The Pure Water Occasional for November 10, 2014
In this November Occasional you’ll learn when Cheshire, CT’s water treatment plant was built and when Rock Hill, SC’s clay sewer pipes were installed. Learn how to get methane out of well water and cysts out of city water. Hear about waste pits in the San Jacinto River, DEET in swimming pools, abandoned mines, curbside gardens, artificial reefs, dead fish in Rio, and old numbers from Bea Sharper. Then you’ll hear about the length of oarfish, bottled water consumption of Mexicans, water use on golf courses, Denton’s fracking ban, how UV is used on city water, and, as always, there is much, much more.
To read this issue on the Pure Water Gazette’s website, please go here. (Recommended! When you read online you get the added advantage of the Gazette’s sidebar feed of the very latest world water news.)
Methane in Well Water: How to Get Rid of It
Gazette Introductory Note: Methane removal from water has become a public concern recently because of spectacular internet videos showing flaming tap water in areas where hydraulic fracturing for petroleum production has caused gas intrusions into water wells. There are a lot of myths about how methane is removed from water. The main thing you need to know is that conventional aeration used to treat iron and hydrogen sulfide in well water won’t do the job, and there isn’t a magic “methane filter” you can put on your faucet to take care of the problem. Here’s a good overview of treatment for methane from the Minnesota Department of Health.
Methane Removal and Treatment
Methane will not be removed by common water treatment devices such as sediment filters, water softeners, or carbon filters. Most removal or treatment techniques involve aeration. A gas shroud, attached to a submersible pump in the well, may provide relief in some circumstances. Fittings that drain back or aerate water into the well have been used, but are not particularly effective, and may cause other problems such as well corrosion or plugging.
Aeration is the process of mixing air into water and venting the gas to the outside atmosphere. Aeration can remove methane, as well as other gasses such as hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg smell).
Treatment devices range from the simple to the complex. The simplest is to use a pressure tank without a bladder or diaphragm, often referred to as a “galvanized” tank. An air release valve, vented to the atmosphere, releases the methane. This system is relatively simple and inexpensive, and does not require a second pump or tank, but is relatively inefficient at treating large volumes of water or removing large quantities of methane.
A more effective, but more complicated, system is to add an aspirator or aerator to the inlet of a water storage tank. An air pump or compressor will speed up the methane removal, but adds expense and maintenance.
Waterfall, diffusion, or mechanical aerators are devices that more effectively mix air with the water, resulting in more rapid and efficient removal, but increased cost and maintenance. Some systems involve a storage/treatment tank system with spray aerators enclosed in the tank. Use of an unpressurized treatment tank will require two pumps and two tanks – a well pump and a re-pressurizing pump, and a treatment tank and a pressure tank. Retention times of several minutes are typically needed to allow release of the methane. Air separators, similar to devices used on hot water heating systems to remove air, have also been used to remove methane.
Vents, air release valves, and other mechanical parts can fail, or freeze if not properly installed and maintained. Systems that use a nonpressurized tank may be subject to airborne contamination of the water supply if not carefully installed and maintained. All systems should be designed to be sanitary, avoid cross connections, and be vented outside.
Water for Coffee
by Hardly Waite
The Pure Water Gazette has already devoted more than a sensible number of words to the subject of the nature of perfect water for making coffee. See, for example, What kind of water makes the best tasting coffee? and What is the ideal water for brewing coffee? But since there is always room for another opinion, here is more advice on coffee brewing, this from Axeon Water’s website. Axeon is a major supplier of water treatment equipment, especially known for its large reverse osmosis units. The article is called Getting more out of your coffee.
Americans’ love of coffee dates back to the Boston Tea Party in 1773 when the colonists boycotted tea. The colonists united and vowed to only serve coffee in their homes. Ever since, the American taste for coffee has continued to grow.
Most attention of course is given to the type of coffee bean and where it is grown. After all it is the coffee bean that provides the caffeine. Yet the coffee bean alone does not constitute the flavor of coffee. Remember better than 98% of coffee is water. Water is the solvent responsible for leaching all those flavors and oils out of the coffee bean and into the coffee drink.
Drinking water from the tap contains varying amounts of total dissolved solids (TDS). TDS is composed of a variety of salts and minerals such as sodium chloride (table salt) and hardness (calcium and magnesium). Without controlling the consistency of the TDS, the coffee can swing from very bitter to weak. Too low TDS will result in a very bitter taste while high of TDS will result in a weak taste due to less than sufficient extraction of the coffee bean organics. Generally speaking, 150 ppm is often considered the target TDS level.
The individual salts and minerals of the TDS can affect the flavor of coffee. Chlorides will impart a sweet taste; however, at higher levels the taste turns sour. Sulfates on the other hand accentuate the bitterness. Softening the water by removing the hardness is not necessarily the ideal. Hardness (such as calcium and magnesium) is actually preferable for extracting the organic flavor from the coffee bean. Without the proper amount of mineral hardness, the coffee will be very bitter.
Municipal tap water also contains either chlorine or chloramines as a method of disinfecting the water supply. Chlorine and chloramine alters the taste by imparting medicinal odors.
To perfect the taste of coffee, coffee shops often turn to reverse osmosis filtration to design a water profile that best suits the extraction of flavor from the coffee bean. Brewers opt to blend the permeate water from the reverse osmosis with pretreated water that is bypassed around the reverse osmosis unit. Changing the ratio of this blend allows the coffee brewer the flexibility to modify the total dissolved minerals in the water as needed.
To clarify, what they are suggesting as the way to manufacture perfect water for coffee is to treat the water by reverse osmosis. This will normally produce water that is way below the ideal 150 ppm Total Dissolved Solids. To bump the TDS to 150, the product water from the RO unit (permeate) is blended with filtered tap water to arrive at water with the correct dissolved solids level but with chlorine or chloramines removed. This may prove to be way too much trouble for home coffee brewers, but restaurants might go to the trouble to assure a perfect product. In practical terms, if your local tap water is naturally in the 150 range, you would want to filter it with a good carbon filter (but not reverse osmosis) to remove the disinfectants and other taste/odor issues and use it as it is. For example, our local tap water comes from a lake and is usually around 180 ppm dissolved solids. That’s close enough.
Water News for the week of November 10, 2014
Africa’s looming water disaster. In more than half of the country, South Africans are using more water than what’s available. They are already using 98 percent of their available water supply, and 40 percent of the waste water treatment is in a “critical state”. And quality is more a problem than quantity.
To fight fracking bans, oil firms heavily outspend environmentalists. Come Tuesday, San Benito County voters will decide whether to ban fracking, acidizing and other “high-intensity” forms of oil extraction within the county’s borders. And the industry isn’t taking the challenge lightly.
What lurks beneath the Great Salt Lake? Utah’s Great Salt Lake has been protecting the Wasatch Front from a potential health hazard for 150 years, but that protection is threatened, say some scientists, by a growing, thirsty population and a drying climate.
Freight train carrying diesel plunges into river in Quebec. Part of a freight train carrying diesel fuel plunged into a Quebec river on Thursday, leaving its conductor missing and a silvery layer of oil floating on the water.
Where do fracking fluids go? Scientists create the first detector. A team of researchers claims to have figured out how to trace leaks and spills of fracking fluids—and even detect their presence in treated water.
The San Jacinto River waste pits unleashed toxics into the river and, residents say, their bodies. The San Jacinto River waste pits have submerged underwater, releasing known carcinogens throughout the river system.
The EPA took over the waste pits as a Superfund site in 2008, a designation reserved for hazardous waste sites abandoned by their makers. However, initiation of the Superfund process doesn’t necessarily launch cleanup efforts because the EPA lacks the resources to remediate the nation’s worst disaster zones on its own. The Superfund process is long and arduous, designed to bring responsible parties to the negotiating table so they will eventually pay for cleanup. Read the rest in the Houston News.
‘A massive regulatory failure to protect groundwater.’ A two-year legal battle about expansion of Kinnard Farms’ concentrated animal feeding operation in the Town of Lincoln in Kewaunee County resulted in Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Boldt declaring that there has been “a massive regulatory failure to protect groundwater” in Kewaunee County.
The mosquito repellent DEET washes off swimmers’ skin and builds up in swimming pool water.
Some personal care products may build up in pools. When swimmers skip the showers before diving into the pool, they may transfer personal care products into the water, some of which can persist and accumulate. A new study reports that pool chlorination does not break down some of these chemicals, allowing them to build up in concentration.
The surprising reason abandoned US mines haven’t been cleaned up. Hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines litter the West: gold, silver, lead, copper. Some are left from the California gold rush; some were abandoned just a few decades ago. Today, acidic water and heavy metals from mines slowly leach into groundwater, lakes and streams.
New York plants curbside gardens to soak up storm-water runoff. In what officials have billed as one of the most ambitious programs of its kind in the United States, New York City has, with little fanfare, embarked on a roughly 20-year, $2.4 billion project intended to protect local waterways, relying in large measure on “curbside gardens” that capture and retain storm-water runoff.
Jason de Casires Taylor’s Artificial Reefs
The Silent Evolution
Few artificial reefs are as awe-inspiring as Jason deCaires Taylor’s “The Silent Evolution”. The exhibit is a collection of 400 underwater sculptures, mostly depicting people seemingly frozen in time on the ocean floor. The artist hopes that the sculptures provide divers and snorkelers with an awareness of the plight of coral and other fragile ocean life. It is easily accessible to snorkelers in the National Marine Park of Isla Mujeres, Cancun and Punta Nizuc, in Mexico. See more pictures and story in LA Times.
Fracking Ban Passes Easily in Denton
It was raining and cool when I stopped to vote Tuesday morning. An older woman was walking the street in the rain, with a sign in support of the much-contested fracking ban proposal. When I came out from voting, she was still on the job. Her determination was a good omen.
When I heard the election result, that the proposed ban on fracking within Denton city limits had passed by a comfortable margin, I thought that if Abe Lincoln were around he would have said something to say about how you can buy elections some of the time but you can’t buy elections all of the time—that no matter how much money corporations pour into a campaign and no matter how many deceitful glossy brochures they fill your mailbox with and no matter how many threats they issue and no matter how many experts they pay, they can’t always defeat a group of sincere individuals who believe in their cause. Democracy can actually still work the way it’s supposed to. That us a refreshing thought.–Gene Franks.
Uncommon tactics worked for Denton activists. In the emotionally charged run-up to their lopsided victory on Tuesday, political organizers for Frack Free Denton and their allies employed some weird weaponry against their well-financed oil and gas industry adversaries. Their arsenal included puppet shows, flash mob improvisational dances and coffin races.
Thousands of dead fish have begun mysteriously washing up in the polluted Rio bay that will host sailing events at the 2016 Olympics — and experts are at a loss to explain why.
$14 million to fund 19 drought relief projects for Sacramento area water agencies. The California Department of Water Resources on Thursday announced it will fund $14 million worth of water infrastructure projects throughout the Sacramento region.
Gazette Numerical Wizard Bea Sharper who usually brings you up to date on the current water news in numbers is attending the World Numbers Festival in Brussels. So we’re reprinting some of her past numbers. Old numbers, you’ll find, are just as good as new numbers.
Settlement awarded to a Colorado family because of a plumbing cross connection on a water softener — $1,000,000.
Approximate water saving achieved by Pure Water Products’ new clean city water backwashing filter — 50%.
Year Cheshire, CT’s water treatment plant was built –1971.
Estimated annual cost of 8 glasses per day of bottled water — $1,500.
Actual cost of a Pure Water Products Model 77 countertop filter–$77.
GPM flow needed by a family of 3 living in a 2 bathroom home (according to Pure Water Annie)–7 gpm.
Pure Water Products’ price of a Watts 8 gpm stainless steel ultraviolet purifier–$395.
Year in which Rock Hill, SC’s clay sewer pipes were installed — 1920.
Number of items to be monitored under the EPA’s latest CCL– 20 plus.
Amount of additional powdered activated carbon that will be needed in response to the EPA’s new flu gas emissions rule — 500 to 800 million tons.
Average daily water use by a US golf course–10,000 gallons.
Total annual water usage by all US golf courses — 50 billion gallons.
Percentage of caffeine reduction needed for coffee to be classified as decaf — 97% plus.
Hours of direct sunlight needed to purify water using the Sodis method–6.
Year in which the Clean Water Act was made law–1972.
Estimated cleanup cost of the EPA superfund site at East Fishkill, NY — $2.7 million.
Number of glasses of water a human should drink each day according to the baseless but endlessly repeated slogan — 8.
Number of Watersense-labelled products that are now on the market in the US — 5000.
Average per capita bottled water consumption of Mexicans — 61.8 gallons.
Length often attained by oarfish living in the deep ocean waters — 30 feet plus.
Amount of money you could save in a year by boiling your morning tea water in an electric kettle rather than a microwave — $4.
Percentage of steroids that can be removed from water by a reverse osmosis unit — 90% plus.
Number of companies that are awarded each year in the Artemis Top 50 competition– 50.
The expected shrinkage in overall size by fish living in tropical water because of global warming–20%.
Placement of the ReWa Blackwater Bruisers in the 2013 world series of wastewater –#1.
Total water violations charged to PA mobile home park manager Frank Perano — 5000.
Percentage of the South Platte River downstream from Denver that is made up of wastewater — 85%.
(Reprinted from the October 2012 issue of the Pure Water Occasional.)
Pure Water Gazette technical writer Pure Water Annie takes on another of life’s perplexing issues
Why UV Is Gaining in Popularity for Microbe Control in Well Water
by Pure Water Annie
By its nature, water provides a an inviting growing place for bacteria. Bacteria, viruses, protozoa are small creatures, but when ingested over time and in sufficient quantities they can lead to serious health problems. E coli, a member of the coliform family of bacteria, has received enough public attention to be feared and respected, although it is only one of many microorganisms that can be dangerous.
Actually, bacteria are fairly easy to control as compared with cysts like giardia and cryptosporidium, which are bigger, tougher and very difficult to kill with conventional water treatment disinfection chemicals like chlorine. Cysts have a protective outer shell that shields them from municipal water treatment chemicals.
Essentially, there are three strategies that can be used to control potential disease-causing microbes in water.
1. Chemical treatment with chlorine, chloramine, hydrogen peroxide and other less frequently used disinfectants. Chemicals are not effective against cysts. Chemicals remain the treatment of choice for municipal water supplies, however, because chemicals like chlorine provide a residual effect that stays in the water all the way to the home.
2. Straining through very tight filters. Bacteria, for example, can be removed by very tight sub-micron filters, and cysts, which are much larger, are easily blocked out even by a one or two micron filter. Straining is a popular strategy for emergency filters and small point-of-use drinking water filters. It can be applied for cysts in larger applications, though flow restriction usually makes it impractical for bacteria control where significant flow rates are required.
3. Ultraviolet treatment which eliminates both bacteria and cysts. Ultraviolet treatment (UV) involves sending the infected water by an ultraviolet lamp that has enough intensity to alter the DNA of water-borne pests. UV is becoming the favorite technique for well owners because it is easy to install, easy to maintain, and relatively inexpensive. It is also becoming popular with city water users who want to provide microbe protection above that afforded by the city water supplier’s chemicals. UV is especially popular because it provides a complete treatment and adds nothing objectionable to the water.
The clean, classic Sterilight UV unit shown above is a powerful and effective but simple system that makes non-potable water safe to drink. It is rated for 30mJ/cm2 at the specified flow rate.
More About UV
Disinfection chemicals like chlorine are measured in “parts per million” of the disinfectant. Straining devices are measured by the micron size of the filter. UV is a little more complicated. The standard measure of UV dosage is mJ/cm2, millijoules per square centimeter. This number is a measurement of the intensity of the lamp with consideration of how fast the water flows past the lamp. Although NSF standard is 40mJ/cm2, in the water treatment industry it is generally assumed that 30mJ/cm2 is more than enough to treat residential well water. In fact, a 16mJ/cm2 unit is twice as hot as it needs to be. 6-10mJ/cm2 is sufficient for most pathogens. 6mJ/cm2 will do away with 99.99 percent of E. coli.
Please visit our RO Parts Page for tanks and accessories. We also have dedicated parts pages for countertop water filters, undersink filters, and aeration equipment. We stock parts for everything we sell.
Thank you for reading. Please come back next week.
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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