Huge change in water between the treatment plant and my house - The Planted Tank Forum
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 12:31 AM Thread Starter
Plant Clown
 
kevmo911's Avatar
 
PTrader: (32/100%)
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Greensboro, NC
Posts: 4,729
Huge change in water between the treatment plant and my house

From a few miles north, water from a lake travels maybe 10 miles south where it spends some time at a treatment facility, then travels back to me, 5 or 6 miles as the crow flies, no idea how far it actually travels.

According to the water quality report, the change in parameters from "in" to "out" is minimal. But between leaving the plant coming out of my faucet, things happen.

I never gave the water quality report much thought before. I know my GH has always been high (12+) and KH has always been low (2-3), and pH has always been a bit alkaline (7.6-ish). I've never been able to keep snails or shrimp in straight tap water, and suspected copper might be the issue.

Just today I received a copper test kit, because I'd been thinking recently about adding Amano shrimp to a tank or two and wanted to investigate copper as a potential issue. Surprisingly, copper levels are too low to register. So I got to thinking about the water report again.

PH and KH measurements pretty much match up with the report. GH, however, is up by 10 degrees or so. I'm ordering a TDS meter that should show up in a couple days (yay Prime!).

So what's going on in the pipes? If the water quality analysis is to be believed, the pipes bringing water from the lake to the plant are pristine. So something is going on in the distribution mains.

I occasionally notice water stains on glassware from the dishwasher, and there's always heavy residue when tank water levels drop from evaporation. I've occasionally read about locals commenting on the hard water.

Could such a huge change just be from the pipes? North Carolina isn't known for its hard water. In fact, the city defines its waster as "moderately soft", while the USGS definitions would classify it as the next category down: "soft".

Anyway, while I have some thoughts about Ca and Mg, which are usually the primary culprits in hardness, not really being in high concentrations, and I'm starting to wonder/worry about what I'm consuming, I'll leave off on that until I have some professional testing done.

So, any thoughts? Recommendations? I'm looking into getting real testing done.
kevmo911 is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 12:39 AM
Wannabe Guru
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Cape Coral, Florida
Posts: 1,286
So the water plant is saying their dGH is 2 and you are measuring it at 12. And you're sure both are in degrees, not mg/ml?

I'm not chemist enough to know what's possible but changing in the pipes on an ongoing, continual basis just doesn't seem likely.

Why not take your measurement and go to the plant management and say "what's up with your water quality report versus what I see"? They have a real stake in not having people publicize that their report is bogus, and I'm betting they won't attribute that large of a change to the pipes (but if they do, perhaps they can also explain it).

Linwood

Latest tank build:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Linwood is offline  
post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 12:52 AM Thread Starter
Plant Clown
 
kevmo911's Avatar
 
PTrader: (32/100%)
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Greensboro, NC
Posts: 4,729
From the report, total hardness is 53 mg/L. Calcium is at 15.8 and Magnesium is at 3.8 mg/L.

I'm ordering a new GH test kit to doublecheck.
kevmo911 is offline  
 
post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 12:58 AM
Planted Tank Guru
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Contra Costa CA
Posts: 11,721
The heavy residue when the aquarium levels drop is suggestive.
Can you spare a glass, and repeat the test, but with just tap water, no additives? Set a glass of water in the sun (so it evaporates quickly) and see what happens.
Diana is offline  
post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 01:12 AM Thread Starter
Plant Clown
 
kevmo911's Avatar
 
PTrader: (32/100%)
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Greensboro, NC
Posts: 4,729
Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
The heavy residue when the aquarium levels drop is suggestive.
Can you spare a glass, and repeat the test, but with just tap water, no additives? Set a glass of water in the sun (so it evaporates quickly) and see what happens.
I just looked at a glass I keep next to an indoor plant. There's some residue, not terribly obvious. No color to it, just white-ish. I'll put a glass out on the deck in the morning.
kevmo911 is offline  
post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 12:50 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
Zorfox's Avatar
 
PTrader: (5/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Gainesville, FL
Posts: 2,105
I would first check you GH test against distilled water just to make sure.

I see that your water treatment plant uses a polyphosphate (Calciquest ).

Quote:
"Calciquest is a liquid chemical solution containing a long chain polyphosphate polymer. It is designed to isolate iron, manganese, and calcium to keep them in solution. It also prevents corrosion of water lines. Calciquest is added to treated water at the rate of 1.0 mg/L."
Source: City of Greensboro, NC : Water Treatment Chemicals
I wonder if that chemical, which is added as it leaves the plant, is interfering with your GH test. I would try aerating a sample for at least 24 hours and testing to see what happens.

I would contact the lab supervisor listed at the bottom of your water report and ask. Marie Shandor, Laboratory Supervisor (336) 373-7527 [email protected]
Zorfox is offline  
post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
Plant Clown
 
kevmo911's Avatar
 
PTrader: (32/100%)
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Greensboro, NC
Posts: 4,729
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorfox View Post
I would first check you GH test against distilled water just to make sure.

I see that your water treatment plant uses a polyphosphate (Calciquest ).



I wonder if that chemical, which is added as it leaves the plant, is interfering with your GH test. I would try aerating a sample for at least 24 hours and testing to see what happens.

I would contact the lab supervisor listed at the bottom of your water report and ask. Marie Shandor, Laboratory Supervisor (336) 373-7527 [email protected]
Interesting. New GH test is on its way. It's entirely possible (or even probable) that I'm overthinking this, and that a simple low KH has been the primary cause of invert death. In which case, weekly baking soda should be an easy fix.

I really don't mind the high GH. Outside of a handful of soft-water fish and plants, it's not really a limiting factor. But it would be nice to know what minerals/metals might leeching into the water from pipes. My neighborhood is 60 years old, so pipes are suspect.

Thanks for the catch!
kevmo911 is offline  
post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 02:02 PM
Wannabe Guru
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Cape Coral, Florida
Posts: 1,286
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevmo911 View Post
Interesting. New GH test is on its way. It's entirely possible (or even probable) that I'm overthinking this, and that a simple low KH has been the primary cause of invert death. In which case, weekly baking soda should be an easy fix.

I really don't mind the high GH. Outside of a handful of soft-water fish and plants, it's not really a limiting factor. But it would be nice to know what minerals/metals might leeching into the water from pipes. My neighborhood is 60 years old, so pipes are suspect.
I switched to RODI water as we have 50-60 year old pipes as well, but I did it primarily due to wild swings in cleanliness more than parameters, one minute it will be clear, the next fairly brown from rust breaking loose. I suspect those events also come with some changes in parameters as well. But I doubt that I NEEDED to do anything at all, I am just a bit OCD. Most people around here keep them in tap water with whatever comes out, and I never hear (we have a local aquarium club) anyone complaining it causes problems. Indeed, one guy had discus swimming in roughly PH 8.0, maybe a bit higher, and looked healthy and well. I really think people fixate too much on the "prefers" parameters for fish, when all the really usually need is time to adjust and a stable environment.

That said, I've had lousy luck with shrimp, period. For some people they grow and breed almost uncontrollably, but I've gone through two attempts with store bought, and two with wild caught ghost shrimp. I've tried various recommended GH/KH and it just didn't seem to matter. I now just buy my shrimp frozen.

Could it be too-low KH? Sure. But I bet it isn't. Especially with tap water, as it's almost universally kept a bit on the alkaline side. And you said 2-3 degrees, which seems reasonable anyway.

It's also possible it is something unrelated. Many areas use chloramines now not sodium hypochlorite. The latter is easy to neutralize with almost any conditioner, the former harder (Prime is reported to work well) and it also lasts longer in standing water, and goes through many carbon filters. Maybe there's something unrelated to GH/KH in your water that is bad for your inverts?

Are your inverts in a separate tank? Small tank? If so, one way to just eliminate it all is switch to RODI water for a while, mix to your liking (any specific KH/DH you just mix up) and see how it goes. You can buy distilled in a store or RODI from most LFS cheaply if it's a small tank. Not practical if it's a large one of course you would need your own system.

Or... maybe you are just like me. Cursed to have inverts die without obvious cause. In which case at least there are two of us.

Linwood

Latest tank build:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Linwood is offline  
post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 02:29 PM Thread Starter
Plant Clown
 
kevmo911's Avatar
 
PTrader: (32/100%)
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Greensboro, NC
Posts: 4,729
Just heard from a neighborhood friend who confirms they seem to have hard water. I know the NC university system does free soil testing. I'll see if they do water testing as well.
kevmo911 is offline  
post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 04:58 PM
Wannabe Guru
 
lksdrinker's Avatar
 
PTrader: (8/100%)
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: NY; LETS GO METS
Posts: 1,875
Can you run some tests from different sources within your own house? kitchen sink, bathroom sink etc? The "problem" might not be located between the plant and your house but could just be in your house.
lksdrinker is offline  
post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 08:11 PM Thread Starter
Plant Clown
 
kevmo911's Avatar
 
PTrader: (32/100%)
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Greensboro, NC
Posts: 4,729
Quote:
Originally Posted by lksdrinker View Post
Can you run some tests from different sources within your own house? kitchen sink, bathroom sink etc? The "problem" might not be located between the plant and your house but could just be in your house.
It could be inside the house, and that was why I originally suspected copper. But that doesn't explain hard water reports from other residents, unless we've all got something in common.

I got in contact with the city lab, and it turns out they come out to take and test samples at request. Unfortunately it'll be a couple weeks because their next sample day is a holiday and they only do it once a week. For 4 hours. Odd for a city of 280,000, but hey, it's free water testing, so no complaining!
kevmo911 is offline  
post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-07-2015, 07:10 PM Thread Starter
Plant Clown
 
kevmo911's Avatar
 
PTrader: (32/100%)
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Greensboro, NC
Posts: 4,729
Okay, so test 1 wasn't quite what I expected. Got my TDS meter and new GH and KH kits today. TDS showed around 100, which is slightly lower than the water report, but within a reasonable range. Surprising that it's lower, but could be the meter. I'll get some distilled water and see.

KH showed the same, in the 2-3 range.

GH was much lower than expected at 5, but still higher than the water report by a factor of about 2. Perhaps I've been under a mistaken impression for years? It still doesn't explain reports of hard water in town, but perhaps that's bogus as well? Gah.

Ph was a bit higher than expected, about 8.0, but right at the water report pH.

I'll test again in water that's been sitting for 24 hours. I expect the pH will drop a bit. Not sure what will happen, if anything, to GH, KH, or TDS.
kevmo911 is offline  
post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-07-2015, 08:34 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
Zorfox's Avatar
 
PTrader: (5/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Gainesville, FL
Posts: 2,105
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevmo911 View Post
Okay, so test 1 wasn't quite what I expected. Got my TDS meter and new GH and KH kits today. TDS showed around 100, which is slightly lower than the water report, but within a reasonable range. Surprising that it's lower, but could be the meter. I'll get some distilled water and see.

KH showed the same, in the 2-3 range.

GH was much lower than expected at 5, but still higher than the water report by a factor of about 2. Perhaps I've been under a mistaken impression for years? It still doesn't explain reports of hard water in town, but perhaps that's bogus as well? Gah.

Ph was a bit higher than expected, about 8.0, but right at the water report pH.

I'll test again in water that's been sitting for 24 hours. I expect the pH will drop a bit. Not sure what will happen, if anything, to GH, KH, or TDS.
That's a big difference. Aren't test kits wonderful? lol

I doubt there will be any appreciable change in GH, KH and TDS after letting water sit. I'm curious to hear what the water plant lab test results are.
Zorfox is offline  
post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-09-2015, 05:28 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
PlantedRich's Avatar
 
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 11,850
Without going to the report to look, I might have some questions on that. Are you seeing the "average" or is it given as high and low points as well. Depending on lots of things, the tap water may vary quite a lot. Surface water like from a lake or river is far more prone to swings than underground but even underground water has swings with changing weather.
Not enough to bother most fish as they are living with it in nature and certainly not a health hazard. Since health is the reason for the report and not fish health, the report may only give a general idea on some of the fine points like GH/KH. It doesn't effect human health so little money is spent to control it.
There are several things that could change the tap reading. A long term drought can be enough to change the underground water while a simple heavy rain can change lake water. Pine trees in the area can let lots of needles wash into the lake and suddenly the PH can drop. Water in nature changes constantly while we try to say our tank water doesn't.
Another item making water harder to figure is if it comes from different sources at different times. A company may draw from deep wells during drought but it is much cheaper to use river water in some places when it is handy.
So if the report is giving "normal" or "average" readings, don't expect it to match the current reading.
PlantedRich is online now  
post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-10-2015, 07:30 PM Thread Starter
Plant Clown
 
kevmo911's Avatar
 
PTrader: (32/100%)
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Greensboro, NC
Posts: 4,729
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
Without going to the report to look, I might have some questions on that. Are you seeing the "average" or is it given as high and low points as well. Depending on lots of things, the tap water may vary quite a lot. Surface water like from a lake or river is far more prone to swings than underground but even underground water has swings with changing weather.
Not enough to bother most fish as they are living with it in nature and certainly not a health hazard. Since health is the reason for the report and not fish health, the report may only give a general idea on some of the fine points like GH/KH. It doesn't effect human health so little money is spent to control it.
There are several things that could change the tap reading. A long term drought can be enough to change the underground water while a simple heavy rain can change lake water. Pine trees in the area can let lots of needles wash into the lake and suddenly the PH can drop. Water in nature changes constantly while we try to say our tank water doesn't.
Another item making water harder to figure is if it comes from different sources at different times. A company may draw from deep wells during drought but it is much cheaper to use river water in some places when it is handy.
So if the report is giving "normal" or "average" readings, don't expect it to match the current reading.
Well, the yearly reports give max/mins of testing, and the monthly reports give readings from the two treatment plants as well as water in/out chem levels. I don't know which one serves my neighborhood, but their output readings are very similar, and their sources are 2 lakes next to each other north of the city, and a third lake is used to supplement the second when the 2nd runs low. All three lakes are actually connected end to end, so water is very similar between them.

But you're right, parameters are fluid.

Bump: Okay, did my water tests again today. It's been 3 days since the last one, and the glass has been sitting on the windowsill since then. Results are pretty much as expected.

TDS: Went from 100 Saturday to 116 today. Slight increase probably a result of evaporation.
GH: Same, 5
KH: Pretty much the same, possibly half a degree higher at solid 3
pH: Slight drop from 8.0 to 7.8
kevmo911 is offline  
Reply

Tags
None

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the The Planted Tank Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome