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The Water Treatment Process

Monday, January 21, 2013
Your tap water goes through a lengthy water treatment process to ensure that it is clean water for drinking by government water standards.  For the purpose of this article the standards outlined and discussed in detail by a document called the 'Australian Drinking Water Guidelines 6, 2011' will be used as a point of reference when discussing the water treatment process.  This document was put together by the NHMRC Australia (National Health and Medical Research Council)

 
Clean water is vital and essential to life and ensures your health and hygiene, as well as playing a crucial role in most businesses.  There for it is quintessential that our water is supplied to at a certain level of quality before it is safe for human use and consumption

According to the NHRMC, safe water for drinking is defined as being: 

"...safe to drink for people in most stages of normal life, including children over six months of age and the very old.  It should contain no harmful concentrations of chemicals or pathogenic microorganisms, and ideally it should be aesthetically pleasing in regard to appearance, taste and odor.”

Water may be treated differently in different countries and communities.  Below is an outline of the traditional water treatment process, widely practiced today by most water suppliers.  The water treatment process is as follows:

Step 1: Coagulation or Flocculation

Coagulation, also known as flocculation, is the process where by liquid aluminum sulfate (alum) and polymer (flocculant chemicals) is added to untreated water, also known as raw water.  When mixed with the water, the alum and polymer cause all the solid particles of dirt and clay in the water to stick together or coagulate.
The groups of dirt particles then stick together to form larger, heavier particles called flocs (loosely clumped mass of fine particles) which are easier to remove in the filtration step. The floc is then removed by sedimentation and filtration.

Step 2: Sedimentation

The water and the floc particles flow into sedimentation basins where the water moves slowly.  This allows the heavier floc particles to settle at the bottom of the basins.  This floc is turns into what is called sludge, and is piped to drying lagoons.

Step 3: Water Filtration 

Water flows through a filter made of layers of sand and gravel, and in some cases, crushed anthracite, also called hard coal.  Filtration collects the left over impurities in water that were not taken out in the first two steps, increasing the effectiveness of disinfection.

Step 4: Disinfection of water 

Disinfection is used to destroy disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites.  Chlorine is a typical chemical used in disinfection and has proven to be extremely effective. 

Step 5: Fluoridation 

Water fluoridation involves adjusting the concentration of the free fluoride ion to levels that are sufficient enough to reduce dental decay.

Step 6: pH Correction 

Lime is added to the filtered water to adjust the pH (a figure expressing the acidity or alkalinity of a solution).  This helps minimise the corrosion in plumbing and water distribution systems.  Control of pH is also important for effective disinfection as the efficiency of certain disinfectants is strongly dependent on pH.

Shortcoming of the Treatment Process 

The 'Australian Drinking Water Guidelines 6, 2011' outlines some need to know facts about our drinking water.  Even though the NHMRC clearly has the Australian consumer's best interest in mind, the document points out some crucial facts about chemicals used in your drinking water.

The document states that, “...drinking water does not need to be absolutely pure to be safe...chemical byproducts of disinfection have been suggested as potential health risks.  However, the possibility of such health risks remains highly uncertain...

Therefore, although concentrations of byproducts should be kept as low as possible, efforts to achieve this should never jeopardize effective disinfection."

Therefore it is your responsibility as a consumer to take extra precautions to protect yourself and your family from the uncertain health risks of these chemical byproducts.

For the best clean water for drinking we suggest the use of SureAqua products which you can view on the official SureAqua website by following this link: http://www.sureaqua.com/water-filters

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