Debris in tap water... help needed

wrote:

I live in Ireland, so those regs don't apply to my situation. But it seems increasingly likely to me that this sediment is being carried through my supply pipe from the watermain on the road. The supply on my street is pressurised from both sides, and we are on the low end of a sloping street, which I am told could lead to a buildup of gunk over time from the corroding cast iron mains in the area. The pressure seems to be low enough in the area to lead to such a condition.
There was a definite improvement in water clarity and colour when I asked the local council to flush the mains two years ago, but it didn't last. I suspect we would not have this issue if the mains were internally relined with plastic interiors, or if it flowed in only one direction. Anyway, I could be wrong, and the problem could be mostly on my side, but it would have to be a really obscure issue at this point. I will have to have an experienced plumber have a look.
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On Tue, 23 Jun 2009 16:05:56 -0700 (PDT), None wrote:

Presumably Ireland has similar regulations on water supplies?
--
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Dave.




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wrote:

Well I was told that as long as the water test passed regs for coliforms etc, then I had no comeback on the matter. If the side passage tap/washing machine ran while the person took a sample of the kitchen sink and it came back dodgy, they would say that it was a plumbing issue on my side.
Having run the SP tap last night by itself into a glass, I found a lot of gunk in there. So this is another curveball; the problem could be linked to this tap and how it has been plumbed in.
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On Wed, 24 Jun 2009 03:40:15 -0700 (PDT), None wrote:

Thast the quality side. There are regs in the UK that determine minimums for flow and pressure. Your quoted 1.5bar is close the UK minimum pressure.
--
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Dave.




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I did not know about minimum flow rate. Can you give me a pointer to it please?
As for pressure, I think "close" is a matter of judgment. As you pointed out earlier, the suppliers aim not to let the pressure drop below 1.0 but the statutory minimum is 0.7 bar. And that's in the "communication pipe" not at the customer's tap(s). In this bit of London we've not had 1.5 bar for a long time now.
--
R



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Dave Liquorice wrote:

Hi Dave, we have been through a cycle of questions in the past that have not given a permanent solution.
None, I really do think that you are on a balance point in the distribution system that causes your problems. Also, did we resolve whether the distribution system is cast iron, (oh, forget that, I've just read your answer to Dave). I can recall that there were v low chlorine levels that can be a symptom of being on a balance point which can result not only in increased iron release in CI systems but microbial growth.
Your response to Dave just reinforces the view that I offered previously.
Is Stillorgan covered yet? I've not tried Googling whether it has been. This is important in that if it is not then additional food can be added to the system.
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I have no idea if Stillorgan's reservoir has been covered, but we're not serviced from there, rather a large reservoir in Wicklow called Vartry. Apparently this supply does not utilise the more modern filtration processes, it is merely sand filtered and chlorinated and that's it. I was told this leads to the natural colour in the water and so forth, but even that dissipated when the council flushed out our watermain.
What I just don't understand though is why there is SO MUCH particle debris when two or more taps are opened off the mains. If only one tap is opened, like I said, you see nothing in there if the tap is not opened to the maximum. If the one tap is opened fully though, you will probably see a few specks, but nothing that would put me off drinking it (I'm just so used to it by now).
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None wrote:

Vartry is the raw water resrvoir(s) that feeds the waterworks. From recollection, this has accelerators, sedimentation tanks and filter beds and chlorination. When I visited (early 1990s), the plant was what I would deem at that time to be a conventional plant. The aspect that surprised and concerned me was that the water is then directed to Stillorgan Service Reservoir (which was still not covered a couple of years ago), although there were plans in place to do so.
http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Vartry_Reservoir#encyclopedia
Whilst this can allow the ingress of "food" as I termed it, any significant failure of the Service Reservoir would have major repercussions for most of greater Dublin.

What is restricting the flow from the main in the street and your service pipe? When you have just one tap full open, it is possible (likely) that the demand being imposed on the supply is less than when you have two taps full open because the taps themselves are the restriction to the flow from the main. Having two taps full open then draws sediment from the main.
You mentioned that having the Water Dept. flush the main a couple of years ago improved the situation dramatically. This suggests that the problem is in the distribution system rather than just your service pipe.
Do I recall correctly that the main (which is fed two ways) is Cast Iron (CI)? Does the Water Dept. have any long term plans to reline/ replace the main? Do you ever have problems with rust stains from clothes in the washing machine?
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Clot wrote:

Sorry, I did not express myself well there at the last paragraph. Is most of the mains system in your locality still CI without lining?.
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Interesting about Vartry. Here is a link to how we are zoned in my area of the county: http://www.dlrcoco.ie/env/Updated/watertest.htm
I live in 'Watsons' in Zone 6, fed direct from Vartry in Roundwood (via a small plant several miles down the road, the name escapes me right now). Zone 1 is serviced from the Stillorgan reservoir, and incorporates treated water from both Roundwood and Ballymore Eustace. I have an apartment in the Dun Laoghaire area which is most likely serviced from here. The water is completely fine there, though not bereft of colour. No sediment however.

By restricting the flow, I can only think of the pavement stopcock, maybe I should close it a bit as it might be unsuitably pressurised relative to what it should be? That seems silly though. When the side passage tap is on at full, a lot of sediment shows up. Whereas if the kitchen tap is on full, you'll only see a couple of tiny particles in a glass. To respond to Dave's last post, the pressure seems about the same as most other suburban dwellings I have seen in Dublin, some I have seen have lower pressure. I was in London the other week and noticed the pressure in the house I was staying was probably equal or less than what I have here.

That is the other thing of course, the water was ever so noticeably improved on that occasion. Then we had them do it a couple more times in the weeks after, and the effect wasn't anywhere as good. They must have done it to a lesser degree, or even botched it up. The head engineer at the CC told me to wait a few months and 'let it setttle' which I agreed to, and if it did not improve, to get in touch again. I've not called for 18 months, as I really need some sort of proof that the problem is on their side, and my neighbours are not much help as they say they think the water is 'fine'. Proof is proving difficult.
The main is definitely CI, and there are no plans to reline it. Though there is a big undertaking elsewhere in the city, with a lot of the larger and older mains supplying bigger roads being relined/replaced: http://www.watermainsrehab.com/index.php?page=whats-being-done
That site tells you progress to date etc.
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None wrote:

a snip

Do you mean a service reservoir - you probably do. This would be an opportunity for the chlorine level to be boosted.
Zone 1 is serviced from the Stillorgan reservoir, and

Interesting. I note that Zone 6 seems to be the zone suffering from the greatest number of total coliform failures during the summer. This is indicative of low chlorine residuals that can allow microbial growth in the system.

It would reduce the flowrate from the main into your house, though this in itself might be unsatisfactory!
When the side

Whilst you open up either tap to full flow, the flow through the side passage tap could be greater than in the kitchen resulting in greater residue being disturbed.
Another snip..

from your second link, I note that there are plans in place for some relining of CI pipes. Any pipes along the system which are to be improved (if they deliver water to you) will improve the chlorine residual and reduce the extent of microbial growth. When I was involved in distribution systems in the UK many years ago, unlined CI pipes were the source of most complaints from consumers and we had a programme in place to reline which was bringing better quality to consumers.
Do you ever have problems with rust stains from

Does this happen? In the UK, any such damage to clothing had to be compensated by the supplier. Another incentive to reline!

A snip

This is logical. Generally, it gives the greatest result for the money spent. Also, some of the smaller mains might not need relining as a result.

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I think you're correct about the chlorine boosting faculty for the service reservoir. Though we have basically none left by the time it gets to us! This doesn't really bother me anymore though, in my other place the chlorine might be slightly higher, but there's probably not much difference.
We don't have rust stains on our clothes ever, no. The iron content in the water is low, but the problem seems to be one of iron bacteria (dark brown) from the CI mains pipe walls themselves which makes our water a bit slimy and leaves clumps in the toilet cistern, dirties the washing machine drawer, and deposits on the bottom of our attic tank. You can always see some colour in the water when it is filled up in a basin for instance as yellow. Yet our clothes come out pretty well, though all our towels can get that sour smell very quickly.

We are way below all of these proposed zones and completed zones though, so we will not see any benefit. I suspect that the supply around my area is considered very good, I'm told complaints are very low, but there are some dodgy ways in which certain roads, like mine, are fed. One way for me to find this out would be if they air jetted my road's water main and if the sediment was no longer there for even a few days, it would prove the problem is not on my side of the fence. I will first have to get someone around to have a look though, as I'm no expert.
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None wrote:

The residual chlorine level should bother you. Having some free chlorine in the system helps suppress the microbial growth in the main, (as mentioned above).

Air jetting the main would definitely help; though for how long is questionable. If I recall correctly, on one persistent problematic main, the success was measured in terms of months.
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Well, what I mean when I say it doesn't bother me is that there is nothing that I can do about it, so I can't let it bother me. Unless an air jetting managed to clear enough gunk in the main to allow some free chlorine to once again be present in the pipe. I just wish I knew for sure if it was my problem or the council's. It seems that unless the neighbours were to back me, which they probably would not, I'm out on a limb telling the council that our supply is shit... I don't think any plumber is going to know what to make of this either. It's probably a case of such localised water distribution negligence that its practically unheard of in a city such as Dublin. Which makes finding someone here who can suss it out for sure a real chore.
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None wrote:

I'm sorry that I don't think that I can be more constructive in this situation. I do think that you should keep bashing away at the Water Dept. The greater the number of complaints there are within a given distribution zone, the greater chance there is that your zone creeps up the priority list. There is probably an annual review of where capital expenditure will be committed and one of the criteria is the number of complaints within the zone. Getting neighbours on board will certainly be a help in this, though I appreciate that you have not seemed to have had much success in this aspect to date.
Best of luck.
Clot
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On Mon, 22 Jun 2009 15:25:53 -0700 (PDT), None wrote:

"Wash their hands".... ho ho. B-)
Were the sample(s) tested taken as "clean" or "dirty" examples? IMHO they ought to have tested worse case ie from the kitchen tap when other taps are in use.
--
Cheers
Dave.




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None wrote:

You really need to do this to rule out problems your side, until you do this, it will be hard to press the water company to resolve it, as you are not 100% sure the problem is theirs...
Do do you have a main stop tap inside your house that turns everything off? If so, it is reasonably easy to turn this off, disconnect the output pipe from this (the one that connects to the rest of your plumbing in the house, usually out the top) and then connect a hose to this to see if you still get crap from this point.
if it is a 15mm pipe, then a 1/2" hoselock type tap connector should just screw on the top, if it is 22mm then it is usually 3/4" (In this link, you will need to use the supplied white adaptor ring for a 15mm cock, and remove the ring for a 22mm cock) http://www.easywatering.co.uk/acatalog/hozelock_tap_connector_2175.html
Keep the length of hose to the absolute minimum (Maybe just a meter, and direct the flow into a/several clean bucket(s)) then see what you get from here.
When you disconnect your house plumbing, you will get water draining, so if you turn off your water first, then turn on the lowest tap, then flush the toilet to activate the ball valve in the loft tank, then open any other mains water taps you have, this should drain most of it first, but there may still be several litres of water in there, so have a bucket ready. (You can easily stop the flow with your finger, as it will not be under mains pressure any more)
Toby...
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None wrote:

Someone at work related a funny story about similar bits in her water supply, except they were green ...
Turned out to be ladybird eggs, their loft had a major infestation of the critters ...
--
Adrian C

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