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Understanding Turbidity in Drinking Water - Causes and Removal of Cloudiness in Tampa Bay, Florida

Understand the common causes of turbidity in drinking water like soil runoff and contamination. Learn about the health risks of cloudy water and methods to effectively reduce turbidity.
Understand the common causes of turbidity in drinking water like soil runoff and contamination. Learn about the health risks of cloudy water and methods to effectively reduce turbidity.

Turbidity refers to the cloudiness or haziness in water caused by suspended particles. High turbidity levels can significantly impact the quality of drinking water in Tampa Bay, Florida. In this article, we’ll explore the common causes of turbidity and effective methods for removing cloudiness from drinking water.

What Causes Turbidity in Drinking Water?

There are several potential sources that can contribute to turbid water:

Soil Runoff

During heavy rains, soil and sediments can run off into water supplies like rivers, lakes, and groundwater. This stormwater runoff carries fine suspended particles that create turbidity. Areas with high clay content in the soil are especially prone to runoff that causes turbid water.

Disturbance of Pipes

The disturbance of water pipes through repairs, maintenance, or new construction can stir up sediment that increases cloudiness. Older pipelines may have more sediment buildup that gets stirred up.

Algae Blooms

Rapid algae growth fueled by nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen can cause greenish water. Decaying algae also adds organic particulate matter.

Wastewater Contamination

Faulty septic systems, leaking sewer lines, or wastewater discharge can introduce microbes and other contaminants that increase turbidity.

Health Risks of Turbid Water

Turbidity itself has no direct health effects. However, the suspended particles can potentially harbor harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites if the turbidity is caused by contamination.

High turbidity can also make disinfection processes less effective. Disinfectants like chlorine may not fully reach and inactivate pathogens shielded by the cloudy particles. This increases the health risks if disease-causing microorganisms are present.

Furthermore, turbidity can indicate elevated lead levels. Sediment disturbances may release lead into the water from old plumbing fixtures and pipes.

Turbidity Standards for Drinking Water

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates turbidity in drinking water provided by public utilities. The maximum turbidity limit is 1 nephelometric turbidity unit (NTU) for water leaving the treatment facility. Levels from 5 to 10 NTU may be just noticeable to the average person.

Private well owners are responsible for monitoring and treating turbidity themselves. The EPA recommends levels below 1 NTU for private wells. Many experts advise maintaining turbidity below 0.5 NTU for optimal water quality.

Testing for Turbidity in Drinking Water

Since turbidity is an aesthetic issue, appearance alone cannot precisely determine turbidity levels. A turbidimeter is required to accurately measure NTUs. Aqua-Wise offers free drinking water testing to evaluate turbidity along with other water quality parameters.

Checking for turbidity should be part of routine maintenance for private well owners. Increased turbidity could signal the need for well repairs or improved treatment. Public water systems continually monitor turbidity levels entering the distribution system.

Effective Methods to Reduce Turbidity

Various water treatment solutions can remove the suspended particles that cause hazy drinking water:

Sediment Filters

Sediment filters use physical straining to trap suspended particles as small as 5-50 microns. They are effective for treating turbidity caused by soil runoff or disturbance of water pipes. Sediment pre-filters protect other systems like RO units from particles that could clog components.

AquaBlue Whole House Filters

Installing a whole-house sediment filter like the AquaBlue system provides turbidity reduction at the point-of-entry for all water used in the home. The 5-micron pre-filter screens out cloudiness while the carbon filter sorbs organic compounds that can contribute to turbidity.

Coagulation and Flocculation

Coagulants like alum are chemicals added to clump suspended particles together into larger "flocs" that can settle out through sedimentation or be filtered out more readily. Flocculation enhances the coagulation process through gentle mixing.

Clarifiers and Multi-Media Filters

Clarifiers allow particles to settle out by gravity. Multi-media filters with layers of anthracite, sand, and garnet then trap any remaining particles. Together, clarification and multi-media filtration can effectively reduce turbidity.

Filtration Through Activated Carbon

Activated carbon adsorbs organic matter as water passes through, clearing both particulate and dissolved compounds. It helps polish out cloudiness caused by decaying vegetation, wastewater discharge, or chemical contamination.

Reverse Osmosis (RO)

RO uses a semi-permeable membrane to remove dissolved solids, microorganisms, and other contaminants bigger than water molecules. RO effectively reduces all forms of turbidity but requires pre-filtration to prevent membrane fouling.

AquaRevive Reverse Osmosis Systems

For drinking water applications, Aqua-Wise recommends reverse osmosis systems like AquaRevive paired with sediment and carbon pre-filtration. RO provides thorough turbidity treatment while the pre-filters protect the membrane.

Oxidizing Filters

Filters that release oxidizing chemicals like chlorine or ozone can destroy algae and oxidize minerals like iron and manganese. This helps reduce turbidity caused by algae growth or precipitates from dissolved metals.

HydroClear Ozone Generator

The HydroClear ozone injection system from Aqua-Wise oxidizes iron, sulfur, and manganese to prevent cloudiness. Ozone also destroys algae and microorganisms.

Ultraviolet (UV) Disinfection

UV light inactivates pathogens like bacteria and viruses that could be shielded by hazy water. Though UV does not remove particles, it provides supplemental disinfection even when turbidity impacts the effectiveness of chemical disinfectants.

AquaGuard UV Systems

AquaGuard UV units paired with pre-filtration provide complete disinfection against all microbes. This reduces potential health risks if turbidity is caused by wastewater contamination.

Reliable Water Treatment for Tampa Bay Residents

Turbidity not only looks unappealing but can indicate potential health risks. Aqua-Wise offers customized solutions to resolve cloudy drinking water using filtration, disinfection, and specialty treatment systems. From whole house units to under sink RO and UV, we design effective water treatment tailored to your needs.

Schedule your free Tampa Bay water test to check for turbidity and other contaminants. Take advantage of discounts, promotions, and financing options to improve your water quality. Investing in water treatment improves the health and aesthetics of the water you drink.

For professional installation and service, contact the water quality experts at Aqua-Wise today.


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