Water Treatment Questions

What dangers can there be in drinking water?

There are several problems that can endanger the quality of drinking water. A number of these problems are summed up here.

A government-approved lab can detect coliform bacteria in drinking water. We use North Island Labs in Courtenay, BC. to test our client’s water for pathogens. Coliform bacteria are a group of microrganisms that are normally found in the intestinal tract of humans and other warm-blooded animals, and in surface water. When these organisms are detected in drinking water this suggests contamination from a subsurface source such as barnyard run-off. The presence of these bacteria indicates that disease-causing microrganisms, known as pathogens, may enter the drinking water supply in the same way if one does not take preventive action.

Drinking water should be free from coliform. Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines set the allowable limit as <1. We recommend an ultraviolet sterilizer as a chemical-free solution to coliform.

Less common are arsenic and other heavy metals. These are naturally forming in the gravel and rock formations which water travels through on its way to your water source. If present, it is naturally eroded by and dissolved into the water and carried by the water into your taps. We can recommend either whole-house, or single-tap solutions.

What is Reverse Osmosis (R.O.)?

In simple terms, reverse osmosis is the process by which water molecules are forced through a semi-permeable membrane under pressure. Reverse osmosis systems provide filtered water everywhere, from homes and commercial applications like restaurants and hotels, to breweries and car washes, and even the space shuttle!

Household RO systems typically filter water using the following steps:

  1. Raw tap water first flows through a sediment filter to remove dirt, rust and other solid objects.
  2. The water then flows into a carbon filter that takes out 98% of the chlorine and organic chemicals.
  3. The next stage is the reverse osmosis membrane which separates 70-99% of the dissolved contaminants from the water molecules. These removed impurities are rinsed down the drain producing the final product, “pure water”.
  4. This water is stored in a reservoir tank typically located underneath the kitchen sink and is accessed with a separate faucet.
  5. When you open the valve the water is filtered one last time with a carbon block “polishing filter” right before it reaches your glass.


Using a quality RO membrane as a strainer is typically much better than a faucet mounted filter alone. Under magnification the pores of a RO membrane are undetectable, while the pores of a pleated filter are easily seen. Reverse osmosis treatment generally removes a more diverse list of contaminants than other systems. RO can remove nitrates, sodium, and other dissolved inorganic and organic compounds.

What's involved with water testing?

The first thing we'll do is talk to you about your specific water concerns: What is bothering you about your water, and what you might be looking for in the treatment line.

We'll take a sample from one or more places in your home. Depending on the issues with your water, the technician may be able to do all the necessary testing right on site. Or he may need to collect a sample and perform tests that can take a day or two.

When the results from that test are back, the technician will contact you and discuss what was found. Depending on your concerns, you may also have opted for additional testing to be performed by a government-approved lab, the results of which can take up to 10 days, depending on what is being scanned. Again, the technician would meet with you for a second time to talk to you about the system to be designed around your specific needs.

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