Low PH/ Acidic water and its Treatment:
WHAT IS ACID WATER?
Acid water is water with a low pH, meaning that it’s more likely to corrode metal pipes and leach metals out of exposed surfaces. The pH of a solution is a measure of the activity of hydrogen ions (H+) in that solution. In practical terms, it’s a measurement of how acid or basic a solution is. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with lower numbers being more acidic.
In general, water with a pH that is lower than 7 is considered acid water, with lower numbers being increasingly acidic. Water with a pH that’s greater than 7 is considered basic, with higher numbers being increasingly alkaline. The normal range for pH in surface water systems is 6.5 to 8.5 and for groundwater systems 6 to 8.5. Alkalinity is a measure of the capacity of the water to resists a change in pH that would tend to make the water more acidic. The measurement of alkalinity and pH are both needed to determine the corrosiveness of the water.
Acidic water is typically treated with a pH water filter that includes a water neutralizer. There are two ways of neutralizing water acidity:
Whole House pH Balancing Filters
Calcite the most common material used as a water neutralizer. We actually use Georgia Marble, which is the absolute best form of calcite. It’s a natural mineral, also known as calcium carbonate; in some cases, magnesium oxide (sometimes called Corsex) is also used. When water flows through the calcite or magnesium oxide in the water filter, the mineral is dissolved into the water and make it less acidic. This type of filter works best on water that has a pH of 5.5 or higher. This type of pH balancing filter is simple to use, but the pH level may vary with the amount of time the water is in contact with the calcite. Calcite also makes the water harder, so you may need a water softener as part of your treatment system.
Proportional pH Balancing Injection Systems
The second method for treating acid water works better on very low pH water but is also more costly. A proportional injection system uses a chemical feed pump to inject a precise amount of water neutralizer solution into the water. This type of system typically uses a form of soda ash (a form of sodium carbonate). A proportional neutralization system assures that the pH is uniform regardless of flow rate and does not add any hardness back to the water. This method is desirable if you do not want to add hardness back to the water.
Simply, chloramines are a family of chemical compounds formed when ammonia is added to chlorine to treat drinking water. The chemical most commonly used as a secondary disinfectant in municipal water distribution systems is monochloramine (NH2Cl), which is typically used only in low concentrations. The use of chloramines in water treatment has increased in recent years because it’s more stable and longer lasting than free chlorine, and is also less likely to produce dangerous byproducts like chloroform.
Generally speaking, no level of chloramines in water is considered acceptable.
Chloramines side effects
Even though chloramines are potentially less dangerous in water than chlorine, it can cause problems. Chloramines side effects include giving water a bad taste and noticeable odor, and it may cause eye and skin irritation. In addition, competitive swimmers have reported respiratory problems, including asthma, after exposure to chloramines-treated water. It is also known that chloramines in the water supply in older houses can increase exposure to lead.
Water that contains chloramines is deadly to fish and other aquatic animals, so this chemical must be removed before the water is added to an aquarium or pond. It should also not be used in hydroponics or for brewing beer. Chloramines in water can also cause problems for kidney dialysis machines.
How to remove chloramines from water
Once you know that you are being exposed to these disinfection chemicals, the question becomes to how to remove chloramines from water. This is a bigger challenge than removing chlorine from water – its unstable nature means that there are several options for treating chlorinated water. Because chloramines in water are so stable, it’s very difficult to remove them through boiling or “aging” the water to allow the dissolved gasses (including chlorine) to evaporate. Chloramines removal can be achieved using a granular activated carbon (GAC) filter, although catalytic carbon filters are much more effective.
Catalytic carbon is a form of GAC that has been specially treated to allow it to promote chemical reactions. When the chloramines in water flow through the catalytic carbon media, the carbon causes the chloramines to begin decomposing so they can be removed.
Coli form in water
Microorganisms in water
There are a range of microorganisms, including bacteria, protozoa, and viruses, that live and thrive in water. While most people in the United States get their water from a municipal water treatment plant where the water has been disinfected to kill any biological contaminants, private water sources – such as wells – can become contaminated. If you suspect that your water supply, no matter the source, may be contaminated, it’s extremely important to have it tested and treated right away. There are many different types of microorganisms in water and may make you very, very sick. One of the most common tests measures the level of coli form in water, which is a strong indicator that the water may be contaminated with other pathogens.
Symptoms: Many waterborne pathogens cause gastrointestinal illness with flu-like symptoms, especially in young people, those with compromised immune systems, or the elderly. Bacteria in water are typically swallowed, which is why many of the disease symptoms start in the stomach or intestines.
Causes: There are a number of ways that disease-causing microorganisms can get into your water. Fecal coli form bacteria, including E. coli are found in high amounts in the intestines and feces of people and animals. Cryptosporidium and giardia protozoa often come from surface water contaminated with the feces of wild animals. These and other microorganisms often get into the water supply through the feces of humans and animals, including cattle and other farm animals, cats and dogs, and wildlife. This material can be washed into storm drains, streams, reservoirs, and other bodies of water, and then may travel into the water system. Leaky pipes and sewer connections, septic tanks that don’t work properly, an improperly sealed well, or problems at a water treatment plant can all allow these contaminants to get into your water supply and make you sick.
Health Concerns: Water that contains biological contaminants can be extremely dangerous. While many bacteria in water, such as E. coli, or protozoa like Cryptosporidium parvum, cause flu-like symptoms and gastrointestinal discomfort in otherwise healthy individuals, they can cause serious dehydration and even death in those who are very young, very old, or have compromised immune systems. Other far more serious illnesses can also be spread through contaminated water, including hepatitis, typhoid, dysentery, and cholera, all of which can result in severe illness or even death.
There are three different groups of coli form bacteria; each has a different level of risk:
- Total coli form
- Fecal coli form
The total coli form group is a large collection of different kinds of bacteria. Fecal coli forms are types of total coli form that mostly exist in feces. E. coli is a sub-group of fecal coli form. When a water sample is sent to a lab, it is tested for total coli form. If total coli form is present, the sample will also be tested for either fecal coli form or E. coli, depending on the lab testing method.
Water testing and treatment
When routine water testing indicates coli form bacteria in water, it’s common to collect additional samples and repeat the tests to help determine if there is an actual problem with the water system. Once the tests are confirmed, it’s important for the entire water system – whether municipal or private – to be inspected to find the source of the contamination. Leaky pipes, septic tank problems, well mechanical problems, and other system issues can all lead to water bacteria contaminating the water supply. Once the source is identified, it can be repaired or corrected to eliminate the contamination.
After repairs are complete, the system should be flushed and, if you’re on a private well, you may need to shock the well with chlorine. This should kill any microorganisms in the water. If there are ongoing or repeated contamination issues, you may want to install a continuous chlorination system.
If you are on a private water supply, we strongly encourage you to protect yourself and your family’s health with one of our trusted and reliable disinfection systems. While chlorine is a good choice for seriously contaminated water, there are other easier and more affordable options for routine use.