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moondust

May 26, 2003, 6:11 PM

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no such thing as city water?

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sorry if this sounds dumb, but I know australia and mexico have tanks of water on their houses and I've never seen this done, so thought I'd ask how efficient this is, presuming its been working for many moons. how expensive is this system of water? thanks for your response. prospective expatriate. alysia



Rolly


May 26, 2003, 7:17 PM

Post #2 of 29 (3804 views)

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Re: [moondust] no such thing as city water?

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There are two reasons for the water tank on the roof. In some paces the city water service is intermittent, so on-site storage is the only way to be sure of a steady supply. The second reason is that in many places the pressure in the city main line is so low that a shower doesn't work well, so a tank on the roof adds enough pressure (by gravity) that a shower works better. Frequently both problems occur.

Some homes have the water tank in the ground and use an electric pump to supply the house with good pressure. I have that at my house. Of course in a power failure, the pump doesn't work, so we have by-pass valves to allow the city water to be fed directly when the pump is out.

Rolly Pirate


jennifer rose

May 26, 2003, 9:18 PM

Post #3 of 29 (3788 views)

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Of tinacos and aljibes

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The elevated or rooftop water storage tank is a tinaco. The underground reservoir (or sometimes above-ground) is the aljibe. Not all houses have tinacos, and not all houses have aljibes. What works in one part of the country Ė or even a single neighborhood or type of construction Ė doesnít set the standard for all else.

The aljibe is usually located in the cochera, under the house, or in the garden Ė usually somewhere fairly close to the street, although it could be located anywhere.

The usual routine is that the water pumps from the street to the aljibe, where it is stored until it is pumped up to the tinaco. From the tinaco, it is then delivered to the filtration and purification devices, hot water heater, and the rest of the house. If the elevation of the tinaco is high enough, it works as a gravity-fed pressure pump.

Those houses which do not have a tinaco usually require a pump to deliver the water to the house. And when the electricity fails, so too does the electric pump.

Again, and this is very regional, in a good many areas water is not delivered 24/7/365. It may come from the street only in the morning and at night, during designated hours, or even on designated days. Water may be delivered to one area during specified times, and to another during another time frame. There may be shut-downs of water service while the water plant undergoes repairs. Some people arenít connected to a water system at all, and they must depend upon delivery from water trucks. Thatís why water storage is important.


(This post was edited by jennifer rose on May 26, 2003, 9:36 PM)


moondust

May 27, 2003, 2:01 PM

Post #4 of 29 (3735 views)

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Re: to Rolly, my hero

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dear Rolly, went to your website and was enthralled with it. so helpful, glad you put up this site for us gringos, all the reality was there..but you did it, you actually transported all your worldly possessions, of which I have none, so maybe I'm lucky, maybe not! the one thing preventing me from immediately taking the plunge is not being able to keep my vehicle, perhaps having it towed away for not complying with the rules or being absent minded, which I've been known to be....hmmm, got some thinking to do, much love, alysia


jsandrock

May 29, 2003, 9:10 PM

Post #5 of 29 (3678 views)

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Can someone explain water purification systems?

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Greetings all -- in getting ready for my hoped-for retirement in Mexico later this year (if our house ever sells!), I'm wondering if someone (Rolly?) can explain how the water purification systems one reads about in real estate ads actually work...what sort of device or devices does the job? How does the ultraviolet deal work? Is this a system that requires maintenance, like changing cartridges or filters or something periodically? Is it hugely expensive to install in a house? Does anyone have thoughts to share about these systems, good, bad, install at once, avoid at all costs!!???

Many thanks for any info y'all can provide...

cheers, Jillian


Rolly


May 30, 2003, 8:06 AM

Post #6 of 29 (3660 views)

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Re: [jsandrock] Can someone explain water purification systems?

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Moondust, you make me blush. But I'm glad you found my efforts useful.

Jullian, I am lucky to live in an area where our water is just fine right out of the tap; we don't need filters or purification measures, so I have never needed to learn about them. I believe Jennifer Rose uses some of these things at her house. Perhaps she will share her experiences.

Rolly Pirate


Uncle Donnie

May 30, 2003, 10:20 AM

Post #7 of 29 (3653 views)

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Re: [Rolly] Can someone explain water purification systems?

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Hi Jillian,

Here are some Lakeside prices for you. A whole house water purification system is advertised at 3,990 pesos (about $399 US) and includes two 20" filters and an ultraviolet germicidal unit. They say it's good for a house with 3.5 bathrooms or less. They also have a water softener system for 5,500 pesos($550 US). I suspect you'll also need a pressure system if you use the purification system. I've seen them in the stores starting from around 2,000 pesos ($200 US).

These prices do not include the IVA (tax of 15%) or installation. You'll need to pay for couplings and fittings and a bit of new pipe for the installation but that's not a major expense.

As far as maintenance; you'll need to replace the filter elements occasionally (depends upon use and contaminant levels where you are), and the ultraviolet tubes will eventually burn out. Your gardener will usually know what to do.

Shameless self-promotion:
http://www.headformexico.com


jennifer rose

May 30, 2003, 12:51 PM

Post #8 of 29 (3640 views)

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Re: [Uncle Donnie] Can someone explain water purification systems?

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There are many, many different filtration and purification systems. Some only deliver purified water to the tap, and others deliver it to the entire house, including the toilets. Obviously, one which only delivers to the tap will be a much smaller system.

My setup includes a filter from the aljibe to the tinaco. Those are dual filters, each about a meter high, and are cleaned on a weekly basis. We probably replace the filters every six months. At the tinaco is another filter before the water reaches the reverse osmosis and UV systems. And then the water softener.

Depending upon the elevation of the house and the system, a pressure tank is not necessary in all circumstances.

My house is much larger than average, with the double the number of bathrooms described in the advertisement Donnie mentioned. When my system was installed, about ten years ago, it cost around $2,500 USD. About once a year, I have the plumber make a revision of the system, and we take samples to the water filtration plant for testing.

The price of these systems, I understand, has come down since I bought mine. Sure, it was expensive, but itís been worth every centavo.


Uncle Donnie

May 30, 2003, 3:56 PM

Post #9 of 29 (3623 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Can someone explain water purification systems?

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Hi jj,

I agree that the systems are well worth the cost. The house I'm in now is the first with a water purification system and I love not having to deal with garrafons any more.

Plus I have one of the constant temperature water heaters so hot water is no longer a rationed luxury.

I spoke with a friend today and (rudely) asked the total cost of the small purification system he recently installed. He reported $3,000 pesos, and said his filters were made in the U.S. rather than Mexico. He said they less likely to clog.

Shameless self-promotion:
http://www.headformexico.com


Esteban

May 31, 2003, 6:50 AM

Post #10 of 29 (3597 views)

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Re: [jsandrock] Can someone explain water purification systems?

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As a sort of sidebar to all that has been said here, I'd like to add that I've seen a lot of remodeling of older homes here in Mazatlan and one of the largest failures is that of not paying attention to water. People usually start with visions of fancy tile, colorful paint and other cosmetics while one of the most important part of a living structure is it's water system. You can't live without it. So if you are building or remodeling, it'll be worth every extra penny to go above and beyond with your water system including the best filtration system you can afford.


Carol Schmidt


May 31, 2003, 6:32 PM

Post #11 of 29 (3568 views)

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Re: [moondust] no such thing as city water?

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As one who came down with amoebas somehow, someplace, in San Miguel, I can say that my physician insists on a two-stage water purification system, both a good filtration system and then something else, such as ultraviolet light or the silver cartridge system. The problem is not necessarily from the water provided by a city, which may be chlorinated, but with eroded old pipes which can let sewer water infiltrate drinking water pipes in older areas. Get expert advice on this! Flagyl is not fun.

Carol Schmidt


MommaJ

Jun 1, 2003, 8:30 PM

Post #12 of 29 (3522 views)

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Re: [Carol Schmidt] no such thing as city water?

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I must be naive about all this but I did not think there was any type of water filtration/purfication systems that would elminate the problems with the water from the taps in MX. We are moving down next month and I just assume that we would always drink bottled water. The house we are moving into (renting) does have a softener and I think that is all it does.

I don't know all the ins and outs of the water system and I can't say for certian that we are on city water but does that even matter?

Momma J


Rolly


Jun 1, 2003, 8:47 PM

Post #13 of 29 (3518 views)

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Re: [MommaJ] no such thing as city water?

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MommaJ, let me be the first to assure you that not all tap water in Mexico is bad. I have never heard of a city water supply in Mexico that could not be made safe for gringos by the devices being talked about in this thread. If you drink bottled water forever, it will be because you want to, not because you have to.

When you get to where you are going ask around about the water. Go to a doctor's office and ask. Then you'll know what you need to do, if anything.

Rolly Pirate


(This post was edited by Rolly on Jun 1, 2003, 8:49 PM)


jennifer rose

Jun 1, 2003, 9:14 PM

Post #14 of 29 (3513 views)

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Re: [Rolly] no such thing as city water?

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In Reply To

When you get to where you are going ask around about the water. Go to a doctor's office and ask. Then you'll know what you need to do, if anything.


I wouldn't rely upon a physician to be familiar with every house's water system within his patiients' territory. Water quality can vary even within a single block, because the pipes and water containment systems can vary greatly.

If the rental has a water softener, it's very likely that it also has a purification system. But the existence of a system isn't enough; it must be maintained regularly.

When you first arrive at your new home, use bottled water for the first week or so, until you've become acclimated to the differences in the water's flora and fauna. Have the water tested. Of course, I can't speak for your destination, but OOPAS in Morelia tests the water and generates a report at no charge.


Rolly


Jun 2, 2003, 9:08 AM

Post #15 of 29 (3485 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] no such thing as city water?

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Of course, a local doctor can't be familiar with the plumbing in every house. But he will surely know the general safety and quality of the city system. He is also quite likely to know of problems in specific areas; after all local folks get sick from contaminated water, too. There is a big difference between the local flora and fauna that we can all get accustomed to and the truly dangerous pathogens that make everyone sick.

On one of my trips to Manzanillo, I inquired about water from a local doctor friend. He recited a surprisingly detailed report of the water conditions in every area around the whole Manzanillo bay -- almost all OK. When I moved to Lerdo, I asked a local doctor and got a similarly detailed report of the area -- all safe in Lerdo and the other two of the tri-cities, but not in some of the outlying villages.

Rolly Pirate


gpk

Jun 2, 2003, 9:57 AM

Post #16 of 29 (3480 views)

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Re: [Rolly] no such thing as city water?

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I was recently advised to pour a bottle of bleach in my aljibe every 6 months. Also, make sure the water tests look for heavy metals. This--not bacteria--is a problem in many parts of the US also. I brush my teeth with tap water everywhere in Mexico, but I only drink and cook with bottled water--and this is the habit of every Mexican family I know that can afford bottled water.


Rolly


Jun 2, 2003, 10:49 AM

Post #17 of 29 (3473 views)

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Re: [gpk] no such thing as city water?

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A bottle of bleach? Not a cup? A cup of bleach is the only advice I have heard. A whole bottle ought to make the water taste/smell pretty bad.

The need for bottled water is a local issue, and it is not the same in all parts of Mexico. And in some places it becomes a local custom issue rather than a necessity. For example, as I noted above, I was told by a doctor in Manzanillo that the city water was safe (and Iíve been drinking it for years), yet bottled water is very common in MZ. Bottled water delivery trucks are everywhere.

Let me assure you if your water really is contaminated, you should not be brushing your teeth with it. A few years ago when the last big earthquake hit Los Angeles, we were told to use only bottled or boiled water because the water system in my part of the city had been contaminated. So I boiled a big pot of water and used it until one morning when I forgot. I brushed my teeth with tap water, and as a result of that sleepy lasp, I lost two teeth to a dreadful infection. I have heard others give the advice that you can brush your teeth with water you should not drink -- I don't buy it. IMHO if it's not OK to drink, it's not OK to put in your mouth at all.





Rolly Pirate


jennifer rose

Jun 2, 2003, 11:43 AM

Post #18 of 29 (3468 views)

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Re: [gpk] no such thing as city water?

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I've always dumped a bottle of bleach into my aljibe, about every six months, which is usually more like every year, and usually just before I'm going to be out of town for a few days. No one had to tell me that -- doing so dates back to dumping a bottle of Chlorox in the reservoir at the farm. (It helps preserve the rats and other floaters.) Of course, there are various sizes of aljibe, and various size of Chloro bottles, but methinks that a mere cup would be enough only for the smallest aljibe.


Jerry@Ajijic

Jun 2, 2003, 12:20 PM

Post #19 of 29 (3464 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] no such thing as city water?

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Chula Vista Subdivision in Ajijic has drinkable water. Most of the people who live here drink it every day. We have been drinking it for 4 years and not problem.


MommaJ

Jun 2, 2003, 2:52 PM

Post #20 of 29 (3448 views)

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Re: [Jerry@Ajijic] no such thing as city water?

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Wow, thanks for all the information. I should have joined this forum earlier. I'll check into the type of system in our house and find out who and how often it has been maintained. I don't know how long the house has been vacant so that could make a difference as well. The landlord is also foreign or married to a foreigner so they may have the system in place already and we just need to get it going!

Thanks again for all the valuable info.

Momma J


Esteban

Jun 3, 2003, 9:44 AM

Post #21 of 29 (3411 views)

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Re: [MommaJ] no such thing as city water?

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Not only is it wise to "shock" the system with Chlorine once in a while, it is also prudent to remember that the water will lie dormant in all the pipes in your house. So, after you put the chlorine in the tinaco, allow the water to run from the tap until you smell chlorine. Then, turn the tap off. Do that at each faucet. All it takes is about 15 minutes for the chlorine to kill the bacteria. That way, you also kill the bacteria in all the pipes in your home. When I used to develope new water systems, we always took the samples close to the source ie well. If you want to have your water tested from a faucet in the house, allow the water to run for several minutes before you draw the sample.


Papirex


Jun 4, 2003, 9:43 AM

Post #22 of 29 (3377 views)

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Re: [Esteban] no such thing as city water? A little trick

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One of my neighbors told me he always tosses one of those chlorine tablets intended for use in toilet tanks in his cisterna. I am a retired plumber - pipefitter, and I have sterilized new water mains before. This requires calculating the volume of water, the amount of chemicals to use, etc. I had no fantasy that one chlorine tablet would actually sanitize the water in our cisterna.

But, like throwing salt over your shoulder, I figured, it can't hurt, so I did it. When I lifted the cover on the cisterna, I noticed a lot of sediment on the bottom of the tank. The bottom of the tank was brown. I knew I would need to call a service to clean it. I checked the tinaco, it was clean.

A week or so later, the water company was doing some work on the pipes, and we ran out of water. I ordered a "pipe" of water. When they were pumping it in to the cisterna, it stirred up the sediment. My wife poured 2 1/2 cups of Clorox in to the cisterna.

We could smell chlorine in the water for a week or ten days. After that, a couple of times, our laundry came out dirty from the dirt in the water, and had to be re-washed.

I am sometimes a world class procrastinater, and didn't have the tank cleaned. One night a couple of months later, I tossed in another chlorine pill. Then, about two months ago, I remembered that I should have the tank cleaned. I went out to put another chlorine pill in the cisterna.

I was flabergasted when I lifted the cover. The cisterna was clean. I could see the white concrete bottom of the tank. The last tablet I had put in it was clearly visible, and was still about half intact. I checked the tinaco again, it was still clean.

With this house, and the last house we lived in, every time I would check the water level in the cisterna, there were always 2, 3, or a half dozen insects crawling around the walls, above the water level. After I put the first chlorine pill in this cisterna, I have never seen an insect in it. That alone, IMHO, justifies the "pill treatment".

I don't really know if the chlorine pills alone cleaned the cisterna, or if the water being stirred up did it, or both. But, like salt tossed over a shoulder, it can't hurt. A chlorine tablet seems to last about three months.

I don't even dream that this sanitizes the water. It can't hurt. No insects.

Rex
"The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved" - Victor Hugo


Georgia


Jun 4, 2003, 5:05 PM

Post #23 of 29 (3353 views)

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Re: [RexC] chlorine tablets

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Funny, I was going to ask about slow release chlorine tablets. We use a kind of bromine tablet in our spa in the US and it works great. I figured that chlorine tablets would also. Instead of shocking the system, it's a steady release. Anyone else's thoughts?


Esteban

Jun 5, 2003, 1:35 PM

Post #24 of 29 (3326 views)

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Re: [Georgia] chlorine tablets

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The only question I have about the tablet method is that whether or not the coliform or other harmful bacteria will be able to, over time, mutate and become immune to the treatment. Any water treatment chemist in your area would probably know the answer. Especially in the US where these infrastructure problems are actually part of the Federal code.


ET

Jun 7, 2003, 2:13 PM

Post #25 of 29 (3275 views)

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Re: [Georgia] Home Chlorination

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The idea of randomly dumping some quantity of bleach into a drinking water supply, let alone chucking in a toilet mint ("....one of those chlorine tablets intended for use in toilet tanks....") makes me twitch. I'm repeating the mantra of a coworker ("people do all kinds of weird things to their bodies") over and over again and looking for something healthy like a half-dozen Krispy Kremes or some nice black tar heroin to chill with.

Chlorine is a two-edged sword. As a disinfectant, it's extremely effective against a wide range of pathogenic organisms (organisms which are capable of causing diseases) and is very cheap. On the downside, it's quite toxic, rapidly inactivates when it comes into contact with organic (carbon-based) materials, can react with these same organic materials to form potentially carcinogenic organochlorine compounds such as chloroform (CHCl3), can impart an unpleasant taste and odor to drinking water, and can damage certain materials such as stainless steel and some elastomers. What this translates to is that you want to use doses that will create the appropriate concentration of chlorine in your water supply, but neither overshoot nor underrun significantly.

With this in mind there's two distinct and different uses of chlorine in a potable water system, which require very different concentrations of chlorine in water. These applications are shock chlorination, used to disinfect the components of a potable water system, and routine disinfection used as a public health safeguard or barrier to reduce the possibility that a pathogenic organism can survive in the water stream itself.

When you properly shock chlorinate a potable water system, the water used during the process in rendered unusable for drinking and other "domestic" applications. The chlorine concentrations that remain at the end of a successful shock chlorination sequence are far too high to be acceptable or pleasant for routine consumption and the reaction products if present can be anywhere from distasteful and malodorous to carcinogenic.

When you shock chlorinate a system, you normally introduce enough chlorine concentrate (depending on the size of the system anything from consumer-concentration (5.25%) sodium hypochlorite bleach, to chlorinated lime (CaOCl2), to high-test calcium hypochlorite (Ca(OCl)2, aka swimming pool chlorine) to create a chlorine concentration of somewhere between 100 and 200 parts per million (PPM). At these concentrations there's typically enough chlorine present to survive the inactivation by organic materials and destroy algae colonies and biofilms (slime) which harbor all kinds of microorganisms. To verify that sufficient chlorine was present to effectively disinfect the system in hardcore commercial applications you'd test residual chlorine levels (typically using a field colormetric technique) at the end of the disinfection sequence to verify that all of the chlorine wasn't gobbled up by the organics present.

The typical shock chlorination sequence runs something like:
- you remove vulnerable components from the path of flow (carbon filters, elastomer lined pressure tanks, etc.).
- you verify that they system is isolated from the municipal water system (it should be through vacuum breakers anyways, but in reality....).
- you introduce the chlorine concentrate at the wellhead, tank, or other point of delivery.
- you run the water at various points in the system so that the highly chlorinated water is distributed.
- you let the highly chlorinated solution sit for several hours (in contrast to the 15 minutes somebody recommended earlier in the thread, the shortest hold time I've seen is 2 hours, 6 is more common, and for domestic applications I've seen "overnight" as a common recommendation).
- (optional) you test the system to verify that elevated chlorine concentrations are still present.
- you thoroughly flush the system, dumping the water into the municipal sewer system or somewhere where the remaining chlorine won't kill anything. Generally you'd use flow time, combined with a sniff test to verify that the system has been properly purged, in sensitive applications you might use a field test to verify chlorine concentrations are down to levels typical of the supply stream.

In contrast to shock chlorination, municipal water system operators normally add very low concentrations of chlorine to their drinking water at the end of their processing sequence before feeding it into the distribution system, with the target of having somewhere between 0.5 and 1.5 PPM chlorine remaining in the water when it gets to the consumer's tap. These concentrations will not sterilize pipes or plumbing, but rather will kill any stray microorganisms that either remain in the water itself following processing at the treatment facility, or are introduced into the flow downstream because of minor cases cross-contamination.

Maintaining the low concentration of chlorine in the drinking water supply is a fine art, particularly considering the large volumes of water being processed and that it's a continuous flow rather than batch feed system. Rather than a straight dilution calculation, parameters such as temperature, pH, mineral content, and condition of downstream pipes need to be taken account, and the variable length of plumbing between the treatment plant and various end users drives operators nuts, as a half-PPM extra chlorine will have people complaining about the terrible taste and odor of their water, and no chlorine at the point of use raises the risk of either actual or perceived public health problems. In the past several years many municipal water treatment facilities in the US have converted to a chlorine compound called chloramine because it's less reactive and consequently has more predictable behavior in water supply systems (it also reduces the already trace formation of the potentially carcinogen halomethane compounds).

There's no way that either periodically adding a slug of bleach or floating a cake of pool chlorine in a water storage tank will simulate the process of routine chlorination used in a water treatment plant. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it's actually a case of the water supply coming into your home system is perfectly fine and free of biological contaminants and that the addition of the chloro is simply a case of appeasing the gods. I also mildly wonder if this random dumping in of a bottle of bleach actually is causing some of the intestinal maladies attributed to the water supply or food contamination.

Time to go skin pop....

PS - Whoever was tossing the toilet cake into their tank should check and verify that that really is just a chlorine source. At least the thing I think of as tank mints are actually paradichlorobenzene (moth flake) cakes impregnated with various color and odor agents. PDCB really isn't something I want in my personal water supply.
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