Posted by Jeff Wahl on 5/17/2023 to Well Water Quality
Outlined below is a real life well water example which highlights the importance of proper water testing in rural home construction, and the importance of having certified individuals installing water treatment devices. Based on recent experiences in which concerned homeowners sought a bacterial test for their water. It resulted in the realization that their water quality far exceeded the parameters set out in the Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines.
Water Treatment Dealership Testing
A couple entered a certified treatment dealership with a water sample, seeking a bacterial test for the home they were just about to move into as the construction finished up. They were relocating from a city and not aware of well water quality, looking for advice on how to best test the water.
Due to understanding of local well water quality variances by the dealership, it was suggested that an additional testing be conducted for ten parameters generally found within wells in the service area. This testing was conducted through an accredited laboratory to ensure accuracy of the testing results.
Water Testing Should be for More Parameters than just Bacteria
In discussion with the homeowners, it was revealed that their building contractor recommended and installed a whole house sediment filter and ultraviolet disinfection system without testing the well water in any way. The treatment equipment was not operational at the time of water sample collection for testing purposes. A plumbing bypass was installed around the equipment due to hydro not being completed in the mechanical area for the treatment equipment.
Surprising Water Testing Results
The bacterial testing results were determined to be 0 for coliform and 0 for e.Coli. This testing is what is completed during a Public Health water sample in the province of Ontario. Had the homeowner not visited a certified water treatment dealership, the water quality would not have been discovered until they moved in and noticed excessive scaling throughout the new home.
Eight of the parameters tested were well below acceptable limits and two greatly exceeded the guidelines set out for drinking water quality.
Water hardness is commonly measured in grains per gallon (gpg) and values between 0 and 7 gpg are acceptable. The water testing identified a value of 69 gpg, which is classified as an excessive level of water hardness.
Total Dissolved Solids are measured in parts per million (ppm) with values measuring under 500 ppm being recommended. The water testing identified a value of 2675 ppm, greatly exceeding the recommended “do not consume level” of 1000 ppm and greater.
Manufacturers Specify Hardness Requirements for Appliances
To understand water hardness values in greater detail, the commonly accepted value of less than 7 gpg is widely used by manufacturers of appliances and some water treatment equipment to ensure proper operation.
The 69 gpg level of hardness would have had a significant impact on the installed ultraviolet disinfection system as well as all of the appliances and hot water tank.
Certified Equipment Installation
The homeowners trusted their contractor when the recommendation for a filter and UV system was made. Whoever completed the installation, contractor or a plumber for the contractor, should have followed the manufacturers water quality requirements for proper operation. This was not the case.
If the equipment was installed by a certified installer, the excessive hardness level would have been identified, treated, and the UV system would have the proper hardness level to disinfect the water properly. The excessive 2675 ppm dissolved solids value was not safe for consumption, and would have been identified, and treated in accordance with the drinking water quality guidelines.
Water Testing & Treatment Should be Part of New Home Design
This scenario is likely repeated due to the common practice of testing for just bacterial microbes and the installation of treatment equipment without the required pre-testing of the water. Often treatment equipment is installed and no water testing is conducted.
6 Step Water Treatment Approach
This real life example of a homeowner’s experience highlights the need for a comprehensive approach to water treatment. A certified dealership provided the homeowners with well water education, conducted proper water testing, designed and installed the proper treatment system to provide safe water. Knowledge of the water source and holding certification to install water treatment fully encompassed the six steps that should be commonplace and of utmost importance to every water treatment professional.
Best Practice Recommendation
The impact of water hardness and total dissolved solids can be significant in a home. Without proper testing, it is not possible to know the exact levels present in a water supply. Conduct proper water testing as a means to know the level of contamination in your water, install equipment or verify that your existing treatment equipment and water based appliances are functioning properly.
Volume 7 – Issue 1 Wahl H2O - Water Awareness
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