The Invisible Enemy in Your Drinking Water
Sediment wreaks havoc on a building’s plumbing system. Damage to piping and equipment can be costly, and sediment creates an environment in which bacteria thrives and bacteria-reducing solutions must work harder.
The Municipality is the Main Source
The main source of sediment in building piping systems does not come from within the building. The main source is from the municipal water supply. Sediment is already in the water prior to entering a building. Because of this it can easily be missed or ignored and this is why we call sediment the invisible enemy.
Why is sediment so prevalent?
The US plumbing infrastructure is falling apart. It is old and failing. There are over 240,000 water main breaks per year and some of the piping is as old as from the 1800s.
• Cast iron pipes from the late 1800s
• Pipes laid in 1920s
• Post-World War II pipes
The Domino Effect
The trip water takes from the municipality to the building starts a domino effect. The municipality typically injects chlorine or another chemical disinfectant into the water system. Chlorine is shown to cause corrosion and as the water travels to the facility three activities take place:
• Sediment accumulates
• pH level increases and
• Bacterial activity increases
By the time water reaches the building, the water quality is often poor, the disinfectant residual is low, and the disinfectant efficacy is decreased. Sediment levels have also increased.
What are the negative effects of sediment?
Sediment introduces Total Suspended Solids (TSS) to a building’s water system. TSS (TSS) is the dry weight of suspended particles, that are not dissolved, in a sample of water that can be trapped by a filter that is analyzed using a filtration apparatus. It is a water quality parameter used to assess the quality of a specimen of any type of water or water body and is listed as a conventional pollutant in the U.S. Clean Water Act.
Sediment provides three main mechanisms by which it reduces water quality and allows/supports microbial life:
Reduction in residual disinfection:
• Either from the municipality or otherwise, sediment within the water is actively disinfected by the method currently in use.
• As the disinfectant performs its function, it is consumed and is no longer available for other disinfection functions.
Providing a food source for bacteria:
• Opportunistic pathogens are in a classification of organism known as heterotrophs, those that use carbon-based substances for their nutrition source.
• Sediment can and will provide a carbon source, of various quantities, required to support bacteriologic life within water supplies.
Shielding bacteria from disinfection:
• For disinfection to be effective against organisms, the disinfectant must come into contact with the organism in question.
• Sediment can often act as a “Trojan Horse”, shielding the organism from disinfection while potentially carrying it into a water supply that provides suitable conditions for amplification.
Cost of increased equipment and infrastructure damage
• Frequently, poor water quality, including that caused by sediment results in damaged or broken equipment
• Infrastructure life can be reduced
• Operational costs increase and new capital costs might be required
How do you combat sediment and its negative effects?
Point-of-entry filtration can significantly reduce sediment coming into the building from municipal water supply. There are numerous filters on the market, however they vary in efficacy and have various advantages and disadvantages.
Traditional filters include bags, cartridges, and sand. There are several concerns and disadvantages with traditional filters including:
• Loading & heat generation
• Act as bioreactors for bacterial proliferation and amplify systemic contamination
• Sand struggles with inefficient backwashing & channeling
• Excessive consumable costs
• Hazardous handling concerns
• Subject to high pressure losses
• Nominal filtration rations
• Significant wastewater rejection
• Provide little data and have no alert or alarm systems
Positive Results from Reducing Sediment
There are filters on the market with newer technologies, such as LiquiTech’s SafeTGard that deliver a much higher efficacy with the negative consequences or short comings. SafeTGard can remove the food source by reducing surface area and eliminating corrosion particulates. The technology reduces sediment and allows secondary disinfectants to perform at highest efficacy rates while collecting predictive data.
When a facility chooses to proactively remove sediment it improves the piping system and equipment in numerous ways including:
• Helps control bacterial growth
• Improves functionality and life of equipment
• Reduces pump and valve failure
• Reduces cost of equipment failure
• Reduces damages to plumbing infrastructure
• Improves results of a multi-barrier approach including CSI disinfection and UV
• Reduces operational costs
Full Spectrum Protection
The domino effect illustrates the importance of proactively reducing sediment and bacteria at point-of-entry. It shows how conditions in specific plumbing piping locations can affect the entire plumping system loop. The most effective way to protect the system at any location is through a multi-barrier approach.
Point-of-entry filtration to combat sediment when combined with UV to address cold-water side bacteria and copper silver ionization to obtain non-detect Legionella levels, provides a facility the broadest spectrum approach for eliminating Legionella, waterborne pathogens, and waterborne HAIs.