Bird And Fish

Pure Water Occasional

An Email Publication About Water and Water Treatment

March 2011

In this brand new Occasional you'll hear about genuine hazards at the Battlefield Golf Club, Legionella at the Miami Valley Hospital, and plastic disks in the Merrimack River that would make Thoreau turn over in his grave. Learn what Iceland, Norway, and New Zealand lead the world in and why nukes use so much water. Read about fly ash, water scams, pine beetles, and banana peels. National Plumbing Day and Fix A Leak Week. Hydrofluorosilicic acid and deadly domoic acid. Famous reverse osmosis units called the Duchess, the Empress, and the Emily. Water scams and water stress and water leaks. Where to buy a pressure relief button for a broken Big Bubba, what got dumped in the Savannah River, and where to find a water quality tracking map. Hear about the far-reaching effects on water of the Super Moon and the Japanese Tsunami, and, as always, much, much more.

The Occasional is overseen by Pure Water Gazette editor Hardly Waite.

To Read This Issue Online.

Hardly Waite

While you were watching the news from Japan and setting your clocks forward, a lot of important things happened in the world of water. To hear all about it, read on.

Water News for March 2011

A man in Louisville, KY allegedly sold water filtration systems to customers for as much as $2,700, but failed to deliver them. And in Leesburg, FL, police are cautioning residents about a possible scam involving people claiming to conduct a water survey for the city of Leesburg.

The Safe Drinking Water Act requires that the EPA identify up to 30 unregulated contaminants for monitoring every five years. The EPA is now proposing its list of 30 contaminants for monitoring.

Banana Peels
A team of researchers in Brazil has found that minced banana peels can clean pollutants like lead and copper from river water.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public comment from boaters and other stakeholders to help develop proposed regulations, as required by the 2008 Clean Boating Act, to reduce water pollution and the spread of invasive species in the nation’s rivers, lakes and other water bodies.

Pine beetles have killed hundreds of thousands of trees in Colorado and now they threaten the drinking water of millions of people. (Pine beetles kill trees, which causes erosion, which degrades drinking water sources.)

A proposal for twenty desalination plants has drawn strong opposition in California.

The underground water beneath the Battlefield Golf Club at Centerville, VA is contaminated from fly ash, according to a study released this month which showed 10 possible harmful substances in the groundwater. Fly ash is a byproduct of burning coal for energy and can contain hazardous heavy metals. Between 2002 and 2007, the golf course was sculpted from 1.5 million tons of fly ash from Dominion Virginia Power's generation plant. The ash is also the subject of a lawsuit involving more than 400 people filed in Chesapeake against Dominion and other companies affiliated with the course.

Delaware plans to impose stricter drinking water standards for three toxic chemicals suspected of causing cancer-- perchloroethylene (PCE), tetrachloroetheylene(TCE), and vinyl chloride.

Millions of fish were recently found dead in the King Harbor Marina in Redondo Beach, California, due to the presence of a deadly neurotoxin called domoic acid.

Clusters of Legionella bacteria were discovered in the hot water system of the Miami Valley Hospital. "In all, 11 patients were diagnosed with some form of Legionella poisoning from late February to early March."

Dirty Filter

This man blames the addition of chloramine to his water in Kinston, NC for ruining his home's water pipes.

An accidental chlorine release from a water treatment plant has killed thousands of fish in the Rio Grande near Albuquerque.

The US Senate designated March 11 as National Plumbing Day.

March's “Super Moon” that was in full view on the 19th probably had nothing to do with the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Consol Energy Inc., the largest producer of coal from underground mines in the United States, has agreed to pay a $5.5 million civil penalty for Clean Water Act violations at six of its mines in West Virginia. In addition to the penalty, Consol will spend an estimated $200 million in pollution controls that will reduce discharges of harmful mining wastewater into Appalachian streams and rivers. 

Japan's earthquake was so powerful that it actually sent ripples through South Florida's underground water supply. Groundwater gauges used by the South Florida Water Management District recorded that unusual activity about 30 minutes after the 9.0 tremor rumbled across northeastern Japan on March 11. The water level fluctuated about three inches over a two-hour period, according to the recordings.

Hazmat crews went to the Rock Island, IL Water Treatment Plant after an overflow caused acid to spill into the parking lot. The acid was hydrofluorosilicic acid, used to add fluoride to the water supply. It poses a risk of burns to the skin. Plant employees were evacuated.

The EPA now has a nifty new web-based mapping tool to track water quality trends.

More than 4,000 people turned out for the Los Angeles County Water Replenishment District’s (WRD) 4th Annual Groundwater Festival “Treasure Beneath Our Feet."

In Augusta, Georgia a major sewage spill dumped one million gallons into the Savannah River.


Plastic Discs

In another spectacular "accidental release," thousands of white plastic disks used to treat bacteria in a wastewater plant on the Merrimack River washed out during a heavy rainstorm. Officials are perplexed at how to retrieve them.

Consulting Firm Ranks the Nations of the World According to “Water Security”

by Hardly Waite

A British consulting firm called Maplecroft issued a “risk assessment” in the summer of 2010 which attempted to rank the nations of the world according to the security of their water supplies.

A "water security risk index" of 165 nations found African and Asian nations had the most vulnerable supplies, judged by factors including access to drinking water, per capita demand and dependence on rivers that first flow through other nations.

Somalia, where just 30 percent of the population has clean drinking water, topped the list, and then came Mauritania, Sudan, Niger, Iraq, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkmenistan and Syria.

Iceland, Norway, and New Zealand, in that order, were ranked as having the most secure water supplies.

Climate change is expected to provoke conflict for water supplies as water becomes more scarce.

Shifts in monsoon rains and melting of glaciers, for instance, could disrupt supplies with the potential to cause cross-border conflicts. Construction of hydropower dams or more irrigation, for instance, can disrupt supplies down river.

The study said irrigation accounted for 70 percent of freshwater consumption across the globe. Industry uses another 22 percent.

While “water stress” is especially a problem for poorer nations, nations like Australia, the United States, and some European countries are also at risk.

Bulgaria ranked 47 on the list, Belgium 50, Spain 68, Australia 95 and the United States 104.

More Information.

The Water Optimizer

The WaterOptimizer, a smart irrigation system, was named Innovation of the Year at the inaugural BizTech Innovation Summit Awards & Expo held March 17 at the Tampa Convention Center.

Recent case studies show that up to 70 percent of water typically used for irrigation can be saved with WaterOptimizer without sacrificing grass and plants.

How the Water Optimizer Works

  • Sensor nodes are placed in the ground, designed to measure the amount of water in the soil. Sprinklers only turn on when the ground is dry, and then only long enough to reach the desired moisture level.

  • The entire WaterOptimizer system is controlled remotely, using an Internet connection, by the homeowner, a homeowners association, or even a utility. The wireless mesh network relays information back to a user, giving instant data and immediate control.

More information on the Water Optimizer.

Perhaps you did not realize that the week ending March 20 was officially Fix a Leak Week across the US. Here's an informative article from the EPA:

Across the country, household leaks waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water per year – enough to supply the water needs of Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles combined. Easily corrected household leaks can increase homeowners’ water bills by 12 percent. To help consumers find and repair easy-to-fix leaks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is promoting the third annual Fix a Leak Week, March 14 through 20.

“When households have a leak, it’s not just a waste of water, it’s a waste of money,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said. “But by fixing leaky pipes, buying WaterSense products and taking other simple steps, families can save on their water bills and conserve clean water for future generations to enjoy.”

Homeowners’ water bills provide an easy and quick leak-checking measure; if wintertime water use for a family of four exceeds 12,000 gallons per month, their home may have a leak. Fixture replacement parts often pay for themselves quickly and can be installed by do-it-yourselfers, professional plumbers, or EPA’s WaterSense irrigation partners.

EPA’s Fix a Leak Week tips include:

§ Check for leaks. Silent toilet leaks can be found by putting a few drops of food coloring into the tank and seeing if color appears in the bowl before you flush. Don’t forget to check irrigation systems and spigots, too.

§ Twist and tighten pipe connections. To save even more water without a noticeable difference in flow, twist on a WaterSense labeled faucet aerator or showerhead.

§ Replace the fixture if necessary. Look for the WaterSense label when replacing plumbing fixtures, which are independently certified to use 20 percent less water and perform as well as or better than standard models.

WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by EPA, seeks to protect the future of our nation’s water supply by offering people simple ways to use less water. Since the program’s inception in 2006, WaterSense has helped consumers save a cumulative 46 billion gallons of water and $343 million in water and sewer bills.

More information on Fix a Leak Week.

If there is a question about how to reduce a specific water contaminant, you can find information on most in the Occasional's Water Treatment Issues section.

Pure Water Annie

Where to Get Parts for Your Water Filter

by Pure Water Annie

Good , sincere and even heartfelt advice from the Occasional's Technical Department.



Here Pure Water Annie elaborates on one of life's major frustrations--finding parts for water filtration equipment in a world where most sellers want to make a bundle on the initial sale, then drop out of sight.



When you look at the picture on the right you probably think that I put it there so I could make some brainless comments about how we just sprang into Spring and therefore it's time to buy a new water filter, or even something about how we had to spring forward and reset our clocks this month. Not so. The picture is actually of an important water filter part. If you don't recognize it, it's a spring from the pressure release button on a Big Bubba high volume filter. It might seem like a pretty insignificant part, but if you have a Big Bubba supplying your home and it springs a leak (sorry, I couldn't resist) at the pressure release button, being able to get this spring can be what decides whether you have water for your home or not.

Now, I would like you to try an experiment. Go to a Google search bar and type in "big bubba pressure release button" or something similar. You're likely to find us, Pure Water Products, among the first results. Look at our page and you'll see that we offer the button. If you look at other finds from the first page, you'll almost certainly discover that they don't sell it. And if you order it from us, you'll also find that we have it in stock and will ship it in most cases the day we get your order.

The point is, we don't just sell products. We support them as well. Here are some examples:

We have a full RO Parts Page that not only sells every part for our RO units (and many others as well), but explains how to choose the right part. (Type "ro parts" into a Google bar and we'll be on the first page.)

We have a full parts page for aeration equipment, emphasizing AerMax, the brand that we sell.

We have a full parts page for countertop water filters. We don't know of any other on the WWW.

We have a full selection of parts for the WellPro Dry Pellet Chlorinators that we sell. If your chlorinator fails because you need a $3.50 pellet dam, type "wellpro pellet dam" into a Google bar and you'll find it at the bottom of our regular WellPro page with an illustration to show you how to identify the part.

We have an entire website that sells nothing but Pura ultraviolet equipment. We stock every screw and every O-Ring. If your unit freezes and the sump cracks (this happened a lot last winter), we can send you a replacement. Break the quartz sleeve, we have it in stock and can get it to you overnight so that you won't be without water. When the manufacturer changed its housing style a couple of years ago, we went to considerable trouble to put up a one-of-its-kind model identification page so that Pura owners can identify their unit and get the right part.

We have a page that sells quick connect fittings and a page that sells parts for quick connect fittings. We sell parts for softeners and backwashing filters, parts for Stenner and Chemilizer injection pumps, complete parts for Watts R12 large RO units, replacement heads for Aquatec pumps, O rings for everything, including the membrane housing O rings for a Watts R12 RO unit that Watts doesn't even have.

In short, we have parts for most of the things we sell, and parts for some things we don't. So if you find that the Big Bubba you got from the train wreck dealer on eBay has a cracked pressure gauge and a spring missing from the pressure release button, don't despair. We love selling parts to people who bought their Big Bubba elsewhere.


Nuke on the River

Ever wonder why nuclear power plants are built on the shores of lakes and rivers? Well, it isn't so workers can enjoy the scenery. It's because nuclear plants are great water gluttons.

Nuclear plants use water to create steam that powers the turbines that create electricity and they require great quantities of water to remove and dump the excess heat created by the reactor core.

The excess heat that is returned to the water source in the form of water that is much hotter than the ambient water is a significant polluter of the local environment.

More details: Got Water? by the Union of Concerned Scientists.


Introducing the Emily. A New Product from Pure Water Products.


Emily's Three-Stage Undersink Reverse Osmosis System. A Product We're Proud Of.

The old Kiss International company, a maker of high quality reverse osmosis units late last century, gave all of its RO systems distinguished names like The Ambassador, The Senator, The Empress, and The Duchess. They put a big kiss just like the one above on every brochure. The RO units themselves, fortunately, were kiss-free.

We have decided that our new unit shall also have a distinguished name, The Emily. That's because this unique RO unit was designed and is lovingly built by our employee Emily. This is the same Emily that our customers will recognize as the writer and sender of post cards that remind you that a year has passed and you are a year older and it's time to change your filter cartridge(s).

The Emily reverse osmosis unit is a sturdy knock-off of Pure Water Products' famous Black and White three-stage RO. It is built in a simplified style that makes it very easy to install, very easy to maintain. It is designed for clean city water (no sediment pre-filter). It features top of the line parts like General Electric 18 GPD membrane, MatriKX carbon block cartridges, 3.2 Gallon metal storage tank, Tomlinson Pro Flo faucet, Payne shutoff. One year warranty. Complete phone and email support for installation and maintenance. This isn't a "big box" cheapie, but a hand-built unit designed to perform perfectly for many years. No proprietary parts. It's all tough, standard-sized equipment, and everything is color coded for easy installation. $170 less in price than the unit it's modeled on.

Each Emily RO is lovingly built, but not kissed, by Emily herself.

Simplicity itself. The Emily is the only RO unit we know of that comes with tubes already attached. The setup instructions simply tell you where the black, yellow, white and blue tubes attach.

1. Install the inlet valve as shown in the inlet kit instructions and push in the black tube.

2. Install the faucet by following the instructions in the faucet kit and push in the blue tube.

3. Install the drain saddle following the instructions in the drain saddle kit and push in the yellow tube.

4. Screw the tank valve onto the top of the storage tank and push in the white tube.

As Emily says, "It can be easily installed by your plumber if you'll read him the instructions."


When discount stores buy a trainload of identical RO units for their many retail outlets, they almost always purchase 5-stage systems. (Five-stage means that the unit has five separate treatment phases, including the RO membrane.) They do this for two reasons.

First, if you sell the same product to everyone who walks through the door, you have to design it for worst case. Let's say, to illustrate, that one person in 20 who buys the unit has a well with sand in the water. The unit must, therefore, have a sediment prefilter, to take care of the sand. The other 19 purchasers, however, may have very clean city tap water and do not need a sediment filter.

Second, the seller is somewhat cynically relying on the old "more is better" reasoning that has been used to sell products forever. Five is better than three. Everyone knows that. Actually, four cheap filters aren't necessarily better than two excellent ones. And one stage, the RO membrane, is what does most of what people buy reverse osmosis for--removing fluoride, lead, sodium, nitrates, etc. The five-stage and the three-stage units each have only one membrane.

The Emily RO is designed for use on basically clean city water. If you have significant particulate matter in your water, you should buy a four stage unit with a sediment prefilter.

We've been selling and installing the Emily for some months locally and we're satisfied that it's ready to go on the road. We can only take phone orders at present, but it will soon be a featured item on our main website.

The price is $249, and we pay shipping.

There is only one model. There are no options.

Here is a picture of the general accessories that go with the main unit above:

Emily Parts




Pure Water Gazette numerical wizard B. Bea Sharper reports the water facts that Harper's misses.

Bee B's great March contest. Bea sure to email me your five correct numbers and you'll soon Bee richer. Please email your answers to

The number of blanks you'll have to fill to win something of value (as well as basking in the glory of getting the right answers) in BB's Great March Giveaway: 5.

The number of unregulated contaminants the EPA is required to identify every five years: _____

Gallons of water that are wasted across the US each year by leaks, according to the EPA: _____

The Pure Water Products price of a WellPro pellet dam: $_____

Price of the Emily RO unit: $_____

The date of National Plumbing Day 2010 was March:_____.

Suggested reading this month from the Pure Water Gazette's archive: Earth Could Hold More Water, by Phillip Ball.

Model 77: "The World's Greatest $77 Water Filter"
Sprite Shower Filters: You'll Sing Better!
An Alphabetical Index to Water Treatment Products

Write to the Editor.

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