• Swimming Pool Water – Background Information

    There are many different types of indoor and outdoor swimming pools, each with varying function, size, shape and temperature:

    • Play Pools – This type of pool is usually rather shallow, reaching no more than 5 feet in depth. Their main purpose is leisure; they are often used for relaxation, water sports and swimming laps.
    • Diving Pool – This type of pool is usually greater than 8 feet in depth. They can be a safety hazard so must be constructed well and built to specific standards.
    • Freeform Pool – This type of pool is often built with rock features to give a natural feel. They are popular for relaxation purposes and are built to impersonate haven surroundings.
    • Lap Pool – This type of pool is usually long and narrow in shape and is purpose built for swimming exercise.
    • Jacuzzis – This type of pool is shallow and is made for massage and relaxation purposes. They use warm water and jets to give a restful experience.

    Each pool type may differ in water cleaning and disinfection mechanisms. Some pools have a water purification system that recycles the water; these are known as circulation pools. Other types of swimming pool constantly refresh the water within it, these are recirculation pools. Most public swimming pools use the method of recirculation to refresh the pools water content.

    Pond Water Problems

    Ponds are a great way to make the most of your garden and add a great feature to it. It is well known that water, especially running water, has a relaxing and therapeutic effect but with all these wonderful benefits ponds can also have some problems.

    We won’t try to address all the problems you might run into with a pond but we will try to help with your problems specific to water.

    For more information on building ponds and other questions not related to pond water I found the following sites useful:
    A Forum on Pond Problems
    Good Diy Garden Pond Installation Guide


    Top Tip

    Composts and fertilisers applied to the surrounding garden are high in nitrogen and can cause algae problems. Also fish foods are high in nitrogen, so make sure you are not over feeding your fish if you get murky water.


    Symptom

    Dirty/Cloudy pond water from dropped leafs and algae


    Diagnosis

    The biggest problems for most ponds are leaf debris and a proliferation of algae. If vegetation falls into the pond water and decays the process of decay uses the oxygen in the water and releases carbon dioxide. This means that if large quantities of vegetation enter your pond then enough oxygen can be removed to cause the pond’s wildlife to suffocate.

    Algae is also caused by decaying vegetation, the reason for this is the nitrogen which is released during the decay process is soluble in the pond water. Nitrogen is a nutrient that is essential for plant growth and if there is a lot of it the water then it will normally result in algal bloom.

    Cure

    To combat these problems you can take a number of steps. One of the first things you should do is consider fitting a net if there are a lot of leaves getting in to your pond water and take care to remove the leaves at regular intervals especially during autumn. You should also consider fitting a fountain to your pond this will help to put oxygen back into the water. Be careful to ensure the pump is not clogged up by the debris in the pond if it is in a bad state when you fit the fountain.

    You may also like to look into more natural methods of increasing the oxygen content of your pond and introducing plants like Elodea Canadensis and Potamogeton Crispus during April or early May which can help to compensate for the oxygen lost during decomposition of the debris in to pond water.

    For combating the proliferation of algae you can either look in to a UV filter solution which is good for the long term but if you have time to spend on your pond you could also remove some of the decaying vegetation from the base of the pond, taking care not to accidentally discard any good organisms like frogs and snails.


    Symptom

    Green pond water and blanketweed


    Diagnosis

    As with algae green pond water and blanket weed can occur in new ponds when most of the water has come from the tap and is high in nutrients like phosphates and nitrates.

    Cure

    To combat these problems you can take mainly the same methods as above; biological filtercan also be used to combat blanket weed and a UV filter can be used to combat green water effectively. Of course applying netting to the pond’s water and clearing debris will also help to reduce the nitrogen content. It is also important not to put too much tap water in the pond’s water system.

    Swimming Pool Contaminants

    There are many contaminants that can pollute your swimming pool. Some can cause human illness or skin irritations, others can cause discolouration of the water or unwanted odours but are not harmful to human health:

    • Microorganisms – There are many different types of microorganisms that can be pathogenic to humans or result in discolouration of the water and produce unwanted odours. Microorganisms include bacteria, viruses, algae, parasites and many more. They often enter the water from people using the pool as they are present on the skin, in hair, sweat and saliva. Contamination of microorganisms is most likely to be a problem in shallow, circulation pools. Algae contamination is often a problem in swimming pools and can cause many problems if the water is not filtered and cleaned correctly.
    • Dissolved pollutants – There are many substances produced by the swimmer, sweat for example contains salt, amino acids and urea. When these substances react with the disinfectants in the water it can produce unwanted by-products. These often cause discolouration of pool water or give unwanted odours, they are not usually harmful to human health.

    Drinking Water Problems

    Drinking water in the UK is usually of very high standards; occasionally
    however, drinking water is not up to standard and can cause health problems.
    Examine your drinking water, it should appear clear and bright. If it is
    discoloured, cloudy or has an unwanted taste or smell you should contact
    your local water company and have your water tested.

    The following table highlights some common problems with metals and minerals
    in drinking water and suggests a suitable form of water treatment. For
    problems with contaminents of an organic
    nature
    (viruses, bacteria) please check here.

    Problem Effect on Water Suggested Treatment
    pH Low alkalinity water tends to dissolve minerals and metals.
    Water with high alkalinity tend to precipitate minerals and metals
    Use Soda Ash to raise,
    Use white vinegar or citric acid to lower
    Aluminum Discolored water Reverse Osmosis
    Distillation
    Chloride Salty taste Reverse Osmosis
    Distillation
    Color Visible tint Reverse Osmosis
    Distillation
    Activated Carbon Filtration
    Copper Blue-green coloration, metallic taste Reverse Osmosis
    Distillation
    Corrosion Metallic Taste
    Corrosion
    Fixture Staining
    Calcite Filter
    Soda Ash Chemical Feed
    Polyphosphate Feed
    Sodium Silicate Feed
    Fluoride Spotting and mottling of teeth Reverse Osmosis
    Distillation
    Foaming Agents (MBAS) Suds, Bitter Taste, Odor Chlorination
    Activated Carbon
    Reverse Osmosis
    Distillation
    Hard Water Limescale deposits in plumbing and water appliances,
    Reduced heating efficiency,
    Lowers lifespan of boiler units,
    Requires more soap
    Water Conditioner
    Water Softener
    Iron Rusty color
    Sediment
    Reddish or orange stains
    Metallic tase
    Oxidizing Filter
    Chlorination -> AC Filter
    Manganese Dark brown / Black stains
    Bitter, metallic taste
    Oxidizing Filter
    Chlorination -> AC Filter
    MTBE (Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether) Sweet solvent odor
    Possbile carcinogen
    Activated Carbon Filter
    Odor Rotten egg
    Musty
    Garlic
    Chemical Smell
    Activated Carbon Filter
    Silver Skin discoloration
    Grey tint in white part of eye
    Activated Carbon Filtration
    Reverse Osmosis
    Distillation
    Sulfate Medicinal taste
    Acts as a laxative
    Reverse Osmosis
    Distillation
    Total Dissolved Solids Hard Water
    Deposits on glass and fixtures
    Reverse Osmosis
    Distillation
    Water Conditioner
    Water Softener
    Zinc Metallic taste Reverse Osmosis
    Distillation

    What Can You Do?

    Occasionally you may encounter problems with your drinking water. In such a case, contacts for your local water company, water enquiries and emergencies are available in your phone book under ‘water’. Alternatively, you can also contact other companies who will help you solve any problems regarding drinking water:

    • Contact your local Consumer Council for water companies listed in your telephone directory under ‘consumer organisation’
    • You could also contact the environmental health department of your local council.
    • Drinking Water Inspectorate who will investigate your problem:

    Drinking Water Inspectorate
    55 Whitehall
    C/O 3-8 Whitehall Place
    London
    SW1A 2HH

    Telephone: 020 7082 8024
    Facsimile: 020 7082 8028
    E-mail: dwi.enquiries@defra.gsi.gov.uk
    Website: www.dwi.gov.uk”

    Hard Water Problems

    Water described as “hard” means it is high in dissolved minerals, specifically calcium and magnesium. Hard water is not a health risk, but a nuisance because of its tendancy to cause mineral buildup in water pipe and heating systems, and its poor soap and/or detergent performance when compared with soft water.

    Water is a good solvent and picks up impurities easily. When it combines with carbon dioxide in the air to form very weak carbonic acid, an even better solvent results.

    As water moves through soil and rock, it dissolves very small amounts of minerals and holds them in solution. Calcium and magnesium dissolved in water are the two most common minerals that make water “hard.” The degree of hardness becomes greater as the calcium and magnesium content increases.

    What Can You Do?

    There are a number of tips you can follow to reduce the effects of hard water in your home, without having to make any major changes:

    Choose a correct laundry detergent – Some laundry detergents do not produce as many suds in hard water, these are likely to be soap-based products and do not work as well in hard-water as detergent based products. Nowadays, there are washing powders and liquids available for a wide range of water hardness. Make sure you choose the correct detergent for your area; you may also need to use slightly more detergent than the manufacturers recommended amount to compensate for the hard water. In many cases the manufacturer will give specific instructions on how to use the product in hard water areas, look out for these labels on your product.

    Reduce the temperature of your boiler – As the water temperature increases, the more mineral deposits will appear in your dishwasher, water tank and pipes. By reducing the heat of your boiler to about 55ºC, you will have enough hot water for your shower and you will reduce the amount of mineral build-up in your pipes and tanks. Use rinse agents to remove mineral deposits – There are many rinse agents available to remove mineral deposits from crockery and dishwasher. Alternatively, you can use white vinegar by using the dishwasher dispenser or placing a cup of vinegar on the dishwasher rack. Boil some white vinegar in your kettle as a useful way of removing hard water deposits.

    Water conditioners or Water Softeners?

    Traditionally the water treatment market had one main solution to hard water. This solution was water softeners. However, in recent years alternative treatments have become increasingly popular, the most interesting of which is electromagnetic water conditioning.

    Water Softeners work by ion exchange, so sodium replaces the calcium and/or magnesium in the water. Water Conditioners on the other hand create a magnetic field around your pipework which alters the ions in the water so that they loose their ability to cause scale. In tackling hard water, both methods will reduce limescale. Water Conditioners are significantly less expensive to start with and they have negligible running costs. Water Softeners cost a lot more but have the added effect that they will treat very small amounts of other metals such as Copper, Iron or Zinc.

    More information on Magnetic Water Conditioners

    More information on Mechanical Water Softeners

    Author Information

    Hi my name is Phil Keel I am studying for an enviromental sciences degree in the
    UK and I have been looking into the effects of hard water for a long time. We
    have a hard water problem at our home and I wanted to find the best solution to
    our problems but after searching the net at great length I didn’t find much
    useful information.

    I have decided to create this site with the help of Paul Maunders who wrote a hard water information site, but unlike his
    hardwater.org this site aims to provide a more thorough look at the general
    problems people have with water and the various ways to treat them.

    As well as providing a useful resource for people looking into water problems
    both Paul and I felt it would be nice to give something back to people who don’t
    have the luxury of being able to afford the water treatment methods highlighted
    on this page. We have decided therefore to promote www.givewater.org on this site and to let
    all our visitors know how they can make a difference to people who are having
    similar problems to them but who can’t afford to fix them.

    Any help you can give to WaterAid the charity behind the givewater project will
    go towards providing people with what we feel is the most basic and yet the most
    amazing thing on earth – water.

    Water Treatment Information

    Welcome to our consumer portal for home water treatment advice. The aim of this site is to compile the magnitude of water treatment information available on the Internet into a single, concise resource.

    The common problems area of the site gives useful information about well water, swimming pool water, pond water, hard water and drinking water, and looks at common problems that are likely to occur.

    The common problems area of the site looks at the problems that can occur with well waterswimming pool waterpond waterhard water and other common household waterproblems.

    The home water treatment systems area will look at the uses, advantages and disadvantages of water filterswater softenerswater conditioners and water treatment chemicals. In this section you will also find links to more detailed information and also to relevant suppliers on the web.

    On the water treatment comparison page, I have summarised the relative merits of each method against one another.

    Although I am based in the UK, the information on this site is not location specific and will apply throughout the world. If you are looking for information on the UK water industry, then check out this water guide.

    Did you know?

    Water conditioners are an effective, low cost solution to hard water problems such as the build up of limescale in pipes.
    View a flash demonstration of how they work on WaterImp’s site.

    Useful Links

    Find out all about water pollution in our Water Pollution Guide.
    Click here and Thames Water will donate 2.5 pence to WaterAid.

    Well Water – Background Information

    Many houses now use private wells as a source of drinking water. There are generally 3 types of private drinking wells used today:

    Dug

    Dug – These wells are made by digging a hole in the ground and then casing the hole with a strong material to prevent collapse, such as stone, brick or tile. Dug wells are not very deep, usually ranging from 10 to 30 feet, this short depth means these types of wells are most at risk from contamination. There are a number of features your dug well should have to minimise the chances of contamination:

    • The well should be cased with a strong, watertight material.
    • The opening of the well should be covered by a concrete lid that is positioned about a foot off the ground.
    • Build a mound around the opening of the well so that surface water runs away from the well.
    • Try and have your water pump leading to a separate building rather than right next to the well.

    Driven

    Driven – These types of wells are usually deeper than dug wells, ranging from 30 to 50 feet in depth. This is still reasonably shallow and therefore a driven well has quite a high risk of contamination. There are a number of features your driven well should have to ensure proper construction and minimise the chances of contamination:

    • 2 to 3 inch diameter metal pipes should be driven into the ground, with a screen at the end of the pipe. This helps to drive the pipe through sand and gravel so that the water that enters the well is filtered from particulate contaminants.
    • Put the pump on top of the well or in a separate building.M
    • The well and pit should be capped with the same kind of tile used for dug wells.
    • Follow the same instructions as given for dug wells.

    Drilled

    Drilled

    Swimming Pool Water – Background Information

    There are many different types of indoor and outdoor swimming pools, each with varying function, size, shape and temperature:

    • Play Pools – This type of pool is usually rather shallow, reaching no more than 5 feet in depth. Their main purpose is leisure; they are often used for relaxation, water sports and swimming laps.
    • Diving Pool – This type of pool is usually greater than 8 feet in depth. They can be a safety hazard so must be constructed well and built to specific standards.
    • Freeform Pool – This type of pool is often built with rock features to give a natural feel. They are popular for relaxation purposes and are built to impersonate haven surroundings.
    • Lap Pool – This type of pool is usually long and narrow in shape and is purpose built for swimming exercise.
    • Jacuzzis – This type of pool is shallow and is made for massage and relaxation purposes. They use warm water and jets to give a restful experience.

    Each pool type may differ in water cleaning and disinfection mechanisms. Some pools have a water purification system that recycles the water; these are known as circulation pools. Other types of swimming pool constantly refresh the water within it, these are recirculation pools. Most public swimming pools use the method of recirculation to refresh the pools water content.

    Well Water Problems

    Water Acidity

    Acidity of water measured on a scale from 0-14 called the pH scale. A pH level
    of 7 is neutral and anything lower than this indicates acidic water. The lower
    the number, the more acidic it is.

    Symptom

    Corrosion of brass fixtures, copper plumbing, steel tanks and heating
    elements, resulting in bluey-green stains on sinks and bath tubs.

    Diagnosis

    Look to see if there is corrosion of any of the areas highlighted in the
    symptoms or test the ph of the water by Litmus paper testing. Blue litmus
    paper turns red in the presence of an acid. Red litmus paper turns blue in
    the presence of a base. If the paper stays the same colour or shows a base
    is present then you don’t have this problem. You can buy Litmus paper from
    clicking here
    online at just $2.95

    Cure

    Neutralising calcite filter or chemical feed system, using soda ash to remove acidity (raise pH), or to remove alkalinity (lower the pH) then use white vinegar or citric acid.

    High Iron Content

    Symptom

    High iron content will begin to stain your teeth at 0.3 parts per million
    (ppm), You may also notice browny orange stains on tubs, sinks and
    laundry.

    Cure

    Water Softeneners (for low concentrations of Iron < 5.0 mg/l), or Chlorination followed by Activated Carbon Filtration (for any concentration)

    Disease-causing bacteria, viruses or protozoa

    Because wells use groundwater, the water is generally safe for drinking as the overlying soil acts like filter, removing disease-causing micro-organisms.

    Symptom

    Because microbes are generally invisible to the naked eye, you may not
    be aware that your water supply is contaminated with them. Therefore it
    is vitally important that well water is tested on a regular basis (2 or
    3 times a year) to ensure it is fit for consumption.

    Depending on where you reside, bacteriological testing of well water is
    done either by the local health laboratory in your area or by a
    certified private laboratory. They will supply you with a clean, sterile
    sample bottle and the necessary instructions.

    Prevention

    To minimise the risk of contamination:

    • Ensure that your well is sitting correctly, and that it is properly located, constructed and maintained. It should be drilled to the correct depth with an adequate layer of protective soil.
    • Check the well cap regularly to ensure that it is securely in place and watertight.
    • Check pumps and pipes on a regular basis.
    • You should seal any joints, cracks or connections in the well casing.
    • Invesitagate any changes in water quality.
    • Direct surface drainage away from the well casing.
    • Do not allow surface water to collect near the well.
    • You should not locate the well downhill from any source of pollution, or contaminated surface water.
    • Test for bacteriological presence regularly and for chemical contamination if it is suspected.
    • Any change in the land use of the surrounding area should prompt you to test the water immediately.
    • Well water should be tested at once if there is a change in its colour, smell, taste or clarity.

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