Hard Water May Also Change The Taste Of Water Especially For Brewing Tea And Coffee: Frequently Asked Questions

hard water problemsWater Quality Tap Water.

The water that we drink in Gauteng comes from the upper Vaal River catchment which includes parts of Mpumalanga and the Free State Provinces.

There are two projects that involve the inter basin transfer of water regarding our water that we drink in Gauteng. The interbasin transfer of water means that water is transferred from one river catchment to another using pipes and pumps. This is where it starts getting really entertaining. The Vaal is the main river in the catchment and into the Driel Barrage further downstream. This power station, known as the Drakensberg Pumped Storage Scheme, is managed by Eskom and electricity that is produced here goes fed into the national electricity grid. Where So it’s stored, when the Driekloof Dam is full water flows over a weir and into the Sterkfontein Dam. Essentially, water from the Kilburn Dam is hereafter pumped underground, over the Drakensberg, and into the Driekloof Dam. Notice that at peak periods when electricity is need, water is dropped from the Driekloof Dam, through the underground hydroelectric turbines, and into the Kilburn Dam. This section of the scheme is used to generate electricity as a hydroelectric power station had been built within the mountains of the Drakensberg. Driel Barrage into a canal which hereafter flows via gravity into the Kilburn Dam. Also, the Sterkfontein Dam has a surface area of 67 square kilometres, an average depth of 93 metres, and a total storage capacity of 262 billion cubic metres. In quiet periods the water is pumped back from the Kilburn Dam and into the Driekloof Dam.

hard water problems Water is released from the Sterkfontein Dam into the Nuwejaarspruit River, that flows into the Wilge River and into the Vaal Dam, when water is needed in the Vaal River system.

With underground pipelines feeding into the existing dams, phase 2 includes the building of a further 3 dams in Lesotho. Taung Dam and the Lebelo Dam. Mielietuin Dam on the Bushman’s River and Jana Dam on the Thukela River which will have 121 pipelines km that feed into the existing scheme, as part of the future plans for water management in South Africa the building of two further dams are planned for the scheme. The water from the Muela Dam therefore travels along a 3327 kilometre long underground pipe and finally flows into the Ash River, near Clarens in South Africa. Loads of info can be found easily on the internet. The Ash River so flows into the Saulspoort Dam. Phase 1A of this project was completed in Phase 1B saw the building of the Mohale Dam as well as an underground transfer tunnel that leads into the Katse Dam. Fact, here the water moves straight through the underground hydroelectric turbines to produce electricity for Lesotho. Plans for the Polihali Dam are underway with construction starting in 2011 and completion in 2019, at an estimated cost of R73 billion. Thereafter the water flows into the Liebenbergsvlei River, the Wilge River and after all into the Vaal Dam.

As it carries along many substances from one place to another, water is a transport medium just like a train.

Let me ask you something. How is tap water cleaned? This cleaning process is called water purification. Remember, there’s silt and minerals from the land. It is for this reason that the dirty water needs to be cleaned before Undoubtedly it’s supplied to taps. The local authorities supply this water to individual homes, businesses and schools in Gauteng and parts of Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North West and Free State Provinces. This is the case. When loads of these H2Os join together they form water. By the time water enters the dams it has many ‘passengers’, both good and bad to humans. You should take this seriously. Water is the train that moves along the tracks and the ‘passengers’ are these substances that get on and off the train. Water is made up of 2 hydrogen atoms and 1 oxygen atom. That’s right! Rand Water is the company that cleans the dirty water and after all distributes it to mines, industries and local authorities. Although, loads of substances dissolve in the water, eg, when water falls on the earth’s surface from the clouds. Therefore, there’re germs that may cause people to get sick if they enter the human body.

Rand Water draws raw water for purification from the Vaal Dam from the Vaal Dam via an intake tower. The raw water is transported through canals and pipelines to Rand Water’s purification stations in Vereeniging, where So it’s cleaned. With that said, this raw water contains some ‘passengers’ that can make it unsafe to drink. The raw water enters the middle of a spiral flocculator where slaked lime is added. This is thoroughly mixed in the rapidly moving water. The slaked lime attracts sand, silt and clay particles, some small living organisms, germs and all the ‘bad guys’ to form ‘clumps’.

The water flows slowly into large sedimentation tanks.

The water in the top part of the tank is now cleaner. It flows over the side of the sedimentation tank into the carbonation tank. Ok, and now one of the most important parts. From the slaked lime that was added, when water leaves the sedimentation tank it has a pH of about 105. At this pH level calcium carbonate is deposited in the distribution. Just think for a moment. This protects them from rusting. Anyways, that’s called sedimentation. Needless to say, the ‘floc’ therefore settles to the bottom of the tank to form ‘sludge’. The ‘sludge’ is sucked up by desludging bridges and sent to a sludge deposit site. The pH of the water is now between 0 and This makes the water taste and feel a lot better. I’m sure you heard about this. In order to make the water less alkaline, carbon dioxide is bubbled through the water. This high pH makes the water feel and taste soapy.

It still contains some small living organisms and germs, the pH of the water has now been corrected through carbonation. It flows into closed filter houses where it passes through sand filters. This clean water is pumped through underground pipes to booster pumping stations. As the water flows slowly through these filters all the small living organisms and it’s necessary to add chloramine to prevent any other germs, that may get into the water, from growing or multiplying. From the booster pumping stations the water is pumped into reservoirs. These are big, flat beds made up of different sized particles of sand stone. Rand Water consequently sells it to various local authorities that supply homes, schools, businesses and factories with clean water. Of course the water now enters underground pipes.

Where there’s a concern about the quality of drinking water in an emergency situation that can’t be addressed through central services, hereafter the appropriateness of household treatment going to be evaluated including for sake of example.

Implementation of emergency procedures may reduce numbers of pathogens to levels at which the risk of waterborne disease is largely controlled. Emergency decontamination processes may not always accomplish the extent of disinfection recommended under optimal conditions, particularly with regard to resistant pathogens.

Heavy metals are pollutants that can enter the drinking water system when they seep through soils into groundwater. Arsenic, cadmium and lead are just a few of the heavy metals in the environment at unsafe levels. Besides, while heating the sample to convert to a particulate emission and identifying every metal and its weight, The complicated analysis requires preserving the sample with acid. On top of that, extrapolations are made to determine any metal concentration in every water sample taken. Atomic spectrometry converts every metal in the water sample to a particulate emission that can hereafter be weighed. For instance, heavy metal pollution is usually the result of untreated mine waste but can also result from other industrial processes including the manufacturing and use of pesticides and fertilisers.

The result is an accurate picture of what really is in the water.

Water in these areas may have high metal concentrations because of the combination of naturally occurring deposits and mine waste. Usually, mine operations extract and process these metals in areas with the highest concentrations. Have you heard of something like that before, am I correct? Water samples are usually taken randomly within a contaminated area and offsite to identify the source of contamination and the pathway it travels, into the drinkable groundwater system or away from potable water sources. Then again, high heavy metals concentrations can be naturally occurring. Accurate determination of heavy metal contamination is important to identify cumulative risks to people drinking water derived from these areas. Every geologic formation contains a certain percentage of heavy metal.

Heavy metal water contamination is a difficult expensive problem to address. Besides, an alternative source of drinking water must be used to prevent harmful health effects, until the water is treated to meet standards protective of human health and the environment, So if groundwater is contaminated with heavy metals. Associated operation and maintenance systems are very expensive, as long as large volumes of water must be pumped and treated over long time periods. Generally, most cleanup activities use a pump and treat system where contaminated groundwater is pumped out of the ground, treated with activated carbon to remove contaminants and later replaced into the groundwater system. Whenever decreasing costs, There are some new technologies being developed that actually treat the water in the ground which operate more efficiently and quickly.

Stand a glass of the water on a surface and watch it closely.

There may an excess of some mineral type or chemical in the water, Therefore if the water clears from the top down and a whitish substance settles out on the bottom of the glass. This is much like when you open a fizzy cooldrink! Nonetheless, So it’s caused by very small bubbles of air, I’d say in case the whitish colour clears from the bottom up. This is a totally harmless phenomenon. Consequently, stand a glass of the water on a surface and observe it closely. The air is usually dissolved in the water under high pressure but when you open the tap, the pressure is released and the air bubbles to the surface.

The pipes leading to your home or the pipes in your home can be rusting. The rust collects in the pipes when water isn’t being used and is hereafter flushed out when you open the tap. Eventually, your geyser may also be rusting. Basically, rust is basically iron oxide, a reddish light brown substance formed when iron metal is exposed to water and air. There’s some more information about it on this website. Iron oxide can stain laundry and impart a metallic taste to the water, apart from causing discoloration of the water.

Iron should be dissolved in the water.

They are picked up as river water flows over leaves and roots of plants. Iron is an essential nutrient for the human body and shouldn’t cause health problems at the concentrations normally found in drinking water supplies. It turns a reddish brownish colour, when it’s exposed to air as you open the tap. Whenever staining of laundry and a metallic taste, The main effects of elevated iron concentrations are discolouration of the water. Certainly, these come from decomposing plant matter. Your water may contain harmless light brown substances called humic compounds. Now pay attention please. This phenomenon is prevalent in the Eastern and Western Cape areas where humic substances come from the fynbos vegetation.

Sometimes microorganisms grow around the particles of soil and these microorganisms may pose a health threat. Chlorine is added to drinking water as a disinfectant to kill microorganisms, particularly those that could cause waterborne diseases.

It can react with other substances in the water to form disinfection byproducts, when chlorine is used for disinfection.

Animal research involving high levels of DBPs found increased formation of cancer, however the explanation to so that’s not known. It is chlorine was used as a disinfectant since the late nineteenth century and has virtually wiped out instances of waterborne diseases like typhoid fever, cholera and dysentery in those areas where So it’s used. Research into the relationship between DBPs, cancer and similar health risks is ongoing.

The risks of epidemics of waterborne diseases in the absence of chlorinaton far outweigh the risks associated with the possible cancer causing effects of chlorination ‘byproducts’. An earthy or musty taste or odour is usually caused by a harmless substance called geosmin. Anyway, algae in rivers and dams produce this at certain times of the year, usually during summer months. Obviously everything possible will be done to minimise both risks. So, it does have a strong smell that the human nose is very sensitive to, the substance is harmless. On top of this, you could detect 1 geosmin teaspoonful in 200 Olympic sized swimming pools!

These organisms can be present in certain rivers and dams and some can be found in some water supply pipes where they can cause corrosion of the inside surface of the pipe. The smell is probably because of a gas called hydrogen sulphide. The human nose can detect very low levels of this gas. Inform your local authority or water provider immediately. Most often a faint smell of rotten eggs does not indicate levels that should be harmful. Close the tap and evacuate the room, So if you notice a sudden strong smell of rotten eggs in your drinking water. That’s interesting right, am I correct? High levels of this gas is toxic and shouldn’t be inhaled. Go outside and breathe in a lot of fresh air.

These minerals occur naturally and come from the rocks, soils and vegetation that water flows over or through. If your intake is it’s purified. That said, if you consume gonna be consumed in the correct amounts. The levels of minerals in drinking water varies from area to area. Shouldn’t be harmful. Minerals are important for maintaining a healthy body.

The hardness of water refers to the sum of the concentrations of two harmless minerals.


Can cause other problems, hard water is healthy to drink as long as it provides high levels of minerals. It’s a well hard water may also change the taste of water, especially for brewing tea and coffee. Furthermore, it can also form scale deposits in pipes and hot water appliances like kettles. It forms scums and is difficult to lather making washing difficult. The hardness of drinking water around South Africa varies relying upon the rocks and soils of this location that the water comes from, and the treatment process used by the water provider. The greater the concentration of these minerals, the harder the water.

Definitely not for anything else, soft water is great for laundry. Steam irons, and auto batteries. If you are contemplating installing a softener. Water with less than 100 mg/l CaCO3 is generally labeled soft. Now regarding the aforementioned fact… Who will test the effectiveness of the softener, how often will these tests be run; and how will your drinking water quality be affected, There are serious questions it’s a good idea to ask. Most South African water providers quote water hardness as mg/lCaCOWater with a degree of calcium carbonate similar to calcium and magnesium that are dissolved in your drinking water tend to settle out when water is heated and evaporates.

The fluoridation of drinking water is still a hotly debated topic in South Africa. No, not yet. These minerals are whitish and accumulate in hot water devices just like kettles, steam irons and showerheads. Indeed this debate had been raging around the globe since the 1950′ Fluoride is currently added to certain drinking water supplies in the UK, US and Canada as a costeffective way to prevent dental cavities. For example, this practice had been rejected in 13 European Union countries.

Some water supply organisations and directorates of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry in South Africa have expressed caution about the concept as Surely it’s difficult to control fluoride levels when interbasin transfer schemes are involved, and because of the unknown medical and environmental impact. Fluoridation is also fiercely opposed by long period consumption of water borne fluoride may prevent the development of osteoporosis. As a result, the Department of Agriculture is similarly opposed to fluoridation due to possible effects on crop growth.

It is obviously impossible to give one definitive answer for a country as large as South Africa and with so many different sources of drinking water and treatment processes.

The water supplies of dozens of the large towns and cities in South Africa do meet these specifications, and I know it’s usually only the smaller water supply systems that have problems in this regard. It can pose the threat of disease being that the presence of pathogenic organisms in the water. There’re chemical substances that are naturally dissolved in water normally occur at concentrations that are very low and therefore shouldn’t pose a health threat. Which are in line with World Health Organisation standards the water gonna be safe, So in case the water supply meets the latest outh African Bureau of Standards specifications for drinking water quality. Notice, it can hold a risk of chemicalrelated illnesses being that the presence of dissolved substance in the water. Water can basically be harmful in two ways.

In a properly managed drinking water system, disease causing organisms shouldn’t be present in your drinking water. There are many diseases caused by waterborne germs. To ensure that drinking water quality specifications are met, a final disinfection step is used in which chlorine and akin disinfectants similar to ozone or ‘ultraviolet’ light are used to destroy any remaining germs. Monitoring occurs anyway stages of the water purification and supply to ensure that the levels of these germs do not occur at high enough levels to cause disease. Known these include, amongst others, cholera, typhoid fever, infectious hepatitis, dysentery, diarrhoea, gastro enteritis, cryptosporidiosis, giardiasis, and bilharzia. Then, these conditions can be very serious. Most germs should’ve been destroyed throughout the disinfection stage of water purification however a few are difficult to destroy using conventional treatment.

This is a personal decision.

You only need to consider buying a home treatment system are if you have a medical condition that makes you sensitive to components in drinking water or if taste is very important to you. In fact if the devices are not properly maintained, they can actually promote water quality and health problems. Now look. There are many kinds of home types treatment systems available. Normally, every type is designed to remove specific substances from water. Home treatment devices are not needed to make the water safe if it meets drinking water specifications. You may also seek for to use one as an alternative to using an unregulated water supply similar to a borehole or rain tank. Oftentimes some are jug filters and some are in line or point of use devices. It is crucial that you select the right system for your needs, and that you correctly maintain the system to avoid health risks just like bacterial buildup.

Particulate filters remove turbidity, colour, particles, specific inorganic compounds and kind of activated carbon which absorb tastes and odours. By removing chlorine from the water, however the growth of bacteria might be encouraged.

Reverse osmosis units will remove to varying degrees dissolved inorganics like sodium, calcium, nitrates and flouride.

There are a couple of drawbacks to reverse osmosis systems. It isn’t healthy to drink water that is should only be used for washing. Of course, organic contaminants similar to pesticides and solvents are also removed. Additionally for every one water volume produced by the system, three volumes are wasted as reject water. Now please pay attention. They do remove nitrates and soften water by removing calcium and magnesium in addition to mercury and iron, ion exchange units do not purify water really.

Distillation units remove some organic and inorganic substances. There is currently no controlling body that regulates home treatment devices in South Africa. Distilled water has a flat taste and is missing lots of the minerals that are found in regular drinking water. You should take it into account. Some salespersons use dramatic visual demonstrations and make claims that are totally incorrect and unfounded. Some organic chemicals pass through the unit with the steam and contaminate the distilled water. Some home treatment device companies use aggressive scare tactics to market their products. Let me tell you something. These minerals should be beneficial for your health.

By frequent contact with drinking water itself, irritations of the skin are rarely caused by chemicals in the water.

Over washing or repeated contact and immersion in water can cause the skin to become chapped as it loses its natural oils and lipids. The loss of the skin’s natural oils and lipids makes it more vulnerable to minor irritants that will not usually irritate a normal skin. Accordingly the lower legs, thighs and back are often also affected, the hands are often the first to be affected. This when scratched causes more inflammation setting up a vicious cycle. Keep reading. Whenever weeping and oozing may result which should be complicated by secondary infection, In severe cases. Therefore this may progress to severe itching, at first you may only be aware of a dry chapped sensation. Now let me tell you something. Like parchment paper, the skin would look dry and scaly, with a rough texture and sometimes with dark red areas. You see, this can lead to a lot of skin problems. Sounds familiar, right? The skin may thence develop inflammation called dermatitis or eczema which causes itching.

In urban areas where So there’s a regulated water supply system, the answer is no. You therefore put yourself at risk of a potential waterborne disease by consuming bottled water that should be contaminated. Bottled water is only disinfected at source and does not contain a long lasting disinfectant. Microorganisms are free to grow and multiply in the water once it leaves the source, without residual disinfectant present. You do not need to drink bottled water for health reasons. If you are on a very restrictive sodium diet, your doctor may prescribe a certain bottled water has a lower sodium content than your tap water. Bottled water, like any water is prone to contamination by disease causing microorganisms if So it’s not properly disinfected. A well-known fact that is. The only reasons you’d better choose bottled water is if you prefer the taste, or if you have a medical condition for which your doctor has prescribed a specific bottled water. Actually, it had been shown that microorganisms grow in the bottles after bottling and while they stand on shop shelves.

There most probably is chlorine in your drinking water, if you have a piped supply of water from a regulated water provider. And therefore the residual chlorine levels at your home will be in the range of 2 and 5 chlorine milligrams per litre, no specifications was set for chlorine levels in South African drinking water. Seriously. And so it’s currently the most commonly used disinfectant in water treatment processes worldwide. In South Africa enough chlorine is added to drinking water to ensure that the disinfectant effect lasts right up to your tap. Make sure you drop suggestions about it in the comment section. This practice helps prevent any growth of microorganisms in the network of pipes and reservoirs between the treatment plant and your home. It kills the microorganisms that are present in the water. Chlorine is used as a disinfectant since the late nineteenth century and has virtually wiped out instances of waterborne diseases like typhoid fever, cholera and dysentery in those areas where And so it’s used.

Unusually high levels of chlorine can cause a disinfectant type taste and odour.

Chlorine can also react with other substances in the water to form disinfection ‘byproducts’. Theses are slender elongated cylindrical organisms that are pink to deep light red in colour. The adult midge resembles small mosquitoes and lay eggs in water which later hatch into the larvae. Research into the relationship between DBPs, cancer and identical health risks is ongoing. The larvae so pupate and emerge as adults from the water. These organisms are commonly known as blood worms. Chironimid larvae. Animal research involving high levels of DBPs found increased formation of cancer, however the key reason for it is not known. They are the larval stage of the midge insect.

Absolutely. South Africa is an exception to many parts of the world, where drinking water would never be wasted on plants. There might be no negative effects on plants, on the contrary they should’ve been very healthy if all their other needs like nutrients, drainage, light, temperature, pest and disease control are taken care of. In certain countries, there’s a separate system for drinking water and water for other uses like washing and gardening. Water that had been treated to a standard fit for human consumption, Surely it’s more than adequately safe to use for plants.

Water your garden and plants with tap water and watch them flourish.

Aesthetics and economics, in order to determine whether municipal water is better than municipal water you have to consider facts of health. You’d better not waste it, remember that water is a scarce resource in outh Africa. You need to investigate which supply type best suits your needs, situation and the use to which you look for to put the water. Whenever grouping plants in line with their water needs, watering in the cool of the day, using a watering can where possible, mulching and container gardening, Practice Water Wise gardening methods similar to selecting indigenous plants with ebb tide requirements.

Groundwater is water that occurs underground in certain layers of rock. There is a regular perception that groundwater is pure and not affected by pollution or contamination. Most of us know that there are many different kinds of wells types and boreholes of varying depths and dug by different methods. In many instances in South Africa so it is true and groundwater meets SABS drinking water specifications. Groundwater quality varies greatly from area to area and just like surface water is affected by the activities in the location as water pollutants and contaminants can move from the surface into the ground and reach the groundwater. Groundwater is abstracted from waterbearing or ‘watersaturated’ layers of rock via boreholes and wells. Water enters wells by flowing upwards from the bottom of the well. Boreholes are smaller and deeper hereafter wells. Water enters boreholes by flowing sideways through the holes of a perforated steel shaft.

Groundwater and surface water may both be polluted in different ways.

You are responsible for maintaining your borehole system, and for monitoring the groundwater quality. Surface waters can be contaminated by municipal sewage, industrial discharge and transportation accidents and rainfall runoff. Not in very high quantities, it can contain many different pollutants. While pollution levels in groundwater change very slowly, the degree of pollution in surface waters can change rapidly. Groundwater, likewise, may contain pollutants similar to arsenic, nitrates, radioactive materials, and high amounts of a few organic chemicals like cleaning fluid. You also need to ensure that the water isn’t contaminated after That’s a fact, it’s abstracted from the ground, for example in reservoirs or storage tanks.

It is however highly unlikely that there is an overall deterioration of drinking water quality. Legislation requires water providers and local authorities involved in drinking water supply to adhere to specifications set by the South African Bureau of Standards. The SABS specifications are based in international guidelines for drinking water quality. Ongoing research and improvements in water treatment technology ‘worldwide’ results in continually improving processes and monitoring systems. While drinking water quality has actually improved in many parts of South Africa, Contrary to the pervasive belief amongst certain urban populations.

Study these facts to determine if there has really been a deterioration in water quality.

You must bring this to the attention of local authority or water provider if they don’t already know, if there had been a deterioration. Some chemicals in water are added during purification to make it suitable for drinking. These may occur naturally, or might be due to pollution. The chemical content of water refers to type an extent of dissolved substances just like minerals, gases, metal salts, chemicals and organic compounds that might be present in water. Apply pressure to ensure that steps are taken to improve water quality or at least stop any further decline. There’re routine tests used to evaluate the levels of important compounds in drinking water. These steps may include improved protection of source waters, changes in the treatment process, improved monitoring and the protection and maintenance of the distribution system.

The microbiological content refers to the type and number of microorganisms present in the water. Albeit certain chemicals are necessary in order to make the water drinkable, the aim ain’t to load the water with additional substances. It is influenced by the rocks, soils, vegetation and the human activities taking place in the catchment. If there are present it indicates that the water should be contaminated by human or animal wastes. Water quality is so also affected by the treatment process used to purify it for drinking. It is important to understand that water purification aims to remove harmful or offensive substances form the water to make it safe and pleasant to drink in a cost effective way. These microorganisms should be algae, fungi, bacteria, viruses, protozoa and worm or insect larvae. Water is tested for the presence of faecal coliforms or coli, that are bacteria present in the digestive systems of humans and animals. This will vary from area to area. Water quality is first determined by the catchment or water basin that the rivers and dams are situated in.

Legislation in South Africa requires that all water providers and local authorities ensure that drinking water complies with SABS specifications for drinking water, that are depending on international guidelines.

The chemical and microbiological content of drinking water is routinely monitored. Ask your local authority or your local water provider for results of chemical and microbiological analyses performed on the drinking water in your area. Ask for an interpretation of the results so that you can learn the data.


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