? Sediment Filter Along w/ UV Light

comkowNovember 30, 2006

We have failed the total coliform test twice in the last two months. We did an extensive shocking of our well and it didn't work.

We are now going to have a UV light installed. We understand that we should have a sediment filter installed as well since if there is sediment, the bacteria can "hide" behind it and will not get zapped by the UV light.

We mentioned to the installer that we will need a sediment filter and he told us he would throw it in with the installment price since they only run $50 anyway.

Can someone tell us, based on the $50 cost if this is the correct sediment filter we need. The ones we see on the internet are at least $150. Of course, we don't want overkill, but we need our UV light to work 100%.


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I suppose it comes down to how many microns the filter will go down to, and what sort of flow it's capable of.

What sort of filters are you seeing at that price? I bought a whole-house filter (haven't put it in yet) for just over $30 CDN so they can be cheap. I am only planning to use sediment filters rather than charcoal types but I'm on town water, and use a brita filter jug for drinking water.

Are the ones you're seeing reverse osmosis filters? I wonder if uv treatment of light is an adequate approach rather than cleaning up your well (is it well covered, by the way? Is there a hand-pump on top or something else allowing contamination in? Where is your septic field located?

Is your installer a real expert? I suppose there are some sort of professional water-quality engineers, maybe you should consult one?

I have no doubt the UV technology works, I used to live in a small city in New Zealand that used UV technology as a final treatment on its sewage before discharge into wetlands.

My one concern about the UV light is, is it a single tube? Is there some sort of cutoff or alarm if/when the bulb fails, or is there a redundant (backup) one? I would go for a two-bulb system or something with some sort of fail-safe as this would qualify as a mission-critical system.

In this instance , maybe you DO want overkill. Remember also, I guess this filter comes BEFORE the UV light, that means it's very important you change the filter regularly, clean the components well and dispose of the used filter carefully, it will have a HUGE bacterial content. Wear disposable gloves, for one. If you do not change the filter often enough, you may get a situation where it collapses internally, which would discharge a huge amount of untreated water into the system, more than a UV light would be able to handle (whatever happened to the chlorine treatment tank kind of system, anyway?

It might well be a reverse osmosis system would be best for you, some will do bacteria as well, then the UV is your safety net. Some RO systems have a provision for backwashing which extends the life of the membranes. Keep up the research.

You could also consider a ro filter in your kitchen for all your drinking water.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2006 at 3:46PM
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The mere presence of coliform in higher than acceptable levels is indicating that either your well or the underground aquafer is contaminated by surface runoff.

I am totally amazed that your county health department will even permit you to continue using that well in the present condition.

In my jurisdiction no matter whether the water sample is tested by the county or an independant testing agency, when the water fails a coliform test the homeowner or more precisely the well owner is given the results along with strict instructions on how to "shock" the well and advised to do a follow up test in 14 to 30 days. At the same time the county health department is notified of the condition and the well in put on a watch list. Once the well is put on the watch list the county tests the well monthly and based upon the results of their tests they may require additional shock treatments, the installation of a chlorinator or they may condemn the well entirely.

Do not take this matter lightly and definitely do not rely upon the opinion of others through an internet discussion to guide you in how to deal with this problem as there are serious health risks to be considered and this problem can only be resolved by trained experts making proper tests of the well and evaluating the specific results of those tests.

Here is a quote from the encylopedia on coliform bacteria in well water:


"The Coliform Index is a rating of the purity of water based on a count of fecal bacteria. Coliform bacteria are microorganisms that primarily originate in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. By testing for coliforms, especially the well known E.Coli, which is a thermotolerant coliform, one can determine if the water has probably been exposed to fecal contamination; that is, whether it has come in contact with human or animal feces. It is important to know this because many disease-causing organisms are transferred from human and animal feces to water, from where they can be ingested by people and infect them. Water that has been contaminated by feces usually contains pathogenic bacteria, which can cause disease. Some types of coliforms cause disease, but the coliform index is primarily used to judge if other types of pathogenic bacteria are likely to be present in the water.

The Coliform Index is used because it is difficult to test for pathogenic bacteria directly. There are many different types of disease-causing bacteria, and they are usually present in low numbers which do not always show up in tests. Thermotolerant coliforms are present in higher numbers than individual types of pathogenic bacteria and they can be tested for relatively easily.

However, the Coliform Index is far from perfect. Thermotolerant coliforms can survive in water on their own, especially in tropical regions, so they do not always indicate fecal contamination. Furthermore, they do not give a good indication of how many pathogenic bacteria are present in the water, and they give no idea at all of whether there are pathogenic viruses or protozoa which also cause diseases and are rarely tested for. Therefore, it does not always give accurate or useful results regarding the purity of water."

Personally I would certainly make sure I either boiled all the water used for cooking, drinking and toothbrushing or I would purchase bottled water for those purposes until such time as this problem can be satisfactorily resolved.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2006 at 1:48AM
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UV systems are an extremely effective means of disinfection if set up properly. You are absolutely right to place a sediment filter with the light.

But first let's review UV light systems. There are two classes of lights: Class A and Class B according to the NSF Standard 55.

All class B systems are designed for water without any pathological or disease generating factions and are normally used as a 'back-up' system to another disinfection device, such as chlorination.

Class A systems can be a stand-alone (with prefiltration) system. The reason for the differences is that Class A systems have fail-safe devices such as light intensity monitors, flow restrictors, and shut-off solenoids that prevent contaminated water passing through to service.

Class B systems may have alarms that indicate bulb change (after 9000 hours, for example) or a power failure, among some other benefits. They do not give total assurance of quality as one would hope to expect from a disinfection system.

Class A systems include those made by Sterilight, Hallet, Trojan, to name a few. Go to nsf.org and look under standard 55 for all brands listed. They will also be more expensive than Class B but isn't it worth it?

As for prefiltration, 5-micron is the industrial standard for partical filtration. Use NSF rated 5 micron 'absolute' not 'nominal' rating. I would recommned a Big Blue type filter housing with a 50/5 graduated micron rating. Here the outside of the filter is 50 microns but the inner core is rated at 5 absolute. The reason these work so well as opposed to a standard 5-micon is that the outer surface takes a great deal of the larger particles and the inner can devote itself to the finer ones. They just last a lot longer and prove better flow rate.

A carbon filter could be placed after the system (or under your sink) for drinking water to improve clarity, taste and odor.

There is only one RO on the market that guaranties bacterial, virus and protzoa removal and that one does it for up to 2000 gallons. But it is pricey and you may be better off with a Class A UV system complete.


    Bookmark   December 2, 2006 at 6:00PM
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As mentioned, we did shock our well in mid-October and had the water retested in mid-November. It is a capped well.

Unknowingly to our coliform problem, we have been drinking bottled water since June when we had our kitchen remodeled. However, when we wash produce, I have to be honest, I cringe. We want to get this resolved as quickly as possible too.
We did not test postitive for E Coli, only total coliform. Our septic is 200ft from our well, as is the neighbors too.
We believe the problem stems from the well being out back in the woods and being only 100ft deep. The vein of water is highly active in non-drought situations, so it gets it share of surface water from runoff.

We currently have a RO system in the kitchen, but it does not remove coliform or any bacteria for that matter. We will need to replace each filter and the membrane when we do get the issue resolved.

The unit that is NOT NSF certified does have an alarm when the bulb blows.

We are going to have the "well guy" install the UV light for us. I will look into the Big Blue filters.

This is not in our budget right now, but We KNOW it has to be done RIGHT! Especially with two young children. We are trying to save some money by ordering it ourselves and paying just the installation.

Any INexpensive online sources you can provide? Would be a great help!

I will be back and need more help when I have to make my final selections. I hope you guys will still be here to assist me.

Thanks for all of your help.

Big Blue - see link below

Is this all that is required? It doesn't say what it filters though. Please say "yes" so I know we can afford all of this. How do I know which one we would need?

OR do we need an expensive filter like this..please say "no"


Here is a link that might be useful: Big Blue Filter

    Bookmark   December 3, 2006 at 5:45PM
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Absolutely cringe when washing veggies, that's one really good way of getting hepatitis. Whilst not a solution for dirty water, it wouldn't hurt to get innoculated for all the hep varieties you can, as a backup.

Put simply, you can't afford NOT to have the right filtration, but as lazypup says it's surprising your place isn't condemned or whatever they do.

Here's a thought - this is what they'd do in Australia. Rain water. If you live in an area where stuff freezes, clearly it's not a winter option but you could have underground storage or just use well water in winter.

Perhaps an automatic chlorination system would be cheaper and more preferable....but most of those systems all work on uncontaminated water....you need to keep boiling/using bottled water.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2006 at 5:23PM
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