The Pure Water Occasional for March 31, 2014
In this almost April Occasional, you’ll hear about an edible water bottle, venturi valves, the AerMax, and the Galveston oil spill. Sad news about rising water in Bangladesh and the lack of water in Haiti. Panning for gold in the Sierra Nevada, skateboarding on Lake Tahoe, water treatment for the scenic San Antonio river, and more controversy surrounding the Cuyahoga River. Then there’s a new BP oil spill, a dioxine problem in West Virginia, sinking land in California, and a fluoride removal success story from Texas. Finally, Pure Water Annie will tell you about submersible pumps, pitless adapters, and how to measure the gpm output of your water well. And, as always, there is much, much more.
To read this issue on the Pure Water Gazette’s website, please go here.
Inspired by techniques from molecular gastronomy, three London-based industrial design students created Ooho, a blob-like water container that they say is easy and cheap to make, strong, hygienic, biodegradable, and edible.
The container holds water in a double membrane using “spherification,” the technique of shaping liquids into spheres first pioneered in labs in 1946 and more recently popularized by chefs at elBulli in Spain. It works a little like an egg yolk, which also holds its shape using a thin membrane.
“We’re applying an evolved version of spherification to one of the most basic and essential elements of life–water,” says Rodrigo García González, who designed the Ooho with fellow design students Pierre Paslier and Guillaume Couche.
A compound made from brown algae and calcium chloride creates a gel around the water. “The double membrane protects the inside hygienically, and makes it possible to put labels between the two layers without any adhesive,” García explains.
While the package is being formed, the water is frozen as ice, making it possible to create a bigger sphere and keeping the ingredients in the membrane and out of the water.
Why not just drink from the tap? The designers wanted to address the fact that most people are drinking water in disposable bottles. “The reality is that more and more, when we drink water we throw away a plastic bottle,” García says. “Eighty percent of them are not recycled. This consumerism reflects the society in which we live.”
By rethinking the bottle, the designers say it’s also possible to reduce cost; for manufacturers, most of the cost of producing water comes from the bottle itself. The Ooho can be made for just two cents.
Like other edible packages, the Ooho seems to have a few challenges–like how the package stays clean before you drink from it and potentially eat it. But others have made it to market: the edible Wikipearl will be available at selected Whole Foods this month. The other problem, as you can see from the videos, is that you’re going to get some water on your face, clothes, and the table. That’s the sacrifice you make for getting rid of water bottles from your life.
Even if bottled water companies don’t switch to Ooho, the designers say they hope people will try making the packages at home. “Anyone can make them in their kitchen, modifying and innovating the recipe,” says García. “It’s not DIY but CIY–cook it yourself.”
Aeration is an effective chemical-free method of preparing water containing iron and hydrogen sulfide for filtration. Exposure to air “oxidizes” the contaminant to a filterable form (ferric iron or elemental sulfur), then an appropriate filter removes the contaminant from the water.
Closed tank aeration for residential treatment is available in several formats. The least expensive, though not necessarily the simplest, uses a small venturi that is installed in the water line itself in front of the well’s pressure tank. As water fills the tank, air is literally sucked into the water stream via the venturi. A small treatment tank where “oxidation” occurs follows the pressure tank. The water then goes to a free-standing filter for final filtration.
A much more aggressive treatment uses a small air compressor, or “air pump,” that injects air into a treatment tank. When water enters the tank it falls through a pocket of compressed air where rapid oxidation occurs. The water then passes on to a filter tank for final removal of the contaminant.
A Small Compressor Powers the “AerMax” System
Single tank units are the simplest form of aeration treatment. Single tank systems perform the aeration and filtration in a single tank. Water enters the tank, falls through a pocket of compressed air, then is filtered by the media contained in the lower 2/3 of the tank. Single tank units need no pump; they bring in air during the nightly regeneration performed automatically by the control unit.
Water News for March 31
Galveston oil spill damage could be more than meets the eye. Experts warn – given the uniquely sensitive features of Galveston Bay – that even as visual evidence of the spill dissipates, the environmental impacts could prove problematic down the line, and the full extent of the spill’s damages may not be known for a year or more.
Facing rising seas, Bangladesh confronts consequences of climate change. Bangladesh relies almost entirely on groundwater for drinking supplies because the rivers are so polluted. The resultant pumping causes the land to settle. So as sea levels are rising, Bangladesh’s cities are sinking, increasing the risks of flooding. Poorly constructed sea walls compound the problem.
Drought in Haiti ravages crops for farmers. Drought is hitting one of the hungriest, most desolate parts of the most impoverished nation in the hemisphere and it has alarmed international aid organizations such as the U.N. World Food Program, which sent workers this week to pass out bulgur wheat, cooking oil and salt.
Looking for Gold in Bear River
California drought: Dry Sierra hills spur mini gold rush. Low water levels have led to a mini gold rush in the same Sierra Nevada foothills that drew legions of fortune seekers from around the world in the mid-1800s, as amateur prospectors dig for riverbed riches in spots that have been out of reach for decades.
Water, wildlife surge back into once-parched Colorado River delta. Osvel Hinojosa knew that an infusion of water would bring the Colorado River delta back to life. But in just a few days, a U.S.-Mexican experiment to revive the delta environment has exceeded his expectations. The water is running deeper, faster and wider than anticipated in a channel that was once bone-dry.
Fluoride removal system to be installed at Texas treatment plant An arsenic and fluoride treatment plant located in Andrews, Texas, is to become the largest in the U.S., thanks to new technology that effectively removes fluoride from wastewater.
This one-of-a-kind boat is actually a floating skateboard ramp on Lake Tahoe. Read about it.
Obama proposes broader protection for wetlands, streams. The Obama administration unveiled a regulatory proposal that would bring nearly all rivers, streams and creeks under the protection of the Clean Water Act and add clarity on which wetlands would receive protection.
BP confirms oil spill into Lake Michigan. Less than a year after BP started up a new unit to process Canadian tar sands at its Whiting refinery, the company reported today that a malfunction allowed a slug of crude oil into Lake Michigan a few miles away from the Chicago city limits.
Lake Erie proposal dredges up controversy. The Cuyahoga River in northeast Ohio – known for catching fire in the 1960s – relies on frequent dredging. The standard practice has been to put the river muck in confined disposal facilities. But now there’s a controversial new proposal on the table to dump the dredged material into Lake Erie, a source of drinking water for more than 11 million people.
The Water Quality Association held its annual convention last week in Orlando, Florida. Two Pure Water Products employees attended. They are not in this picture. Their evaluation of the trade show as a whole: “It was OK.”
Project to move water to China’s thirsty north plagued by pollution concerns. Chemical concentrations, garbage piles and mines are threatening the quality of water being diverted to quench the thirst of drier parts of China, in the world’s most ambitious water-transfer project.
Toxic chemical dioxane detected in more water supplies. West Virginia’s drinking water crisis earlier this year highlighted an unsettling truth about tap water: Treatment plants test for only a fraction of the chemicals in use.
In California, demand for groundwater causing huge swaths of land to sink. Extensive groundwater pumping is causing a huge swath of central California to sink – in some spots at an alarming rate – the U.S. Geological Survey reports.
Novel water treatment technology surfaces at Ingenuity Lab. New membrane technology explained.
Water in the San Antonio River is expected to get cleaner this summer as it flows through Brackenridge Park toward the River Walk. Concerns were raised about the water’s cleanliness so the city made plans for a water treatment plant to disinfect water coming out of the San Antonio Zoo.
Do citizens have a right to water? Detroit is contemplating extensive water shutoffs to non-paying residents.
A Few Things You Should Know about Water Wells
by Pure Water Annie
If you get your water from a private water well, like it or not, you’re a water plant superintendent.
Most well pumps are of two types: jet pumps, which are used only on relatively shallow wells, and submersible pumps.
Since submersible pumps are most common, that’s what I’m going to concentrate on
A typical submersible pump is a long cylindrical shape that fits inside the well casing. The bottom half is made up of a sealed pump motor that is connected to the above-ground power source and controlled by electrical wires.
In modern installations, the well casing outside the home is connected to the plumbing system by a pipe that runs beneath the ground to the basement (if there is one).. This horizontal pipe joins the well pipe at a connector called apitless adapter. The function of the adapter is to permit access to the pump and well piping through the top of the well casing, while routing water from the pump into the plumbing system.
While submersible pumps are more efficient than jet pumps in delivering more water for the same size motor, pump or motor problems will necessitate pulling the unit from the well casing–a job that’s best left to a pro. However, submersibles are known for their reliability and often perform their role 20 to 25 years without servicing. Submersible pumps may also be used in shallow wells. However, silt, sand, algae and other contaminants can shorten the pump’s life.
No matter what kind of system you have, the components on the output side of all pumps are similar.
Pumps are not intended to run continuously, and they don’t start each time you open a tap or flush the toilet. In order to provide consistent water pressure at the fixtures, the pump first moves water to a storage tank. Inside a modern tank is an air bladder that becomes compressed as the water is pumped in. The air pressure in the tank is what moves the water through the household plumbing system.
When the pressure reaches a preset level, which can be anywhere from 40 to 60 psi, a switch stops the pump. As water is used in the home, pressure begins to decrease until, after a drop of about 20 psi, the switch turns on the pump and the cycle is repeated. You’ll find the pressure gauge mounted on the tank with wires leading to the switch that controls the pump.
The picture above is from a Popular Mechanics article on well pumps. You can see jet pump illustrations there as well.
Typical air pressure settings for well tanks are 30 to 50 or 40 to 60. What this means is that with a 30/50 setting, for example, the pump comes on to refill the tank when tank pressure drops to 30 psi, and the pump shuts off when the pressure in the tank reaches 50 psi.
In most cases, tank pressure is adjustable and can be controlled with the Pressure Switch in the picture.
If you’re installing a water treatment device such as a softener or backwashing filter, it always goes downstream of the well’s pressure tank. There are a few exceptions. Chemical feed pumps and venturi air injection devices, for example, are installed between the well and the pressure tank.
Although many wells produce excellent water which requires little if any treatment, most well water requires some modification. Some of the most common problems are iron, manganese, hardness, hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg odor), excessive sediment, low pH, and bacteria. Among the most commonly used treatment devices are ultraviolet lamps (bacteria and cysts), sediment filters (sand and other sediment), granular carbon (taste/odor/color improvement, hydrogen sulfide reduction), backwashing media filters (iron, manganese, excessive sediment), aeration, chlorination, hydrogen peroxide, ozonation (pretreatment for iron and sulfide reducing filters), and chemical feed pumps (to control bacteria, raise pH, pretreat for iron removal). These, of course, are only a few of the many devices that can be used to treat well water problems.
What You Need to Know About Your Well
First, every well owner should have a reasonably comprehensive water test to determine the nature of the water. Many problems, like hardness, odor, and iron, are apparent, but a high quality test is needed to confirm and quantify such issues. Two parts per million iron can be treated quite differently from 12 parts per million. And the most urgent problems of all, like bacteria or high levels of arsenic or pesticides, are not apparent but must be discovered by testing.
If you’re going to purchase treatment equipment, especially a backwashing filter or a water softener, for your well, you also need to know how many gallons per minute your well pump is capable of producing. Backwash runs require a sustained flow of several gallons per minute. For example, a typical residential-sized iron filter may require a ten minute backwash and a ten minute rinse at the rate of five to seven gallons per minute. If your well pump will produce only 4, the filter with become overloaded with iron and fail. You can’t rely on the GPM rating of the well pump. You need to know the actual gallons per minute that the well will put out.
Here’s a simple method to find out your well’s output capacity.
Determining the GPM Output of a Water Well
Turn off all taps and water-using appliances in the home.
Find an outdoor spigot in a place that will allow you to observe your well pump’s activity. You’ll need to know when the pump turns on and off. The output capacity of the spigot itself doesn’t matter.
Run water from the spigot until the pump comes on, then close the faucet and let the pump fill the tank and shut off.
With the tank now full, find a container, or multiple containers (e. g. 5-gallon buckets) that will allow you to measure the content of your well tank. Turn on the spigot and catch the water until the pump comes on.
When the pump comes on, immediately close the faucet and time the seconds it takes for the pump to turn off. (This means that the tank is full.)
Now you know the amount of water the tank holds and the number of seconds it takes to refill it. You can determine the well pump’s gallon-per-minute capacity by using the following formula:
Gallons collected, divided by seconds it took to refill the tank, multiplied by 60. (You multiply by sixty to convent the seconds to minutes, because your answer needs to be in gallons per minute.)
For example, if you collected 15 gallons and it took 75 seconds for your pump to refill the tank, your equation would look like this: (15/75)X60 = 12 GPM.
If you collected 18 gallons and it took 55 seconds for your pump to shut off, the formula would be: (18/55) X 60 = 19.6 GPM.
Pure Water Annie’s article was originally published in the Pure Water Occasional’s December 2011 issue.
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Places to Visit on Our Websites in the meantime.
Garden Hose Filters. Don’t be the last on your block to own one.
Model 77: “The World’s Greatest $77 Water Filter”
”Sprite Shower Filters: You’ll Sing Better!”
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