Many homes and businesses in the Parry Sound / Muskoka area rely on wells for their water supply. Whether you have a shallow dug well or a deep drilled well you may experience problems with staining, taste, bacterial contamination, coloured water, and bad odours. It has nothing to do with the depth of your well. I know of a dug well on the the top of a hill that produces water that is nectar of the Gods and drilled wells that produced that same. I have met many people who had a small easily solvable problem with a dug well or lake water supply who drilled a well only to end up with water that was so horrible you would think it was made in hell. Drilled wells can solve problems of water shortage but not necessarily provide good quality. The water in your well started as rain that soaked through the soil and into the cracks in the rocks that became the aquifer that supplies your well. Your water may be ancient or relatively new. The age of your water can be determined by the levels of deuterium present.
Rain water is made naturally acidic by atmospheric carbon dioxide, forming a weak solution of carbonic acid. As the water percolates down through the soil and rock this acidity dissolves naturally ocurring metals, minerals, salts, and gases. Depending on the material it passes through will determine the makeup of your water.
Don't pour Javex or chlorine bleach down your well. It will not solve any real problem. It may mask it for a few days or weeks but you'll still have the problem. If you have a filter system it may permanently damage the filter media leading to costly replacement.
Bacterial Contamination " that E Coli stuff "
Bacterial contamination occurs from the rain coming in contact with the feces and urine of the numerous large and small mammals that inhabit the world around us. Most people will immediately believe it comes from their septic systems. We are the only species on earth that processes our waste. The problem with bacterial contamination of both surface and well water has always been there. Chlorination has been for decades the preferred method for making bacteria contaminated water safe to drink. Over the past three decades Ultraviolet light (UV light) has proved itself superior to chlorine as it is effective against protazoan cyst where chlorine is not. UV has the advantage of not creating chemical byproducts or offensive tastes and odours that are common with chlorine. You must have very clean water in order for UV light to work effectively. Minerals like calcium and magnesium or metals like iron and manganese will quickly coat the quartz sleeve that separates the UV bulb from the water. This will make the UV light nothing more than a waste of electricity. Proper pretreatment of your water before the UV light is essential!
The best treatment for bacterial contamination is proper filtration followed by Ultraviolet Light.
We stock replacement lamps, quartz sleeves and ballasts for most makes and models of UV lights!
Iron and Manganese are the two most common problems we deal with. Iron will cause staining on bathroom fixtures and laundry and have a musty metallic odour. Iron by itself will leave a orange / brown stain. If mixed with manganese it imparts a dark brown stain. Iron will leave stains in concentrations as low as 0.3 parts per million which is the current Ministry of the Environment guideline. Manganese leaves a jet black stain with as little as 0.05 ppm. It will discolour hair and fingernails on some people. If you want to get a good idea of your long term iron and manganese levels, take the lid off the back of your toilet tank. The staining of the interior of the tank below the water line will give you an idea of how much iron and manganese is in your water. Orange/brown colour indicates more iron. Jet black mostly manganese. Dark brown a mixture of both.
Sulphur, that distinctive rotten egg odour is also a common problem and often occurs with iron and manganese. Together iron, manganese, and sulphur are called the troublesome trio. Sulphur odours in water need to be separated between hot and cold water. If you only notice the sulphur odour in the hot water then the cause is likley from the reaction of the magnesium anode rod in the hot water tank to your water supply. Removing the magnesium anode rod will usually solve this problem. However it will likely shorten the lifespan of your hot water tank. Some people try changing the magnesium anode rod to an aluminum anode rod. The feedback I have received over the years has shown this to be only moderately successful.
Tannins or "Total Organic Carbon", impart a distinctive yellow colour to the cold and hot water. (If you only have colour in the hot it is likely a problem with the hot water tank eg: rusting.) Tannins come from leaves and vegetation much like making a cup of tea. The type of decaying vegetation will determine the complexity of the tannins and the ease or difficulty of their removal. The filtration system that works on lakes like Manitouwabing, Penn Lake, or Fairy Lake will not work on Brandy lake, Vernon Lake, Fox Lake, or Harris Lake. This is because of the different types of vegitation and soils causing the tannins.
Phenols go right along with tannins. Its no secret that we have a lot of swamp in Ontario, especially in Parry Sound and Muskoka. When vegetation rots in swamps without oxygen you have what is known as anaerobic decomposition. In the presents of oxygen (aerobic) and microcyllium fungi in soils vegetation breaks down into carbon and water. Without oxygen vegetation eventually breaks down into peat, coal, oil etc. with one of the early breakdown product being phenols. Take a stick and thrust it into the muck bottom of a swamp. The bubbles that rise to the surface are methane and hydrogen sulphide gas. The oily film that spreads across the surface of the water is phenols.Phenols have been implicated in breast cancer.
Scholarly Articles on Phenols:
Hardness is caused when the acidity of rain water dissolves naturally occurring calcium and magnesium in limestone and other rocks. Water hardness is responsible for most scale formation in hot water heaters and forms insoluble "curd" when it reacts with soaps. Hardness is usually expressed in grains per gallon (GPG), parts per million (ppm) or milligrams per litre (mg/l), all as calcium carbonate equivalent. Hard water dries your skin and makes your hair dry, dull, and brittle.
TDS or "Total dissolved solids" is a measure of the total amount of minerals, metals, and salts that are dissolved in your water that you cannot see or what would be left behind if all the water was evaporated. The amount is expressed as (ppm) or (mg/l). A TDS of 0 ppm would be equivalent to distilled or deionized water. Well water in the Parry Sound / Muskoka can range from less than 10 ppm to over 25,000 ppm. These extremes are rare. 100 ppm to 250 are most common. Over 500 ppm is not recommended for human consumption. Over 1000 ppm is potentially harmful. I personally believe the closer you get to 0 ppm or pure H2O the better off you are. Drink pure water and get your nutrition from your diet. TDS is important to know as it gives you the total of all contaminants competing for removal in the water treatment process.
PH is the scale used to measure the acidity or alkalinity of water. A PH below 6.5 indicates highly corrosive water while a PH above 8.5 could indicate contaminated water or the presence of alkaline mineral salts. The PH of your well water is one of the most important parameters that you need to know in order to correct a water problem. It is like temperatue, you don't wear shorts when its freezing or a parka when its 90.
The PH of lake water can very dramatically in a 24 hour period. At 2:00 PM on a sunny summer afternoon when the phytoplanktons and algae are photosynthesizing the PH of the water can be 9.5 or higher as all the dissolved carbon dioxide is consumed. At night when reverse photosynthesis occurs the PH can drop to 6.3 or lower.
Gases give a milky or cloudy appearance to water when you first fill a glass of water. To clearly identify that it is gases and not colloidal clay let the glass sit for 5 or 6 minutes. If it is gasses the cloud of fine bubbles will rise to the surface and dissipate. If it is colloidal clay it will not clear. The most common gas is carbon dioxide, generally odourless and harmless. The gas is formed by dissolved carbon dioxide getting into ground water as surface water seeps down through soil and cracks in the rock. Sometime this carbonic acid will mix with calcium carbonate in the rocks and soils and create naturally occurring "soda water".
Radon gas is however, not harmless and considered the second leading cause of lung cancer and gastro intestinal cancer and is linked to skin cancer. It is naturally occurring and results from the breakdown of radium 226 and radium 228 in the ground. Levels in precambrian rock can be very high. Levels over 1000 picocuries can be dangerous. Radon is best removed with a well designed and maintained HVAC system. It can be removed in low levels (under 3000 Picocuries) from water by activated carbon filtration. High levels of radon are removed by aeration vented to the outside.
You can get your water tested for radon gas and radionuclides by:
Becquerel Laboratories Inc., 1-877-726-3080 or 1-877-726-3080 - 6790 Kitimat Road, Unit 4, Mississauga, Ontario, http://www.becquerellabs.com/
Radon gas You Tube documentaries:
Sodium and Chlorides over 500 ppm may impart a salty or bitter taste to water. Chloride are naturally occurring and can be removed by Reverse Osmosis, distillation, or Deionization.
It is unusual to have just one problem in a well water supply. Analysis will usually show a combination of several problems with iron, manganese, tannins, hardness with a slightly depressed PH. Sulphur is commonly found in wells over 160 feet deep. In most cases these contaminants are in concentrations only high enough to cause minor problems but aggravating none the less. In the past you would have needed several filters to correct these problems. The Problem Solver does it all in one unit greatly reducing initial cost and maintenance requirements. The Problem Solver Plus is used when suphlur is also present. Our plus model is a good choice when sulphur odour is minimal as it saves having to install two separate filters.
Content Management Systems by: The Big Brain