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Old 11-19-2008, 07:30 PM   #41
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Urchina, yes the well has a concrete riser and cap on a concrete slab in a covered an insulated pump house. The well is a 24" bored well and is about 90' deep with about 60' of water. The bacteria is simple coliform, not identified since there are far too many to test for according to the state lab, but it has no fecal coliform. The ground is sloped slightly, and I don't see how any surface water could be getting into the well.
Septic field is 200'+ away. The lake, however, is probably 75' away.
There is no livestock near the well except my dog, squirrels and some deer. But with no fecal coliform, I don't think animals pose a problem.
Ahhh, a lake. If you've got a sandy/gravelly aquifer strata it's possible that the pumping from your well is actually drawing lake water into the well column. This would probably be drawing water against the flow of gravity, but with a 90' well and a lake only 75' away it's possible.

I'd keep an eye on the fecal coliform levels -- that's the stuff that carries the biggest risk. This Washington State department of health webpage has some nice info on coliform in drinking water:

Coliform and Bacteria - Washington State Dept of Health

If you're really worried about it, treatment is pretty straightforward, but you would have a filtration / chlorination system to maintain.
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Old 11-20-2008, 07:46 AM   #42
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Ahhh, a lake. If you've got a sandy/gravelly aquifer strata it's possible that the pumping from your well is actually drawing lake water into the well column. This would probably be drawing water against the flow of gravity, but with a 90' well and a lake only 75' away it's possible.

I'd keep an eye on the fecal coliform levels -- that's the stuff that carries the biggest risk. This Washington State department of health webpage has some nice info on coliform in drinking water:

Coliform and Bacteria - Washington State Dept of Health

If you're really worried about it, treatment is pretty straightforward, but you would have a filtration / chlorination system to maintain.
Urchina, thanks for the input and link. I pretty much committed to putting in another filter for coliform. But I haven't decided whether to do whole house or just kitchen. Wife wants whole house. I like the simplicity of just the kitchen method. As soon as I get a few things off my list, I tackle that one. In the meantime I'll just drink the bottled stuff.
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Old 11-20-2008, 11:07 AM   #43
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Urchina, thanks for the input and link. I pretty much committed to putting in another filter for coliform. But I haven't decided whether to do whole house or just kitchen. Wife wants whole house. I like the simplicity of just the kitchen method. As soon as I get a few things off my list, I tackle that one. In the meantime I'll just drink the bottled stuff.
We had a coliform "issue" when we bought this house, and also some symptoms of iron reducing bacteria (pinkish-red slime inside the toilet tanks, etc). I shocked the well with chlorine bleach, let the chlorine sit inthe house pipes (made sure to get it to al branches) for a few minutes, and have never had any problems since that time--it has been four years. Of course, if your bacteria is coming fromthe lake, that's a whole different issue.

If coliform or other "living stuff" is your only issue, you might want to consider UV treatment instead of chlorine. It is just as effective in killing the bad stuff, doesn't introduce a bad tasting chemical (that you have to either live with or introduce more complexity to eliminate) and you don't have to mess with any caustic chemicals. They make systems for drinking-water only and bigger rigs for whole-house UV water treatment. Maintenance=change the bulb every year.
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Old 11-20-2008, 11:17 AM   #44
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Here's one similar to mine, it sells for $15. I don't know how accurate it is (I suspect all they do is measure the conductivity of the water), but I'm just counting on it to give me trend info.
Thanks samclem. Yes, that one is just measuring conductivity. I tried a quick-and-dirty using my cheap handheld DVM. Could not gat a resistance measurement to convert to conductance (beyond 2MegOhm scale limit, and it might require higher voltage than the meter provides) , so I hooked up a 9V battery and measured current with the leads at the edges of a paper cup with the water samples.

I'm sure there are tons of errors in this, but I got fairly consistent relative measurements of 10x the current in my well water and my softened water compared to the RO. 10x is another indicator it is still working, a bit more quantitative than me just seeing some salt deposits on evaporated samples. Good enough for me.

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Old 11-20-2008, 11:30 AM   #45
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I'm sure there are tons of errors in this, but I got fairly consistent relative measurements of 10x the current in my well water and my softened water compared to the RO. 10x is another indicator it is still working, a bit more quantitative than me just seeing some salt deposits on evaporated samples. Good enough for me.

-ERD50
Yes, I've seen advertisements for RO units that claim they will reduce salt by "up to 090%", so your rough readings look to be in accordance with this.
What I don't know is if the relationship between dissolved solids and conductivity of the water is a linear one, or if maybe the first bits of dissolved solids result in a greater change in conductivity than subsequent amounts.
I also wonder if I should skip the WS step for my drinking water. Instead of going through the water softener, I could take water directly from the well, through the sediment filters, carbon filter, RO, finishing filter, and UV. That way, I wouldn't be needing to remove all this salt with the RO, the main impurities would be "Hardness" (Mg and Calcium). I haven't heard that these have untoward health impacts as sodium does.
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Old 11-20-2008, 12:18 PM   #46
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I also wonder if I should skip the WS step for my drinking water. Instead of going through the water softener, I could take water directly from the well, through the sediment filters, carbon filter, RO, finishing filter, and UV. That way, I wouldn't be needing to remove all this salt with the RO, the main impurities would be "Hardness" (Mg and Calcium). I haven't heard that these have untoward health impacts as sodium does.
When I bought my unit, I was on the phone with a guy from SpectraPure and he seemed pretty knowledgeable. He highly recc to connect the RO after the WS, for longer membrane life. Kinda makes sense for the same reason we use WS - salt is much more soluble than those other minerals, so they just rinse away.

As far as health concerns, I dunno. But they are 80-90% less with RO vs WS water. I drink the well water and the tap (WS), the rest of the family hates the well water, they mostly drink RO. But I use the RO for coffee, tea and making beer (sometimes adding just the minerals I may need for the beer style). One of the reasons that some beer styles are associated with certain regions is because that style "works" with the mineral content of the local water.

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Old 11-20-2008, 01:09 PM   #47
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If coliform or other "living stuff" is your only issue, you might want to consider UV treatment instead of chlorine. It is just as effective in killing the bad stuff, doesn't introduce a bad tasting chemical (that you have to either live with or introduce more complexity to eliminate) and you don't have to mess with any caustic chemicals. They make systems for drinking-water only and bigger rigs for whole-house UV water treatment. Maintenance=change the bulb every year.
If you do decide to go with UV light, install it after filtration, since the UV light can only kill pathogens that are exposed to it. Filtration will remove organic and inorganic particles that can act as a UV shelter for the coliform.

Also remember that the UV system won't work if you don't have power. (This is true for all electrically-based systems, including RO, and it's probably true for your well pump as well, but it's something to consider when choosing a system.)
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Old 11-20-2008, 05:18 PM   #48
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Also remember that the UV system won't work if you don't have power. (This is true for all electrically-based systems, including RO....)
My RO requires no power, nor did the one I installed for my Mom. Everything is from water pressure.

We are both on private wells, so it's a moot point for us anyhow, but not if you are on city water.

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Old 11-21-2008, 11:35 AM   #49
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We used to buy bottled water. It was so easy to just grab one from the fridge and go and it really made it easy to get in our daily requirement. Then one day I started really resenting lugging the bottles and paying the price. We got a Brita, and Sigg water bottles and have more convenience for a much lower cost in dollars as wel as environmentally.
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