quality. Plastic tanks are heavier and cost more than metal tanks, as a rule. The main advantage of plastic tanks is that the do not rust. Normally, metal tanks don’t rust if you keep them dry.
- A tank valve is an essential part of the RO unit, although many cheap RO units are built without a tank valve. Without a tank valve, it is necessary to empty the tank to do a minor repair on the RO unit. The valve allows you to isolate the tank from the rest of the RO unit. This is a great advantage when you perform routine maintenance or service on the RO unit.
- Source: Pure Water Products.
Please visit our RO Parts Page for tanks and accessories.
Thank you for reading. Please come back next week.
Places to Visit on Our Websites in the meantime
Model 77: “The World’s Greatest $77 Water Filter”
”Sprite Shower Filters: You’ll Sing Better!”
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