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Basic Water Treatment

One of the things we take for granted nearly every day is clean drinking water. When we are looking for a new home or business building, we automatically assume that it will have clean, running water. While this is not faulty thinking, have you ever wondered where your water comes from and how it is processed to be ready for use and consumption? In this article, you will learn where your water comes from, how it’s cleaned, the differences between public and private water treatment and why good water quality is so important. 

water treatmentWhere does our water come from?

The first part of water treatment is collecting it. Natural or untreated water is collected from underground aquifers, like a well or from a surface source such as a lake or river. It then either flows or is pumped to a water treatment facility.  

How does water treatment work?

Once the water arrives at the treatment facility, it is pre-treated in order to remove larger debris like silt and leaves. After that, the water will undergo a sequence of treatments. These include filtration and disinfection. Filtration and disinfection occur using either chemicals or a physical process. These treatments eliminate any disease-causing microorganisms.  

 Once the water completes this treatment regimen, it travels through a labyrinth of pipes and pumps known as a distribution system. 

In-home Water Treatment 

water treatmentIf you decide that you want even more filtration for your household water, there are in-home water treatment options that you can have installed. Known as Point-of-Use treatment systems, they treat your water at the point of consumption. The typical POU devices include:

Point-of-Entry devices treat water intended for household uses such as laundry, dishes, showering, brushing teeth and flushing toilets. These  include:  

  • Activated Carbon 
  • Ion Exchange
  • Filtration

Public  Distribution Systems Vs. Private Distribution Systems

water treatmentWater treatment and delivery systems fall into two primary groups: public and private. The main difference between the two is who controls the treatment facilities. 

The city or town served by the public water treatment facility typically owns and operates the facility. The facility usually falls under the management of the city or town’s elected official, such as a mayor.  

private water treatmentPrivate water treatment facilities vary in size and service area. An individual well that is supplying a single household and a small corporation that provides water to a small group of homes are both private water treatment facilities. So is a large company or business that has its own water service divisions.  

Regardless of the type of water treatment in question, they both must adhere to the water quality standards established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  

Why is water quality important?

Water makes up 70% of the human body, making it vital to human life. The human body can go a month or more without food. Even a week without water, however, can be fatal. Not all water is beneficial, though. Drinking bad or unfiltered, untreated water can have severe health consequences, some even fatal.  

How does water quality affect humans?

water treatment

Giardia lamblia organism

The CDC states that the top causes of drinking water-related outbreaks are: 

  • Giardia
  • Shigella 
  • Norovirus 
  • Hepatitis A 

As scary as that sounds, that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what can happen when you drink untreated water. Studies have shown high levels of lead in drinking water may cause delays in mental and physical development. Lead is also linked to learning difficulties and short attention spans in children. Again, this is just a short list of what can happen if you consume untreated water.  

hard water = more detergent neededHow are appliances affected?

Treated water also improves the performance of your water-using household appliances. Point-of-Use or Point-of-Entry filtration devices soften your water. Although hard water is not as detrimental as untreated water, it is still not an economical option.  

Water softeners remove the harsh minerals that lead to buildup on your appliances, pipes, tubs, sinks, and dishes. 

Hard water decreases your soap’s effectiveness, increasing the need for more soap or detergent. Soft water is also easier on your clothing, leaving it feeling soft and fresh. Hard water, on the other hand, will leave your laundry feeling stiff and scratchy.    

Free from hard water buildup your showerheads, sink drains, tub drains, dishwasher and washing machine will be more efficient. This saves you money and leaves less of a carbon footprint. 

 EPA Guidelines and Regulations  

According to the CDC, every community water supplier must provide an annual report, called a “CCR” or Consumer Confidence Report. This report provides information on your local drinking water quality. 

Stay tuned for our next article when we’ll discuss homeowner options when it comes to basic water treatment.

Drinking Water Contaminants

Nothing is more refreshing after a strenuous work-out than drinking water. Although water is probably the most beneficial beverage on the planet, it can also carry significant health risks for the unwary drinker.

drinking water contaminantsWhat are drinking water contaminants?

Drinking water can contain millions of unexpected and unwanted particulates, compounds or even living organisms. The Safe Drinking Water Act defines the term “contaminant” as meaning any physical, chemical, biological, or radiological substance or matter in water. Therefore, the law defines “contaminant” very broadly as being anything other than water molecules.

 

 

Common contaminants fall into a few basic categories:

biological

chemical

radiological

Let’s take a look at each type of contaminant and the problems they can cause.

Biological contaminants

drinking water contaminantsMicroorganisms

Cryptosporidium and giardia, the top two micro-organisms found in drinking water, can cause vomiting, diarrhea and cramps. Legionella, the third most common micro-organism found in water, causes Legionnaire’s Disease, a type of pneumonia.

Chemical Contaminants

Disinfectants

We add disinfectants to water to help control microbial development. The disinfectants  can cause eye and nose irritation, stomach discomfort and anemia.  Chlorine dioxide can cause anemia and nervous system effects in infants and young children.

Disinfection byproducts

Disinfecting water produces potentially harmful byproducts. Although the hazardous chemicals appear in small concentration, all of these byproducts have been linked to increased risk for cancer. Chlorite is associated with anemia and, in infants and small children, nervous system effects. TTHMS are associated with liver, central nervous system and kidney problems.

Inorganic chemicals

Inorganic chemicals are generally types of metals and come from a variety of sources including:

  • erosion of natural deposits
  • discharge from different types of refineries, industries, factories, mills, and mines
  • run-off from waste batteries and paints, landfills and croplands, fertilizer usage
  • corrosion of pipeline and water distribution systems including household plumbing
  • leaking septic tanks and sewage
  • leaching from ore-processing sites

Chemicals include antimony, arsenic, asbestos, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, copper, cyanide, fluoride, lead, mercury, nitrate, nitrite, selenium and thallium. The chemicals cause a host of problems including high blood pressure, kidney, liver and gastrointestinal damage, skin damage and increased risk of cancer.

Organic chemicals

Organic chemicals are compounds that contain the element carbon. Carbon tetrachloride, benzene, and vinyl chlorides are just three of a long list of organic chemicals currently found in water supplies. A more complete list can be found on the EPA website. These chemicals pose a threat to almost every system of the human body including skin, nervous system, circulatory system, liver, kidneys, spleen, thyroid glands, adrenal glands, reproductive system, eyes and stomach. In addition, they also put their victim at an increased risk for cancer.

Radiological

Radiological chemicals contain small degrees of radiation. They are produced by the decay of radioactive substances.

Radionuclides

The two most common radionuclides found in drinking water are radium and uranium. Both of these find their way into water sources through erosion of natural deposits. Prolonged ingestion of these contaminants can lead to kidney poisoning and increased risk of cancer.

Is your public system tap water safe?

Even public water supply systems are plagued with a variety of potentially harmful contaminants and micro-organisms. Although more regulated than private drinking water supplies from wells, public water systems frequently have outbreaks from contaminants.

Types of Contaminants

The CDC provides a list of the most common causes of outbreaks in the public water system.


Top 10 contaminants causing outbreaks in public water systems

Giardia
Legionella
Norovirus
Shigella
Campylobacter
Copper
Salmonella
Hepatitis A
Cryptosporidium
E. coli, excess fluoride(tie)

Sources
There can be many sources of contamination of our water systems. Here is a list of the most common sources of contaminants:

  • Naturally occurring chemicals and minerals (for example, arsenic, radon, uranium)
  • Local land use practices (fertilizers, pesticides, livestock, concentrated animal feeding operations)
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Sewer overflows
  • Malfunctioning wastewater treatment systems (for example, nearby septic systems)

Health concerns

The presence of certain contaminants in our water can lead to health issues, including gastrointestinal illness, reproductive problems, and neurological disorders. Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and immuno-compromised persons may be especially susceptible to illness. Many harmful contaminants are regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA makes sure that water meets certain standards, so you can be sure that high levels of contaminants are not in your water.

Solutions

Whether your drinking water comes from a private well or a public water system it can be contaminated. But, there is good news. Scientists and other water specialists have developed a number of methods for treating water – from private and public sources. Be sure to look for the second installment in this series to learn about Basic Water Treatment.

Conclusion

Is your drinking water contaminated? You cannot tell just by looking at it. Let us help. Call Knoxville Water Treatment today and schedule your free water testing appointment.

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5 Things Americans Take For Granted

It’s safe to say Americans take much more than just 5 things for granted, but this article outlines a few we can think about today. Maybe after you’ve read the article, you can think of a few more of your own, as well as some things you personally do appreciate.

Shoes

After seeing the feet of poverty, you’d never again take for granted your 5-20 pairs of shoes, some of which you’ve worn only a handful of times. Some of these feet walk on hot black asphalt in the dirtiest streets, they wear shoes that do not fit, inappropriate shoes like sandals in the winter, and holy out-of-style tennis shoes from 1980.

Clean Water

Clean water is such an issue for some parts of the world that well over 10 blogs and more organizations dedicate their platforms to the cause. In some parts of the world, having water that is safe enough to brush your teeth with it, is a blessing. Even natural sources of water across the globe are unsafe to drink from without requiring medication afterward. In some parts of the world, heat and dehydration are so much a daily threat to their residents, that they must carry around a gallon of clean drinking water to survive.

Transportation

Some folks in other countries cannot leave their homes when they want to, sometimes due to law, obligation, or a lack of transportation completely. Yes, there are parts of the world where no one has a car! In some places, your opportunity to leave may come expensively and in the form of the most crowded bus you can imagine, with people sitting practically on top of one another. One person of that many is bound to stink up the bathroom during your voyage and you will absolutely endure the smell of sweat and body odor for the duration of your trip, too!

Public School and College

 

Almost 70% of high school graduates in the United States now enroll in post-secondary education systems (colleges). You’d think that this 5 million enrollment increases in the past 15 years would mean that the American people have increased the sense of value they associate with their education, but that’s not the case. While young men and women in other parts of the world have no access to education from even Kindergarten through high school, Americans are paying for alarmingly high tuition and not even attending their courses!

Waste Management Services

More than half of the world’s nations don’t have access to regular trash pick-up while Americans produce 236 tons of waste annually. This data puts us as the #1 most wasteful country in the world, second is the Russian Federation (207.4 tons), and then Japan (52.36 tons). Concerned advocates of people and the environment call it a crisis because the consequences being overlooked are the pollution of nature, adding to the public health’s vulnerability, and sometimes drowning poor country’s in our relocated waste.

It’s easy to forget how easy and care-free our lives can be in America when daily, we coast without interruption, but consider the effects of your ungratefulness on a larger scale. Our attitude has and will continue to effect other countries. Your effort, whether for change or for staying the same, will effect others and finally, make its way back to the states and your backyard, or your future generation’s backyards. What are you grateful for today? Take a moment to reflect on all that you’re blessed with!