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water

World oceans cover about three fourth of earth's surface. According to the UN estimates, the total amount of water on earth is about 1400 million cubic kilometre (m.cu.km.) which is enough to cover the earth with a layer of 3000 metres depth. However the fresh water constitutes a very small proportion of this enormous quantity. About 2.7 per cent of the total water available on the earth is fresh water of which about 75.2 per cent lies frozen in polar regions and another 22.6 per cent is present as ground water. The rest is available in lakes, rivers, atmosphere, moisture, soil and vegetation. What is effectively available for consumption and other uses is a small proportion of the quantity available in rivers, lakes and ground water. The crisis about water resources development and management thus arises because most of the water is not available for use and secondly it is characterised by its highly uneven spatial distribution. Accordingly, the importance of water has been recognised and greater emphasis is being laid on its economic use and better management.

Water on the earth is in motion through the hydrological cycle. The utilisation of water for most of the users i.e. human, animal or plant involve movement of water. The dynamic and renewable nature of the water resources and the recurrent need for its utilisation requires that water resources are measured in terms of its flow rates. Thus water resources have two facets. The dynamic resource, measured as flow is more relevant for most of developmental needs. The static or fixed nature of the reserve, involving the quantity of water, the length of area of the water bodies is also relevant for some activities like pisciculture, navigation etc.

Water is a prime natural resource, a basic human need and a precious national asset. Planning, development and management of water resources need to be governed by national perspectives.

As per the latest assessment (1993), out of the total precipitation, including snowfall, of around 4000 billion cubic metre in the country, the availability from surface water and replenishable ground water is put at 1869 billion cubic metre. Because of topographical and other constraints, about 60% of this i.e. 690 billion cubic metre from surface water and 432 billion cubic metre from ground water, can be put to beneficial use. Availability of water is highly uneven in both space and time. Precipitation is confined to only about three or four months in a year and varies from 100 mm in the western parts of Rajasthan to over 10000 mm at Cherrapunji in Meghalaya. Rivers and under ground aquifers often cut across state boundaries. Water, as a resource is one and indivisible: rainfall, river waters, surface ponds and lakes and ground water are all part of one system.

Water is part of a larger ecological system. Realising the importance and scarcity attached to the fresh water, it has to be treated as an essential environment for sustaining all life forms.

Water is a scarce and precious national resource to be planned, developed, conserved and managed as such, and on an integrated and environmentally sound basis, keeping in view the socio-economic aspects and needs of the States. It is one of the most crucial elements in developmental planning. As the country has entered the 21st century, efforts to develop, conserve, utilise and manage this important resource in a sustainable manner, have to be guided by the national perspective.

Another important aspect is water quality. Improvements in existing strategies, innovation of new techniques resting on a strong science and technology base are needed to eliminate the pollution of surface and ground water resources, to improve water quality. Science and technology.

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Water Resource Planning

Water resources available to the country should be brought within the category of utilizable resources to the maximum possible extent.

Non-conventional methods for utilisation of water such as through inter-basin transfers, artificial recharge of ground water and desalination of brackish or sea water as well as traditional water conservation practices like rainwater harvesting, including roof-top rainwater harvesting, need to be practiced to further increase the utilisable water resources. Promotion of frontier research and development, in a focused manner, for these techniques is necessary.

Water resources development and management will have to be planned for a hydrological unit such as drainage basin as a whole or for a sub-basin, multi-sectorally, taking into account surface and ground water for sustainable use incorporating quantity and quality aspects as well as environmental considerations. All individual developmental projects and proposals should be formulated and considered within the framework of such an overall plan keeping in view the existing agreements / awards for a basin or a sub-basin so that the best possible combination of options can be selected and sustained.

Watershed management through extensive soil conservation, catch ment -area treatment, preservation of forests and increasing the forest cover and the construction of check-dams should be promoted. Efforts shall be to conserve the water in the catchment.

Water should be made available to water short areas by transfer from other areas including transfers from one river basin to another, based on a national perspective, after taking into account the requirements of the areas / basins.

Drinking Water

Adequate safe drinking water facilities should be provided to the entire population both in urban and in rural areas. Irrigation and multipurpose projects should invariably include a drinking water component, wherever there is no alternative source of drinking water. Drinking water needs of human beings and animals should be the first charge on any available water.

Water Quality

  • Both surface water and ground water should be regularly monitored for quality. A phased programme should be undertaken for improvements in water quality.
  • Effluents should be treated to acceptable levels and standards before discharging them into natural streams.
  • Minimum flow should be ensured in the perennial streams for maintaining ecology and social considerations.
  • Principle of 'polluter pays' should be followed in management of polluted water.
  • Necessary legislation is to be made for preservation of existing water bodies by preventing encroachment and deterioration of water quality.
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Treatment

Drinking water treatment methods

Two important terms related to water treatment:

Water Purification - to remove specified contaminants from a water source.

Water Disinfection - specifically, a purification process that kills or removes biological contaminants (cysts, bacteria, viruses, protozoans, etc.) from a water source. Water that has been disinfected (by UV treatment, boiling, chlorination, micro-filtration, etc.) may still be polluted with other contaminants that are not affected by the disinfection treatment. In some cases, additional contaminants may actually be added to the water by the disinfection process. For instance, the process of chlorination nearly always adds some disinfection byproducts (trihalomethanes, like chloroform), and boiling water will concentrate inorganic contaminants.

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Boiling

Drinking water treatment methods

In an emergency, boiling is the best way to purify water that is unsafe because of the presence of protozoan parasites or bacteria.

If the water is cloudy, it should be filtered before boiling. Filters designed for use when camping, coffee filters, towels (paper or cotton), cheesecloth, or a cotton plug in a funnel are effective ways to filter cloudy water.

Place the water in a clean container and bring it to a full boil and continue boiling for at least 3 minutes (covering the container will help reduce evaporation). If you are more than 5,000 feet above sea level, you must increase the boiling time to at least 5 minutes (plus about a minute for every additional 1,000 feet). Boiled water should be kept covered while cooling.

The advantages of Boiling Water include:

Pathogens that might be lurking in your water will be killed if the water is boiled long enough. Boiling will also drive out some of the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that might also be in the water. This method works well to make water that is contaminated with living organisms safe to drink, but because of the inconvenience, boiling is not routinely used to purify drinking water except in emergencies.

The disadvantages of Boiling Water include:

Boiling should not be used when toxic metals, chemicals (lead, mercury, asbestos, pesticides, solvents, etc.), or nitrates have contaminated the water.

Boiling may concentrate any harmful contaminants that do not vaporize as the relatively pure water vapor boils off.

Energy is needed to boil the water

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Distillation

In many ways, distillation is the reverse of boiling. To remove impurities from water by distillation, the water is usually boiled in a chamber causing water to vaporize, and the pure (or mostly pure) steam leaves the non volatile contaminants behind. The steam moves to a different part of the unit and is cooled until it condenses back into liquid water. The resulting distillate drips into a storage container.

Salts, sediment, metals - anything that won't boil or evaporate - remain in the distiller and must be removed. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a good example of a contaminant that will evaporate and condense with the water vapor. A vapor trap, carbon filter, or other device must be used along with a distiller to ensure the more complete removal of contaminants.

  • A good distillation unit produces very pure water. This is one of the few practical ways to remove nitrates, chloride, and other salts that carbon filtration can not remove
  • Distillation also removes pathogens in the water, mostly by killing and leaving them behind when the water vapor evaporates. If the water is boiled, or heated just short of boiling, pathogens would also be killed.
  • As long as the distiller is kept clean and is working properly the high quality of treated water will be very consistent regardless of the incoming water - no drop in quality over time.
  • No filter cartridges to replace, unless a carbon filter is used to remove volatile organic compounds.

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The disadvantages of Distillation include:

  • Distillation takes time to purify the water, It can take two to five hours to make a gallon of distilled water.
  • Distillers uses electricity all the time the unit is operating.
  • Distillers requires periodic cleaning of the boiler, condensation compartment, and storage tank.
  • Countertop Distillation is one of the more expensive home water treatment methods. The cost of ownership is high because you not only have the initial cost of the distillation unit to consider, but you also must pay for the electrical energy for each gallon of water produced.
  • Most home distillation units require electricity, and will not function in an emergency situation when electrical power is not energy for each gallon of water produced.

Water Filter System Price

Water Filters

The topic of water filters is complicated because there are so many models available (over 2,500 different models manufactured by more than 500 companies), and because there are so many types of filtration strategies and combinations of strategies used. The basic concept behind nearly all filters, however, is fairly simple. The contaminants are physically prevented from moving through the filter either by screening them out with very small pores and/or, in the case of carbon filters, by trapping them within the filter matrix by attracting them to the surface of carbon particles (the process of adsorption).

There are two main types of filters (sediment and activated carbon), and sometimes they are combined into a single unit. A third type, which will be considered as a separate topic, is reverse osmosis.

You will read about micron or sub micron filtration. This is a measure of how good the filter is at removing particles from the water - smaller is better. A micron is a unit of measure - one micron is about 1/100 the diameter of a human hair. A filter that removes particles down to 5 microns will produce fairly clean-looking water, but most of the water parasites, bacteria, cryptosporidia, giardia, etc. will pass through the pores. A filter must trap particles one micron or smaller to be effective at removing cryptosporidia or giardia cysts. Viruses can not be effectively removed by any filtration method. In theory, reverse osmosis will remove viruses, but a small flaw in the membranes would allow viruses to pass undetected into the 'filtered' water.

A benefit of all home filtration systems is that they are passive. That is, they require no electricity to filter the water, and normal home water pressure is used to force the water though the filter. The only routine maintenance required is periodic replacement of the filtration element. As long as the cost of the replacement filter elements is reasonable, owning a even a high-end water filter can be very inexpensive if you look at the long term costs and compare it with other solutions.

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Bottled Water

Did the water in the bottle you just purchased really come from the beautiful spring shown on the label? How can you be sure the water in the bottle is any cleaner or safer than your tap water? How does the cost, both short term and long term, compare with other water purification options?

Bottled water is simply water from some source that a company (or in the case of water vending machines, the consumer) has placed in a bottle for resale. Bottled water can have minimal (or no) processing - as in natural spring or mineral water, or it can be completely filtered and demineralized to nearly pure water and then have minerals added back in to make it taste better.

The advantages of Bottled Water include:

  • An emergency source of water in the event your primary water source fails or becomes contaminated.
  • A convenient source of usually safe water for drinking outside of the home.
  • Bottled water, since it does not contain chlorine, and may contain a mix of minerals to enhance flavor, may taste better than untreated tap water.
  • Most bottled water will contain fewer contaminants than untreated tap water.

The disadvantages of Bottled Water include:

Convenience - Using bottled water requires moving and storing jugs or bottles of water. Water weighs about eight pounds per gallon, or about 40 pounds per five gallon bottle. Failure of a small valve can lead to a big mess, as I discovered after arriving home one evening after a long day at work to find 3 gallons of water soaking into the rug.

Environmental Impact - Producing bottles uses resources, and unless they are reused or recycled, they cause a waste disposal problem. Recycle or reuse the empty bottles, if at all possible. Transporting bottles of water from the bottler to stores or homes also uses resources.

Ultra Violet Light

Water passes through a clear chamber where it is exposed to Ultra Violet (UV) Light. UV light effectively destroys bacteria and viruses. However, how well the UV system works depends on the energy dose that the organism absorbs. If the energy dose is not high enough, the organism's genetic material may only be damaged rather than disrupted.

The advantages of using UV include:

  • No known toxic or significant nontoxic byproducts introduced.
  • Leaves no smell or taste in the treated water.
  • Requires very little contact time (seconds versus minutes for chemical disinfection).
  • Improves the taste of water because some organic contaminants and nuisance microorganisms are destroyed.
  • Many pathogenic microorganisms are killed or rendered inactive.
  • Does not affect minerals in water

The disadvantages of using UV include:

  • UV radiation is not suitable for water with high levels of suspended solids, turbidity, color, or soluble organic matter. to These materials can react with UV radiation, and reduce disinfection performance. Turbidity makes it difficult for radiation penetrate water and pathogens can be 'shadowed', protecting them from the light.
  • UV light is not effective against any non-living contaminant, lead, asbestos, many organic chemicals, chlorine, etc.
  • Tough cryptosporidia cysts are fairly resistant to UV light.
  • Requires electricity to operate. In an emergency situation when the power is out, the purification will not work.
  • UV is typically used as a final purification stage on some filtration systems. If you are concerned about removing system contaminants in addition to bacteria and viruses, you would still need to use a quality carbon filter or reverse osmosis in addition to the UV system.

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Water Softeners and deionizers

Water softeners operate on the ion exchange process (specifically a cation exchange process where + ions are exchanged). In this process, water passes through a media bed, usually sulfonated polystyrene beads. The beads are supersaturated with sodium (a positive ion). The ion exchange process takes place as hard water passes through the softening material. The hardness minerals (positively charged Calcium and Magnesium ions) attach themselves to the resin beads while sodium on the resin beads is released simultaneously into the water. When the resin becomes saturated with calcium and magnesium, it must be recharged. The recharging is done by passing a concentrated salt (brine) solution through the resin. The concentrated sodium replaces the trapped calcium and magnesium ions which are discharged in the waste water. Softened water is not recommended for watering plants, lawns, and gardens due to its elevated sodium content.

Several factors govern the efficiency of a cationic softener:

  • Type & quality of resin used.
  • Amount of salt per cubic foot of resin for regeneration.
  • Brine concentration in the resin bed during regeneration.
  • Raw water hardness.
  • Raw water temperature - softeners perform better at higher temperatures.
  • Optimal flow rate of hard water through the resin bed.

Although not commonly used, potassium chloride can be used to create the salt brine for softeners designed to use KCl. In that case potassium rather than sodium is exchanged with calcium and magnesium. Before selecting an ion exchange water softener, test water for hardness and iron content. When selecting a water softener, the regeneration control system, the hardness removal capacity, and the iron limitations are three important elements to consider. More information on Hard Water and Softening.

The advantages of water softeners include:

  • The nuisance factor of hard water is reduced.
  • some other other cations like barium, radium and iron may be reduced depending on the manufacturer's specifications.

The disadvantages of water softeners include:

  • The process of regenerating the ion exchange bed dumps salt water into the environment.
  • The elevated sodium concentration of most softened water can affect the taste and may not be good for people on low sodium diets, although sodium concentrations are typically quite low relative to sodium levels in most food.
  • Cation exchange does not reduce the level of anions (like nitrates), or biological contaminants (bacteria, viruses, cysts) ; nor does the process reduce the levels of most organic compounds.
  • Typically, approximately 50 gallons of rinse water per cubic foot of resin is required to totally remove hardness and
  • excess salt from the resin after each regeneration.

Water Deionizers use both Cation and Anion Exchange to exchange both positive and negative ions with H+ or OH- ions respectively, leading to completely demineralized water. Deionizers do not remove uncharged compounds from water, and are often used in the final purification stages of producing completely pure water for medical, research, and industrial needs.

A potential problem with deionizers is that colonies of microorganisms can become established and proliferate on the nutrient-rich surfaces of the resin. When not regularly sanitized or regenerated, ion-exchange resins can contaminate drinking water with bacteria.

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Ozonation

The formation of oxygen into ozone occurs with the use of energy. This process is carried out by an electric discharge field as in the CD-type ozone generators (corona discharge simulation of the lightning), or by ultraviolet radiation as in UV-type ozone generators (simulation of the ultra-violet rays from the sun). In addition to these commercial methods, ozone may also be made through electrolytic and chemical reactions.

Ozone is a naturally occurring component of fresh air. It can be produced by the ultraviolet rays of the sun reacting with the Earth's upper atmosphere (which creates a protective ozone layer), by lightning, or it can be created artificially with an ozone generator.

The ozone molecule contains three oxygen atoms whereas the normal oxygen molecule contains only two. Ozone is a very reactive and unstable gas with a short half-life before it reverts back to oxygen. Ozone is the most powerful and rapid acting oxidizer man can produce, and will oxidize all bacteria, mold and yeast spores, organic material and viruses given sufficient exposure.

The advantages of using Ozone include:

  • Ozone is primarily a disinfectant that effectively kills biological contaminants.
  • Ozone also oxidizes and precipitates iron, sulfur, and manganese so they can be filtered out of solution.
  • Ozone will oxidize and break down many organic chemicals including many that cause odor and taste problems.
  • Ozonation produces no taste or odor in the water.
  • Since ozone is made of oxygen and reverts to pure oxygen, it vanishes without trace once it has been used. In the home, this does not matter much, but when water companies use ozone to disinfect the water there is no residual disinfectant, so chlorine or another disinfectant must be added to minimize microbial growth during storage and distribution.

Although not commonly used, potassium chloride can be used to create the salt brine for softeners designed to use KCl. In that case potassium rather than sodium is exchanged with calcium and magnesium. Before selecting an ion exchange water softener, test water for hardness and iron content. When selecting a water softener, the regeneration control system, the hardness removal capacity, and the iron limitations are three important elements to consider. More information on Hard Water and Softening.

The advantages of using Ozone include:

  • Ozone treatment can create undesirable byproducts that can be harmful to health if they are not controlled (e.g., formaldehyde and bromate).
  • The process of creating ozone in the home requires electricity. In an emergency with loss of power, this treatment will not work. Ozone is not effective at removing dissolved minerals and salts.

Caution - The effectiveness of the process is dependent, on good mixing of ozone with the water, and ozone does not dissolve particularly well, so a well designed system that exposes all the water to the ozone is important.

In the home, ozone is often combined with activated carbon filtration to achieve a more complete water treatment.