Your Drinking Water and Your Health by Brian Oram
Even though 60% of the human body is water, water is a resource that is often taken for granted. The primary concerns with water relate to having adequate quantity of the proper quality. In terms of hydration, drinking water is probably one of the best ways to keep your body healthy. Water is used in your body to help maintain your temperature and ensures the proper operation of your circulatory, digestive, and neurological systems. Water is one of the pathways that potential contaminants and disease causing agents can enter the body, so the quality is also important. Therefore, we need drinking water of adequate quantity of the proper quality.
When the body is not properly hydrated, our body’s response is to make us feel thirsty, but if you miss this clue watch out for dry mouth, swollen tongue, weakness, dizziness, confusion, palpitations, and fainting. If over hydrated, you can become water intoxicated or hyperhydration. If hyperhydration occurs, the kidneys can not process all the water and the system becomes overwhelmed. There are phone apps and other tools to help you to remember to drink enough water, but our general recommendation is if you feel thirsty it is time to get a drink and given a choice pick water.
Water comes in many forms, which can include premium bottled water, tap water, spring water, carbonated water, soda, coffee, tap water, nutrient infused water, juices, and purified water. Of all these, it is my professional opinion that we just need to drink water. The two most common sources of drinking water for a community is either public water or a private water source. A public water source is always regulated by both the federal and state governments and many may call this city water or tapwater, but well or spring water may be from a public or private source. If you get your water directly from a well or spring, this is a private source and this is not commonly regulated.
If you get your water from city water, the most common health concerns are related to the presence of chlorine-by-products or corrosive by-product in the United States, the public water supply systems are disinfected using various forms of chlorine and phosphate is added to attempt to control corrosion. The chlorine is used to disinfect the water, but it can react with naturally occurring organics to form trihalomethanes, i.e., a potential carcinogen; while phosphate will react with the metals in the water to form a scale or coating on the inside of the piping, see “Flint, Michigan”. If you are on well water, the most common problems are the presence of bacteria and elevated levels of salts in the water, like nitrate, chloride, and sulfate, or corrosive water. In some cases, the water may contain elevated levels of radionuclides and trace metals, like arsenic, iron, lead, and manganese. The quality of the drinking water depends on type of water, location, level of treatment, the condition of your plumbing, and your home or house. In some areas, the community is concerned about pipelines and natural gas development, but a hidden problem may be the existing quality of their drinking water.
For citizens, our general recommendations related to drinking water are:
1. City Water Customers- Review any annual “Consumer Confident Reports” produced by your water supplier and act accordingly.
2. Private Water Sources –Get your water tested, at least annually, and have the results review by an expert.
3. Look out for potential problems with your drinking water, based on what you can see, taste, smell, or otherwise detect with your senses or problems that may be caused by the water.
4. Download our free “Know Your H20 Phone App” or visit our website – all Free.
A few short phrases we should try to remember.
We ALL Live Downstream !
Groundwater and Surface water are Connected!
We are Part of the Water Cycle – Not just an Observer!
Starting Off the New Year Right
by Brian Oram
Happy New Year, I would like to propose we make one additional commitment this year. This commitment is to care about the water we drink as we try to remember how we impact or influence the quality and quantity of the water resources. Although it is the beginning of a new year (wishing you GOOD Luck in 2017!), for the water cycle the new year started in October. This is the time of the year when the aquifer begins to recharge. Many people are unaware that the aquifer must recharge, it is not infinite. In Pennsylvania and the Northeastern United States, we are blessed with having abundant water resources, but something we should not take for granted. In 2016, we had an interesting election year that brought up many concerns. Also in the news, came a reminder of the limitedness of the water. A number of regions of Pennsylvania were put on a drought advisory and many small streams, springs, and even a few shallow wells dried up, i.e., no water. With 2016 in the rear-view mirror, I would like to suggest a few small steps to help move us forward in a positive direction. These steps are as follows:
- Learn about how and where you get your drinking water – Does your water come from a private source or city water supply source?
- If the water is from a private well- When did you have the water tested? For parts of Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey, it is not uncommon for about 40 to 50% of private wells to have a problem that may make the user or a guest sick.
- If you are on a city water source- Have you ever looked at the Annual Confidence Report about the quality of your drinking water? The most common problem with community water sources is elevated levels of trace metals like lead and chlorine by-products like trihalomethanes, i.e., suspected carcinogens. For information on water testing, please visit water-research.net.
- Are you using your water wisely? There are ways to use our drinking water resources more efficiently. A website titled, wateruseitwisely.com, offers over 100 tips on how to best use water. My favorite tip is “Turn off the water while you brush your teeth and save up to 4 gallons a minute. That’s up to 200 gallons a week for a family of four”. There are over 4 million households in Pennsylvania, this one lifestyle change could save 41.6 billion gallons of water. This is only one change!
- Our surface water and groundwater are connected, and “we all live downstream”. This phrase means that how we use the groundwater resources directly impacts the surface water resources and we all are interconnected. Therefore, when using cleaning products, chemicals, or managing a waste we all live downstream from someone else. For example, the biggest source of man influenced global oil pollution is not massive spills or leaks. Only 8% of man influenced oil pollution comes from pipelines and major releases. The biggest sources are the small leaks from our boats, cars, and other means of transportation and the improper disposal of waste oil by individuals.
- Know Your H20? – it is important to know how you can influence the quality of the water resources, but it is also important to know the historic hazards in your community that may be contributing to a problem. With this in mind, it is important to learn about the historic hazards in your community and surrounding your home. The Keystone Clean Water Team offers neighborhood or community hazard survey reports for communities within the Unities States. The 501 c3 offers a few free reports each month. To get more information about this program, please visit – knowyourh20.us.
The best way to start off the New Year is not with a significant lifestyle change, but baby steps. Make a few basic commitments and make small changes that will help you and your family save and conserve water, check the quality of your drinking water, learn about the hazards in your community, and perhaps implement 1 item each month that will save and conserve water. It is important to remember that the less water you use, the more money stays in your pocket.
A few short phrases we should try to remember.
We ALL Live Downstream !
Groundwater and Surface water are Connected!
We are Part of the Water Cycle – Not just an Observer!
You can help – Make A Donation !
DEP Declares Drought Warning for Four Counties, Increases Drought Watch to 30 Counties
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has declared a drought watch for Pike County, following a meeting Wednesday of the Commonwealth Drought Task Force.
“We’re asking residents and businesses, particularly in central and eastern counties, to use water wisely and follow simple water conservation tips to ease the demand for water,” said DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “We suggest that public water systems that implemented water restrictions this summer continue them to preserve their drinking water supplies.”
Data from the Commonwealth drought monitoring network show that dry conditions persisting in the middle of the state and lack of precipitation in the eastern part of the state have deepened precipitation deficits, resulting in extremely low stream flow and groundwater levels, particularly in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas in the Delaware River Basin.
• Drought warning: Carbon, Lehigh, Monroe, and Northampton Counties. Citizens are encouraged to voluntarily reduce their water use by 10-15 percent.
• Drought watch: Adams, Bedford, Berks, Bucks, Centre, Chester, Clinton, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Luzerne, Mifflin, Montgomery, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Union, Wayne, and York Counties. Citizens are encouraged to reduce their nonessential water use by 5 percent.
DEP encourages all citizens to take steps to reduce their water use:
• Run water only when necessary. Avoid running the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving, or letting the shower run for several minutes before use.
• Check for household leaks. A leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water each day.
• Run dishwashers and washing machines only with full loads.
• Replace older appliances with high-efficiency, front-loading models that use about 30 percent less water and 40 to 50 percent less energy.
• Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets.
DEP also offers other water conservation recommendations and water audit procedures for commercial and industrial users, such as food processors, hotels and educational institutions. These recommendations and additional drought monitoring information are available on the DEP Drought Information website.
Full press release available at: DEP’s website.
The Keystone Clean Water Team was very happy to work with the local “Poconos Region” Property Owners Association to offer a private well water screening test for the residents drinking water. For the 2016 program, a total of 16 residents participated in the program and for this program water testing was offered at two different tiers. The basic tier provide general information related to the bacterial quality of the water and level of nitrate, iron, and total hardness. The advanced tier provided testing for trace metals such as arsenic, copper, lead, zinc, and more comprehensive analysis of the overall quality of the water. The following is a summary of the results:
2 samples were positive for total coliform bacteria, but no samples were positive for E. coli.;
1 sample exceeded the drinking water standard for lead and 5 other samples had detectable levels of lead in the water;
13 of the 16 samples contained detectable levels of nitrate, but at no point did the level exceed or approach the drinking water standard of 10 mg/L;
1 sample had elevated levels of manganese, but 3 had detectable levels of manganese in the water; and
15 of the 16 samples were considered slightly to corrosive to metal piping and 1 sample was considered very corrosive to metal piping.
The pH of the water ranged for 6.2 to 7.5 and only two samples had a pH that was less than the recommended drinking water standard of 6.5. These samples were associated with water that had detectable levels of lead, but not the highest level of lead. The sample with the highest level of lead appeared to be a sample collected at the kitchen sink after the water had been treated with a water softener.
From this snapshot, we learned the following:
- There appears to be a 13 % probability that a private well may contain total coliform bacteria.
- The water produced from the aquifer tends to be slightly corrosive and have total hardness that ranges from 30 to 150 mg/L.
- The groundwater does not appear to have elevated levels of nitrate.
- The groundwater does not appear to have E. coli. bacteria.
- Lead was detected in some water samples, but the occurrence in the well water is related to the corrosiveness of the water, type of water treatment, and type of plumbing fixtures in the home and not the groundwater aquifer.
- Homeowners that reported problems with sulfur odor or black particles were the same homeowners that had elevated or detectable level of manganese.
- If you are considering the use of a water softener, please consider the type of household plumbing and it may be necessary to install a neutralizing filter.
Based on these results, we recommend that all private well owners conduct an annual water quality test. To facilitate this effort, the Keystone Clean Water Team offers an online mail order informational water testing program for private well owners throughout the USA and we offer our Know Your H20? Free Phone App. To learn about our mail order program, please visit us at http://www.water-research.net or http://www.knowyourh20.us. If you have any questions, please call or email 570-335-1947 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr. Brian Oram, PG
AquiSense can help provide families with the purest water available. The PearlAqua harnesses the power of ultraviolet (UV) light to destroy pathogens in the most natural way possible, without adding any harmful chemicals. The PearlAqua has been compactly designed to be a Point-of-Entry (POE) or Point-of-Use (POU) system. Physical filtration of the water is required before UV disinfection so a PearlAqua is a great addition to any existing water treatment system.
The PearlAqua was designed to work with any water treatment system so installation of the unit is easy and retrofitting is simple. Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems remove dissolved inorganic solids from water, but not organic materials or pathogens. This may lead to algae growing in the holding tank, but recirculating the water through a PearlAqua will prevent algae from ever growing. Traditional UV disinfection systems use a large amount of electricity and heat the water while they disinfect. These systems also use mercury gas-filled lamps to create their UV light. Mercury lamps are very fragile and release mercury into the water stream when they break.
The LEDs inside the PearlAqua last for 10,000 hours. A mercury lamp will have a similar lifespan, but a mercury lamp can only be turned off/on a few times per day. This limitation leads to the lamp remaining on, even when there is no water flow – hence annual replacement. The PearlAqua LED system can be turned on/off an infinite number of times per day, so the unit only runs when water is flowing through it, greatly extending the lamp replacement interval. For example, a PearlAqua unit that is on for 2 hours a day will only need a lamp replacement every 14 years!
The Units provide “The Home Concept“
1 .DC input power means solar power is possible
2. After hot water tank as pathogen barrier
3. Point of use legionella control
4. Disinfect rain water after storage
5. Post septic tank for environmental protection
6. Reuse grey water without concern of infection
7. RO/filter system final polishing and/or bio-film control
For more news and information – Go to News Page
A few steps
Norweco new at-grade bed is approved in Pennsylvania and other states for our Singulair® residential wastewater treatment system! We are proud to offer Pennsylvania the most affordable and effective residential onsite wastewater treatment system. Our Singulair® system, accompanied by our award-winning Hydro-Kinetic Bio-Film Reactor®, produces a clear, odorless effluent that is safely returned to the drain field (NO SAND MOUND REQUIRED).
Norwalk Wastewater Equipment Company (Norweco) is a manufacturer of water and wastewater treatment products, systems and chemicals. They specialize in small-flow treatment applications, ranging from municipal treatment systems for small towns and villages, all the way down to systems for the individual family home. Their products are designed to provide a high level of treatment in the most efficient, cost-effective manner. They place special focus on customer service, product innovation, research and development, regulatory cooperation, industry education and employee fulfillment. Their corporate offices are located in Norwalk, Ohio, we serve a diverse customer base through our licensed distributors and dealers across North America and around the world. Norweco has both concrete and a high density polyethylene options that will meet all your design needs for residential wastewater.
All of our systems carry NSF Standards 40, 46 and 245 listings and have been proven product since the 70’s. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future and working with you on using our affordable product. Thank you once again for showing interest in Norweco and feel free to contact us at any time.
The Singulair® system has been approved and used for decades in North America and continues to lead the way in today’s market. Certified and proven in hundreds of thousands of installations, the Singulair®, in series with our Hydro-Kinetic Bio-Film Reactor®, is the most innovative, state-of-the-art wastewater treatment system. Consider these advantages:
- Precast concrete & HDPE tanks include pretreatment
- Non-mechanical, demand use, built-in flow equalization (surge control) and filtration
- Low electrical usage
- Simple to install and maintain
- No large replacement expenses
- Environmentally safe – no harmful product to replace
Norweco systems are available state-wide through our network of dedicated, hard-working local distributors. For additional information on design applications or where you can purchase Singulair® systems, give Paul Cannon a call at (419)668-4471 or email him at email@example.com.
Please mention to Paul you save this Announcement on the Keystone Clean Water Team Portal – It appears this is suitable for flows up to 800 gpd or two single family homes or a house with 7 bedrooms (3 bedroom house – 400 gpd; each additional bedroom – 100 gpd).
Norweco treatment systems are currently solving wastewater treatment problems throughout Pennsylvania. We invite you to join us at an upcoming Factory Training School to learn more about our company and products. Norweco schools are accredited by the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for six hours of continuing education credit. Please contact me at 1-800-NORWECO or firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
More on sewage options in Pennsylvania.
Understanding the Health Risks of Private Well Ownership
Guest blogger / writer – Julie Bowen <email@example.com>
As a country, we are proud of our reputation for having the safest and cleanest drinking water in the world. However drinking water that is procured from privately owned wells is not regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency or many state agencies, meaning that the owners of those wells are responsible for ensuring that their water is safe and drinkable. Water from private wells tastes crisp and refreshing, and it can be a wonderful gift to own your own water source. It is also important to acknowledge that many residents living in rural areas have no choice but to procure their water from private wells or cisterns. However, regardless of the reasons that their water is sourced from private wells, it is essential that private well owners are aware of the health risks involved in private well ownership as well as the myriad of benefits that they can obtain.
The Risks of Water Contamination
Drinking water from wells can be contaminated in a variety of different ways: either due to naturally occurring chemicals and minerals, the land use and farming practices in the area surrounding the well, and a malfunction of the wastewater treatment systems operating on the well itself. As a result of this, there are a wide range of illnesses that can be contracted via drinking contaminated well water. These can range from short-term gastrointestinal and stomach illnesses that includes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea to more severe long term illnesses such as reproductive problems, neurological disorders, and other chronic illnesses. Death by drinking water is not common, but it has happened. Individuals with compromised immune systems, as well as children, pregnant women, and elderly people, are more vulnerable to the effects of certain contaminates and should be especially vigilant about the quality of their privately owned drinking water.
Two of the parasitic illnesses private well owners should be most aware of are Hepatitis A and Giardia (which is the parasite that causes the illness giardiasis, a common cause of diarrhea). Giardiasis is a relatively short lived condition, that is caused by water becoming contaminated by either mammalian or human feces. The parasite itself is resistant to basic chlorination, meaning that it tends to be particularly resistant to water treatment methods, however once infected most individuals have overcome the illness in approximately 7 days. More deadly are the risks posed by the liver condition hepatitis A, which is a highly contagious illness that is also contracted via the fecal oral route, due to water contaminated by infected feces. Hepatitis A is a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection, but the symptoms can be severe and pose a particular risk to vulnerable individuals.
Taking the Appropriate Precautions
Because of the risks of being exposed to contaminated drinking water, it is recommended that in addition to regularly checking the quality of your drinking water, and taking the necessary precautions to ensure it avoids contamination, private home owners also secure comprehensive health insurance. This will help them to ensure that they are fully protected in the unlikely instance that something should go wrong with their water supply, and they should contract one of the myriad of illnesses listed above.
The Keystone Clean Water Team (KCWT) is committed to ensuring that home owners with responsibility for private wells are given the support, the information, and the technology that they need to ensure that their well based drinking water is as clean and as safe as possible. The quality of well water should be tested at least three times a year, and the well itself should be regularly repaired and maintained to protect the water that is inside. When it comes to modern well technology, knowledge is power, so it is important to be as informed as possible about what is happening inside your well, and well as any possible risks that you face. The process involved in maintaining healthy well water can seem complicated, and the language involved in the process unnecessarily convoluted, which is why The Keystone Clean Water Team can help homeowners interpret their test results and ensure their water is as safe as it can be.
A few thoughts from the KCWT:
- When people say may water taste great and looks great – I have no problem – 50% of the time they have a problem that can make them sick.
- Of these individuals, 50% of the time the problem can be eliminated for a few hundred dollars.
- Some recent work on lead in drinking water found that 2 out of 3 private well samples had elevated lead; whereas only 1 out of 10 city water samples had a lead issue. Testing your well water quality is important, but you must understand our risks.
- Blood lead testing is important for kids – get it done if you are living an older community that has or had historic industrialization.
A few suggestions:
- Download our free phone App.
- Get Your Water Tested (Portion of the Proceeds Help the KCWT)
- Get a Custom Neighborhood Hazard Report
- Order the Private Well Owner Educational Guide
Install a rain garden in your community – Possible ROAs for a Groundwater Guardian Project
Spring is just around the corner, and a great time to think about installing a rain garden. A rain garden is a garden of native shrubs, perennials, and flowers planted in a small depression, which is generally formed on a natural slope. It is designed to temporarily hold and soak in rain water runoff. Rain gardens help filter out pollutants such as fertilizers, chemicals, bacteria, and others contained in runoff. They also incorporate native vegetation, reducing the need for fertilizers and after the first year, maintenance is usually minimal.
Rain gardens are effective in:
- removing up to 90% of nutrients and chemicals
- removing up to 80% of sediments from rainwater runoff
- allowing for 30% more water to soak into the ground than a conventional lawn
Consider installing a rain garden as one of your team’s 2016 Result-Oriented Activities. Remember, you can add an ROA at any time during the year. Involve the public and make it an educational event! Read more about how rain gardens benefit a community and how to get started.
Featured Text – The New Art of Living Green !
The Groundwater Foundation – Rain Gardens
Some examples of water features – Dallas, PA