Cloudy Well Water


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Old 12-15-10, 01:45 PM
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Cloudy Well Water

I recently purchased a home with a well, and it is my first well. I'm sorry, but I know nothing at all about it. Some water stats are iron: 0.59; manganese: 0.08; ph: 6.88, tds: 113; turbidity: 3. The water drawn from the tap is cloudy and it remains in suspension, but filters out with my tropical freshwater fish filters, floss and sponge, to perfectly clear. The residue in the filter is a rusty brown and I see this residue on all surfaces that are in on-going contact with the water. The residue dries to a fine powder. I use a whole-house filter that does little to eliminate the cloudiness. I've tried 30-50 microns, 5 microns and 0.5. I'm looking into purchasing a greensand filter for the iron and manganese, but I'd like to resolve the cloudiness as well. I tried adding bleach to the water to see if that cleared it up but it didn't. I don't understand why the house filter didn't clean it up when the aquarium filters did. If the particulates are so small that they can remain suspended for 24 hours and more, how can my aquarium filters clean the water? Your opinions would be much appreciated.
Martha
 
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Old 12-16-10, 05:50 AM
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Bleach, chlorine will kill biologicals in the water but does nothing for resolving mineral problems. Aquarium filters even though they are very coarse have the benefit of recirculating the same water continuously. The filter may only catch a small percentage of the particulate on each pass but over the course of days or weeks with the same water repeatedly passing through the filter it gradually removes more and more. Also, proteins in the aquarium water may help the microscopic particles flocculate into larger particles that are more easily caught by the filter.
 
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Old 12-16-10, 09:42 AM
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Thanks for that - it makes sense. Does it sound like the cloudiness is caused by iron, or iron and manganese? Would you guess a greensand filter may be called for here?
 
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Old 12-16-10, 10:02 AM
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Was there any change in the water after you treated with chlorine? If so that would point to a biological cause for the cloudiness.

I just find it hard to believe that the half micron filter you tried did not remove the cloudiness. There is not much that can make it through .5 micron.
 
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Old 12-16-10, 10:34 AM
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There are many different types of iron and many ways to get rid of it. The cloudy water can be from anything.

Your iron is low. If your # is correct. A water softner, while not used to remove iron ,will indeed remove up to 4-6 ppm depending on size of tank. The PH should be 7.0. You leach pipes if lower. You may need PH filter. Bacterial iron or rotton egg sufer smell needs bleach injection, settling tank, then clarifier.


So what I am saying these filters are expensive so its important to know what you need first. There are alot of rip offs out there so be careful.

I had a fellow spend $5000 plus on filters, softners, UV lights, osmosis, ect... He was mad when I told him I could of drilled him a deep well for that. He had a shallow well 20ft. We been digging 133 ft here for crystal clear water.

Do your homework before just going out and buying filters. Looks like someone has sold you on this greensand filter.



Common Well Problems


NSF Consumer Information: Well Water


Mike NJ
 
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Old 12-16-10, 12:53 PM
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Thanks guys, but believe me, this is not my first stop. I have spent WEEKS investigating this, reading up on the kinds of filters, their requirements, etc. I've talked to everyone who I thought might know something, including the chemistry professor at the college where I teach. I called a water filter company but they won't say anything unless they come out and do the tests, and I fear the price they will quote me. Price is a concern. I've talked with a sales rep selling filters on-line, and he suggested I add bleach to the water, telling me if the water clears up, it was iron. I've read and read about the different types of iron and iron filters. All I ever do is draw a blank as to what my problem might be. I hesitate increasing my ph because I breed a very expensive fish and the ph is perfect for them. I also am concerned that attempts to alter the ph often leads to instability, which would be even worse for the fish. The filters all turn rust colored in a couple of days. I wonder if the 0.5 micron clogged up quickly. I thought the water was a bit better the first day or so after installing it but it was still cloudy. Greensand claims to eliminate the smell. I don't get the impression that I have bacterial iron. Thanks for the links, Mike. I'll have a close look at them when I get home. Do you think a water softener might do the trick? I hesitate to add salt to the water but breeders have reported no problems using water softeners.
 
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Old 12-16-10, 02:24 PM
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OK good luck but I would do more reading. I have treated many wells before and I just dont want you to throw good money after bad. Now I have not tested your water but from what you are telling me I would say see below.


IRON IN DRINKING WATER

Clues which indicate that iron bacteria may be present in well water:

Iron bacteria often produce unpleasant tastes and odors commonly reported as
swampy
oily or petroleum
cucumber
sewage
rotten vegetation
musty
The taste or odor may be more noticeable after the water has not been used for some time.
Iron bacteria will usually cause yellow, orange, red, or brown stains and colored water
It is sometimes possible to see a rainbow colored, oil-like sheen on the water.
Iron bacteria produce a sticky slime which is typically rusty in color, but may be yellow, brown, or grey.
A feathery or filamentous growth may also be seen, particularly in standing water such as a toilet tank.

A burn in Scotland with Iron bacteria.The dramatic effects of iron bacteria are seen in surface waters as brown slimy masses on stream bottoms and lakeshores or as an oily sheen upon the water. More serious problems occur when bacteria build up in well systems. Iron bacteria in wells do not cause health problems, but they can reduce well yields by clogging screens and pipes.

[edit] Prevention
Iron bacteria can be introduced into a well or water system during drilling, repair, or service. Elimination of iron bacteria once a well is heavily infested can be extremely difficult. Normal treatment techniques may be only partly effective. Good housekeeping practices can prevent iron bacteria from entering a well[6]:

Water placed in a well for drilling, repair, or priming of pumps should be disinfected, and should never be taken from a lake or pond.
The well casing should be watertight, properly capped, and extend a foot or more above ground.
When pumps, well pipes, and well equipment are repaired, they should not be placed on the ground where they could pick up iron bacteria.
The well, pump, and plumbing should be disinfected when repaired.
[edit] Control
Treatment techniques which may be successful in removing or reducing iron bacteria include physical removal, pasteurization, and chemical treatment. Treatment of heavily infected wells may be difficult, expensive, and only partially successful.

Physical removal is typically done as a first step in heavily infected wells. The pumping equipment in the well must be removed and cleaned, which is usually a job for a well contractor or pump installer. The well casing is then scrubbed by use of brushes or other tools. Physical removal is usually followed by chemical treatment. Pasteurization has been successfully used to control iron bacteria. Pasteurization involves a process of injecting steam or hot water into the well and maintaining a water temperature in the well of 60 C (140 degrees Fahrenheit) for 30 minutes. Pasteurization can be effective, however, the process may be expensive.

Chemical treatment is the most commonly used iron bacteria treatment technique. The three groups of chemicals typically used include: surfactants; acids (and bases); and disinfectants, biocides, and oxidizing agents.

Surfactants are detergent-like chemicals such as phosphates. Surfactants are generally used in conjunction with other chemical treatment. It is important to use chlorine or another disinfectant if phosphates are used, since bacteria may use phosphates as a food source.

Acids have been used to treat iron bacteria because of their ability to dissolve iron deposits, destroy bacteria, and loosen bacterial slime. Acids are typically part of a series of treatments involving chlorine, and at times, bases. Extreme caution is required to use and properly dispose of these chemicals. Acid and chlorine should never be mixed together. Acid treatment should only be done by trained professionals.

Disinfectants are the most commonly used chemicals for treatment of iron bacteria, and the most common disinfectant is household laundry bleach, which contains chlorine. Chlorine is relatively inexpensive and easy to use, but may have limited effectiveness and may require repeated treatments. Effective treatment requires sufficient chlorine strength and time in contact with the bacteria, and is often improved with agitation. Continuous chlorine injection into the well has been used, but is not normally recommended because of concerns that the chlorine will conceal other bacterial contamination and cause corrosion and maintenance problems.

[edit] Shock chlorination
"Shock" chlorination is the process of introducing a strong chlorine solution into the well, usually at a concentration of 1000 parts per million or more. Ideally, the well should be pumped until clear, or physically cleaned before introducing chlorine. A brochure is available which explains how to add chlorine and determine the amount of chlorine to use. Otherwise, approximately 2 gallons of chlorine beach can be mixed with at least 10 gallons of water, and poured into the well. If possible, the chlorinated water should be circulated through the well and household plumbing by running the water back into the well through a clean hose, washing down the sides of the well casing. The chlorinated water should be drawn into the household plumbing and remain overnight, and if possible for 24 hours. Heavy infestations of iron bacteria may require repeated disinfections. Shock chlorination may only control, not eliminate, iron bacteria.

Before attempting to chlorinate, or doing any maintenance on a well, it is important to disconnect the electricity and understand how the well and water system works. It is usually advisable to hire a licensed pump installer or well contractor.

High concentrations of chlorine may affect water conditioning equipment, appliances such as dishwashers, and septic systems. You may want to check with the manufacturer of the appliances before chlorinating. The equipment can be bypassed, however, iron bacteria or other organisms may remain in the units and spread through the water system. It may be possible to disinfect the well with higher chlorine concentrations; and if the water storage and treatment units are not heavily infected, disinfect the treatment unit and piping with lower concentrations circulated through the water system.

After the chlorine has been in the well and plumbing overnight or for 24 hours, the water should be pumped out. If possible, water with high chlorine concentrations should not be disposed of in the septic system. It may be possible to discharge the water to a gravel area, run the water into a tank or barrel until the chlorine dissipates, or contract with a hauler to properly dispose of the water. Water from the well should not be consumed until the chlorine has been removed.

References
^ Sawyer, Clair N. and McCarty, Perry L. "Chemistry for Sanitary Engineers" McGraw-Hill (1967) isbn=07-054970-2 pp.446-447
^ Snoeyink, Vernon L. and Jenkins, David "Water Chemistry" John Wiley & Sons (1980) isbn=0-471-05196-9 pp.380-381
^ Krauskopf, Konrad B. "Introduction to Geochemistry" McGraw-Hill (1979) isbn=0-07-035447-2 p.213
^ Krauskopf, Konrad B. "Introduction to Geochemistry" McGraw-Hill (1979) isbn=0-07-035447-2 p.544
^ Sawyer, Clair N. and McCarty, Perry L. "Chemistry for Sanitary Engineers" McGraw-Hill (1967) isbn=07-054970-2 p.459
^ [1] Iron Bacteria in Well Water
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_bacteria"
 
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Old 12-16-10, 03:11 PM
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MORE reading? Sigh. I suspect you probably aren't aware of how much I have read. I read about bacteria and I guess I have it. Then I read about bacteria and I guess I don't. Are you guessing I do? I haven't seen any "feathery or filamentous growth" anywhere. The rust colored coating is even and reminds me of watercolor paint to the touch, including in the toilet tank. Do you suggest I call in an expert?
 
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Old 12-16-10, 03:20 PM
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Iron bacteria produce a sticky slime which is typically rusty in color, but may be yellow, brown, or grey.

Like water color paint?

Treatment techniques which may be successful in removing or reducing iron bacteria include physical removal, pasteurization, and chemical treatment. Treatment of heavily infected wells may be difficult, expensive, and only partially successful.



You dont need an expert. You are talking to somewhat of one here. But before you go buying stuff make sure you know what you have.

If you get someone to give you a complete water test and repost here I or someone can help.

Just dont buy nothing from them.

How deep is the well? Where is the pump?

Mike NJ
 
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Old 12-16-10, 03:27 PM
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Sorry, I don't know anything about the well. There's a pump just inside the house where the main comes in but I don't know if that is what you are referring to. It isn't sticky. Would iron bacteria filter out so easily so that the water is, and remains, clear? I had a complete water test when I bought the house a month or two ago. They tested negative for total and fecal coliform bacteria, which was absent, and when I called and asked about iron bacteria, the woman assured me my water had no bacteria. I thought that dubious but I wasn't going to argue.
 
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Old 05-19-11, 03:33 PM
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The sorry tale continues. I had a couple of different companies test my well water, and the iron tests at 1.0, no measurable manganese, no iron bacteria. My ph is 6.9. It seems the turbidity is caused by iron. What I wanted to do was remove the iron and turbidity without raising the ph or, at least, to no higher than 7.5. My ph is perfect for the very expensive tropical fish that I raise. They can manage up to ph 8.0 and no more than a 0.3 ph swing with water changes. One company's estimate was far above what I could afford, and after talking extensively to a co. rep at 3M, I went with an Aqua Pure iron reduction system (CBF100) preceded by air injection. I paid a handyman friend a couple of hundred dollars to install it. The filter came with a sand media because it wouldn't affect the ph. The water then tested to over 0.3 for iron and my fish continued to suffer. After following a lot of company suggestions (check this, try that) and to no avail, in desperation I started calling plumbers. I wanted one who would simply fix it! I couldn't find one locally who would touch a system someone else had installed, and so the retailer recommended one in a town an hour away. He charged me $425 and changed the sand media to a graduated sand. The water was cloudier than before and tasted worse. It did not settle down. He installed a new 1-micron filter cartridge that I had on hand and by the following day, it was bright red. 3M then sent me iron media (which, I think, makes the system an APIF100) because they thought that even though my ph is very close to 7, it wasn't high enough. I changed it myself. The person at 3M was well aware of the ph requirements of the fish and swore it would raise the ph to no more than 7.5. Well, the iron tested out at 0.32 and the fish continued to stress and die. I watered my garden for the first time last week and the water then came out of all the taps yellow. It didn't settle overnight and I had to draw more than 200 gallons the following day before it cleared up. The man at 3M referred me to Walter F. Morris but so far my couple of calls have not been returned. One pair of fish acted like the water changes were hurting them. I could only think of a ph problem so I bought a Hanna ph meter, calibrated it, and the water tested ph 10.0! I am horrified! With a kh of 1 the ph drops quickly and so the tanks are around 8. I have to do water changes every two days and I don't dare now because the ph swing, as well as the iron, is no doubt making them sick! I didn't go for a water softener originally because I was afraid it would put salt in the water (I understand now it's not a problem) and I heard it won't take out ferric iron and I was told I have both - ferrous and ferric. Any suggestions? I'm going to take a sample to the lab to confirm the ph tomorrow.
 
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Old 05-19-11, 03:55 PM
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There are alot of good waterguys here that will help.

Could you please repost all your test results? This is water before any filtration.

Hardness
PH
Iron
etc.....

This way others here can better help you to tell you exactly what you need.
 
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Old 05-19-11, 04:16 PM
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Sorry, I should know better! The initial water test when I bought the house said iron: 0.59 but subsequent tests say 1.0.
ph 6.92
tds 45 (perfect for hatching eggs!)
turbidity 6.74
Hardness 1.04
I can't imagine others might be relevant but let me know if you need more.
Martha
 
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Old 05-20-11, 11:15 AM
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I go ph and iron tests from the lab today: iron - 0.2, ph - 8.89. Would you expect the filter I have to do a better job on iron, and would you expect the filter to raise the ph two full points?
 
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Old 05-20-11, 12:05 PM
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All your tests were good before any filtration. Your only concern is the yellow water, correct?

That system you have is good but I am not sure you have the red water iron that is causing the yellow color.

Possibly you have tannins. You may just need to add tannin resin to your tank, but why guess at this point. Typically these are added to the softner resin.

Lets go back to basics. Your water is good except for the yellow color. Forget all the filters you have for now. The main thing is to find out the cause of the yellow water, then you can treat it. Iron is common cause of yellow water, but not the only cause.

Possibly others can give insight to yellow water

Mike NJ
 
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Old 05-22-11, 07:40 AM
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My tests were NOT good before filtration, or I wouldn't filter! Iron and turbidity were too high. I was told I have both ferrous and ferric iron. I'm certain the turbidity is caused by the iron. I got ph and iron results back from the lab: 0.2 for iron, ph 8.79. I didn't check the turbidity ($10 per test) but it's clearer when the iron level is low. When the turbidity is high I filter my fish water using diatomaceous earth and the filter media is clearly rust colored. I would like to get the iron level lower for the fish, and the ph HAS to come down, which means, I suppose, a different media. I heard back from Walter F. Morris and they're going to investigate it, although I don't know what it will cost me. I guess I'll find out! Thanks for trying, Mike. Are there no water experts here? Perhaps I am being impatient - it's only been a few days.
 
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Old 05-22-11, 07:55 AM
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Just that in your first post these were your test results.

Some water stats are iron: 0.59; manganese: 0.08; ph: 6.88, tds: 113; turbidity: 3.

All test results are good that you gave in the first post IMO. Now what are you giving us, new results for after filtration? Your tests are all over the place it seems. Those test results above are no show stopper, and pretty much close to my results at my well, except for turbidity.

In all therory, and I know you said you tried it, but a micron filter should take out the turbidity.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 05-22-11, 08:27 AM
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I honestly don't see why you think these test results are good. With these results, the water smelt bad, tasted bad and looked bad. As you probably know, different tests produce somewhat different results. These were the results when I purchased the house. Two subsequent tests show iron at 1.0 and manganese as below the maximum recommended level. Since installing the filter, different medias gave different results. The micron filter does NOT take out the turbidity. Some of it, no doubt. Let's remember that the water is acceptable for me to use (although the lab states the ph is too high), but the stats are not acceptable for the fish. This iron media seems to have the iron and turbidity to an acceptable level, but not the ph. The sand medias kept the ph to an acceptable level, but not the iron and turbidity.
 
 

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