What's Your Water Like?
|In Southern Oregon our groundwater wells are in some of the most unique hydrogeology on Earth. This mineral rich region stores its groundwater in fractures of rock; which results in water chemistries with an abundance of variable mineral content and concentrations.|
|Aluminum is one of the most abundant metals in the Earth's surface. The majority of natural water contains from 0.1 ppm up to 9.0 ppm of aluminum in water levels, however the primary Source of Aluminum in drinking water comes from the use of aluminum sulfate (alum) as a coagulant in water treatment plants. The total dietary exposure to aluminum salts averages around 20 mg/day. Aluminum is on the US EPA's Secondary Drinking Water Standards list with suggested aluminum water levels of 0.05 - 0.2 mg/l; dependent on case-by-case circumstances.|
It is odorless and tasteless. It enters drinking water supplies from natural deposits in the earth or from agricultural and industrial practices.
Some people who drink water containing arsenic well in excess of the EPA guideline for many years could experience skin damage or problems with their circulatory system, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.
|If water has a low pH, you can see the tell-tale, blue-green stains. These stains are most noticeable on white surfaces that your water comes in contact with such as sinks, tubs and showers, toilets and even white clothing.|
|There is no mandatory maximum limit in the US for boron in drinking water, but US EPA is considering adoption of 0.6 mg/l as the standard. The World Health Organization and several European countries have adopted or recommended drinking water limits for boron of 0.3 mg/l.|
Chlorine Taste and Smell
Since the 1850’s, chlorine has been used as a disinfectant to kill harmful bacteria in water itself or the pipes that transport it. Although it has helped end a number of major threats to public health and is essential at the treatment plant and in the water distribution system, it is no longer necessary once the water reaches your home.
Though chlorine is vital for stopping the spread of disease, its benefits come at a price. Chlorine tastes and smells bad. It dries skin and hair, fades clothes (bleach is made of chlorine), and can dry out the rubber seals in appliances, shortening their lives.
Chromium is an odorless and tasteless metallic element. Chromium is found naturally in rocks, plants, soil and volcanic dust, and animals. The most common forms of chromium that occur in natural waters in the environment are trivalent chromium (chromium-3) and hexavalent chromium (chromium-6).
Chromium-3 is an essential human dietary element and is found in many vegetables, fruits, meats, grains and yeast. Chromium-6 occurs naturally in the environment from the erosion of natural chromium deposits, and it can also be produced by industrial processes. There are demonstrated instances of chromium being released to the environment by leakage, poor storage or inadequate industrial waste disposal practices.
Cloudy Water / Turbidity
|Cloudy, murky or grayish water is usually caused by dissolved or suspended solids. This is also known as "turbidity." The turbidity of your water can range from low to high. But even if your water looks clear, it could still contain a high level of dissolved solids. That's why, whether your water is turbid or not, we recommend you have it tested.|
|There are a variety of bacteria, parasites, and viruses which can cause health problems when humans ingest them in drinking water. Testing water for each of these germs would be difficult and expensive. Instead, water quality and public health workers measure for the presence of bacteria in drinking water using coliform bacteria as an indicator. The presence of any coliforms in drinking water suggests that there may be disease-causing agents in the water.|
|Copper in water can be derived from rock weathering; however the principal sources are the corrosion of brass and copper piping. Furthermore, the addition of copper salts to water when treating for algae can cause copper in drinking water. High doses of copper in water can cause liver damage or anemia. The taste threshold for copper in drinking water is 2 - 5 mg/l. The US EPA has proposed a maximum copper water contaminant level (MCL) or water copper levels of 1.3 mg/l for copper.|
|One of hundreds of strains of the bacterium Escherichia coli. E. coli is an emerging cause of food borne and waterborne illness. Although most strains of E. coli are harmless and live in the intestines of healthy humans and animals, this strain produces a powerful toxin and can cause severe illness.|
Hard Water / Calcium / Magnesium
|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. Hard water causes scale build-up in plumbing systems, including pipes, faucets, appliances, and water heaters. High soap and detergent usage and stiffer dingy clothes also result from hard water.|
|Many wells have significant amounts of iron because the underground rock and gravel formations contain large amounts of iron rich minerals. Iron can cause orangish-red stains on fixtures, clothes and shower walls. Iron can buildup inside pipes and toilet tanks restricting flow. The stains are noticeable at 0.1 mg/l|
|Lead, a metal found in natural deposits, is commonly used in household plumbing materials and water service lines. Lead in drinking water can cause a variety of adverse health effects. In babies and children, exposure to lead in drinking water above the action level can result in delays in physical and mental development, along with slight deficits in attention span and learning abilities. In adults, it can cause increases in blood pressure and kidney problems.|
|Manganese is naturally occurring from minerals found in the aquifers. Manganese levels in drinking water higher than 0.05 mg/l cause manganese deposits and staining of clothing and plumbing fixtures. The stains are dark brown to black in nature. The use of chlorine bleach in the laundry will cause the stains to set. The chemistry of manganese in water is similar to that of iron. High levels of manganese in drinking water produce an unpleasant odor and taste.|
|To protect drinking water from disease-causing organisms, or pathogens, water suppliers often add a disinfectant, such as chlorine, to drinking water. However, disinfection practices can be complicated because certain microbial pathegens, such as Cryptosporidium, are highly resistant to traditional disinfection practices. Also, disinfectants themselves can react with naturally-occuring materials in the water to form byproducts, such as trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids, which may pose health risks.|
|Excessive nitrate is most commonly from agricultural fertilizers. Since they are very soluble and do not bind to soils, nitrates have a high potential to migrate to ground water. Because they do not evaporate, nitrates/nitrites are likely to remain in water until consumed by plants or other organisms|
Silica is naturally occurring in volcanic minerals. Silica is found in surface and well water in the range of 1 - 100 mg/l. Silica causes white to grayish scaling on plumbing fixtures and water heaters. Silica is not listed in the Primary or the Secondary Drinking Water Standards issued by the US EPA.
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|Sodium is naturally present in water. The Department of Human Services recommends that sodium levels in drinking water be maintained at 250 ppm or lower. There is no standard for sodium in drinking water at the federal level, but USEPA recommends that drinking water sodium be held to 20 ppm or less because sodium is so common in other beverages and food. Water softening systems add substantial quantities of sodium to the softened water.|
|Sulfur produces that distinct "rotten egg" odor and sulfate-reducing bacteria produce a slime and can promote the growth of other bacteria, such as iron bacteria. The slime can clog wells, plumbing, and irrigation systems. Bacterial slime may be white, grey, black, or reddish brown if associated with iron bacteria. Hydrogen sulfide gas in water can cause black stains on silverware and plumbing fixtures. It can also corrode pipes and other metal components of the water distribution system.|
Taste And Odors
Earthy or musty taste and odor: These types of complaints are generally the result of compounds released due to decayed vegetation and are typically associated with different forms of algae. While not toxic, they are nonetheless unpleasant and can be offensive at very low concentrations.
"Rotten egg" smell: Another common source of smelly water is hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless corrosive gas which has the characteristic odor of rotten eggs. If present in high enough concentrations, it can leave an unpleasant odor on hair and clothing. It can also accelerate corrosion of metal parts in appliances.
Metallic taste: As the name implies, a metallic taste to your water indicates the presence of metals such as iron, copper, manganese or zinc. Iron and manganese are often naturally occurring and are predominately found in groundwater. Copper and zinc can come from an aging water distribution system or the corrosion of copper plumbing and brass fittings.
TDS / Conductivity
|TDS stands for total dissolved solids, and represents the total concentration of dissolved substances in water. TDS is made up of inorganic salts, as well as a small amount of organic matter. Common inorganic salts that can be founds in water include calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. All of this causes hard water. When hard water comes in contact with heating elements or hot surfaces, it forms "scale" that builds up and shortens the life of water-using appliances like your hot water heater. Hard water also leaves deposits on your plumbing fixtures, tubs, sinks, dishes, silverware and glassware that are virtually impossible to clean. With hard water, soaps and detergents aren't rinsed completely away, leaving a soap residue in your tub and shower (bathtub ring), on your laundry and even on you. Water softeners remove the hardness minerals and some forms of iron.|