Bacteria in Town Water
Bacteria, Bacterial Cysts and Occysts including Entamoeba, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Giardia, Microsporidium, E Coli, Coliforms and various Parasites are all possibly in the “raw water” from a storage dam before it enters a water treatment plant – in most cases you can be fairly confident that the water that leaves the treatment plant has at least a low bacteria population.
Accidents happen, human error and treatment equipment failure probably occur more frequently than we know and the level of these bacteria in your water can rise dramatically without warning.
Another more serious issue is the presence of bacteria in the distribution network – old infrastructure, leaking cracked pipes, joints, seals, tree root invasion and accidental breaching of the pipeline network all offer bacteria and parasites entry points into the supply line of your water supply.
Once in the distribution system they are very difficult to eradicate – in the old water distribution mains of cities like Sydney Bromine gas is sometimes used to control bacterial cysts that have colonised the pipe work. Cysts or Occysts are essentially bacteria eggs with a hard coating that is quite impervious to chlorine, hence the need to use Bromine or Chloramine (Chlorine Bromine mix) to control bacterial colonies in the water mains system.
The residual 2ppm level of Chlorine in the mains water as it leaves the treatment plant is the best protection that the authorities can offer against this situation – it’s just not effective enough to deal with Occysts or Cyst colonisations or serious breaches of the distribution mains.
Bacteria and Bacterial Cysts including Entamoeba, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Giardia, Microsporidium, E Coli, Coliforms and Parasites are easily eliminated from your tap water by a professionally configured water filtration system.
More often than not home water filtration systems from non specialist suppliers are sold with filters that are not effective in removing bacteria from drinking water. Hardware stores may have 50 different filters on the shelf – but only four of those filters may be effective in eliminating bacteria from drinking water and the other 46 water filters may have no application in the effective filtration of town water in Australia.
Sediment in Town Water?
In Australia sediment in town water is not generally an issue of note. Occasional particles may appear from time to time but normally as a result of work on water mains.
This level of sediment in town water is rarely high enough to require the use of a dedicated sediment removal filter – in most situations an effective water filter system for town water can be configured with a single element rather than the twin systems that are frequently promoted as being required for town water.
A word of advice though to those people whose town water supplies are derived from bore water – apart from this water being notoriously “hard” bore water often contains very fine grit, which while not in large enough quantities to necessitate a dedicated sediment filter – this fine grit can damage modern ceramic disc tapware if it’s not filtered at all.
“Cloudy Milky” Water?
The cloudy milky appearance of town water is generally caused by tiny air or gas bubbles in the water. You can easily check by allowing a glass of the cloudy water to stand for a few minutes – if the water turns clear then the cloudiness was caused by entrapped air bubbles and it probably is safe to drink. If the water remains cloudy however then it may contain some dissolved substance and it shouldn’t be used for drinking water until you verify the contents with your local water provider.
Cloudy water often occurs immediately after a new water filter is installed or changed – this is a common occurrence, the easiest way to clear the cloudy water is to flick the tap on and off every few minutes until the water is clear. Once again the cloudiness is caused by entrapped air bubbles being forced out of the pore structure of the filter element/s. This is a relatively easy situation to rectify and it normally clears itself in minutes.
“Hard” Town Water
The first indication is generally a lack of soap suds in washing water, showers and baths followed by white deposits on tapware, sinks, shower screens and basins.
AquaGuard have water filtration systems that can have small water treatment elements fitted to stop these deposits from either occurring or adhering in these areas.
Hard water is generally indicative of a high level of dissolved minerals in the water and would normally be associated with bore water supplies.
If you do have bore water town supply then you should give serious consideration to having a “Water Conditioning Filtration System” fitted to protect all appliances with heating elements like Hot Water Systems, Kettles, Dishwashers and the like from Scale or Calcium / Lime deposits on the elements.
Bore Water Town Supply also often contains a very fine grit that occurs in the alluvium that the water is pumped from, this grit will very quickly attack modern “Ceramic Disc” tapware with all the efficiency of sandpaper – damaging the internal workings and running up a substantial repair or replacement bill for the homeowner.
Rain Water Tank Supplies
The long awaited welcome return of rainwater tanks across metropolitan Australia signals the opportunity for water quality autonomy for every household.
With that autonomy comes the responsibility for homeowners to ensure the quality of the water that is delivered throughout the home and that can only be done by home water filtration systems.
Water Filtration for Sediment
Sediment will collect in your rainwater tank – dust, leaves, rubbish will settle on your roof, birds and animals will perch on your roof to rest or drink dew that collects overnight – all this and more will flow into your tank.
You can install diverters, gutter guards etc – they all help, but they are mechanical devices and they will not protect you from bacterial or chemical issues.
Leaves and bark often contain Tannin and the water will take on the appearance of weak tea, removing Tannin is not difficult but tannin removal requires the use of a special carbon filter.
Dust is an issue that you must treat with respect in metropolitan Australia. The dust can originate from roadways, industry, farmland or native bushland – you will have no control over its origin or its content.
Dust can contain pollutants from motors, chemicals from industry, chemicals used in agriculture and dust storms from inland Australia can contain bacterial Occysts – bacterial eggs just waiting to soak and hatch in your rainwater tank.
Home Water Filtration systems are the only way you can ensure your rainwater is safe to drink, you may not have had a problem to date – but you will eventually.
Sediment filtration is the first step in ensuring that your rainwater will be safe to drink, the golden rule is always ensuring you have the right filter element.
Sediment filter elements come in various formats – polyspun, string wound, depth filters, pleated polyester, carbon coated pleated polyester and in a myriad of micron ratings.
The micron rating should be non negotiable – 1 micron nominal at the very least – but preferrably 1 micron absolute.
The sediment filter type must be chosen in accordance with the sediment load that you have in your rainwater tank – if you’re not sure which filter to select then call us and we can run through the options to make sure your money is spent on the right filter for your situation.
Water Filtration for Bacteria
Bacteria will find their way into your rainwater tank, it is inevitable and filtration is the only safe method of preventing them from being in every drop of water that flows from your taps.
Sanitising your rainwater tank with Chlorine is an extremely dangerous practice – under no circumstances should you introduce Chlorine into your rainwater tank – Chlorine in rain water reacts with organic sediment to produce Trihalomethanes – a particularly nasty group of chemical compounds that are proven to cause serious health issues particularly in pregnant women and newborn babies.
So please avoid Chlorine in all its forms, pool chlorine in liquid or powder form, bleach etc.
We rarely come across a situation where chemical sanitising is necessary – but if it is absolutely necessary then the only sanitising agent we would consider using is Hydrogen Peroxide, preferably Colloidal Silver stabilised Peroxide.
Hydrogen Peroxide is an extremely powerful sanitising agent, it is physically dangerous to handle but it breaks down into pure water and oxygen – absolutely safe. The drawback is that it is difficult to get the concentrations correct and using too much Peroxide can encourage Algal blooms in your rainwater tank.
A high quality particulate filter rated 1 micron absolute or less is the easy solution and best protection you can put in place to protect yourself from all bacteria.
It’s a simple formula – all bacteria are 3 microns in size or larger and a 1 micron particulate filter is absolutely effective in removing them from the water as it flows through.
Water Filtration for Viruses
Viruses have not been an issue of note in rain water tank supplies in Australia to date.
However we do have more frequent occurrences of Hendra Virus occurring in Australia, from a once only occurrence in Brisbane years ago – there have now been outbreaks as often as monthly in Qld to date.
The vector or carrier of the virus are Flying Foxes, the method of contamination is originally by faecal contamination of water supply and then physical contact with drinking water troughs or some infected animal.
At some point in time it is not hard to imagine that Flying Fox droppings are going to land in someone’s tank water with horrendous consequences.
While little is known about Hendra virus at this time we do know that viruses can be as small as 0.002 microns – which means that you cannot be sure that the filters that are 99.9% effective in removing bacteria will be effective in blocking Hendra virus or any other virus for that matter.
HGF – Hollow Glass Fibre is a new water filtration technology that can filter virus from water, it’s relatively new but we do have water filter systems that are based around HGF that can be fitted to tap or whole of house filtration systems.
More recently a new technology “Microbiological Barrier Carbon” has been developed and this is a proven technology to remove virus from water – exciting, simple, effective and available very shortly.
Other Tank Water Filtration Issues
Poly Tanks – there are specific carbon filters made especially for removing any of the Volatile Organic Chemicals that may leach into the water stored in a Poly Tank.
Most manufacturers automatically claim that their tanks are made from “Food Grade” material but I’ve never put my head inside any Poly Tank on a hot day and not come reeling away from the overwhelming odour of the Volatile Organic Chemicals released from the tank – they all seem to do it, I’m sure that at least some of those chemicals are adsorbed into the water and pumped into your your home supply.
There are specific filters available for this very specific purpose – so why not use them – they cost no more than any other high quality carbon filter!
Small Tanks – The number one issue we encounter with rainwater tank supply is small tanks connected to large roof areas.
If you have a small tank connected to a large roof area remember that all the sediment and everything else on the roof is going to be washed into a relatively small amount of water every time it rains.
Your water will contain very high concentrations of contaminants soon after installation; make sure you install a suitable water filtration system.
Gravity Fed Tank Water – the fact that you do not have a pump on your tank water does not mean you cannot have an effective water filtration system.
NSF approved and certified water filter cartridges are available to remove Bacteria and Cysts from gravity fed tank water supplies.
Removing chemical contaminants from gravity fed water filtration elements is much harder but still possible.
Each particular situation needs expert advice that can only be given after we talk to you
Toll Free 1300 055 300
Piping – Often overlooked in the quest for high quality water is the quality of the piping used to carry the water from Point A to Point B.
Most people don’t realise that normal PVC down pipe contains LEAD, if you are connecting a tank or you have a tank fed via PVC pipe and fittings it’s in your interests to make sure that Lead Free PVC is used rather than Leaded PVC.
Poly Pipe – Rural Grade Poly and fittings are meant for just that – Rural Applications – not Potable Water Supply for Humans.
High Pressure Poly Pipe is identified with Blue lines and the WaterMark symbol – if you are trying to achieve a high quality water outcome then use the correct pipe and fittings.
High Pressure Poly Fittings are O-Ring sealed, much more reliable, resistant to leaks and Bacteria Proof, Rural Fittings are not in the same class.