Living in the country has its own set of rules when it comes to your water needs. All sources of this life sustaining substance have to consider the heavy metals, organic chemicals, mineral salts, bacteria, and other contaminants that can reach hazardous levels at various times of the year.
The source of water for many rural properties is derived from wells. Many wells fluctuate in their quality throughout the year depending on rain, agricultural run-off, and the occasional merging with another well system or aquifer nearby. If you are digging a well for the first time, it is wise to consult a proven and respected water dowser, sometimes called a witcher. These folks usually know the lay of the land and can save you thousands of dollars by avoiding a bad siting for a well. I met the daughter of one of these wizards (a man in his late 70's) who told me of his great contributions to the vineyards of northern California. Due to the geothermal nature of the land in both Napa and Sonoma counties, drilling a well even 50 feet from another spot could mean abundance or financial ruin. Dowsers will suggest how deep to dig, how many gallons-per-minute (GPM) may be available, and will even point out a clear vein of water versus one that might have too much sulfur or iron.
When the source of water is from a well, or from a lake, electrically-powered or solar-powered pumps are commonly used to deliver the water to a holding tank or reservoir near the house. It is advised that a gravity-friendly position is sought for your tanks so a constant pressure is maintained to the point-of-entry. Due to the seasonal change in water quality, many people install a floating ozone water purifier in the tank. Ozone is three atoms of oxygen bound together, an unstable allotropic form of oxygen that acts as a super oxidizer. It gives up that extra oxygen atom which breaks down chemicals into simple carbon units. These devices not only oxidize unwanted bacteria and parasites, they create a phenomenon called "flocculation," or the settling of particles to the bottom of the tank, capsured by a reusable filter. For more information on ozone, check out www.oxytherapy.com
Special sand filters are also another approach. These are used often in public swimming pools in conjunction with chlorine, which as a disinfectant should be avoided due to its carcinogenic implications.The final point of entry phase in preparing lake water for in-home use is an activated carbon filter system which has a back-flushing feature which can give years of good service before replacement is necessary
A year-round active creek or stream is a real plus to have on your property. If property ownership includes riparian rights, the stream can provide water.....and a renewable source of energy! Using proper sedimentation screens, you can install a Pelton wheel, an impulse turbine that converts fluid power to mechanical power and electricity. The energy generated can be stored in a deep cycle battery attached to an AC inverter and voila! -- you can power the pump to fill your water reservoir and supply all of your home energy needs at the same time! Whether you are on or off the "grid", these provide an elegant solution to your water needs. Learn more at www.realgoods.com
Is your water hard or soft, acid or alkaline? What is its TDS level and how much iron and lead does it possess? What other toxic risks lie in this otherwise life-sustaining liquid? When rural water comes from your own personal source, you must become your own regulation agency. You may look to the guidelines set by The Safe Drinking Water Act to get a clue what you may need in your area (www.epa.gov) Additional help can come from The National Rural Water Association (www.nrwa.org) and The American Water Works Association (www.awwa.org)
Hard water usually means it has lots of extra calcium carbonate or lime. In this case, a water softener may be needed which utilizes sodium or potassium chloride as a means to change the surface tension of the water, enabling it to clean you, and your clothes, better. Potassium is the best choice when your water will be treated for drinking. It is much more friendly on your body. Our bodies use potassium to sodium at a ratio of 3:1; too much sodium causes water retention and other health problems.
Another way to reduce the hardness of water is Reverse Osmosis (R/O) systems. These remove 95-98% of the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS: heavy metals and solids that have dissolved into liquid form). Acceptable levels may occur up to 200parts per million (PPM), but some regions have have levels that exceed 1000 TDS. TDS, it should be observed, can also refer to the beneficial minerals in water. Its the arsenic and lead with which we should be most concerned. It wasn't until 1986 that lead was regulated out of plumbing. The drawback to R/O systems is the acid pH and the flat taste.
Magnetic water conditioning is the most permanent solution to hard water. By placing strong magnets on either side of your incoming cold water pipes with additional sets before and after your hot water heater, you will notice a smoother feel and better taste in your water.
Magnetism, although sometimes relegated to the corridors magic, is based on sound science. The U.S. Dept of Energy has done extensive studies on magnetized water and its descaling properties amongst other benefits. (www.doe.gov) Searching magnetic water conditioning on the web will also become an eye-opener. The alkaline minerals are in the metal group of the periodic table of elements and when they pass by a magnet they line up in such a way as to change the surface tension and pH of the water, creating a silky feel. Wineries and boiler maker companies have used magnetic treatment for over 50 years to keep their equipment bright and shiny inside.
Iron deposits often give country water that brown look that can be easily eliminated by a variety of cleanable iron filters available through your local rural water supply source. For point-of use countertop water, it is recommended that you use a dual water filter system which includes a sediment filter which comes in a clear housing so you know when to change it. It is connected to a carbon filter, which last much longer with the more frequent replacement of the 1 micron polypropylene sediment filter.
The most exciting advance in water treatment, once it gets to your house, is ionization. Ionized Water has been touted as the most healthy water you can drink by doctors and health professionals. Dr. Robert Atkins, the diet revolution expert, says "Ionized water, the new anti-oxidant kid on the block, helps to saturate your every cell with more oxygen, fight disease, eliminate toxins, refresh your energy reserves, and improve wound healing."
Japanese scientists found a way to split ordinary water into acid and alkaline by a principle called electrolysis. Alkaline ionized water is what we find bouncing over the rocks in high mountain streams and waterfalls, picking up electrons along the way, creating a powerful anti-oxidant, scavanging free radicals and , as a result , slowing the aging process.
Normal tap water first goes through a carbon filter and then enters a chamber with platinum coated electrodes, one side possessing a negative charge and the other a positive charge. The negative side attracts the positively-charged electrolytes or alkaline minerals, sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, while adding extra electrons, creating lots of OH- or hydroxyl ions, the free radical nuetralizer.The positive electrode attracts the negatively charged acidic materials; chlorides, fluorides, sulphur, and phosphorous. The former we drink to remove acidic waste debris from our bodies and the latter we can use on our skin and hair while plants also thrive on it .
Ionized alkaline water is six times more hydrating than regular bottled or tap water due to the restructuring by this process. Ion water has been used in Japanese hospitals for almost 40 years for the treatment of those "adult" diseases caused by over-acidity. Well-known food stores have recently included bottled versions of this electrolysed water on their shelves.
To the uninitiated, pH refers to the potential of hydrogen. This pH scale runs from 1 to 14 pH. 7 is the neutral point with everything below being acid and that above being alkaline. Normal healthy human tissues should be in the range of 7.5 pH and the bloodsteam between 7.3 and 7.46 pH. When that critical number changes by even a half point, we can find ourselves in a disease condition. An 8 pH is 10 times more alkaline than a seven; a 9pH is 100 times and a 10 pH is 1000 times more alkaline. In other words, this is exponential or logorhythmic. Therefore, one glass of a 10pH would have the dissolving power of one thousand glasses of a 7 pH. In order to maintain that alkaline state, according to Sang Whang, author of the book , Reverse Aging, we would have to eat 85% raw fruits and vegetables in our daily diet. It is much easier to drink high pH water. As our population ages, it will be increasingly important to understand this new technology and maybe then we can sit comfortably on our back decks well into our centenarian years.
That wise decision to purchase your ranch in the country is a good insurance policy for a long and healthy life, extended by clean water, fresh air, and alittle help from these new and revolutionary technologies.
Jim Karnstedt was a writer, lecturer, and researcher who specialized in the areas of air, light, and water. He was a frequent guest on radio and television programs and was the founder of The Ion & Light Company in San Francisco. He was devoted to educating the lay person about the value of alkalinity and ionization. He passed July 10, 2009