water treatment plant

Water Treatment 411: Water Treatment for Dummies

The following are excerpts from the published book Water Treatment for Dummies.  Available through the Water Quality Association.  You can find the full version for free at www.wqa.org.

What is Water?

Water is a molecule called H2O that contains two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen. It’s a transparent, odorless, tasteless liquid that you can find in lakes, rivers, and oceans. It falls from the sky as rain or snow.

Water is bottled and sold commercially, but it is also a key ingredient in thousands of products, from lotions and cosmetics to cleaners and beverages.
If you’re fortunate, water is all around you, in just the right amounts and in the right places. But it didn’t just get there by magic. Ultimately, fresh water is the result of the Earth’s water or hydrologic cycle (see Figure 1-1). Basically, the sun’s heat causes surface water to evaporate. It rises in the atmosphere, then cools and condenses to form clouds. When enough water vapor condenses, it falls back to the surface again as rain, sleet, or snow. The process repeats itself in a never-ending cycle.

The water we consume and use every day comes from two main sources: groundwater and surface water. Other sources such as snowmelt, rain, and recycled wastewater have only limited use, but they’re getting more attention these days because of water scarcity issues in dry climates.  Just 1 percent of all water is accessible.

Water From the Ground

When rainwater or melting snow seeps into the ground, it collects in underground pockets called aquifers, which store the groundwater and form the water table, another name for the highest level of water that an aquifer can hold. Water levels can reach the water table or fall well below it depending on such factors as rainfall, drought, or the rate at which the water is being used. Groundwater usually comes from aquifers through a drilled well or natural spring.  Surface water flows through or collects in streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and oceans — and not underground like groundwater. Surface water can be beautiful, even pristine looking, but most of it isn’t directly fit for drinking.  Fully 97 percent is found in the oceans and can’t be used for drinking because of its salt content. The other 3 percent of water is fresh, and most of that is locked up in ice or glaciers.

The water we consume and use every day comes from two main sources: groundwater and surface water

Better Water Where It Counts The Most

Large industrial water treatment and boiler room. reverse osmosi

How Water Gets to Your Home or Business

Typically, pipes bring the water supply from a facility that treats the water to your home or business. A well built and maintained distribution system of pipes helps ensure its quality. Another format to provide water specific for drinking to a home or business would be the installation of a water cooler or the delivery of bottled water.

Learn the Ins And Outs of Water Treatment

View to sewage treatment plant - water recycling. Waste management.

Public Water Systems — Centralized Treatment Plants

Under U.S. law (the Safe Drinking Water Act), a public water system is any system which “provides water for human consumption through pipes or other constructed conveyances to at least 15 service connections, or serves an average of at least 25 people for at least 60 days a year.” Public water systems are further broken down by law into community systems versus non-community systems. A community water system is simply a public water system that serves the same people year-round. Examples of community systems include municipally-owned public water systems, which may be funded through tax money or user fees paid to the municipality, or privately owned utilities that sell water directly to their customers.
A non-community water system is a public water system that doesn’t serve the same people year-round. There are two types of non-community water systems. Transient water systems: These serve different people throughout the year. Examples include interstate rest-stops, parks, department stores, and restaurants. Nontransient systems: These serve the same people for more than six months of the year but not year-round. Examples include schools, colleges, hospitals, and office buildings.

All of these public water systems are highly regulated (see Chapter 3 for more on the regulation of public water systems).

Regardless of the classification, once the water reaches the treatment plant, it is pretreated to remove debris such as leaves and silt. Then, a sequence of treatment processes — including filtration and disinfection with chemicals or physical processes — eliminates disease-causing microorganisms. It’s a highly complex process, and you’ll be glad to know that it’s closely monitored for quality control. All public water systems must adhere to the water quality standards established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) as well as state and local regulations. When the treatment is complete, water flows out into the community through a network of pipes and pumps that are commonly referred to as the distribution system.

New borehole with water supply system. Water borehole, hydraulic accumulator, filter, water well, water pump.

Private Wells

A well is a strategically placed access point drilled into an aquifer, combined with a pump to withdraw the water and a basic filtering or screening system.  With individually owned private wells, the homeowner bears the full responsibility for ensuring water quality. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, about 13 percent of Americans, most of them in rural areas, rely on private wells.

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Eliminate Contaminants
& Hard Minerals from Your Home’s Water Supply

With nearly two decades of experience, Water Pros can reliably install custom whole house water filtration and water softening systems, which eliminates harsh chemicals, odors, bacteria, and minerals from your municipal or well water supply in Denver, CO. We also offer free water testing to ensure you receive clean, fresh tasting water ideal for cooking, drinking, and bathing. So, call and book a consultation to improve your Denver, CO home’s water quality.

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