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Old 09-04-2011, 10:08 AM   #1
MaxTheKnife
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Default Water contamination headaches

Water storage seems to be a weak area for some folks. And that's strange because a lack of water is a very bad thing to try and survive. How does that saying go? You can live a month without food and 3 days without water. So water is even more important than food in a short term survival situation.

Here at blue gecko's house, there is both well water and city water. And the two are switchable in the house with just a few valves and switches. We just recently came to the conclusion that our 'sick house' syndrome is most likely due to contaminated water from the well. There is a gas well about a quarter mile from the water well and it has been trouble in the past. So yesterday we switched the house from the well back to city water. We also investigated the well water system to see if there's anything to our suspicions about the contamination.

We had been noticing a strange smell to our laundry and even body odor for the past few weeks but figured it was a passing thing. Like maybe our last load of laundry had an oily rag in it or some such. But that's not the case. We noticed a dark, oily residue on the water line in the sand filter, and an odd odor as well. So now our backup water tank is full of what we think is contaminated well water and is only good for flushing toilets or bathing in. Flushing toilets with good drinking water is plumb crazy, in my opinion. So now we're looking at a complete cleaning of our well water system, including new filtering sand. What a pain. And what to clean the storage tank and sand filter tank with? The sand filter has a water capacity of about 150 gallons, and the storage tank holds 300 gallons when topped off. It's a very unique water system, to be sure.

So we're scratching our heads and feeling kind of lost about one of our most basic needs. Water. Once the house water lines are flushed out with city water, I expect that part of our problem to be over. Maybe. We filter all of our drinking water through a big berkey sitting on the kitchen counter. But our ice comes from water straight out of the tap. And we've been going through a lot of ice because of the hot weather. Sigh. Any thoughts or suggestions? We realize how serious this could possibly be, and have plans to get the well water tested very soon. We're also going to have the city water tested too (neither one of us really trust city water) because we really prefer well water. At least until just recently...
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Old 09-04-2011, 10:51 AM   #2
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Max, if you think there is a problem with your water, I'd suggest you get it tested.

Guessing wont solve the problem or put your mind at ease. There are private companies that will do water testing. Your state might even do it for free.

Get it tested. Then you will know.
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Old 09-04-2011, 11:02 AM   #3
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That's the first thing we're doing, as I said near the end of my post, Coyote. BG just reported the problem to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. But since its Labor Day weekend, we most likely won't hear anything until Tuesday at the earliest. Meanwhile, we'll be investigating other sources for water testing and making plans to clean up our well water system.
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Old 09-04-2011, 11:07 AM   #4
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Here is a copy of my message to them:

Gradually, over the last few months we've noticed a change in our well water. At first it didn't occur to us there was a problem but like the frog in water coming to a slow boil we were happily oblivious. We've been noticing an odd oily, burnt rubber like smell and have been trying to track it down. Its shown up in the laundry and we thought that perhaps an oily rag had gotten in with the clothes. No rag found and the smell is coming from anything laundered. We began to notice the same smell in our urine and perspiration and began to wonder about the water. The sand filter has an oily residue around the water line. We've switched to city water and are trying to "clean" the house. There is a gas well within a half mile of the house and in the past we've noticed foam in the water from time to time. The pressure on this well has been diminishing and we fear they are adding chemicals to the well to maintain production. We're not sure how to proceed with this. Can you help us?
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Old 09-04-2011, 11:21 AM   #5
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Various materials used in home construction may be off gassing, more so in new homes.. The spring water in Hot Springs, AR. does contain Radon. So you may want to Increase the amount of fresh air ventilation, especially while bathing. And Compile a list of companies that test well water in your area, find out if any test for hydrocarbons..

make sure your gas hot water heater vents properly while the dryer or and HVAC blower are running.

--
Also, The documentary "Gas Land" may have useful info. especially re: well water.


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Old 09-04-2011, 01:55 PM   #6
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Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Indoor Air Facts No. 4 (revised) Sick Building Syndrome

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

Office of Air and Radiation
Office of Research and Development
Office of Radiation and Indoor Air (6609J)
Contents
PDF version (PDF, 4 pp., 38 K,
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Old 09-04-2011, 02:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonny View Post
Various materials used in home construction may be off gassing, more so in new homes.. The spring water in Hot Springs, AR. does contain Radon. So you may want to Increase the amount of fresh air ventilation, especially while bathing. And Compile a list of companies that test well water in your area, find out if any test for hydrocarbons..

make sure your gas hot water heater vents properly while the dryer or and HVAC blower are running.

--
Also, The documentary "Gas Land" may have useful info. especially re: well water.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phCibwj396I
Most of what is in 'Gasland' has been debunked as utterly false.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...932810874.html
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Old 09-04-2011, 03:11 PM   #8
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The house is pretty green, not too many things that could be off-gassing. I designed and contracted it myself so I'm pretty confident that's not the problem. I'm sure if it was a problem we'd have noticed it before this (been in the house for 10 years).

The basement is walk-out and well ventilated plus we're not in a radon area so thats unlikely.

All of this has happened over the last 6 months with the most obvious odor in the last month. We had switched back to the well about 6 months ago. About 2 months ago we started having some health issues. I had developed a bladder infection the only symptom being an off odor. Max started having body aches which he thought might be related to his tea consumption. Perhaps it was the water instead? About a month ago the odor became strong enough we would notice it in the house, on our clothes, bedding and such. Since then we smell it in our perspiration. Its the same off odor that I detect in my urine. Something is amiss and at this point we think it must be the well water.

Fortunately, when we put in city water about 4 years ago we thought ahead to put in the approved valves and checks to be able to use either system. After 16 years of living off the well we didn't want to give it up completely. Our only complaint was that for about 6 weeks at the end of the summer we would run short of water. City water is nice but when you've had a good well you grow rather fond of a clean water source.... until now and we're not happy about it.
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Old 09-04-2011, 03:21 PM   #9
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What kind of well is it?
Bore or dug out and how deep?

If it is not the water I would look for mold and pass the bladder infection as an coincidence.
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Old 09-04-2011, 03:48 PM   #10
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Its a 67 ft bore Samen. We hit water at 35 ft. Its always been covered. The crud that has shown up on the top of the sand filter is new, very fine, brown silty stuff and slightly oily. It sticks to your skin and doesn't wipe off readily. Its a new development. Normally, there is some oxidized iron and thats about it. The smell is mildly acrid with a hint of petroleum/burned rubber.
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Old 09-04-2011, 03:54 PM   #11
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Good luck on help from Big Brother. Let's HOPE it's something that can be fixed.

I've tested postive for bacteria in a well, but that was an easy fix with Clorox. Your problem is foreign to me.

But play it safe. I'm very interested to learn what you have, and whether it can be filtered by a Big Berkey.
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Old 09-04-2011, 04:36 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blue gecko View Post
Its a 67 ft bore Samen. We hit water at 35 ft. Its always been covered. The crud that has shown up on the top of the sand filter is new, very fine, brown silty stuff and slightly oily. It sticks to your skin and doesn't wipe off readily. Its a new development. Normally, there is some oxidized iron and thats about it. The smell is mildly acrid with a hint of petroleum/burned rubber.

Sounds nasty, the worst i have have to deal in wells is sulfur and the occasional dead animal.

But bilge water I deal with a lot --->

Out of interest, if you have a large clean container that you can heat, fill it and apply heat, say 100 F. the heat helps petroleum products separate better from the water and rise to the surface. Make sure you don't stir or shake the container at all during the proses after a few hours look at it with a bright light at 45 degrees from the side and then other directions and after 24 hours sample it again.
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Old 09-04-2011, 04:44 PM   #13
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MtK:
Quote:
We filter all of our drinking water through a big berkey sitting on the kitchen counter. But our ice comes from water straight out of the tap. And we've been going through a lot of ice because of the hot weather. Sigh. Any thoughts or suggestions?
A Berkefield will do nothing to solve your problem. It uses ceramic filter 'candles' that are designed to filter out bacteria. It will not remove chemical pollution in your water.

Carbon is your friend in your situation. What you need is a GAC (granulated activated charcoal) or carbon block filter for your drinking water. Your cheapest option is this:

http://www.purewaterproducts.com/model77.htm

The Matrix KX-1 filter cartridge it comes with is great for removing chemicals from the water. I would order an extra filter, as with the level of contamination you have you should change the filter more often. Call PureWater Products and talk to Gene about your problem. He is extremely knowledgeable and helpful.

With your ice, it sounds like you are talking about an automatic icemaker. No problem. They usually have inline filters, but if not, you can add one. This one ought to do the trick:

http://www.purewaterproducts.com/filteri.htm

I would go with the 10" inline GAC filter (IF001 or IF101, depending on the type of fitting). The bigger 10" will last longer than the smaller 6". If you follow the water inlet line to your icemaker, you may well find an inline filter already installed. That is pretty standard. I would replace it with one of the above filters. If there is not one, add one. Again, order spares.

If you see this as a potentially permanent situation, you might consider either the undersink filter systems that PureWater offers, or a whole-house system (that is what I have on my well; a two-stage whole house filter with a sediment prefilter cartridge and a carbon block postfilter cartridge, both in 9.75" x 4.25" size). That would not cost too much if you installed it yourself. I would go with three stages if chemical pollution was the issue; a sediment prefilter, a GAC second stage, and a carbon block final stage. Your well has to have at least a sediment filter on it already, so you would just be adding a couple more filter canisters inline downstream of that.
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Last edited by Ought Six; 09-04-2011 at 04:49 PM.
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Old 09-07-2011, 08:33 PM   #14
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Have you noticed an improvement since switch over to city water? Does the laundry smell better.
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Old 09-08-2011, 08:37 PM   #15
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Default O'06 is mostly right

Max,

The black filters for the Berkey are carbon, not ceramic. The will remove any
organic or inorganic impurities for up to 3,000 gallons, depending on the amount to contamination. Once you change them, remember to give the purified water to the dogs too. (Say goodbye to eggs and chicken meat until you get a State Certified Lab's results on what the contamination is.)
Best wishes to you and BG. Cos
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Old 09-08-2011, 08:48 PM   #16
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Ought, the filters in our Big Berkey are the black ones. Much better than ceramic like my AquaRain filter at home.

Yes Coyote, there was an immediate improvement in odor, flavor and slowly an improvement in how we feel.

Cos, you are right and we've had the black filters all along. I clean them regularly but don't know what this contamination will do to them either in the short term or how it will effect their ability to cleanly filter water in the long run. When we figured out what was happening I immediately cleaned the entire Big Berkey and the filters again and refilled it with city water. I ran the water for a good long while both hot and cold to flush out the lines as good as could be done. I think we're doing everything we can short of moving to my place. Since that's not an option, we'll wait and see what the water professionals have to say about it when they show up. Bottled water for drinking is an option, but who knows whats in that water these days? FOr now we're doing the best we can.
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Old 09-08-2011, 09:08 PM   #17
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I wonder how near or far any 'fracking' (for natural gas I think) is happening....I've heard stories of well water and fracking gone back before.

I'm glad you can move to city water and feel better.
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Old 09-08-2011, 11:10 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmolined View Post
Max,

The black filters for the Berkey are carbon, not ceramic. The will remove any
organic or inorganic impurities for up to 3,000 gallons, depending on the amount to contamination. Once you change them, remember to give the purified water to the dogs too. (Say goodbye to eggs and chicken meat until you get a State Certified Lab's results on what the contamination is.)
Best wishes to you and BG. Cos
The black candles are a combo cermic/carbon setup. They are very expensive, and you only get a single stage of filtration. With that kind of contamination, the candles would have to be changed more frequently, and there are four of them in a Big Berkey. Again, I would go with a PureWater filter instead.
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Old 09-09-2011, 08:45 AM   #19
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We will definitely look at all options Ought. And thanks for all of your research and suggestions. This has been a real eye opener for both BG and I. When life is complicated, who thinks much about what's coming out of the water faucet? It's water isn't it? Things that make you say hmmm...
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Old 09-09-2011, 09:42 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ought Six View Post
Again, I would go with a PureWater filter instead.
Pur

I use them....have since my hiking days.
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Old 09-09-2011, 03:28 PM   #21
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sandyd, that was my first thought.
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Old 09-10-2011, 01:09 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sandyd View Post
I wonder how near or far any 'fracking' (for natural gas I think) is happening....I've heard stories of well water and fracking gone back before.

I'm glad you can move to city water and feel better.
That is one of the *least* likely explanations. That propaganda film, 'Gasland', has created the false meme that fracking it causing widespread pollution of water supplies. That is the exact opposite of the truth.
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* I have the right to my private property, thus I have the right to defend my property from thieves who would take it from me.
* I have the right to self-determination, thus I have the right to defend my liberty from tyrants who would take it from me.
* The only usable tools for these tasks are guns, and thus I have the right to shoot anyone who would take my guns from me.
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Old 09-10-2011, 05:36 AM   #23
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U.S. Water Pollution Facts

Fact #1
Over two-thirds of U.S. estuaries and bays are severely degraded because of nitrogen and phosphorous pollution.

Fact #2
Water quality reports indicate that 45% of U.S. streams, 47 percent of lakes, and 32 percent of bays are polluted.

Fact #3
Forty percent of America’s rivers are too polluted for fishing, swimming or aquatic life. The lakes are even worse -- over 46% are too polluted for fishing, swimming, or aquatic life.

Fact #4
Every year almost 25% of U.S. beaches are closed at least once because of water pollution.

-----

Fact #12
Fifty percent of worldwide groundwater is unsuitable for drinking because of pollution and only about .007% of the water on earth is accessible for human use.
(NOTE #12 is world wide water [www], wonder what the US stats are)


http://www.waterbenefitshealth.com/w...ion-facts.html

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