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  "From Pollution to Solution"       P.O. Box 3364     Cleveland, Georgia  30528 USA     1_706_219_3349

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CONSUMERS SHOULD BE AWARE THAT FREE WATER TESTS and Water Test Kits from your local home supply stores CANNOT and DO NOT DETECT MOST OF THE TOXIC SUBSTANCES AND DISEASE CAUSING ORGANISMS THAT MAY HARM YOU!!! OUR ANALYSES DO!!! 

 

If you have not had a water test before then your first water test should include ALL of the following:

Coliforms

E. coli (or fecal coliforms)

Microscopic exam by a qualified professional microbiologist

Temperature

Conductivity (electrical conductivity)

pH

Nitrate

Total Dissolved Solids

Color

Turbidity

Free Chlorine

Total Chlorine

Total Hardness

Total Alkalinity

Phosphorus

Potassium

Calcium

Magnesium

Manganese

Iron

Aluminum

Boron

Copper

Zinc

Sodium

Cadmium

Nitrogen

Chromium

Molybdenum

Chloride

Fluoride

Phosphate

Sulfate

Nitrate

 

 

 Because of the geology of the region, if you live in North Georgia you should also have your drinking water tested for: 

Arsenic      (we have already found wells in use that have arsenic in excess of EPA guidelines)

Lead

Mercury

 The results of this series of tests may indicate that there is NO need for any treatment of your water. In that case the EPA recommends annual retesting for a more limited group of parameters, which are less expensive. Annual retesting is a must, because groundwater flow is constantly changing, especially with all the new building, well drilling, old wells being closed etc. So your water this year may be fine, but in a few weeks you may be getting very different water from your well. Annual testing gives you some assurance that your water is still safe. And it is affordable!!!

 We recommend and offer an annual test for $98.00 that includes:

Coliforms

E. coli (or fecal coliforms)

Microscopic exam by a qualified professional microbiologist

Temperature

Conductivity (electrical conductivity)

pH

Nitrate

Total Dissolved Solids

Color

Turbidity

Free Chlorine

Total Chlorine

Total Hardness

Total Alkalinity

 

 However, any certified laboratory can perform this testing, so choose the one you prefer. But make sure you get all of these parameters at the same time and a qualified water treatment specialist to review them to let you know what those results mean.

 If you have the results from all these tests, we will be happy to review and analyze your results and make recommendations for a nominal fee of $45.00. This is very inexpensive to get a professional opinion from an unbiased water treatment specialist. We can also give you information on what purification devices, if any, are needed so you will know exactly what to shop for and why.

 For  more details please read on:

 If you do not know what is in the water you drink, public system, well, or private system then you need at least one water quality analysis.

How To Know What To Test Your Water For

 

There are literally thousands of compounds that can contaminate water. What should I test for if I want to be sure my water is pure? Good question. The answer lies in knowing a few facts and making a few choices. If you are like I was, you have not the foggiest notion what tests you should have done or why. That’s what this article is supposed to help you with.

 

Of course the only sure way to know what your water contains is to perform continuous monitoring of all possible contaminants or perform continuous purification for all possible contaminants and perform continuous monitoring of the purified water. For everyone, including the government, this has been deemed to be impractical because of the labor and expense. So it’s pretty simple to see that an alternative method must be chosen.

 

Let’s start with what we would suggest, then take a look at why. We suggest on a first water analysis, regardless of the source of water (municipal, well, private system) to test for coliforms, fecal coliforms, perform a basic mineral, metal and anion analysis, and test for specific substances that may be suspected to be found locally in the ground or surface water in your area. The typical list would look like this: (we have included our prices so you have a frame of reference)

I. Rapid ScreenTotal Cost ONLY $98.00 includes

1.       Coliforms AND

2.       E. coli test as well as all of following

3.       Visual Examination by a professional microbiologist*

4.       Microscopic Examination by a professional microbiologist *

5.       Temperature*,

6.       Conductivity*,

7.       Nitrate,

8.       pH*,

9.       Total Dissolved Solids*

10.   Color*

11.   Turbidity* (Many companies will charge over $100.00 for this test alone!)

12.   and for a limited time:

13.   Arsenic Screen Test*

14.   Free Chlorine*

15.   Total Chlorine*

16.   Total Hardness - T-strip

17.   Total Alkalinity - T-strip

18.   Iron

 

II. GAESL Basic Mineral and Metals Analysis with Acid Digest ($60.00)  This will include tests for all of the following:

Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Iron, Aluminum, Boron, Copper, Zinc, Sodium, Cadmium, Nitrogen, Chromium, Molybdenum, and Lead (P, K, Ca, Mg, Mn, Fe, Al, B, Cu, Zn, Na, Cd, N, Cr, Mo, Pb)

 

III. GAESL Anion Analysis by ICP ($45.00) This will include tests for all of the following:

Chloride, Fluoride, Phosphate, Sulfate

 

IV. IRB: Iron Reducing and Oxidizing Bacteria ($60.00)

 

V. SRB: Sulfur Reducing Bacteria ($60.00)

 

So why test for these parameters as opposed to others? Because each of these will give you knowledge of a specific problem you should correct for health or economic reasons or provides an indication that a potential problem that requires further analysis may exist. It’s just not practical (unless you have huge sums of money) to perform the kind of analysis that water treatment plants and bottling companies must perform on an ANNUAL basis. Even these large organizations only perform such thorough testing once a year. The least expensive, complete battery of tests they are required to perform annually costs approximately $3,000 to $5,000 to perform. And even these very elaborate tests do NOT test for all possible water contaminants, so it is possible that some may slip through.

 

However, despite the fact that you are not spending thousands of dollars, you can actually have better water than they provide, and conduct a testing regime that fits your budget. You will actually save money over purchasing bottled water all year and will be freed from depending on how effective the water or sewage treatment plants are at removing contaminants on limited budgets and with strained facilities. We have developed the following strategy to make this possible. Lets begin by looking at all the possible water contaminants that have been identified by scientists and government agencies to date, and some water treatments specific for organic compounds.

 

One can group contaminants into the following 6 major groups.

1.      Minerals and metals (inorganic chemicals) – including specific special concerns

a.      Arsenic (regional), hardness, alkalinity, iron, nitrate, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, aluminum, boron, copper, zinc, sodium, cadmium, nitrogen (all forms), chromium, molybdenum, lead, total chlorine, free chlorine, chloride, fluoride, phosphate, sulfate

2.      Physical / chemical quality

a.      pH, temperature, conductivity, total dissolved solids, color, turbidity

3.      Biological

a.      Coliforms, e. coli (fecal coliforms), cryptosporidium, giardia, hepatitis virus, enteric viruses, pseudomonads, salmonella, and non-disease causing but, filter inactivating / clogging organisms such as the slime producing iron reducing bacteria (IRB’s) and sulfur reducing bacteria (SRB’s) and organisms that cause skin disease and swimmers ear” from Jacuzzis and hot tubs and swimming pools.

4.      Volatile organic compounds (VOC’s)

a.      Includes fuels, fuel additives, industrial solvents, paint thinners, industrial chemicals, plasticizers, chloroform, acetone, toluene, xylene, and a variety of chemicals available for home use by the general public, etc. All are organic, and all will “evaporate”. They can be removed by activated charcoal filtration and air stripping

5.      Non-volatile synthetic organic compounds (SOC’s)

a.      Includes pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, termiticides, fungicides, and many agricultural, gardening, lawn and home care products used freely by consumers. Activated carbon filters, distillation, or Reverse Osmosis will remove them.

6.      Radiological (radioactive)

a.      Are generally caused by high levels of uranium in the soil. If you have reason to suspect this kind of contamination, have the EPA come and test your groundwater. Area geological studies will often help you determine whether this should even be a concern to you. In most places it is NOT.

 

In fact, this is how they are presented on laboratory analysis reports to the companies requesting the tests Each of these headings can further be broken down into smaller groups, but for our purposes this covers all the known contaminants that are typically found to be of health or economic concern to the average homeowner.

 

VOC’s and SOC’s should be a major concern to anyone drinking water today. They have been found in surface and ground water virtually everywhere in North America where there has been any agricultural or gardening activity. They are also some of the most expensive compounds to test for and there are literally thousands of different compounds (the EPA lists over 100), so testing for each one is out of the question even for government agencies. They test for the most likely contaminants in a given area and even then it costs hundreds to thousands of dollars. The great thing about these compounds is that they can be removed by activated carbon filtration and activated carbon filtration technology is very affordable. So why test for them? Just install an activated carbon filtration system and make sure it is operating properly (is not being fouled by biological agents - IRB’s, SRB’s, Slime bacteria or being inactivated by chemicals). If your water has already been processed once, such as water coming from a municipal water treatment plant, the activated carbon can also help remove small amounts of the chlorine that remain in the water due to their processing activities. Selecting the best brand / type and proper maintenance of the filtration system is very important.

 

Biological contaminants are generally not tested for directly. Again, the expense is prohibitive. But coliforms and fecal coliforms are an accepted way of testing water for contamination by fecal material, and therefore determining whether disease causing (pathogenic) bacteria, viruses, or protozoans (such as giardia or “crypto”) are likely to be present in the water. Groundwater (wells) and surface water supply sources are constantly changing as new chemicals added to the soil find their way down into the water table, and changing withdrawal rates from aquifers cause changes in underground water flow directions. Since biological contamination is one of the most likely routes of transmitting disease to man, the EPA has seen fit to require municipal water and sewage treatment systems to test water leaving their facilities from once or twice daily to hundreds of times daily, depending on how many people they serve. The EPA recommends that private well and water systems test their water at least once a year. We recommend semiannual testing – preferably in spring and fall, because these are the most likely times for major water table fluctuations. Ok, so you’ve tested for coliforms and fecal coliforms twice a year, and you have a good activated carbon filter to remove organic contaminants. Your water must be safe now! Well, maybe. If you have substantial growth of bacteria in the system, they will “clog”, “coat”, and inactivate your filtration system. Water flow may not be reduced dramatically even if the active surface of the filter is completely covered by bacteria, and the filter is being “blocked” from serving its purpose. On the first round of testing, and every 3 to 5 years thereafter, it is a good idea to test for slime producing SRB’s and IRB’s. Their removal will insure proper filter operation and very often their presence goes unnoticed until a “rotten egg” odor or slime appears in and on plumbing etc. By this time they have produced a biofilm on all internal surfaces of the plumbing that is impossible to remove completely. It is best to test for them within a few months of establishing a new water supply, then, if the results are positive, chlorine shock the system properly to kill all the organisms, and prevent further problems. For additional information, please refer to other resources on our web site – www.awsa.info.

 

This leaves us with #1 and #2 from the list above. If any of the mineral or metal contaminants fall outside normal or acceptable range, they require a unique solution to correct, so it is important to test for them individually. Mercury and several other toxic substances have been omitted from this list only to keep costs as low as possible, yet still test for the most likely problems. Consult a water quality professional to determine whether there is any heightened risk in your area for any particular contaminant due to past or current industrial or agricultural activity. For example, arsenic is known to occur naturally in the groundwater in certain areas, and to have been used agriculturally in some areas. So this is a compound that should be tested for in those areas (Ex. Many counties in Georgia). Mercury has been used in gold mining and other industrial activities, so water supplies in those areas should be tested. And so forth.

The same thing is true for radiological contamination. For obvious reasons, your best resources in these cases are independent companies outside government – since they do not rely wholly on what their particular agency wants the public to know, and individuals who do not sell a product that will help you remove the offending contaminant. This is one of the primary purposes for which we established our company. For a modest fee you can have your area researched and together with our previous experience here we can guide you.

 

Finally, physical / chemical quality pH, temperature, conductivity, total dissolved solids, color, turbidity. These parameters reflect changes in biological, mineral, and metal contaminants without testing for them individually. Thus, they are excellent “screening” tools that allow one to assess if there have been any major changes in the source water supply, without the expense of testing for all the individual contaminants. If these tests are performed at the same time as the mineral and metal testing (initial testing), then they can be used as baseline values for future physical / chemical tests. That is, this can make more routine water testing affordable for the average person, by providing warning that something in their water has changed, without necessarily testing for each individual chemical and identifying the specific change. This is much cheaper than running the full gamut of biological, mineral, metal, and chemical tests each time. Yes, it is a tradeoff, but in our professional judgment it is better than NO testing because it gives warning that a serious change has occurred since the last tests, and alerts us to conduct individual tests to determine what has changed.

 

We therefore suggest that you have the “complete” series of inorganic chemical and physical tests, the coliform, E. coli (fecal coliform), IRB, and SRB testing performed initially. Follow up with the rapid screen on a semi-annual basis ($98.00) and install an activated carbon filtration unit to remove SOC’s and VOC’s. You should also consult a professional to be sure that you have the best advice concerning any additional testing. If you do these things, take corrective action if you have abnormal values in any of the tested parameters, maintain your purification system properly, then you will save money by not needing to purchase bottled water (even if you purchase purification equipment and perform routine testing), avoiding health risks to fetus, baby and family, avoiding premature replacement of water heaters, pumps, and plumbing, saving energy and cost on cleaning products, and know you are drinking the best water you can get anywhere.

 

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North Georgia's Only Independent Water Treatment Professionals

 

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Last modified by Dr. Eberhard Essich dr_e@awsa.info: 03/22/17