A note on water quality - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 03:38 PM Thread Starter
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A note on water quality

This is not meant to give you heartburn but meant more as a headsup on being aware of what may/may not happen to your tap water.
Many places are beginning to have problems with the zebra mussel reaching crisis levels in the local lakes which may be the source of their tap water. These are an invasive species and they tend to do all kinds of things like stop up intakes and create headaches for water suppliers, so there is an increasing amount of effort given to figure what to do. One of the major problems is how easy the mussel is moved from one lake to the next by careless boaters.
I live in a smaller suburb of Austin, Texas which draws water from a different source than Austin but I do watch what happens in the Austin news. One of the local news items has been a major problem with the odors in the tap water caused by the zebra mussel. Stinking water for a few weeks is not good!
But the more recent news is far more likely to change how we deal with our tap water if we keep things in our tank which are sensitive. Things like snails and shrimp, come to mind.
So just an early heads up on what may become a problem in your tanks. Not an immediate concern, perhaps, but something to be aware of, just in case.
The Austin water supplier has been catching lots of flak from people who could not cook, drink, or bath in their water for a few weeks. Easy to imagine that they will have to do something to avoid that happening again, right? So the news is that it will take about 18 months to install "copper generation" equipment but in the meantime, they will begin treatment using Sodium Permanganate to kill the mussels.
I do not find specific info on how this will change the tap water but I might guess that neither will be good for having a stable situation in our tap water as treatment may either be intermittent or potentially harmful to items sensitive to copper.
Far more study and experience will be needed to know how it actually works out but it may be something to be aware of as it is not likely to be a major news items in your area before it is added. It hit the news here only because of the stink over bad water and other places may be more proactive to avoid both the stink in the water and the stink from customer complaints!
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 04:41 PM
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Great info on what aquarists should be aware of regarding their source (tap) water and potential changes!

I just want to add that due to seasonal changes, problematic water sources or varying water sources, water line breaks, etc. that there is always a chance that any water supplier can change what they add to disinfect at the treatment plant and the residual disinfectant level will be different at your home depending on how far you are located from their plant.

Chlorine and chloramine are 2 things we can check at home before doing a water change but I've read other posts on other forums regarding water treatment plants adding things to control corrosion in piping that can change pH or hardness.

Bump: Great info on what aquarists should be aware of regarding their source (tap) water and potential changes!

I just want to add that due to seasonal changes, problematic water sources or varying water sources, water line breaks, etc. that there is always a chance that any water supplier can change what they add to disinfect at the treatment plant and the residual disinfectant level will be different at your home depending on how far you are located from their plant.

Chlorine and chloramine are 2 things we can check at home before doing a water change but I've read other posts on other forums regarding water treatment plants adding things to control corrosion in piping that can change pH or hardness.

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 06:36 PM Thread Starter
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The chlorine and chloramine question is not one that bothers me so much as it is more carefully adjusted and limited. It's been a while since I was directly involved and the specs are things I no longer keep track of, so that part is prone to change but at one point the highest level was 10 PPM and the lowest 3 PPM residual. So that makes us pretty sure that the person closest will never get more than the 10PPM and the one furthest out on the end of the line should never get less than 3 PPM since readings are taken at lots of different points to allow for the differing time and distance. Reason for it not to bother me on those varied levels is that the dechlor products, like Prime, are designed to work over a wide range of levels and still be safe. It is certain that not all cases are covered as you mention. Breaks in the line and emergency situations are meant to be covered by required boil water orders, etc. but that can also fall short if the wrong people are in the wrong job like the Flint, Michigan situation.
On chlorine treatment, I feel safe enough but then when I begin to think of the deeper issues with varied PH/GH/KH, I feel less confident. But then, those are less apt to do quick damage and the situation may give us time to react to any change---if we stay alert.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 07:47 PM
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I have to [also] wonder how killing a zillion zebra mussels is going to affect the water quality - not only the chemical(s) involved, but the decaying organics as well.

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 08:00 PM
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Copper is commonly used in home water pipes. Corrosion of copper pipes will increase copper levels in tap water even if the utility is using a water source with no copper in it. I tested my tap water and found I have 50 PPB of copper in it. The US government has placed an upper limit on copper levels in tap water. it is 1.1ppm. Above this level the utility has to take action to reduce copper levels. Utilities don't have to do anything if copper levels are under the limit.

Many fertilizers are very tow or have no copper since tap typically has some. But if you are using RO or distilled water you may have to add additional copper to get good plant growth.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 08:27 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
I have to [also] wonder how killing a zillion zebra mussels is going to affect the water quality - not only the chemical(s) involved, but the decaying organics as well.
This part may not change all that much when we consider we are all downstream from somebody! In the case of the Austin, Tx supply, the runoff comes from ranch land and that makes the "organics" from a few thousand head of cattle in the supply! In the case of other places, we can look at Memphis as being downstream from St. Louis which is downstream from Kansas City, so organics are a pretty normal thing for the suppliers to deal with in treatment.
In fact, I don't know what the treatment is meant to do with the snails, whether it is meant to kill them, reduce the spread, or something else. Perhaps it works more like a neuter and spay project?
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