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Thursday, January 8, 2009

A basic guide to home water treatment

(My Original Blog Post:
Many people are not on municipal water systems.  They rely on wells or other sources to supply their homes with water.  Some people are lucky enough to have good drinking water treatment systems, or have or know those who have the knowledge to put one together.  For others, searching for an appropriate water treatment system can be a nightmare, with the myriad of choices, technologies and companies to choose from.

The following is a basic guide to help you understand what to do and your first steps when selecting treatment from your home.

1.It all starts from the source

The first rule for water treatment is having the best and cleanest possible source.  Choosing the best source will mean it will be less likely contaminants are in your supply, or are able to contaminate your supply. This means less treatment and it will be much easier on the treatment system that you have.

If you have an older well, it may be time to upgrade.  Older dug wells are shallow and susceptible to microbiological contamination and surface water run off (which can carry E.Coli, pesticides, sodium, VOC's and a whole host of other contaminants from the surface).

Newer, drilled wells are the best solution.  Your well driller will know the optimum depth for your area to get the most and cleanest water.  As well, new drilled wells combine elements such as stainless steel screens, submersible pumps, well casings and an annular seal to ensure that surface water does not contaminate your ground water.

If you're unsure of the viability of your well, call your local well driller for a consultation.

2. What's in your water?

Many companies that sell home water treatment will have you believe that anything and everything is in your well water, just to sell you equipment you may not need.  This is untrue.  It all depends on the type of well you have, the type of overburden (or bedrock) it's in, how far down it goes, how close you are to possible sources of contamination and the geographical area you are in.

Contact the local branch of the USEPA, a Ministry of the Environment if you're in Canada, or your local municipality.  They will have an idea what to look for based on your local, and can point you towards the appropriate accredited drinking water laboratory. From there, most laboratories have water testing packages tailored to your locality and can give you a snapshot of what may be in your water that's harmful and how much is there.  From there, you can go about selecting the appropriate treatment equipment.

3. Health risks first, aesthetic problems second

When you size up and design your treatment system, your first priority should be health risks.  Take care of aesthetic problems second.  Your treatment system should provide appropriate filtration for any sediment that might be in your water.  This can be simple or complex, depending on how dirty your water is.  After making the water clear, that's when your disinfection processes can work. Both chemical and other (ultraviolet light) depend on clean clear water to work effectively.  A disinfection barrier is imperative to ensure you screen out any virus's, bacteria, or protozoa that may be in your water or may find their way into your water supply.

Any other issues your laboratory detects, such as chemical, can be dealt with as well. Once the safety issues are considered, then things such as hardness or taste and odour should be dealt with, as long as it does not interfere with the safety aspects of treatment.

4. Don't buy cheap crap.

Just like anything else, you get what you pay for. If what they are selling seems too cheap, looks flimsy, and doesn't give you a good feeling, don't buy it. This equipment is meant to protect your drinking water, and needs to be of good quality and effective at it's job.

5. Don't get complacent with Maintenance

If you have a treatment system, it needs maintenance just like any other mechanical machine.  Many home treatment systems are designed to be low on maintenance, but it's important you don't skimp.  If you don't know how or don't have time to learn it, hire somebody on a service contract. Performing the necessary preventative maintenance will go a long way to ensuring your system protects your drinking water at all times, and lasts a long time.

6. Ask around

Your neighbors and friends in the area are in the same boat as you.  Find out what they have done and listen to them. They will have similar water quality to you and may have had experience with what treatment equipment to get and what not to get.

When it comes to home treatment, knowing what to do can be a daunting task. But with a little foresight and seeking the right knowledge, getting the best system for you can be easier than you think.

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