Monthly Archives: January 2012


from Water Online, January 18, 2012, By Kevin Westerling, Web Editor

In what could be a life-saving discovery, a toxic molecule sometimes found in drinking water has been linked to the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.

As reported by Miller-McClune, botanist Paul Cox and biologist Sandra Banack have spearheaded a consortium of scientists in researching the effects of the toxic molecule beta-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) present in cyanobacteria, which blooms in water and is often referred to as blue-green algae (though, scientifically speaking, it bears no relation to algae). Their studies indicate that as the consumption of BMAA increases in humans, so does the incidence of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

ALS has been the focus of the researchers because of its severe nature — victims are paralyzed and typically die within five years — and the ability to accurately diagnose the disease in living patients. However, the findings also link BMAA concentrations to increased incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Like ALS, they have no known causes and no cure.

The work of Banack, Cox, and their team first met with resistance from the scientific community, in part because funding and research has focused on genetics as the cause of these neurodegenerative diseases, and also due to the fact that BMAA is not one of the 20 “building block” amino acids that make up proteins in all living organisms. Additional research, however, showed how BMAA could accumulate in nerve cells, giving scientific credibility to the hypothesis.

One study, by neurologist Elijah Stommel of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, found that the rate of ALS doubles around lakes reported to have cyanobacterial blooms throughout New England, and he is building a database of ALS cases in the northeastern United States. There and elsewhere, sources of exposure to BMAA include direct drinking water, food (especially shellfish), or swimming in contaminated water.

According to the Miller-McClune article, no water treatment plants in the United States are known to test for BMAA. Standard water treatment methods such as sand filtration, powdered activated carbon, and chlorination have proven effective in removing the toxin, but flocculation was deemed less effective. Cox has lobbied for more BMAA monitoring, and the Institute for EthnoMedicine — which he cofounded with Banack in 2004 — has developed a dipstick-type water test to do so, as well as filter technology to remove the compound.

“People need to be very careful about the water they’re drinking,” the article quoted Cox. “At this point we suspect there may be a tie between cyanobacterial toxins and your risk of progressive neurodegenerative disease — but it’s still a hypothesis.”

If Cox and his colleagues are right, it would provide tremendous encouragement to the scores of people affected by these devastating illnesses. In fact, Phase II clinical studies are underway for a drug that could potentially remove BMAA from the body and slow the progression of ALS, which is diagnosed in around 5,600 Americans each year.

Needless to say, he has a lot of people rooting for him.


Scary stuff!!! This is why more and more people do not rely on city water. RainSoft Reverse Osmosis is the answer for our customers.



Here’s your Friday ‘Awww!’from your friends at Rainsoft Ottawa – Make sure you watch to the very end, even after they separate.



Note:  – First column – Popularity in %

– Numbers following Actions reflect the number of gallons saved.

43%   Upgrade toilets that take more than 1.6 gal / flush to standard toilets   100
81%    Rely on nature for watering your lawn    100
3%      Replace lawn with plantings that need minimal irrigation    100
22%    Install or upgrade to a dual-flush toilet     50
4%      Bathe young children together    50
6%      Give young children a bath every other day unless it’s really needed    50
1%       Reset your automatic sprinkler to water once a week    50
26%    Install a high-efficiency toilet (less than 1.28 gallons per flush)   50
4%      Use drip-irrigation system    50
99%    Wash only full loads of laundry    20
26%    Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway    20
25%    Reduce showers to 5 minutes or less    20
40%    Upgrade older faucets & shower heads (older than 1994)    20
6%      Add a rain sensor to your automatic sprinkler system    20
63%    Install low-flow shower heads in all showers    20
1%       Take navy showers    20
26%    Fix a leaky faucet    20
6%       Install one low-flow faucet    10
60%     Turn off the faucets while brushing teeth    10
52%     Turn off the faucets while shaving    10
7%       Install one low-flow shower head    10
51%     Run dishwasher only when it’s full    10
36%    Load dishwasher without rinsing dishes thoroughly    10
12%     Install low-flow valves in all faucets      10
1%       Use a car wash that participates in the WaterSavers Program    10
1%       Install a shower timer     5
24%    Track water usage monthly    5



by Bridgette Meinhold, 01/11/12 filed under: Architecture, Sustainable Building, Water Issues

Read more (Link below photo): Floating Pool Could Clean the Water in Prague’s Vltava River | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World

People actually used to swim in the Vltava River in Prague until it became too polluted from industrial activity – now recent interest in the river has spurred the city to start cleaning up the waters, although they’re still not in tip-top shape for dip. Local architects Ondrej Lipensky and Andrea Kubna have come with a great idea to create a floating circular pool in the middle of the river for people to swim in. Like the +Pool in NYC, (see link below for images of New York’s floating East River pool) this floating oasis would filter and clean the river water, making it safe for people to swim in. During the winter, the pool would be converted into a floating ice rink to continue the fun during the cold months.

The floating circular pool would be located in the middle of the river – close to the islands, but before the spillway. Only accessible by boat, the pool offers recreational space for residents of the city without taking up valuable land. A ferry-boat would bring guests over from a dock on the mainland and bring them back when they are finished. Guests could also hire private row or paddle boats to get over by themselves.

The pool is located in the center of the floating oasis and is surrounded by a series of private cabins, changing rooms, restrooms, showers, a sauna, and a steam room. A bar provides food and drink for guests, and a smaller shallower pool is available for younger kids. The river water would be filtered through a textile membrane on the bottom to provide water for the pool. This filter provides cleaner swimming water for guests and could also help improve the quality of the river. In the winter, the pool would be converted to an ice rink and the sauna and steam rooms would remain open for continued use all year-long.

New York’s East River floating pool:



Watch RainSoft Ottawa owner, Martin Barrett’s short video on UV Treatment – see link below:

History—UV is not a new technology. UV disinfection is an established technology supported by decades of use in applications from drug manufacturing to wastewater treatment. The germicidal properties of sunlight were discovered by Downes and Blunt (1877). Once it was understood that UV light was the wavelength responsible for this germicidal activity, the development of mercury lamps as artificial UV light sources in 1901, and the use of quartz as a UV transmitting material in 1906, paved the way for the technology to be developed and used in a controlled and meaningful way. The first drinking water disinfection application took place in Marseilles, France in 1910, and considerable research
on the mechanisms of UV disinfection and the inactivation of microorganisms has since been completed.

Why use UV?
UV is effective at inactivating bacteria, viruses and protozoa, such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia, which may be present in water supplies from potentially all sources. Many people believe that well water is pristine, glacier water is pure and municipal water is treated to safety standards specified by regulatory bodies. While all of this is generally true, even these ’good’ sources of water may be contaminated. Groundwater quality can be degraded by failing septic systems, animal farms and many
other sources. Groundwater in aquifers is continuously moving, which results in variable quality. It can test good today but fail tomorrow. People who fall sick tend to blame it on the food they ate or some other explanation because they believe their water is safe. Areas where microorganism contaminants are highest are at the base of mountains where pure water from mountain streams is collected. Yet the water picks up contaminants on its journey down the mountain that can create the need for disinfection.
Cryptosporidium and Giardia protozoa are more evident in drinking water supplies. The occurrence of Cryptosporidium parvum in drinking water sources is recognized as a significant threat to private and public water supplies throughout the world (Rose et al., 1991; Lisle and Rose, 1995; Messner and Wolpert, 2000). Water treatment plants usually cannot guarantee the removal of all Cryptosporidium because oocysts are very small (four to five micrometers in diameter), and are resistant to chlorine and most other disinfectants.1 It is for this reason that many municipal treatment plants are installing UV systems.
A report published by the US EPA2 indicates that,“… Cryptosporidium is not only a surface water problem.” In Canada and the US, 60.2 percent of surface water samples contained oocysts in a study done by LeChevallier and Norton in 1995. The same report also cites a study done by Hancock et al. (1998), reporting a study of 199 ground water samples tested for Cryptosporidium. They found that five percent of vertical wells, 20 percent of springs, 50 percent of infiltration galleries, and 45 percent of horizontal wells contained Cryptosporidium oocysts. The significance of this is that normal water testing does not test groundwater for oocysts.
The most challenging water source is the dug well, where runoff is an issue. As runoff enters the well, it can carry with it such contaminants as surface animal waste and septic drainage from the aquifer.
Municipal water can be deemed perfectly safe when it leaves the treatment plant. Nonetheless, Boil Water Alerts (BWA) happen frequently as a result of the unexpected. Many times the BWA is issued 24 to 48 hours after the contamination is detected.
Residential POE UV can be a primary barrier to protect people from contamination in a well that has failed a water test, and it can be inexpensive insurance to others who think water is safe all the
time, but want to be sure that their family is fully protected.

How does it work?
Ultraviolet light, in the 200 to 300-nm (UV-C) range, is most effective at destroying bacteria and viruses by altering their DNA. This natural, non-chemical method of treatment penetrates and permanently alters the DNA of the microorganisms in a process called thymine dimerization. The microorganisms are inactivated and rendered unable to reproduce or infect. Typically, UV light is generated by applying a voltage through a gas mixture, resulting in a discharge of photons. Nearly all UV lamps currently designed for water treatment use a gas mixture containing mercury vapor. Mercury gas is advantageous for UV disinfection applications because it emits light in the germicidal wavelength range. The UV light output from mercury-based lamps depends on the concentration of mercury atoms, which is directly related to the mercury vapor pressure. Low-pressure (LP) UV lamps contain mercury at low vapor pressure, which produces primarily UV light at 253.7 nm. Variations of LP lamps are low pressure/high output (LPHO) and amalgam UV lamps, which operate at higher current and use different gas mixtures to increase the amount of germicidal UV that is emitted. An easy way to think of the relative lamp power is that LPHO produces approximately twice as much UV light as an LP lamp, and an amalgam lamp produces about four times as much UV light as an LP lamp. Higher-output UV lamps allow reactors to be smaller and higher flow rates to be treated with one lamp.

Factors affecting UV performance
Once UV light is generated, it begins its journey toward the microorganisms that are its intended target. Along the way, a certain amount of UV energy is lost due to absorption and scattering of the light.

Absorption happens in two significant ways. First, a certain amount of the UV light is absorbed by the quartz lamp envelope and sleeve. It is important to be sure UV manufacturers are using high-quality quartz, and that lamps and sleeves are replaced with OEM parts to ensure consistent performance of the system. Second, minerals like iron and manganese, and organic compounds (like tannins from decayed organic material in the water) will absorb UV light, reducing the transmitted energy and
its ability to alter DNA in microorganisms.

Scattering is primarily caused by particles in the water, which can cause shadowing. Some microorganisms may pass through the UV reactor without receiving enough UV exposure to inactivate them.
Water quality (hardness and iron) Depending on the concentrations of the minerals, the water’s hardness can also affect the performance of the UV system, as water hardness can cause scale
to form on lamp sleeves. This can reduce UV light transmission and the inactivation of pathogens.

The combination of the amount of UV energy and water flow rate determine contact time (CT) or UV dose. Each microorganism has a different susceptibility to UV light and therefore, requires a different dose to be inactivated. To achieve successful disinfection, the equipment capacity must match the target microorganism’s UV dose requirement.

Microorganism susceptibility to UV
Numerous studies have been done to determine the UV dose needed to inactivate a specific microorganism. Table 1 provides a sample of this valuable information. Many universities
and research companies continue to add to the literature as new information is discovered. (Log reductions are based on UV equipment flow rate specs.)

Summary of water quality parameters
Listed below are common water quality parameters that ensure the best performance from a UV system in a residential or commercial application. If the water is outside these parameters, a water treatment dealer should be contacted for equipment recommendation.
• < 0.3 ppm iron
• 75-percent UVT (UV transmission through water sample)

UV light advantages
• Low lifetime ownership cost
• No moving parts
• Minimal maintenance requirements
• No DBPs, which can occur using chlorine
• No risk to children from chlorine storage at home
• No change to the taste or odor of the water
• No handling or mixing of chemicals

Carefully review the specifications and be sure the system is capable of operating in a UVT range that your application may encounter. Be sure the system will provide a minimum dose of 30 mJ/cm2 at the end of the lamp life, and pay attention to the UVT at which this dose is quoted.
A dose quoted at 85-percent UVT is safer to use than the same dose at 95 percent, because there is a wider safety factor built in for lower UVT water. NSF Standard 55 Class A certified systems are tested at 70-percent UVT or lower, and must provide 40 mJ/ cm2 to meet the requirements for certification. If you compare UV systems, keep in mind this is a science; similar lamp power and water layers with similar chamber designs should receive absorb UV light, reducing the transmitted energy and its ability to alter DNA in microorganisms. Refer to industry specs to determine if what you are reading is too good to be true.

The future of UV in residential applications
Over the next three to five years, technological improvements to UV systems will change the way UV light is created and delivered to the water. Improvements to reduce maintenance requirements even further will make this technology the most attractive option for anyone wanting to ensure their family has safe, reliable drinking water.



A short inspirational movie for your stormy winter afternoon from your friends at Rainsoft Ottawa.
Attitude is everything…is yours worth catching?



See video link below to watch Ottawa Rainsoft Reverse Osmosis System explained by owner, Martin Barett.

What is Reverse Osmosis?
Reverse osmosis (R/O) is a water treatment process in which water is forced through a semi-permeable membrane that has very small holes or “pores”. Clean water passes through and impurities that are too big to pass through the membrane are left behind and flushed away.
Do I Need a Reverse Osmosis Unit?
It is presumed in this document that the water you are using meets all health regulations and is known to be safe. Municipally supplied drinking water is microbiologically safe. It is treated to meet health and aesthetic requirements, and is subject to routine testing for microbiological contamination.
If you obtain drinking water from a private supply such as well, it may not be safe from microbiological, chemical, or other types of contamination. Drinking water from private sources should be tested periodically to determine if treatment is required; and, if so, for what specific contaminants or minerals.
Water chemistry is complex and no single water treatment device can be used to remove all types of substances from water. Different drinking water treatment devices have their own advantages and disadvantages. Each household must individually determine if there is a need for additional water treatment. If this is the case, determine the unit or combination of units best suited for your water needs.
How Does Reverse Osmosis Work?
Reverse osmosis systems purify water by forcing pressurized water through a very fine, plastic membrane. If the raw water being treated comes from a well or another private source, disinfection and pre-filters (to remove chlorine and/or particulates/sediment) may be needed in advance of the R/O unit to remove contaminants that can foul or damage the membrane.
Stages of reverse osmosis:
1. During the initial filtration stage, tap water or well water (pressurized by a booster pump) is passed through a particle filter (a pre-filter) that removes silt, sediment, sand, and clay particles that might clog the R/O membrane.
2. The water is then forced through an activated carbon filter that traps minerals and contaminants such as chromium, mercury, copper, chloramine and pesticides. It also removes chlorine, which is important, as chlorine will shorten the life of the membrane.
3. Water is transferred under pressure into the R/O module, allowing only clean water to pass through the small pores in the membrane. Impurities unable to pass through the membrane are left behind and flushed down the drain.
4. Treated water is then sent to a storage tank.
5. Treated water is passed through an activated carbon filter before use to further improve the water’s taste and smell.
Water that contains manganese, hydrogen sulphide or iron should be pre-treated to extend the life of the membrane. A dealer can recommend the pre-treatment needed.
Note: Reverse Osmosis units produce no noise other than the sound of water discharging into the drain (usually a sink or a floor drain).
How Do I Know What Size Unit to Buy?
R/O units are rated according to the amount of treated water produced per day. For example, one type of unit produces 50 litres of treated water per day under its design conditions. Such a unit is generally rated with 60 psi water line pressure, a water temperature of 25° C (77° F), normal dissolved solids and 2 atmospheres of pressure. In reality, conditions frequently vary. Line pressure is often lower, water will frequently be colder than 25° C and back pressure in the storage tank will likely reduce the performance of the unit. Consequently, you should examine water conditions and buy a larger rated unit than needed if any of the above problems are noted.

Where Do I Buy Reverse Osmosis Units? Companies can be found listed under “Water” or “Water Companies” in the Yellow Pages. You may wish to talk to a variety of vendors to compare features.
How Much Do Reverse Osmosis Units Cost?
Reverse osmosis unit prices vary, from $400 for a portable or under sink unit to $2,500 for a larger, stationary (basement) unit where a booster pump and a pressure system are installed. Replacement pre-filters range in price from approximately $30 – $200 each.
Who Installs the RO Unit?
Many R/O units are designed to operate on the kitchen counter. Some of the larger units are connected under the counter or in the basement. The unit will need to be hooked up to the water line and a discharge-to-the-drain line. Larger units may require professional installation, where a special water supply line is run from the main household water line. If you are unsure about installation, contact a plumber or mechanical contractor.
What Are the Benefits of Reverse Osmosis?
Reverse osmosis can remove dissolved solids, salts, minerals that cause hardness, organic chemicals and other impurities. It can improve the taste of water for people who do not like the taste of dissolved mineral solids.
Treated water will not produce scale in kettles and coffee makers. Because sodium and potassium are removed, people on a medically prescribed sodium or potassium-restricted diet may benefit. R/O units may also remove contaminants such as chromium, mercury and nitrates. Before purchasing an R/O unit, check the certification and literature for the particular model to verify exactly what it can and cannot remove.
Is Reverse Osmosis – Treated Water Safe to Drink?
Reverse osmosis treatment systems remove minerals like calcium and magnesium from drinking water. In Canada, water is a minor source of such minerals when compared to foods. If you consume a reasonably balanced diet, you do not need to take a mineral supplement when drinking water treated with a reverse osmosis system. Low levels of minerals in drinking water may be a concern for people living in countries with very hot climates.
Is the Water Source Safe?
An R/O unit should be used only with drinking water that is known to be safe to drink. Although reverse osmosis can remove microbiological contaminants, R/O does not disinfect the water to drinking standards. A flaw or tear to the membrane could allow untreated water to flow through the unit without removing disease-causing organisms. Remember if you are unsure of the quality of your water, get it tested. If you have any doubts about the safety of your water, then it should be disinfected before using an R/O unit.
How Much Water Does the Unit Use? Is It Water-Efficient?
Some R/O units can produce 4 litres per minute and others will produce 30 to 94 litres per day. In operating an R/O unit, a large amount of incoming water is used to produce the final treated water. This unusable water (called brine) contains contaminants that the R/O unit has removed. The amount of brine created will depend on the quality of the incoming water.
Operating a reverse osmosis unit is not water-efficient — and the amount of water used depends on the quality of the incoming water. In some cases, where water is free of dissolved solids, two litres of water may be needed to produce one litre of finished water. In other cases, 4 or 5 litres of water may be used to produce one litre of treated water.
A family of four might need 40 to 80 litres of water to produce 8 to 16 litres of treated water for drinking and cooking per day. This would cost about ten to twenty cents per day for water. If more treated water is desired, then more water would be used. This will also increase water and wastewater bills, or create a higher demand on your well and septic system.
Watch the Water Pressure
R/O units will not operate efficiently at water pressures below 40 – 45 psi. If the pressure is too low, as in the case in many rural private systems; in an apartment on a higher floor of a building; or at the end of a long water line serving several units, a booster pump should be installed to increase pressure.
Do I Need to Maintain the Unit?
Reverse osmosis units must be maintained as per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Typically the sediment pre-filter and the activated carbon pre-filters should be changed at least annually. However, these pre-filters may need to be changed as often as once every six months if the water entering the unit contains sand, large amounts of chlorine or other substances that impair filter efficiency. Although membranes in a well-maintained unit can last for several years, the membrane may need to be replaced more frequently than the manufacturers suggested timeline.
Although drinking water materials such as water filters are not currently regulated in Canada, Health Canada recommends that all products that come into contact with drinking water be certified to the appropriate health-based performance standard developed by NSF International. In the case of Reverse Osmosis, it is recommended that they be certified as meeting standard NSF/ANSI 58. In Canada, CSA International, NSF International, and Underwriters Laboratories have been accredited by the Standards Council of Canada to certify drinking water materials as meeting the above-mentioned standards. These standards are widely accepted in North America, as they ensure the removal of specific contaminants, as well as the performance and mechanical integrity of the materials that come into contact with drinking water. Check the Reverse Osmosis unit’s packaging or ask your dealer for a listing of the substances that the unit is certified to remove.
Where Can I Get More Information?
Contact your local RainSoft Dealer. RainSoft carries a lifetime warranty from an international 59-year-old company. In home tests are done to insure the right Reverse Osmosis is installed.