Common Water Problems in Connecticut & NY

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Water Issues in Connecticut - Reference by Source

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Bacteria

Coliform / E. Coli Bacteria

Typically, test results are represented by a positive or negative count. The presence of either form is considered a non-potable water supply. Coliform is the most common bacteria and is found in approximately 28% of all samples collected. Its' presence is usually due to surface water entering the well structure (i.e. wells below the ground). When E. Coli is present, it means there is most likely a source of fecal contamination or animal decay.

Coliform bacteria are common in the environment and are generally not harmful. However, the presence of these bacteria in water (drinking) is usually a result of a problem with the treatment system or the pipes which distribute the water and indicates that the water may be contaminated with germs that can cause disease.

Fecal Coliform and E coli are bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms.

Common scenarios which create bacterial issues are; hand-dug wells, buried wells, wellheads very close to the surface, and/or non-water-tight well caps. If any of the above scenarios exist, a well professional should be contacted to correct them.

Viqua Pro UV Max

Radon

Radon Gas in Water

Radon is a radioactive gas that has been linked to lung cancer.  It enters the home in one of two ways.  The most common entry is airborne and emanates through the slab or foundation of the home.  The recognized limit for Radon in air is 4.0 pCi/L*.  Treatment consists of creating suction beneath the slab or foundation with a fan and venting the harmful gas out of the home above the roofline.

The second source of Radon Gas in the home is via well water.  The gas is released into the air when water inside the home is being used.  There is no current standard for Radon in water, but 3500 pCl - 5000 pCl* or greater are typically the levels where Radon mitigation treatment should be considered.  The most common treatment is using G.A.C tanks* for levels between 5000 - 10000 pCi/L.  For levels above 10000 pCi/L, aeration is the suggested treatment method.

Radon in drinking water is a significant health hazard, though a lesser hazard than radon in indoor air. Homes supplied with drinking water from a private well, or community water systems that use wells as water sources have a greater risk of exposure to radon in water.

Radon in water is found in nearly all sources of surface water and groundwater. It is created by the radioactive decay of radium, a naturally occurring radioactive element found in underground rock formations, particularly granite and quartz. Water that flows through or over radium-rich rock formations accumulate radium and thus radon from the decay process.

Typically, groundwater has much higher levels of radon than surface water. This is because radon in groundwater is “trapped” by being submerged underground and cannot easily escape. Because of this fact, water supplies from underground wells have a much higher probability of having significant levels of radon. If you get your drinking water from a surface water source, radon in water probably is not a significant health hazard. Large, pre-treated municipal water supplies typically have negligible levels of radon in water because usually this type of water supply is drawn from surface water sources and because water treatment tends to reduce radon levels even further.

Learn more about Radon in your well water

Aeration/Radon Systems

Aeration units are typically used to remove gases from water. The most common gases are radon, hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg odor) and carbon dioxide (acid water). Aeration can be accomplished via air pumps, well line venturi-mirconizer, or bubbling the water in an atmospheric chamber. We offer all of the methods, but for the best results, the diffused bubble aeration process is the most effective.

We are an approved Residential Mitigation Provider.

AIRaider 433-S

Upflow/Downflow Systems

Lead

Lead in Water

The presence of lead in water is ever more dangerous due to it being colorless, tasteless, and odorless.  The MCL* is < 0.015 mg/L or 15 ppb*.   Proper sampling procedures require that the sampling point be a faucet that has not been used for at least 6 hours, but no longer than 12 hours.  Often inspectors grab samples from faucets that have not been used for days which can give you a false high reading.  Running a faucet until the water is cold the night before collection would be a more accurate sample.

The primary source of lead in water comes from;

  • solder joints in plumbing structures, especially in homes built before 1986.
  • Main service lines to the home

When water is left to stand in pipes that have potential lead, there is a greater exposure. For instance,  water from the tap in the morning, or later in the aday after no one has been home for a while, can contain high levels of lead.  A good idea if you have concerns at all would be to allow water in these scenarios to run a few minutes prior to use.  The EPA estimates that 10 to 20 percent of a person’s potential exposure to lead may come from drinking water. Infants who consume mostly formula mixed with lead-containing water can receive 40 to 60 percent of their exposure to lead from drinking water.  Obviously, the best course of action is to have your water tested by a professional so that you may make an informed decision on mitigation options.

In 1986 the EPA/DPH instituted a 0% lead standard for solder used to adhere copper piping in plumbing structures. Generally, lead based solder is the most common source of lead in water supplies well or municipal. When water is idle between usages, lead being a very soluble metal gets absorbed into the water at elevated levels. So in houses built before 1986, the longer the period between usages of a faucet, the greater potential that the first 0.5 gallons of water from the particular fixture has an elevated lead level. Due to this fact, it is highly recommended to run the water for a couple of minutes before usages in houses with aged plumbing. Since lead is rarely a source issue, by running the water for a few minutes the water is passing through the plumbing so fast lead cannot be absorbed.

This being said, to ensure the homeowner is aware of their potential exposure to lead, proper sampling should be performed by a licensed professional. There are two types of sample collection procedures; a first-draw sample and a flushed sample. The first draw sample should be collected from a usable faucet that hasn’t been used for the prior six hours but no longer than twelve hours. The first few cups that come out of the faucet are collected. The purpose of this collection is designed to replicate the longest time a fixture would be idle in a lived in house. This sample will yield a result of maximum exposure to lead. The flushed sample is then collected after the water has been running for a few minutes (typically till it runs cold). This will yield a result of your true exposure to lead. In addition, low pH value waters can cause lead to leach into the water at higher rates than normal.

It is common to have high levels in a first draw sample and negligible levels in a flushed sample in houses built before 1986. If there are lead levels present in a sample collected from a house built post-1986, then the only other potential source would be the particular fixture the sample was collected from. Some higher-end and foreign-made fixtures can have a lead base to the plating or brass fittings used to install them. Further sampling can be performed to confirm if this is the case. Otherwise, the fixture should be replaced or a filter for lead should be installed at the area in question.

To learn more about the dangers of lead, we encourage you to read more.

Treatment Options

Treatment options would be point of use to feed the cold side of an existing fixture or to feed a separate faucet typically installed next to the existing kitchen or bathroom sink fixture.

  • MCL - Maximum Contaminant Level
  • Mg/L - Milligrams per Liter
  • PCi/L - Pico Curies per Liter
Copper

Copper in Water

A blue/green stain in tubs, showers, and sinks is a typical sign of corrosion to the plumping structure.  The MCL* is 1.3 mg/L.

Iron

Iron in Water

The presence of Iron in water can be detected by the formation of a brownish or reddish satin on plumbing fixtures.  The MCL* is 0.3 mg/L.

Red, orange and yellow stains that develop in toilet bowls, tubs and sinks are an indication that there is iron in the water. Iron can also cause a metallic taste and odor to the water. It is not a health issue, but can permanently stain fixtures, constrict the plumbing structure and fixtures to a point where a pressure loss occurs, and stain clothes in the laundry.

MTM®. Clack MTM is a granular manganese dioxide filtering media used for reducing iron and manganese from water. Its active surface coating oxidizes and precipitates soluble iron and manganese. The precipitates are filtered out in the granular bed and removed by backwashing. MTM consists of a lightweight granular core with a coating of manganese dioxide. The coating provides an example of contact filtration where the media itself provides the oxidizing potential. When the oxidizing power of MTM is reduced, the bed has to be regenerated with a weak solution of potassium permanganate (KMnO1), thus restoring its oxidation capacity. Works best with waters that have a pH value of 7.0 or higher.

Automatic Water Filters

Manganese

Manganese in Water

A blackish grey stain in plumbing fixtures can indicate the presence of manganese.  The MCL* is 0.5 mg/L.  As a note, desirable levels would be less than 0.05 mg/L. 

Black or grey residues that develop in toilets, tubs, and sinks typically indicate the presence of manganese in the water. Manganese can also cause an earthy or musty taste and/or odor to the water. Manganese mostly is an aesthetic concern but there is a health advisory level of 0.5ppm. In addition to the staining, like iron, manganese can also discolor or turn whites grey in the laundry.

The most common way to remove manganese is with a water softener. However, if the water is already soft, then other applications are chlorination-dechlorination or oxidation medias.

Manganese is a metal similar to iron which causes grey/black staining. It can cause staining in concentrations as low as 0.05 ppm. Manganese is removed in a manner similar to iron, although oxidation is more difficult, requiring a pH of at least 8.5.

Automatic Water Filters

pH Value

pH Value

When determining pH Value in water, it is important to understand that it is measure on a scale range of 0-14.  Anything below a 7 would indicate an acid condition and anything above 7 would represent an alkaline condition with 7 being neutral. The acceptable range is between 6.4 - 10.  Acid conditions in our area are more common around 5.5 - 6.7 pH.  These levels can cause corrosion to the plumbing structure resulting in pinhole leaks as well as blue/green staining of copper piping.

The most common way to remove manganese is with a water softener. However, if the water is already soft, then other applications are chlorination-dechlorination or oxidation medias.

Water which contains excess acidity tends to act aggressively towards plumbing and fixtures, causing corrosion and staining (i.e.-blue-green stains on fixtures from copper pipes or pinhole leaks). Relative acidity/alkalinity is measured on the pH scale, ranging from 0- 14, where 7 is neutral, numbers lower than 7 are progressively more acidic, and numbers higher than seven are increasingly alkaline (basic). The pH value refers not to the quantity of acidity, but rather to the relative acidity/alkalinity of a particular sample.

pH Acid Neutralizers

Filter Medias: Low pH-Acid Water Conditions

Calcite. Calcite is a naturally occurring calcium carbonate media. When properly applied, it corrects pH only enough to reach a non-corrosive equilibrium. Upon contact with Calcite, acidic waters slowly dissolve the calcium carbonate to raise the pH which reduces the potential leaching of copper, lead and other metals found in typical plumbing systems. Periodic backwashing will prevent packing, reclassify the bed and maintain high services rates. Depending on pH, water chemistry and service flow, the Calcite bed will have to be periodically replenished as the Calcite is depleted.

As the Calcite’s calcium carbonate neutralizes the water, it will increase hardness and a softener may become necessary after the neutralizing filter.

Automatic Water Systems

Aeration-433 S-50 Airaider

Chemical Feed-Grundfos series pump

Chemical Feed-LMI Unidose series pump

Sodium

Sodium in Water

28 mg/L is an advisory level to people on Sodium restricted diets.  The MCL* is 150 mg/L.  Elevated levels of Sodium are often present from the use of salt tablets in water softeners.

Elevated sodium in water is a minor health risk for persons that are on sodium restricted diets or just trying to be conscious of their overall sodium intake. The advisory level for sodium is 100mg/L. When sodium levels exceed 250 mg/L they could cause the water to taste salty and can also be corrosive to the plumbing.

The most common process to remove sodium from the water is reverse osmosis. The process is very slow, so most drinking water systems that use this process are for single point of use in the kitchen area just for cooking a drinking water.

Products of interest include;

Ecosoft Robust Reverse Osmosis

aqualite-water-purification-system

Chloride

Chloride in Water

The MCL* for Chloride is 250 mg/L.  Levels of 175 mg/L can cause corrosion to plumbing.  The presence of Sodium and Chlorides is not uncommon in well water.  The most common source is from the over salting of roadways.

Chlorides, when elevated, can cause a salty taste to the water and can also be very corrosive to the plumbing structure. This can result in pitting of fixtures, scaling (white residue) of fixtures and blue green staining.

Chlorides, like sodium, are removed by the reverse osmosis process. If the chlorides are slightly elevated and just causing a taste issues, then we would recommend the point of use reverse osmosis units (See RO pdfs). However, if the levels are high enough to create corrosion issues then a whole house reverse osmosis system would be designed. These applications are very expensive and take up a substantial footprint in the basement area.

Since the whole house RO systems are cost prohibitive for most people, we also offer corrosion control applications. In these applications we reduce the impact of the chlorides without actually removing them. The plumbing structure is coated with a silicate product to slow the rate of corrosion.

Nitrates

Nitrates

The MCL* for Nitrate is 10 mg/L and is 1 mg/l for Nitrite.  The most common source for these is fertilizers or fecal decay.  Nitrates/Nitrites have been linked to "Blue Baby Syndrome".

Arsenic

Arsenic in Water

Arsenic is a metal that has no smell or taste.  Arsenic is naturally present in bedrock in many places throughout Connecticut.  Depending on local environmental conditions, arsenic can leach from soils or mineral deposits into groundwater. The MCL* for Arsenic is 0.01 mg/L.  Research indicates that people living in areas where arsenic water concentrations are very high are more likely to have bladder, lung, or skin cancer.  They are also more likely to have problems with their skin, cardiovascular, immune, and neurological systems.  These toxic effects of Arsenic exposure developed after many years of exposure mostly through ingestion.  Common acceptable methods of removal are point of use Reverse Osmosis or Entry Anion Systems.

Uranium

Uranium in Water

The mcl* for Uranium is 30 ppb*.  Uranium is a naturally occurring element in groundwater in some areas of Connecticut.  Uranium gets into drinking water when groundwater dissolves minerals that contain Uranium.  The amount of Uranium in well water will vary depending upon its' concentration in bedrock.  Most ingested Uranium is eliminated from the body; however, a small amount can be ingested and carried throughout the bloodstream.  Studies show that elevated levels of Uranium in drinking water can affect the kidneys.  Bathing and showering with water that contains Uranium is not a health concern.  Common acceptable methods of removal are Point of Use Reverse Osmosis or Point of Entry Anion Resin Systems.

Uranium is a naturally occurring element in groundwater in some portions of Connecticut. However, there is not enough data to know where uranium levels are elevated. It gets into drinking water when groundwater dissolves minerals that contain uranium. The amount of uranium in well water will vary depending upon its concentration in bedrock. However, within high uranium bedrock types, there is a large amount of variation within small areas. Levels of naturally occurring radiation in water are not likely to be high in shallow wells. Therefore the potential exists for deep bedrock wells in Connecticut to have uranium, although most will be very low. High levels of uranium indicate the potential for radon and radium also to be present.

Naturally occurring uranium has very low levels of radioactivity. However, the chemical properties of uranium in drinking water are of greater concern than its radioactivity. Most ingested uranium is eliminated from the body. However, a small amount is absorbed and carried through the bloodstream. Studies show that elevated levels of uranium in drinking water can affect the kidneys. Bathing and showering with water that contains uranium is not a health concern.

To find out if you have uranium in your drinking water you must test for it. The Connecticut Department of Public Health recommends conducting an initial screening test for “gross alpha.” If this initial and less costly analysis indicates there is little or no gross alpha, then there is no need to conduct additional testing. If, on the other hand, the results indicated high gross alpha, then the water should be re-sampled and analyzed for additional compounds.

Uranium Fact Sheet

Point Of Use

Eclipse RO System

Aquathin RO/DI

Point Of Entry

SBG Uranium Resin Fact Sheet

Water Hardness Table - Reference Table

Water Hardness LevelGrains Per Gallon (GPG)
Soft Water0 - 1 gpg
Slightly Hard Water1 - 3.5 gpg
Moderately Hard Water3.5 - 7 gpg
Hard Water7 - 10 gpg
Very Hard WaterOver 10.5 gpg

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