Common and uncommon water treatment challenges
There are a variety of commercial water treatment challenges, though after decades in the business, we’ve seen – and treated – them all. Here are a trio of problems different types of businesses and water system customers had and how our advanced water treatment experts solved them.
Treating water in the hospitality industry
A hotel’s existing water treatment system resulted in continuous iron staining of the showers and toilets as well as the indoor pool and hot tub spa. The hotel staff required extra cleaning time to remove the iron stains despite the treatment system being designed for iron removal. It was only two years old and the company that installed it said it needed to be replaced already. The system consisted of two wells, storage tanks and multi-stage treatment for iron and water hardness.
The equipment worked for a time, but iron bleed-through caused the hotel owner to search for expertise in water treatment and water chemistry to solve the problem he thought he already solved.
A new system is a significant investment, especially considering the existing system was only two years old. Secondwind inventoried their equipment and performed water quality testing on each piece of equipment. We discovered the system used an unusual chemical injection technique for combating the iron. The technique worsened the situation and began fouling the softener resin.
Solving the problem without replacing the entire system
Our solution did not add or remove any equipment. We changed the chemical used from alum to an oxidant – a non-toxic chemical you can find at the grocery store. The result is 100% of the iron removed during the filtration stage, before it even gets to the softeners.
We often see commercial problems where the easy recommendation is replacing the system, when really the system wasn’t set up properly to begin with. The hotel owner feared thousands of dollars in replacement equipment which turned out to be a few hundred bucks in service and testing.
Not all commercial water treatment companies know how to treat water
It’s an unfortunate truth in the water treatment industry. We’ve encountered many commercial water treatment systems that were not installed properly or serviced properly. In the case above, it was an easy fix for us, but unfortunately some businesses do replace their water treatment systems after a short time due to inexperience and incorrect treatment techniques.
For example, knowing what a water softener does isn’t the same as knowing how to solve and treat a complex water quality problem. A successful water treatment company knows how to problem solve and think creatively and strategically.
Over the last four decades, our advanced water treatment team learned the importance of creative thinking and strategic decision making. We bring these skills to every job site. The value of our experience and skills is best illustrated with another real-life commercial water treatment customer, and how we tackled the problem of gasoline-contaminated water.
Treating gasoline- contaminated water
Years ago, an apartment complex had gasoline contamination in its well. Secondwind stepped in after the previous water treatment company failed to successfully remediate the issue. In addition to successfully removing the gasoline, we removed high levels of iron and manganese.
About 15 years later, the complex had a new problem. It’s located next to a river that flows into a municipal reservoir. There was growing concern that gasoline in the backwash water would find its way into the river. We needed to do something with the backwash water as soon as possible. Because sending backwash water into the ground or sewer wasn’t an option, we needed to come up with a creative solution.
Our solution was to install tanks that could be pumped weekly. There were two challenges with this solution:
- To pump out on a weekly basis, we’d need about 1,200 gallons of storage.
- Installing tanks outside would subject the backwash water to freezing.
Getting creative with solutions
After some strategizing, we came up with a plan: installing four 400-gallon plastic tanks in the basement of the complex. The tanks didn’t fit through the basement entrance, so we hired a contractor to dig up the bulkhead. We installed the tanks and tied them together so they could be pumped out as one tank. Then, we put the bulkhead back together.
It was crucial we devise a system that prevented these tanks from overflowing. If they did, the water could easily make its way back to the river. So, we installed a high water float that closes a valve on the backwash line so the tanks wouldn’t overflow.
In the event this happens, the treatment will fail since it can’t backwash. We installed an outside strobe light to alert the apartment complex owner, manager and tenants when the high water valve closes. We also installed a sign next to the strobe light that tells people how to contact us.
To prevent any gasoline fumes or odors from filling the basement every time the tanks were backwashed, we connected a vent line from the tanks to the outside.
The job required far more than simply installing a system. It required creative thinking and strategic decision making to solve complex water quality and safety problems.
Sometimes a new commercial water treatment system is the right solution
We worked with a community water system with six duplexes and two single-family homes that had very high iron in their water. For reference, .3 parts per million is the minimum level required to see significant staining in appliances, clothing and hair. This housing community had two wells. Prior to treatment, one had iron with 6 parts per million and the other with 10 parts per million. For decades, the community lived with significant iron staining.
We installed a filter system for removing the iron. This allowed clean water delivery to the two tanks, through the two pumps that send the water through pipes to each of the homes. Once the new system was installed, we asked the community to clean their tanks but they were still seeing iron staining in the homes.
Importance of flushing your pipes
Even if you have a great water treatment system, you have to flush your pipes. If maintained properly, it should only take a short amount of time to accomplish, generally done annually. Some distribution systems require flushing twice a year. No matter how clean water is, if it travels through pipes with years of iron build up, you will get dirty water.
We discovered the pipes feeding the homes hadn’t been flushed in years, thus the continued problem with their water. All systems should have what are called blow offs or flush valves. These are large-diameter valves in the pipes that create high velocity when opened. This sloughs off all the build up in the pipes.
Trust your experts
Maintaining commercial or public water systems is all about consistency and a full understanding of the complexities and chemistry of treating water quality problems. As the region’s commercial water quality experts, we’ve been helping commercial and public water customers solve the toughest water challenges for decades. Think you need to treat or replace your water treatment equipment? Have a Secondwind Commercial Water Specialist do a no-charge equipment and water quality evaluation to be sure. We service all major makes and brands of treatment equipment.