Water, Water Everywhere...
Friday, February 06, 2009 | Author: eventer79
…yet you should pause before you drink.

I have about 412 water-related issues I want to address, but today, prompted by a friend’s helpful tip on Facebook, I want to talk about water treatment, i.e. the process of making streamwater (yup, this is where all your drinking water comes from) into the tapwater that you drink (bottled water included since it is just water that came out of a tap somewhere else, another topic for another day).

By my count, there are basically four ways to treat your water.
(1) Municipal water treatment done at plants off your property.
(2) If you have a well, a filtration system coming into your house
(3) Sink mounted filters
(4) Pitcher filters

We will be discussing primarily option 1. Ok, we won’t really be discussing it, I will just be telling you about it!

Today, probably 99% of municipalies (towns, counties, cities) use chlorine in combination with mechanical filtration to treat their water. Chlorine sucks and I will tell you why.

(1) It is an archaic method of treating water. We are using technology that originated over 150 years ago, even though there are cleaner, safer, and more cost-efficient options out there.
(2) Chlorine is a toxic gas. It causes choking, vomiting, lung damage, and at high enough concentrations, death. Yummy.
(3) When you put chlorine in water (i.e. water treatment), it breaks down into byproducts including trihalomethanes (THMs) which are carcinogenic and can cause spontaneous abortion. Other byproducts, bromate, chlorite, and haloacetic acids increase cases of bladder and rectal cancer (boy, doesn’t that sound fun!), can cause anemia in children, degrade nervous system function in adults, and create kidney and liver problems. Double yummy!
(4) Chlorine is toxic to aquatic life, so when chlorinated water runs out of wastewater treatment plants into streams (which it generally does), the critters living in that stream go belly up – fish, mussels, snails, insects, crayfish, it’s a little holocaust.
(5) Over time, chlorine produces a buildup in water lines that clogs and damages pipes. Guess how this is usually addressed? Flush super-high concentrations of more chlorine through it!

This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s enough for me to say I don’t want this crap anywhere near my water and neither should anyone who wants to avoid lovely experiences like vomiting, loss of nerve function, and ass cancer. In addition, numerous studies have shown that chlorine is not very effective at destroying viruses and of course does NOTHING for pharmaceuticals (oh, you wouldn’t believe what kinds of drugs you’re drinking, wastewater treatment does NOT remove them from water), heavy metals, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs – hint, things you don’t want to ingest). So the only thing it really is doing (in a piss-poor way) is killing bacteria.

Shrieking in horror, you are now calling your city hall and demanding to know why they are trying to kill you with water (Yeah!!! Way to take action!!!). However, in order to be taken seriously, you must present a viable option. Happily, you have a GREAT one to offer!

Ultraviolet light. UV treatment is slowly building momentum in the wastewater treatment field and is more and more often used to treat well water on-property. Pretty sad considering the technology has been around at least 50 years and is very well-documented. The way it works: multiple UV tubes (think florescent office lights) emitting a specialized frequency are enclosed in sleeves. Water is pumped through the sleeves so that everything is exposed to the light and bacteria and viruses are effectively wiped out. Their DNA is scrambled and all hope for them is lost. You do a happy dance.

Now, in order for this to work, the water must be clear and free of sediments so the light can penetrate it and reach all the nasty bits, so pre-filtration through some kind of mechanical filter is usually required. Installation costs are relatively low and any gaps are rapidly closing because since the ‘70’s, rising energy costs (producing chlorine is VERY energy intensive), freight costs and safety issues have bumped up the price of chlorine steadily. Other reasons UV rocks:
(1) No chemicals are put in the water or used during production = no chemical safety hazard. No byproducts, no associated health risks.
(2) Treatment occurs VERY quickly, almost instantaneously, no soaking or retention time is required, so efficiency is increased.
(3) No wildlife kills, unless you count bacteria as wildlife and well, sorry bacteria, I don’t want to drink you.
(4) Not only do you take out bacteria, but you also take out viruses, molds, yeasts, fungi, nematode (worm) eggs, and algae. Yes, all things that are highly undesirable to find in one’s water glass.
(5) No extra cost whether you treat 10 gallons or 10,000 gallons.
(6) It doesn’t stink or taste bad.

I know which one I vote for! So, wanderers, let your city officials know! The facts are out there and if you need more information, just google “UV water treatment” and a wealth of knowledge and reliable cited research is at your fingertips. Push hard and don’t let lazy municipalities with engineers stuck in the dark ages slowly poison you because change is so harrrrrdddddd! Call them up and give them the kick in the ass they need!

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On February 6, 2009 at 5:03 PM , lifeshighway said...

Great Post, although again, I am left shaking in my proverbial boots. I'm glad today's lesson did not include well water, I don't know if I could have taken it.

On February 6, 2009 at 9:38 PM , eventer79 said...

Next installment: What Lurks in Wells.... *ominous music* Ok, just kidding...wells are usually pretty safe, especially the nice deep ones, it all of course depends on what your treatment system consists of. When my boss bought his house, they had a bunch of nasty little bacteria living in their well and they installed a UV system and haven't had a problem since, it works great!