Naturally Sourced Raw Water
Treating well water is all about doing the job right and selecting the most experienced professionals for the work in hand. Start with the right laboratories for water testing and then consult a range of water treatment specialists to get an idea of what is involved and the likely costs, the warranty back up, call out fees, servicing and equipment specification.
For well water and other types of naturally sourced raw water it isessential that accurate INAB accredited water analysis is conductedprior to equipment selection. Check if professional laboratories are INAB (Irish National Accreditation Board) approved. The best labs charge reasonable fees, - 30 euro bacteria, 45 euro chemical (10 items) and 100 euro chemical (20+ items).
Ask about staffing numbers of degree trained chemists, bacteriologists and PhD qualified personnel and if the investment in the laboratory and equipment is costed in excess of 250,000 to 500,000 euros. Some companies offer lab testing without INAB certs, with no degree trained chemists and on a shoe string budget of a few hundred euros using dip stick test kits.
Issues such as odours, sulphide and grit need to be monitored at the point of sampling as laboratories are unable to test these remote from the source, also the EU give no reference guidelines for these. Only professional labs can test for all toxic metals including arsenic, lead, aluminium, cadmium, nickel, etc. Only the best labs test for the latest parameters like boron and selenium.
Make sure laboratories are EU compliant and have been using Parametric Value or PV on analyses for several years and not the old Maximum Admissible Concentration or MAC units. If on site dip stick test kits are used for a broad idea of water quality, make sure these tests are later backed up by professional INAB testing for accurate and consistent values.
IRON (PV limit 200 ug/l) is found in borehole wells and many lakes, streams and springs all around Ireland. Iron exists in many different forms in water such as dissolved or clear water iron - ferrous iron, also as precipitated - brown water iron such as ferric iron. Heme iron bound with organic colour (tannins) is difficult to treat. Laboratories test for total iron content but do not distinguish between iron types. Iron treatment system selection depends on a wide range of other chemical parameters to be tested especially pH, colour (tannins), manganese, sulphur and hardness along with water usage demand in order to track down the exact type of iron treatment media - Birm, Pyrolox, Filox, Greensand, Greensand Plus, MTM, zeolites, resins, calcite medias and clinoptilolite filter medias. Iron levels of 100 to 3,000 ug/l can be straight forward, levels between 3,000 and 8,000 ug/l require the best well water specialists. Above 8,000 ug/l only use WQA Certified WaterSpecialists or highly experienced operators. Over 15,000 ug/l proceed with caution. Beware low pH and high tannins.
MANGANESE (PV limit 50 ug/l) is also found in borehole wells along with iron usually at a much lower concentration levels. Manganese is a black ore like mineral found deep in rock strata causing black spotting when washing clothes also staining pipes and ceramic ware. Similar to iron system selection, manganese depends on a wide range of testing - pH, colour, iron, sulphur andhardness along with water usage for the exacttype of media - Birm, Pyrolox, Filox, Greensand, Greensand Plus, MTM, zeolites, resins, calcites etc. Manganese levels of 50 to 2,000 ug/l can be straight forward. Levels over 2,000 ug/l require highly experienced operators. Over 5,000 ug/l proceed with caution. Beware low pH and high tannins.
HYDROGEN SULPHIDE (no reference value) is seasonally variable and can be difficult to treat. It has a rotten egg smell and in low levels it can smell musty. Over exposure to sulphide can deaden the nerves in the inner lining of your nose and relax your sense of smell to sulphur. Aeration tanks help to gas off high sulphide levels and for higher levels these can be reduced using backwashable precipitation medias such as KDF, Pyrolox and Filox. Carbon is often suggested as a help but only works on low levels. Sulphide levels of 100 to 200 ug/l can be straight forward. Levels over 2,000 ug/l require highly experienced operators. Over 5,000 ug/l proceed with caution. Beware of seasonal variations.
HARDNESS (no ref. value) is regularly found in most borehole water wells around Ireland. Connaught has the largest swathe of karstlimestone bedrock found in Ireland. Inorganic Calcium and Magnesium salts are the constituents of lime or hardness found in hard water. Contrary to occasional opinions, there is no real requirement for any level of hardness to be found in household water unless for pH dosing purposes to adjust for alkalinity. Organic calcium compounds and minerals found in food and dairy products are not to be confused with inorganic calcium found in hard water. A water softener is easily able to deal with high lime levels found inwell and mains water starting from 150 to 200 ug/l to any level above this.
BACTERIA (zero e.coli / coliforms) is also found in many wells and occurs intermittentlythroughout the year depending on heavy rainfall. An ultra violet steriliseris used after some form of softening or primary treatment of iron orother nuisance contamination to keep the ultraviolet system inner quartzsleeve free from obstruction and the water clear so bacteria cannot pass through hidden in the shadowing of particles.
Heavy grit, sand or turbidity (finely suspended silt or colloidalsilicas) also have their specialist applications and need to be precisely evaluated.
Reverse osmosis deals with the final concentrations of toxic heavymetals, nitrates, nitrites, sodium and other dissolved parametersharmful for drinking water use. A reverse osmosis filter should onlybe used after well water has been properly treated for primaryfiltration of all the high levels of nuisance parameters like iron,manganese, sulphide, hardness, grit, silt, turbidity, bacteria etc.
Long term history of domestic water use is an extra tool along with the evaluation of aparticular water treatment system.
There is a full list of water softeners, iron and manganese waterfilters, odour and colour removal water filters, grit and turbidityremoval water filters, ultra violet sterilisers, reverse osmosis waterfilters and other specialist water treatment equipment in our pdfbrochures on the home page.
Anecdotal evidence of water history and water use is an extra tool inhelping along with the evaluation of assessing the need for a particular water treatment system.