The Pure Water Occasional for January 6, 2013

In this first issue of 2014 you will find out how the Republicans created the EPA in spite of a presidential veto,  read the nitty-gritty details about the controversial practice called fracking, and learn how to raise the pH of acidic water.  And, as always, there is the best of the week’s world water news.

 To read this issue on our website,  please go here.

Republicans have implemented some of the most notable US environmental laws, even if one of the most successful, the Clean Water Act of 1972, was initially vetoed by Richard Nixon. At the time, two thirds of America’s rivers were considered polluted, with raw sewage pouring into many of them and Ohio’s Cuyahoga River famously catching fire.

Editor’s Note:  One of the most significant and effective pieces of legislation ever enacted in the United States was the Clean Water Act of 1972. Americans today complain of the restrictive actions of the EPA, the organization created by the Act, and recent legislation has cut back on the agency’s authority, but the fact is that the Clean Water Act has performed miracles in the cleanup of America’s water.

It has been pointed out that the EPA is the victim of its own success.  Because most have forgotten how bad things were prior to the Clean Water Act, we complain of excessive regulation which is blamed for holding businesses back.   At the time of the enactment, public support was so strong in support of federal enforcement of water protection that a bipartisan Congress easily over-rode President Nixon’s veto of the Act. When you hear today’s politicians whining about over-regulation, ask yourself if you would really rather go back to the time when American rivers were receiving untreated sewage and chemical wastes from 2/3 of the nations cities and factories and rivers were actually catching fire.

Below is the transcript of an interview with Republican William Ruckelshaus, the first administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and a long-time advocate for clean water.  The interview is conducted by Ashley Ahearn.  If you prefer, you can listed to the interview by using this link:   stream/download .  –Hardly Waite.

 

AHEARN: He was the first Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency back when it was created under the Nixon administration. He’s had a long career in law, business and politics. And now he lives in Seattle, where I sat down with him in his office.

RUCKELSHAUS: Thanks for being here.

AHEARN: Take me back to the time of the creation of the Clean Water Act – what was the feeling at the time that made the EPA and made the Clean Water Act necessary?

RUCKELSHAUS: Well the sentiment was an explosion of public concern about the environment. It was caused by a number of factors, Rachel Carson’s book which was written in 1962, had a cumulative effect that was quite pronounced in the country at the time. We had flammable rivers, you already mentioned the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland.

We had people in Denver wanting to see the mountains and people in Los Angeles wanting to see one another and it was a terrible time. I remember the first time I moved to Washington and the air was brown as I’d go to work in the morning. There was no industry in Washington at the time, that was all automobile pollution. So, people not only heard and saw problems of pollution on television every night, they witnessed it on the way to work, so it really created a demand that something be done.

What people have forgotten is that the Clean Water Act was vetoed by President Nixon; that veto was overridden overwhelmingly in both houses of Congress by both parties, even though the election was just two weeks away, and President Nixon was just 20 points ahead of Senator McGovern, his opponent. At the time still, his own party overturned that veto overwhelmingly.

William Ruckelshaus

AHEARN: What was that like? What were your conversations like with Nixon?

RUCKELSHAUS: Oh, they were so wonderful.

AHEARN: (Laughs.)

RUCKELSHAUS: I had sent him a letter prior to his decision as to whether to sign or veto the bill spelling out why I thought he should sign it, why I was in support of it. His principal concern was that he had asked for five billion dollars to devote to the sewage treatment plant grant program at the federal level. And they’d put seven billion in the bill and that got him quite agitated – he thought that was too much money. So he vetoed it. And what the override of that veto really showed was the overwhelming public support that existed at that time for cleaning up the water and the air and handling all kinds of environmental problems.

AHEARN: I want to play some tape for you that might sound familiar – it’s from the NBC evening news archives from 1971:

[ARCHIVE TAPE: William Ruckelshaus, President Nixon’s head man on environment was on the stand today before Senator Muskie of Maine who has dwelled on this issue himself. They were taking about clean water. How long is it going to take? I’m going to have to acquire some kind of national deadlines in order to ensure there’s no inequality of treatment of this between regions – the states just don’t respond with equal speed. I think that’s right. Each industry and the states must be placed on a deadline. And it’s through this method that we can get uniform treatment across the country of putting everybody on the same deadline.]

AHEARN: That guy sounds familiar.

RUCKELSHAUS: He doesn’t sound familiar to me!

AHEARN: (Laughs).

RUCKELSHAUS: Muskie did.

AHEARN: That deadline you were talking about ended up being 1985. There was supposed to be “zero discharge of pollutants into navigable waters by 1985” is the quote. And, quote, “swimmable, fishable waterways by 1983.” Looking back on it, was that a reasonable deadline?

RUCKELSHAUS: No. It was not. Not anymore than the 1975 deadline for clean air throughout the country was reasonable. The Congress believed that setting deadlines, even if they were somewhat arbitrary and not likely to be achieved was necessary both to demonstrate the urgency of the need for the problem to be addressed, and at the same time maximize the pressure on the administrative branch to get moving to show improvement.

I can remember testifying in front of Senator Muskie that if we stopped doing everything that we were doing in the government we couldn’t achieve these deadlines. And the problem with them was not the sincerity with which they were being suggested by the Congress, the problem with it was you doomed an agency like EPA to failure before it starts because we can’t get there in that period of time.

It’s taken us hundreds of years to get where we are today in terms of pollution. You just simply can’t clean it up overnight. That was always capable of being portrayed as dragging your feet and not doing the right thing. In my view, it was just a statement of reality that we couldn’t do it in that period of time.

AHEARN: So, the Act passes, you’ve got this new power and the money to make the changes and build the infrastructure. What happens next, what’s going through your head?

RUCKELSHAUS: Well, it was a marvelous opportunity, in my view, to try to show the American people that their demand – their legitimate demand that something be done about a societal problem – would trigger the right kind of response from government and it was up to us at EPA to do the best job we could to respond to that legitimate concern, that was affecting public health and the environment.

We had less than a third of the cities in the countries providing adequate sewage treatment – in some cases, no sewage treatment. The sewage was just going directly into waterways and that was causing water borne diseases, it was causing all kinds of problems. We just had ignored it, essentially from the beginning, and this was a massive effort on the part of the federal government to deal with this problem.

AHEARN: What would have happened if we hadn’t had the Clean Water Act? What did it allow you to do?

RUCKELSHAUS: That’s a very good question. The way to measure progress is not just against where we were when we started versus where we are today, but where we were when we started and where we would be today had we done nothing. There are thousands of miles of waterways that are much cleaner today than they were 40 years ago as a result of the treatment being put in or discharges that were going in that have been corrected. And as I say, that doesn’t mean we’re home free, we’ve still go work to do and always will have. But we’re a lot better off today than we were 40 years ago.

AHEARN: What are you seeing now when you say there’s more work to do? What would be at the top of your list if you were in charge today?

RUCKELSHAUS: The biggest problem by far is what’s called non-point source pollution. The point sources are water discharged from sewage treatment plants or from major industrial facilities, and those were the things that got the most attention when we started because that was 85 percent of the problem. That’s what EPA estimated was true. The other kinds of problems are runoff from city streets, runoff from suburban lands, from farmlands, from rural lands, and those are so-called non-point source pollutions, it doesn’t all come from one single source. And the situation is just reversed today.

The EPA’s current estimates is that 85 percent of the problem is non-point source pollution. That’s a much harder problem to get at because it isn’t a single plant or a single city that’s discharging. You can put those cities, which we’ve done, and industrial facilities on permits. Permits spell out what they have to do to keep the water from being polluted from their discharge. They have self-reporting requirements if they violate any of the terms of the permit they can either be fined substantially or be put in jail if they violate on purpose the requirements of the permit itself.

So that problem is largely under social control. I’m not saying that it’s gone, we still have to stay with it, but it’s largely under social control. The non-point source problem is all of the rest of us. That’s the ones that we’re all convinced we’re not doing any of this – this is all some terrible person or all some terrible industry or city that I have no control over. But getting people to manage their land in such a way, getting people to control their lives in such a way that they don’t contribute to this non-point source pollution problem is proving to be very difficult.

AHEARN: I want to talk politics here for a minute. It seems like in recent years, Congress has had a really hard time reaching any sort of bipartisan agreement on anything, really. Let alone environmental issues. But 40 years ago, when the Clean Water Act came into being, things looked different. Why is the environment a partisan issue now, and how do Republicans get back into the game of protecting the environment?

William Ruckelshaus was the first administrator of the EPA. (Wiki Creative Commons)

RUCKELSHAUS: Well, they’re not. Those Republicans in the House, in particular, though it’s probably true in the Senate as well, but the ones in the House have passed a lot of laws recently through the House, but not through the Senate, that would take authority away from EPA to regulate this kind of stuff, that would even abolish EPA in the case of some of those laws… are a result of people coming to believe that the regulatory system itself is imposing unfair burdens on industry, on the American people. So that when a Republican politician rails against the EPA for excessive regulation, they don’t get the same kind of feedback they would have gotten 40 years ago when these laws passed unanimously by their predecessors in Congress.

And when they asked EPA why are you doing what you’re doing, because the very body I’m testifying in front of told me to do this 40 years ago, it’s still in the law, you haven’t amended the law. If you don’t want me to enforce the law, then don’t put it in the law that I’m charged with implementing. And I’ve seen the current Congress say that any regulation that costs over 100 million dollars a year, we should review as to whether or not it should go out in the form in which it’s been promulgated.

Well, I’m going to be tempted to give them that authority and you go ahead and answer the questions from your constituents about the impact of doing this on their health, on their environment, and see how much you like making these kinds of decisions. They wouldn’t last six months under those conditions. Now, it will never happen, they’ll never get that kind of authority to go back, but the difference today from where we were 40 years ago is where public opinion is. If public opinion were as intolerant of what’s happening to our environment and our public health today as they were 40 years ago, you wouldn’t have a partisan split on this issue. There was almost unanimity that something be done about it.

AHEARN: So, what changed?

RUCKELSHAUS: I think a number of things changed. Maybe the most important thing is success. The EPA may well be a victim of its own success. We don’t see the same kinds of visible pollution problems today that we did. We don’t have flammable rivers anymore and we don’t have smog that’s so awful that you can’t even see one another. That was the situation back in the ’60s when the public’s concern began to express itself.

We still have problems today; they tend to be more invisible. They tend to be things that you can’t smell, touch and feel the way you could 40 years ago. And that just doesn’t get public attention. You’re also going through a terrible economic time right now. And the economy, whenever the economy deteriorates, support for the environment deteriorates as well.

AHEARN: You’re a grandfather, right?

RUCKELSHAUS: Right. 12 times!

AHEARN: Wow! So, if you…

RUCKELSHAUS: That’s part of the problem.

AHEARN: (Laughs.) So if you listen to this interview with your grandkids, or if your grandkids heard this interview, what would you want to tell them about the Clean Water Act and what it meant for you and your career?

RUCKELSHAUS: Well, what I’d want them to know is that their society, their government, can be responsive in a democracy to their legitimate demands. And that where problems are identified and the government is supported by the public and serious about dealing with them, significant progress can be made. So the government isn’t always the enemy, the government is sometimes a necessary institution for dealing with problems as widespread and gross as water pollution was, and it’s an example of our country having successfully grappled with a problem.

So, don’t, as you grow older and as you mature in your understanding of the choices that we have in society, necessarily rule out a governmental solution for a problem that you have. It’s not the best way to solve all of the problems by any means, but there are some problems that we’re in it together, just like our President has said. Some problems you can solve yourself, others you have to solve together – water pollution is right up there at the top.

AHEARN: Mr. Ruckelshaus, thanks for joining me.

RUCKELSHAUS: Sure Enough. Thank you.

AHEARN: Bill Ruckelshaus was the first Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency back when it was created under the Nixon Administration.

 The Cuyahoga River Today

Reference Source:  Living on Earth.

See also on this site,  Cuyahoga River Fire by Michael Rotman.

Pure Water Gazette Fair Use Statement

Fracking 101: Breaking down the most important part of today’s oil, gas drilling

by Sharon Dunn

 Editor’s Note:  A survey taken in 2013 showed that although the oil production practice called fracking has stirred up a storm of controversy in our country the majority of Americans have little or no idea of what the practice itself consists of.  We’re reprinting this article from The Greeley Tribune in an effort to remedy this ignorance. – Hardly Waite.

Fracking, the two- to three-day process of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas, is perhaps one of the most misunderstood drilling practices, becoming as bad of a word in some circles as a racial slur.

Entire countries have banned the process. Some Colorado towns have placed moratoriums to study it further.

Environmentalists storm capitals over it, demanding increased regulations, and oil and gas company employees and officials scratch their heads — they’ve been using the same process in oil and gas drilling for 60 years without widespread incidents.

 

Huge pipes lead down a hill to provide water to a fracking site.

 

a compa“It’s a perplexing issue,” said Collin Richardson, vice president of operations for Mineral Resources Inc., who opened up a company fracking job last fall to a student tour from the University of Northern Colorado. “People go to a light switch and expect energy to be there, but they don’t think about where it comes from. I don’t think most people understand that without hydraulic fracturing, we wouldn’t have natural gas to provide electricity to our homes or gas in our cars.

“There’s a gross misconception, and extreme environmentalist groups have been able to get ahold of people’s emotions and twist facts and present false evidence. That’s what it’s all about.”

A recent study by researchers at Oregon State, George Mason and Yale universities revealed that more than half of the 1,000-plus people surveyed across the nation had no idea what fracking was, and almost 60 percent had no opinion on it.

In recent years, combining hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling is what has allowed for the oil and gas revolution that many in the industry say will pull America away from the Middle East in terms of long-term resources and energy independence.

It’s important to understand that fracking is a small part of a much larger operation to get oil and gas from a mile below the surface into storage tanks for market.

Fracking takes about two to three days in what is roughly a 10- to 14-day process of drilling and completing a well.

“Fracking is one of the important parts of this,” said Leen Weijers, vice president of technology and sales for Liberty Oil Field Services, a private contractor that fracs wells for oil and gas exploration companies.

Fracking has always been a part of drilling. The new part of the process is horizontal drilling.

“People don’t equate drilling with fracking,” Richardson said. “I don’t think most people understand if you ban fracking, you effectively ban drilling.”

Starting a well

Companies start the drilling process on about a 3-acre pad of land, which allows for the many trucks that become part of an oil and gas drilling process.

The process begins with vertical drilling. A drilling rig is brought on site to drill the well, which will go to depths of up to 10,000 feet below the surface. This process can take from a week to 10 days, depending on the site.

Drilling stops initially below the water table so the well can be encased in cement to prevent anything from the well leaking into the water table. Once the casing is completed, a 7-inch drill bit will drill more than a mile to get to the formation in which to frac, usually the Niobrara or Codell formations, both stacked beneath several impermeable rock formations. Once the drill bit hits bottom, or the “pay zone,” the company will drill what is called the “bend,” which is the curve the well takes to get into the horizontal portion of the zone. The bend alone could take up to two days to drill.

Throughout the drilling process, drilling mud is pumped in to cool the drill bit and act as a means for the resulting debris to leave the well.

Up to twelve semi trucks all running together provide the horsepower to the wellhead for the fracking process.

The horizontal portion of the well then is drilled for an additional 4,000 feet to 10,000 feet, then encased in cement, with a 4-inch metal pipe in the center to allow for the oil and gas to flow to the surface. At this point, the well is just a hole drilled into the ground, with a cement barrier between the pipe, the formations and water table.

The rig is packed up and activity stops until fracking is scheduled. Sometimes it can wait for weeks before a fracking crew is able to get there. Sometimes it takes a couple of days.

Fracking

The actual fracking process uses a lot of machinery capable of driving the fluid down more than a mile, and a lot of science to calculate the exact mixtures of everything from chemicals and water and sand to the pressure it takes to crack tiny little fissures into rocks, more than a mile beneath the surface.

Sand, water and chemical additives are pumped into the well at high pressures, so as to crack the rock in different stages in the horizontal (parallel to the surface) portion of the well.

“To open fractures at bottom-hole pressures in the Niobrara, you probably need downhole pressures of 10,000 psi or so to open the rocks,” Weijers said.

The chemicals do not erode the rock to create the cracks or fracs — it’s the high pressure of the water that opens them up. The chemicals, such as guar gum, which also are in many foods we eat, are added to help the water to gel, allowing the sand an easier vehicle in which to move.

“When it’s thicker, it does a better job of carrying sand downhole,” Weijers said. “If you think about a handful of sand at a lake, and you put it in water, the sand will settle quickly to the bottom of the lake. We don’t want that to happen in factures.”

Those cracks, now held open by the tiny kernels of sand, release the trapped oil and gas inside, which flow back to the surface after the downward pressure from fluids is released from the well.

Soap ingredients also can be added to the gel to prevent bacterial growth in the well. If bacteria forms, it could release deadly gases.

“You put a lot worse stuff in your food, your yard, or your garden,” Richardson said. “A lot of the chemicals are used to clean your counters, and put in your make-up.”

Many involved in the process describe frac fluid as “slime,” like the stuff kids play with from the local toy store.

The Layout

To handle the sand, water, chemicals and production that comes out of the well during the fracking of the well (commonly called flowback), the site needs have the basics: Trucks, trucks and more trucks to carry the water, the sand, and the chemicals to mix them all together, and more truck horsepower to combine it all to shoot down through a pipe into an 8-inch hole in the ground.

To prep the area, several 500-barrel tanks for water storage or a massive, 40,000-barrel pool to store water is erected on the periphery of the site. Sand storage tanks arrive, then are filled. A typical frac job will utilize from 1.5 million to 6 million pounds of sand.

Iron trucks carry massive amounts of pipe that will be used to keep the well opened and separate from the well.

“When the rest of the crew arrives on location, they’ll typically rig up to the well head with a missile,” Weijers said.

The missile is a manifold around which most of the activity centers, to ultimately pump fracking fluid downhole. Crews will line on each side of the missile five to six semi trucks, which contain the horsepower to create enough pressure to pump the fluid downhole at the proper rate.

In addition to the horsepower trucks, there are sand trucks and trucks containing the chemical additives to thicken the water to keep the sand moving in the well.

A hydration truck, through which the chemicals are added to the water to “gel,” and a blender, which mixes that fluid with the sand, are nearby. All surround the missile in a horseshoe shape.

“The blender sends the mixture of sand water to the low-pressure side of the missile,” Weijers said. “From that missile, we have 10-12 connections to the individual horsepower units, which really pressurize the mixture of sand and fluids so the (missile) can send it (through its high-pressure side) downhole at pressures that can crack the rock open.”

That one process is good for one frac, or stage, at which the horizontal well is cracked from being hit at such high pressures.

A typical well can have 20 fracs, each necessitating this procedure of blending, pressurizing and cracking. A typical frac job can last up to 20 hours — one frac stage per hour — from start to finish.

At the open end, or the top of the horseshoe, is a data center, or a trailer containing about five to six people controlling the science of the job. There’s usually a representative or two from the oil and gas company, a frac job supervisor and an engineer to do the calculations.

“Typically, there’s an engineer who makes the readings of the pressure,” Weijers said. “There’s hundreds of parameters being tracked, all the chemicals, the proppant (sand) being pumped, pressures during the job. The engineer makes it possible to track that and do scientific calculations of the data.”

Here, employees track every aspect of the job, from pressures of the frac fluid to the diesel engine’s fuel gauges.

At various other open areas, there will be containers in which the used sand and production waters are placed into once they fulfill their purpose in the wells to be hauled off later for recycling, injection or disposal.

On jobs where crews utilize a large pool of water, the water is usually being heated to temperatures of about 70 degrees to provide the perfect chemical combination with the additives and sand.

At some point in the drilling and completion process, crews will build oil and gas storage tanks, vapor recovery units to control air emissions, and oil and gas separators for the eventual well production. All will be strategically located around the wellhead.

Completion

Once all the fracs are created, the downward pressure is removed from the well. Within a couple of days, the release of that pressure will reverse, allowing the oil and gas to flow from the rocks and up the well.

“At end of the frac job, the flow stream is reversed,” Wiejers said. “Instead of pumping things downhole, due to the pressure we created, we have almost no pressure at the surface, then the flow reverts and oil and gas and some of the water find their way back from downhole to the surface.”

All the equipment is removed from the site, leaving only the wellhead, the storage tanks, separators and emissions control. Production can last for years.

Source:  The Greeley Tribune.

Pure Water Gazette Fair Use Statement

This Week’s Water News

Fears mount over fracking waste destination. The Ohio River could soon be a thoroughfare for fracking waste, worrying residents in the Cincinnati region. The byproducts, if spilled in great volume or concentrated levels, can threaten water supplies and the health of plants, animals and people, according to public agencies.

Prices to rise across China in bid to conserve water. China plans to apply progressive water tariffs on all urban residents by the end of 2015 with top rates at least triple base prices in the latest move to encourage conservation. The pricing system, already in place in cities including Shanghai, charges extra for consumption beyond “basic needs.”

 

People in Kent use a boat to rescue their possessions.

Evacuations underway as villages cut off in ‘national emergency’ caused by ferocious storms and floods.Storm-ravaged Britain is facing a further battering over the coming days as gales continue to savage miles of coastline. Already lives have been lost, cliffs have collapsed, sea fronts wrecked and thousands of acres of countryside left underwater. And last night the River Severn was threatening to burst its banks, endangering hundreds of homes. PICTURE==

Scientists focus on harbor seals as ‘samplers of the environment.’ Scientists are increasingly finding ocean mammals are valuable sources of information about diseases and toxins found in coastal waters.

Outrage in Owens Valley a century after Los Angeles began taking its water. One hundred years after the Owens River was diverted to Los Angeles, the story is not over. Like a stone dropped into a pond, the city’s action set in motion a widening circle of impacts that continue to shape conflicts and challenges.

Ailments strike Dum Dum locality as Indian factories spew poison. Residents of a six square-kilometre area adjacent to the eastern wall of Kolkata’s airport are suffering from a host of pollution-related ailments, thanks to illegal factories that have mushroomed in the area over the last 15 years.

More toxic sites linked to leaky sewers. It’s long been a mystery as to how high levels of dangerous trichloroethylene (TCE) were found in the Silva family’s well on Sherland Avenue in the 1970s, but now there’s a new explanation. Leaky sewer lines may have carried toxics to the well.

Graphene oxide halts bacterial growth on water-purifying membranes. Turning seawater or sewage into drinkable water depends on the filtering power of thin polyamide membranes. Microbes glom onto and muck up these membranes, disrupting their ability to remove salts and contaminants

 

Plastic waste in the Thames River will devastate marine life.  An unseen stream of plastic rubbish flowing along the bed of England’s Thames River and out into the North Sea will have far-reaching effects on marine life, a new report indicates.

Bay Area: King tides foretell flood-plagued future. By themselves, the king tides that are flowing back into the Bay Area this week aren’t dangerous. But when winter storms and high tides combine, water surges inland from the bay and ocean. And that sort of flooding is going to worsen as the planet warms, says Marc Holmes.

Making the most of wastewater. Wastewater heat is already being put to use in a handful of buildings in British Columbia, where a small company called International Wastewater Systems is on the leading edge of the technology and hoping to turn it into a formidable business.

Anger greets state officials in quake-prone Texas town. In Texas, hundreds of townspeople were hoping to get answers at a meeting hosted last night by the state’s oil and gas industry regulators. Parker and Tarrant counties didn’t experience earthquakes until recently. Now, the area has seen a swarm of over twenty minor ones in the last two months.

  

 

Injecting Soda Ash to Increase pH

Introductory Note:  City water normally comes from the tap with the pH adjusted by the supplier to a reasonable level. Well water may have to be adjusted if the pH is more than a bit below 7  to protect metal pipes and appliances.  Low pH, for example, can cause pinhole leaks in copper pipes and it is wise to “neutralize” the pH if it is closer to 6 than to 7. Also, it is often necessary to raise pH in order to make other water treatment devices work properly.  Iron, for example, is difficult to remove with an iron filter if the pH is below 6.8, and manganese is often hard to treat if the pH is below 8.  

One standard way to raise pH is by passing the water through a bed of calcite, which dissolves into the water adding buffering minerals and giving the pH an upward bump.  This passive approach works well if you start with a pH reading in the sixes, but if you need a more aggressive treatment to raise a lower pH or to get the final product above 7, the standard way to approach the problem is by injecting sodium carbonate, a.k.a. soda ash, into the water stream with a small pump.  

The information below is taken from the Pure Water Occasional’s Water Treatment Methods section.  It mainly deals with how to set up and adjust the Soda Ash feed to get the result you want. –Gene Franks, Pure Water Products.


Soda Ash

The chemical name for soda ash is sodium carbonate, chemical formula Na2CO3. It is more basic, that is, less acidic, than sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), whose chemical formula is NaHCO3. The purpose of sodium carbonate is simply to increase pH.

Its use in water treatment is to increase the pH of acidic waters. The trick is how to do it and how much to use. Below are some suggestions and comments from a variety of sources.

 

Soda Ash is sold as a powder to be diluted in water 

From Pure Water Products

Mixing Soda Ash with water and feeding it with a pump to increase pH is a trial and error procedure. It’s best to start with a small amount of your mixture so that you can make alterations as needed.

The amounts below are a suggestion made by one source:

Mix 2 lbs of Soda Ash with 5 gallons of water. Set your pump at 50% or 60% capacity. Let the unit run for a time, and use water as you normally would, then check the pH a few feet downstream from the injection point. If the pH isn’t where you want it, make adjustments.

Adjustment can be made by adding Soda Ash, by adding water, or by adjusting the pump up or down. Keep adjusting until you get the pH exactly where you want it.

Be sure to keep records, and keep in mind if the solution gets too strong, you may have to dump your mix and start over.

If you aren’t able to get the pH as high as you want it, you may have to switch to Caustic Soda.

Caustic Soda is about 30% stronger than Soda Ash. Ten pounds of Soda Ash in 20 gallons of water is equal to approximately 7.5 lbs. of Caustic Soda in ten gallons of water.

Caustic Soda is available in pool supply stores. It’s trickier to use than Soda Ash, so proceed with caution.


Here are some helpful facts about Soda Ash injection:

1. 0.926 lbs. of soda ash mixed with one gallon of water makes a solution of 10% Soda Ash.

2. A 10% soda ash solution is 100,000 parts per million soda ash.

3. It is common to inject between 50 and 500 ppm soda ash to increase the pH of well water.  The amount you inject depends on how much you need to raise the pH.  It is a process that usually involves some trial and error.

More about Soda Ash from various sources:

The amount of soda ash needed is actually determined by the amount of CO2 in the water being treated, and since this is seldom known, trial and error is the normal procedure.

According to a WQA publication, “For each ppm of carbon dioxide in the water, 2.5 ppm of soda ash is needed for neutralization.  If caustic soda were used, only 0.85 ppm would be needed to neutralize 1.0 ppm of CO2.”

“Often a starting solution dosage of four ounces of  [of soda ash] per gallon of water is used.”

“[Where disinfection is needed], it is possible to feed a mixture of hypochlorite/soda ash simultaneously for dual treatment.”

A  Soda Ash manufacturer’s statement on solubility:

Soda ash dissolves readily in water to give a clear solution, however, it exhibits an unusual characteristic in that maximum solubility is at the low temperature of 97ºF. At that point, a saturated solution contains 33.2% Na2CO3 by weight. A 10% by weight soda ash solution is saturated at 49ºF. It is recommended that a 30% by weight soda ash solution be stored at 120ºF.

 

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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!”

An Alphabetical Index to Water Treatment Products

Our famous whole house Chloramine Catcher

Pure Water Occasional Archive: Sept. 2009-April 2013.

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