Bacterial Water Contamination in Sacramento: How To Spot It and Solve It

Bacteria can be found everywhere, and in most cases are generally harmless for humans to come in contact with. However, there are certain bacteria that can be cause for concern, especially when those bacteria make their way into water systems.

Some forms of water-borne bacteria can be problematic, causing mild stomach upset or indigestion, while others can be serious, and may even require medical attention or treatment. We’ll look at what bacteria commonly appear in water supplies, where they come from, how you can tell if your water might be affected, and what you can do about it.

Water Bacteria: Common Culprits and Causes

bacteria in water

E.coli is common contaminant found in food and water

While water bacteria is most often an issue affecting those who use well water, it’s not uncommon for municipal supplies to experience occasional issues with bacteria. Bacterial contamination can be an issue especially during periods of heavy rain or runoff which often impacts reservoirs and existing water treatment infrastructure.

Total Coliform – Coliform are a naturally-occurring and usually benign bacteria very common in the environment. While not always an indication of a problem in your water in themselves, they can signal that other types of coliforms, like fecal coliforms, could be in the supply. Read more below.

Fecal Coliform - As its name might suggest, fecal coliform indicates water has been contaminated by human or animal waste, commonly as a result of heavy runoff near agricultural areas. Fecal coliform contamination can cause stomach issues when ingested, ranging from mild upset for young and healthy people to more severe symptoms for children, expecting mothers, the elderly, and those who may already be immunocompromised.

E.coli - Having made its share of headlines, E.coli may be the most recognizable bacteria in water. As a form of fecal coliform bacteria, E.coli in water presents the same symptoms and is generally caused the same way (agricultural runoff, septic system malfunction, well or water infrastructure breakdown). Some forms of E.coli can be more serious than general fecal coliforms, especially for vulnerable members of the population.

Legionella - Legionella is also a commonly occurring bacteria. It becomes problematic when it’s aerosolized — or airborne — as it would if you were using legionella-contaminated water for an air conditioning unit, or to shower with (where legionella bacteria would form steam that could then be inhaled). Like coliform contamination, legionella contamination typically occurs through breakdowns in water infrastructure and/or during storms, floods, or other periods of increased runoff.

Giardia & Cryptosporidium – Found all over the world, giardia and cryptosporidium are a parasites that cause severe stomach upset when ingested. They are also closely associated with poor sanitation, waste-contaminated, or otherwise untreated water, and can be caused when runoff near agricultural areas exceeds the capacity of water infrastructure and treatment.

Identifying Bacteria in Water

The best way to tell if there is bacteria in your water is always to have it tested, although there are some signs to look for if you suspect you might have a problem with your water:

  • Water begins leaving unusual or heavy staining around fixtures and drains, may be rust colored
  • Water takes on an unpleasant (rotten eggs or moldy) smell
  • Water is cloudy or discolored

If your water shows any of these symptoms, stop drinking and using it immediately it and call your local water authority.

Even if your water shows no outward signs of contamination, make it a habit to test your water at least once a year. If you use use well water, test it every 6 months to be sure your supply is safe and of good quality. You should also schedule a water test any time you do septic repairs or upgrades to ensure the work hasn’t impacted your water quality.

Treatment Options for Bacteria-Contaminated Water

While some of the common bacteria can be treated by boiling water, like giardia and cryptosporidium, others are more difficult to eliminate from drinking water. In those cases, you’ll want to be sure you’re treating water with a reverse osmosis filtration system, like the AC-30 Good Water Machine to effectively remove problematic bacteria.

If you live in an area that’s prone to boil orders, near a large agricultural or industrial area, or source water from an unreliable well, it makes sense to invest in a quality water filtration system for your home to ensure you always have access to fresh, filtered drinking water.

To protect yourself and your family from bacteria found in tap water, there are several options to choose from —whether you want filtration just at the kitchen sink, or a whole house of filtered water free from bacteria, you can count on your to help you find the right solution for your needs.

Chromium-6 Water Contamination in Sacramento: Causes, Effects, and Staying Safe

[dropcap]C[/dropcap]hromium-6 made headlines years ago, and has resurfaced recently for causing concern in drinking water. The real life story of Erin Brockovich, and subsequent film starring Julia Roberts, made chromium-6 a household name, and focused the nation on residential water quality and contamination.

Chromium-6 in your [dealer info=”location”] water can cause serious health complications and even cancer, so it’s worth understanding more about where chromium-6 comes from, its health effects, how you can identify it in water, and how you can remove it if your water could be at risk.

What is Chromium-6 and Where Does it Come From?

Chromium-6, also known as hexavalent chromium, is an unstable form of chromium, an element that occurs naturally in the environment. There are other types of naturally-occurring chromium, but chromium-6 is commonly used and produced as a byproduct of industrial production. The stainless steel industry, and any other manufacturer of anti-corrosives, are the main cause of chromium-6-related industrial pollution.

[pullquote]Chromium-6 can be especially harmful if it finds its way into the water system, because it can cause cancer and other serious complications over prolonged consumption in humans.[/pullquote] It specifically targets respiratory and digestive systems, produces kidney and liver damage, skin reactions, and has been known to cause cancers targeting those areas. It’s especially dangerous for those already vulnerable members of the population like young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with respiratory conditions like asthma.

Test For Chromium-6 in Water

Like many other metallic elements, chromium in general and chromium-6, are odorless and tasteless when dissolved in water, so it can be nearly impossible to tell if you have it in your water.

If you live near any kind of industrial manufacturer or processor, or if you live in an area that has been shown to be contaminated with chromium-6 in the past (use this chromium-6 map to see if your home falls in an area of concern), the best way to determine if it’s affecting you and your home is through a water test.

Your local Culligan Man can test your water for free, and tell you whether or not chromium-6, or any other contaminants are present in your tap water. And while a certain trace amount of total chromium is allowable, and even safe, in water supplies the legal limit for chromium-6 in drinking water is 0.02 parts per billion (ppb).  If your test results return anything above that, you’ll want to consider a solution to remove it from your water.

Remove Chromium-6 from Water

The most effective way to ensure chromium-6 is removed from your water supply is through either reverse osmosis filtration or sophisticated carbon and micron filtration. Culligan can make a recommendation about which of the styles of [dealer-url page=”product-reverse-osmosis”] reverse osmosis filtration systems [/dealer-url] would make sense for your home, and help you understand how the chromium-6 removal process works.

If a water filtration system doesn’t fit your home’s needs, bottled water may provide a safe alternative. However, you’ll want to do your research, as many kinds of bottled water are often simply repurposed tap water.  Culligan provides the highest-quality, purest drinking water, free from harmful contaminants, and can be delivered right to your home on a schedule that works for you.

A Culligan Man will be able to help you find the best solution for your home’s specific needs, whether you have elevated chromium-6 levels, or something else affecting your water.  Schedule your free water test online today to get started.

Works Consulted:

http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2010/12/30/chromium-6-found-in-tap-water-of-31-u-s-cities/

https://www.cleanwateraction.org/features/dangers-hexavalent-chromium-chromium-6-california-drinking-water

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/hexavalentchromium/healtheffects.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2010/12/22/ST2010122205330.html?sid=ST2010122205330&noredirect=on

Sulfur in your Sacramento Water (Rotten Egg Smell) – What You Can Do

The most common way to diagnose a contamination of sulfur or hydrogen sulfate in your [dealer info= “location”] home is the smell. To that end, there are simple steps you can take to eliminate this from your faucets.

Determine the Source

Your first order of business is to find the source — in your drain, or in your water. Take a glass of water from your drain area the smell is originating from, and take a glass of water from another faucet in your home. If both glasses of water contain a rotten egg smell, the problem is your water, which could come from a number of other issues – water heater, well or municipal. If only one glass has the unpleasant odor, it is most likely that specific drain.

If the Source is Your Drain

Find the specific drain and pour ½ cup of bleach down the drain to disinfect it. If you are weary of pouring bleach into your drain system, or do not have bleach on hand, dump ½ cup of baking soda and 1 cup of vinegar in your drain. This should be sufficient to disinfect that specific drain pipe.

Hot Water Heater Troubleshooting

If the issue is from hot water only, the likely culprit is the anode rod in your electric water heater chemically reacting with the natural sulfate ions. This rod is typically made of magnesium. Replace this with an aluminum rod.

You can operate your water heater without the rod, though you risk corrosion of your steel water tank after you remove one. Culligan can add FDA-approved corrosion inhibitors to help correct this potential problem, and can also remove the sulfate by using a dealkalizer.

Sulfur-reducing bacteria could be lurking in your water tank without the rod. One way to test for this is to set your water temperature over 140° Fahrenheit for 48 hours to kill the bacteria. If the odor goes away, this was likely the problem. If it does not, it is likely a rod issue.

If the Source is Your Well or Municipal Water

If the contamination is located at the actual source of your drinking water, get a [dealer-url page=”free-in-home-water-test”] free water test [/dealer-url] from [dealer info=”dealer”]. This test should include a pH analysis, iron, manganese, hardness and TDS (Total Dissolved Solids). A Culligan water softener, Sulfur-Cleer Plus, or Iron-Cleer filter, chlorine or hydrogen oxide chemical feed and carbon filtration are all options depending on the results of testing.

Sacramento: Where Do Total Dissolved Solids Come From?

[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]ou may often see the term “TDS” in terms of water contaminants and filter labels that claim to remove them. But what exactly are they? How do they affect you? And how can you deal with them?

Dissolved solids are defined as anything dissolved in water, including metals, salts and minerals. TDS can include inorganic salts and organic matter that have leached into the water. Most are harmless in nature, particularly in low concentrations. It’s unlikely that any water you drink has zero TDS. However, the EPA has set TDS as a contaminant of secondary standards, with a limit set at 500 mg/L.

Where Do TDS Come From?

Total dissolved solids can come from a number of sources, and the location of your home, climate, water treatment method, source, and a number of variables can contribute to the composition of your water. Common TDS contaminants can include ionic compounds derived from calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, chlorides, sulfates, phosphates and nitrates.

Wastewater treatment can be a major point of source for water pollution, leading to an increase in TDS

1. Industrial Wastewater and Sewage – treatment of both brings the biproduct of nitrates, which is important for animal growth. Algal blooms are prone to occur with the availability of nitrogen, causing an uptick in disinfectants being used by your municipality. This, in turn, leads to a more potent chlorine taste and smell. Phosphates can also be a non-point (water pollution from diffuse) source of total dissolved solids from wastewater treatment.

 

3. Piping/Hardware/Plumbing – the infrastructure of your own home could be the source of dissolved solids. [pullquote]Did you know water too LOW in TDS can actually have negative effects on your tap water?[/pullquote] Water in its purest form is a corrosive solvent, and can rake toxic materials such as lead and copper into your tap. This can be a major health risk. It’s a rare event the water source in your home is so low in total dissolved solids that it could become an issue, but if you are concerned about this, [dealer-url page=”free-in-home-water-test”] have your water tested today. [/dealer-url]

4. Sea Water – sea water, naturally, contains an excessive amount of NaCl (sodium) and other ionic compounds that contribute to a salty or brackish taste. While there are a handful of desalination plants (designed to remove sodium compounds from sea water), the hard truth is that purifying sea water takes an increased amount of energy and money to break such chemical bonds that most municipalities can not afford.

5. Agricultural/Farming/Irrigation Systems – just like in lawn treatment, synthetic farm fertilizers have nitrates that can dissolve into the soil. Elevated levels of nitrates also occur in animal waste and compost.  Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for plant growth. But excess nitrogen can combine with organic materials on the surface to produce nitrates, which can be harmful to drinking water systems.

6. Naturally Occurring –  When water makes its way through the ground, it encounters layers of limestone and chalk. These beds are comprised of calcium and magnesium bicarbonates. The bi-product of these dissolved solids is hard water. More than 85% of U.S. households have hard water, according to studies. Contact [dealer info=”dealer”] today to learn more about how hard water could be affecting your home.

A Culligan Reverse Osmosis System removes 10 times the number of contaminants than the leading pitcher in the market. Unlike these pitchers, it removes lead and 50 additional harmful contaminants. We offer customized, tailored solutions for your [dealer info=”location] home. Contact us by clicking FIX MY WATER today!

Lead in Sacramento Water: What You Need to Know

Situations such as the lead contamination scandal Flint, Michigan have revitalized attention on lead in water, and the harmful effects it can have on our health. Lead is still common in plumbing in Sacramento, and lead in drinking water can have serious consequences for adults and especially children.

The History of Lead in Drinking Water

Lead lends itself very easily to building pipes  – like those used for transporting water. It’s malleable, relatively cheap to use and, as a result, its use in plumbing dates back to early Roman cities. Lead piping was also the standard in the United States until the 1920s and 30s, when concerns about lead poisoning became better understood.

Why Lead in Water is Dangerous

In addition to its once widespread use, and continued use in some plumbing fittings and solder, lead is virtually undetectable in water. Since you can’t see, taste, or smell it, prolonged exposure can be all-too-common. Lead in drinking water is especially harmful for young children and pregnant women, but is not safe for anyone to consume, in any concentration.

Effects of Lead in Drinking Water

For children, the effects of consuming lead-contaminated water are especially high. Once consumed, lead remains in our bodies or ‘bioaccumulates’ as we can’t flush the contaminant from our system. Once there, lead can cause serious behavioral and cognitive problems for children, and over time it can lead to:

  • Low IQ
  • Hyperactivity
  • Slowed, delayed, and stunted growth
  • Problems hearing
  • Anemia
  • Seizures, coma, and possibly even death in severe situations

Lead also crosses the placenta, so it’s especially important for pregnant women to avoid drinking water contaminated with lead. In addition to harming the mother, it can cause stunted fetal growth and premature birth.

For the average adult, lead exposure from water can cause heart and cardiovascular issues, reduce kidney function, and contribute to reproductive problems. The degree and severity of these issues depends on how much lead you’ve been exposed too, and how much is stored in your body, though governing health authorities like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) caution that no amount of lead is safe.

Home Lead Water Testing

However, the only way to determine if your home’s water has lead in it is to run a chemical test specifically designed to indicate the presence of lead. This is important because even if your city or county’s water is known to be safe, the pipes, fixtures, and fittings surrounding your individual home may not be. Old solder and pipes have been responsible for various levels of lead in water around the country.

Your local Culligan Man can test your water for lead, as well as any other contaminants. You can also find home water tests in your local hardware store – just read the labels carefully to make sure they’re intended for lead detection. In most cases, you’ll have to collect a water sample from your tap and mail it off for testing, with results back in a few weeks.

If you find out there is lead in your water, or you suspect there could be, it’s important to stop drinking it immediately. Drink and use only bottled water until you can install a water treatment or filtration system.

Learn more about lead in water, or schedule a home lead water test today with Culligan Sacramento to make sure your drinking water is safe if you have any concern.