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Erin James Virginia Tech Biological Systems Engineering Virginia Master Well Owner Network Training October 29-30, 2008 Harrisonburg Virginia Water Quality.

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Presentation on theme: "Erin James Virginia Tech Biological Systems Engineering Virginia Master Well Owner Network Training October 29-30, 2008 Harrisonburg Virginia Water Quality."— Presentation transcript:

1 Erin James Virginia Tech Biological Systems Engineering Virginia Master Well Owner Network Training October 29-30, 2008 Harrisonburg Virginia Water Quality Contaminants of Concern

2 Overview General recommendations of VAHWQP and VAMWON EPA public drinking water standards General water quality indicators Specific health concerns, nuisance problems, or nearby landuses Specific contaminants common in VA 2

3 General VAHWQP Recommendations Test every year for bacteria Test every three years for pH, TDS, any local pollutants Test before new nearby activity - legal protection! Test if there are infants or people with compromised immune systems in your home Test if change in odor, appearance or taste Always recommend testing through a certified lab 3

4 EPA Drinking Water Standards Primary Standards Also called Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) Cause health problems Enforced for public systems Over 80 contaminants For example: o Nitrate o Lead o Coliform o Most organic chemicals and pesticides Secondary Standards Also called SMCL or RMCL Cause aesthetic problems: o Staining o Taste o Odor Can naturally occur in ground water About 15 contaminants including: o Iron o Fluoride o Chloride 4

5 General Water Quality Indicators IndicatorAcceptable LimitIndication Coliform bacteria< I coliform/100 mlPossible bacterial or viral contamination from human or animal waste pH6.5 to 8.5Important overall measure of water quality; pH can alter corrosivitiy and solubility of contaminants. Low pH: pitting of pipes and fixtures, metallic taste High pH: water has slippery feel, soda taste Total dissolved solids 500 mg/LDissolved metals, like iron or manganese; hardness; salty, bitter taste or staining. 5 Adapted from Interpreting your Water Test Report Blake Ross and Kathleen Parrott (VCE pub )

6 Tests for Specific Health Concerns 6 SituationRecommended Tests Family members or guests with recurring incidents of gastrointestinal illness Coliform bacteria, nitrate, sulfate Household plumbing contains lead pipes, fittings or solder joints or brass pH, corrosion index, lead, copper, cadmium, zinc Household with pregnant woman or young infant Coliform bacteria, nitrate Family member on recommended low- sodium diet Sodium Adapted from Household Water Testing Blake Ross, Kathleen Parrott, and Janice Woodward (VCE pub )

7 Coliform Bacteria Cannot be smelled, tasted or seen Coliform bacteria is an indicator organism – means disease- causing bacteria may be present Public standard is 0 cfu/100mL If present, test for fecal coliform or E. coli presence – strong indicator that sewage or animal waste is present. 7 Photo credits:

8 Nuisance Problems 8 SymptomDescriptionRecommended Tests Stained plumbing fixtures Red or brown Reddish-brown slime Black Green or Blue Chalky white Iron Iron bacteria Manganese Copper Hardness Off-color waterCloudy Black Brown or yellow Turbidity, suspended solids Hydrogen sulfide, Mn Iron, tannic acid Unusual taste or odorRotten egg Metallic Salty Septic, musty, earthy Alkali, bitter Gasoline or oil Soapy Hydrogen sulfide pH, corrosivity, Fe, Cu, Zn, Pb TDS, chloride, sodium Coliform, methane pH, TDS Hydrocarbon scan Surfactants or detergents Corrosive waterDeposits, pitting of plumbing Corrosivity, pH, copper, lead Adapted from Household Water Testing Blake Ross, Kathleen Parrott, and Janice Woodward (VCE pub )

9 Nuisance problems 9

10 Nuisance problems 10 Photo credits: cleanwellwater.com/acidic_water_bluegreen_stains

11 Nuisance problems 11 Photo credits: Midland Corrosion Associates,

12 Tests for Specific Contamination 12 If you suspect or observeRecommended Tests Leaking fuel tankHydrocarbon scan Coal miningTDS, iron, sulfate, pH, corrosivity, manganese, aluminum Gas or oil drillingTDS, chloride, sodium, barium, lead, pH, corrosivity, strontium Road salt storage or applicationTDS, chloride, sodium Landfill or dumpTDS, pH, chemical oxygen demand, VOC scan, heavy metals Land application of sludgeTotal coliform, nitrate, heavy metals Septic systemFecal coliform/E. coli, fecal streptococcus, nitrate, surfactants Intensive agricultural useTotal coliform, nitrate, pesticide scan, pH, TDS Adapted from Household Water Testing Blake Ross, Kathleen Parrott, and Janice Woodward (VCE pub )

13 Conditions or nearby activities of concern Conditions or Nearby ActivitiesTest for: Recurring gastro-intestinal illnessColiform bacteria Household plumbing contains leadpH, lead, copper Radon in indoor airRadon Corrosion of pipes and plumbingCorrosivity, pH, lead Nearby areas of intensive agricultureNitrate, pesticides, coliform bacteria Coal or other mining operationsMetals, pH, corrosivity Dump, junkyard or landfillVOCs, TDS, pH, sulfate, chloride, metals Odor of gasoline or fuel oilVOCs Objectionable taste or smell of waterHydrogen sulfide, corrosivity, metals Stained plumbing fixtures or laundryIron, copper, manganese Salty tasteChloride, TDS, sodium Scaly residues, soaps don’t latherHardness Rapid wear of water equipmentpH, corrosivity Water is cloudy, frothy or coloredColors, detergents 13 Adapted from “Drinking Water for Household Wells”, EPA, 2002

14 Most common contaminants in Virginia Iron and manganese Bacteria Hardness Corrosive and Scaling Water Hydrogen Sulfide Nitrate Sodium TDS Fluoride 14

15 Iron and Manganese Nuisance - not health concern SMCL:Iron = 0.3 mg/L Manganese = 0.05 mg/L Red-brown/black staining, particles, metallic taste Treatment depends on type/form of iron Ferrous: water initially clear  orange-brown or black solid particles Ferric: solid particles apparent immediately, or water has a tint Iron bacteria – not a health concern; feed on Fe and Mn, forming red-brown or black-brown slime 15

16 Bacteria Coliform an indicator of potential for other pathogens: Dysentery, Hepatitis, Typhoid, Cholera, Giardia, Cryptosporidia Sources: Human and animal waste (septic tank, barnyard runoff) Insects, small animals in poorly sealed wells Flooding; older or shallow wells without air-tight seal Laboratory test: EPA MCL for public supplies is 0 cfu/100mL Reported as presence/absence, cfu (colony forming units)/100 mL, or MPN (most probable number) 16

17 Hardness Hard water contains high levels of calcium and magnesium ions Dissolved into water during contact with limestone, other minerals Not a health risk – nuisance Decreased cleaning action of soaps, detergents Scale build-up in pipes and on appliances Reduced efficiency and lifespan of water heaters No EPA standard for public systems 17 Hardness RatingGrains per GallonMg/L SoftLess than 1.0Less than 17.1 Slightly Hard Moderately Hard Hard Very HardOver 10.5Over 180

18 Corrosive and Scaling Water Measure of alkalinity, TDS, and pH Corrosive (aggressive) water Corrodes metal in plumbing, causing damage, pitting Leaching of copper or lead into drinking water – health concern! EPA recommends drinking water be non-corrosive Scaling water Contains high levels of minerals Forms scale on inside of pipes and appliances, lime deposits on shower heads and taps Can lead to clogging of pipes, reduced efficiency of heaters and appliances 18

19 Corrosive and Scaling Water Usually a measure of alkalinity, TDS, and pH; often reported as a Saturation Index (varies by lab) 19 Langelier Saturation Index (LSI) DescriptionRecommendation -5 to -3Severe corrosionTreatment recommended -3 to -1Moderate corrosionConsider treatment 1- to 1BalancedTreatment not needed 1 to 3Moderate scalingConsider treatment 3 to 5Severe scalingTreatment recommended

20 Corrosive Water: Metals of concern Lead Many serious health effects, esp in children and infants Developmental, neurological, reproductive and renal EPA MCL is 0 µg/L with an HAL (health action level) of 15 µg/L. Sources include: Pipes in older homes (pre-1930) Solder in homes built prior to 1986 “Lead-free” brass fixtures (<8%) – even in NEW homes! Copper High levels can cause nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps; infants and children particularly sensitive EPA MCL is 1.3 mg/L Nuisance effects noticeable at 1.0 mg/L 20

21 Hydrogen Sulfide Colorless gas; rotten egg smell Not regulated by EPA – most people can detect at very low levels Naturally present in shale, sandstone, near coal or oil fields Produced by sulfur-reducing bacteria (not a health risk) Treatment depends on concentration, so you must test Only noticeable in hot water? Bacteria could be thriving in your water heater Sulfates may be converted to H 2 S chemically in your water heater during a reaction with your magnesium corrosion control rod 21 thepipelinefixation.blogspot.com

22 Nitrate (NO 3 ) Serious health concern for infants Methemoglobinemia or “blue baby syndrome” Nitrate becomes nitrite in digestive system, which forms methemoglobin rather than hemoglobin (does not carry oxygen) EPA MCL 10 mg/L NO 3 -N (nitrate nitrogen) or 45 mg/L of NO 3 (nitrate) If levels approach 3-5 mg/L, use another source of water for infants under 6 months Sources include fertilizer, animal manure, sewage NO 3 dissolves and moves easily through soil Test in spring months; levels change over time NOTE that BOILING INCREASES concentration of nitrates!!! 22

23 Sodium and Chloride Low levels occur naturally Higher levels usually from man-made source Road salt storage or application Industrial waste Sewage, fertilizers or animal waste In coastal areas, salt water intrusion Sodium: EPA MCL for people on low-sodium diets: 20 mg/L Chloride: EPA SMCL of 250 mg/L Higher levels may indicate contamination – test for bacteria or other chemicals Salty taste; and may accelerate corrosion of pipes and water heaters 23

24 Total Dissolved Solids(TDS) Water is a great solvent – dissolves many compounds as it travels over and under ground TDS is a measure of all dissolved impurities < 2µm dia Natural sources: limestone, salt deposits, other minerals Man-made sources: Septic systems and sewage Run off from agricultural or urban land Road salt, industrial sources General indicator of water quality; test at least every three years EPA SMCL is 500 mg/L 24

25 Fluoride Occurs naturally in varying levels Naturally high levels of F in E. Virginia groundwater Added to many public water systems for reduced dental caries and strong teeth and bones Health concerns: Long term exposure: links to bone cancer Shorter term exposure: dental or skeletal fluorosis EPA MCL 4.0 mg/L and SMCL 2.0 mg/L Optimum levels for public systems mg/L Limited use for children up to 8 years 25

26 What do you recall about….. Iron and manganese Bacteria Hardness Corrosive and Scaling Water Hydrogen Sulfide Nitrate Sodium TDS Fluoride 26


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