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Water Treatment: Public Problems and Homeowner Options

water treatmentClean water is an essential part of life. Thanks to modern advancements in the plumbing and water treatment world, providing community-wide clean water has never been easier. However, things can go wrong with even the best water treatment plants. What can homeowners do when the community water system goes down? We’ll give you steps to take that can take to protect against the fallout of the city’s water treatment snafu. Before we get into that, though, let’s review the process that your water undergoes before it is lead to your home.

Public Water Treatment Process

surface waterYour drinking water follows a well-defined course from its source to the faucet. You can read more about basic water treatment in our previous post. Here’s the big picture.

Collection

First, specially designed equipment collects untreated or “raw” water from underground aquifers or from a surface water source such as a lake or river. Next, pipes transfer raw water to the designated water treatment facility. After that, the water undergoes a “pre-treatment” process. This process removes larger debris such as silt and leaves.

water treatment

Treatment

Once that pre-treatment is done, then the water will pass through a sequence of other treatment processes. These processes include filtration and disinfection with either chemicals or physical means. Disinfection helps remove and eliminate disease-causing microorganisms. When the water treatment process produces water ready for public consumption. Finally, the treated water flows out into the community through a network of pipes and pumps, aka the distribution system.

How Does Water Become Contaminated?

water treatmentJust because the United States is one of the most developed countries in the world, doesn’t mean it isn’t susceptible to water contamination. The catastrophe in Flint, MI represents one an unfortunate example of just how real water treatment issues become left untreated or unchecked.

Water contamination can happen anywhere, from larger cities to the smallest rural areas. Each problem is unique, which makes getting ahead of contamination that much more difficult.

water treatmentRural

When dealing with farming communities, agricultural runoff poses the greatest risk of contamination.  Water drains from farming fields as a result of irrigation, melted snow or rain. This runoff will likely contain pesticides, animal waste, fertilizers or even soil particles. All these contaminants can enter surface sources of drinking water such as lakes and rivers. Depending on circumstances, these same contaminants leach down into the groundwater supplies, or aquifers, and render them unsafe to drink. Treating groundwater is very difficult, and in some cases, an impossible venture, not to mention costly.

Industrial

The proliferation of industrial and manufacturing areas in metropolitan areas generates a substantial risk of water pollution. In larger and older cities, lead in the water supply still plagues residents. How does lead get into the water supply? Old infrastructure and aging deteriorated pipes contribute to this hazardous contaminant. A large number of industrial facilities also use freshwater to carry their waste away from their plant and deposit it into rivers, lakes and even oceans.

What Are the Risks of Drinking Contaminated Water?

Contaminated drinking water presents deadly risks. Each contaminant creates its own list of problems for unwary citizens. The Environmental Protection Agency provides a list of some of the most common contaminants and how they affect the population:water treatment

  • Lead: if consumed by children or pregnant women, it can lead to developmental problems and congenital disabilities.
  • E. Coli: E.coli, a bacteria that lives in human and animal feces, can enter water sources through human sewage or farming runoff. The symptoms of E. coli include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. If the case is severe enough, anemia, kidney failure, and potentially fatal dehydration can occur.
  • Pesticides and Nitrates: nitrates are components found in fertilizers. These are common water contaminants in farming communities. The most noticeable condition caused by nitrate contamination is methemoglobinemia, which is also known as “blue baby syndrome.”

What’s the Solution?

While the above information is scary and shouldn’t be taken lightly, there are steps that you can take to make sure your family has cleaner, safer water for your home.

Point-of-Entry Filtration System

Point-of-entry (POE) systems, also known as whole house water filters, connect with the main water line for your home. You will find the main water line where the water first enters your home from outside. The POE system treats the water so it can flow to every tap and every water-using appliance in your home. POEs treat wide-range water contaminants including iron, sulfur, chlorine and total dissolved solids. Depending size, POE systems last between five-to-seven years without needing a replacement. A POE does filter out a large number of impurities, making it safe for household and appliance usage. However, it does not filter enough for general consumption.

Point-of-Use Filtration System

Point-of-use (POU) filtration systems connect directly where the water exits the plumbing. For example, many homeowners install their POUs by a single water connection, usually under the kitchen and bathroom sinks. This type of water filtration system is of lower capacity, making it a perfect option for light use application. Again, depending on size, your POU system can last anywhere from three-to-six months or in some cases, up to a year. The most common type of POU system, reverse osmosis, can be installed either under the counter or on the faucet.  Reverse osmosis filters use advanced filtration technology that removes up to 99% of water contaminants, producing the best quality water for consumption. As a result, reverse osmosis POU systems remain the most popular option in the large selection of POU products.

What does All This Mean?

Pollutants, accidents and human error continue to plague the water treatment industry. As a result, you shouldn’t rely on them to take complete care of your water. Water treatment facilities, in general, are a great starting place for water filtration. But, taking advantage of whole-house water filtration systems and point-of-use filtration systems is the sure-fire way to make sure your household has access to the purest water. If your home is missing one or both options contact us today. Let us help you on the right path to clean, crisp, delicious water.

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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.

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Common Steps in Community Water Treatment

While the United States of America contains some of the safest drinking water in the world, our consumers should know the process behind community water treatment. These sites mostly provide surface water treatment. If you need specialized work, you should consider buying a unique water filter for your home or business.

The more you understand can help protect your family from waterborne germs and pathogens that do run through people’s water supplies. In recent memory, there was a case of e.coli affecting the well water at CLIMB works in Sevier County.

community water treatment site

COMMUNITY WATER TREATMENT: 4 STEPS

1. Coagulation and Flocculation

In the community water treatment facility, their workers add positively-charged chemicals into the water supply. These positively-charged chemicals react to dirt and particles in the water and that binds the two particles together so they coagulate. When these bigger particles form, they’re called floc.

2. Sedimentation

The floc becomes heavy so it drifts to the bottom of the water supply for ease of separation. This process makes the floc easier to remove compared to the original smaller particles when workers continue into water filtration.

3. Filtration

As a result, the community’s water supply becomes clear on top. The water, then, passes through filters of different compositions like charcoal, gravel, and sand, and different pore sizes to remove dissolved particles. These particles can include dust, parasites, bacteria, viruses, and chemicals that one doesn’t want in their drinking water.

4. Disinfection

The workers will proceed to throw in a disinfectant into the filtrated water supply. For example, the popular choices are chlorine and chloramine, which kills any left-over germs so you can have safe drinking water. While there are safe levels of drinking chlorine in your community water, there are scientists who study the long-term, negative effects of drinking chlorine.

Why Should You Get a Home Water Treatment Unit?

When you purify your water with a home filtration system, you protect your family and friend from harmful toxins. You’ll find that extra chemicals, bacteria, and chlorine does get through community water treatment sites. Even if the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides regulations, they don’t inspect for all contaminants.

If you have a person in your home who has a compromised immune system, it’s best you don’t take the chance for them to fall ill, due to an unclean water supply. The right water filtration system protects your health and makes your drinking water taste great.