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Advice on treating Manganese contamination in well water?

Patrick Freeburger


Joined: Nov 09, 2009
Posts: 51
We're looking at buying a property, but the disclosure on the well showed a manganese level is 172 ug/L - typical is 10 ug/L and the legal level is 50 ug/L in California - so 3.5X the legal limit. I know we can buy a filter for the house, but we would also need one for the livestock and not sure if there are any issues with irrigating a garden, etc. If anyone has dealt with this before I would like to hear what you did or is this a deal killer.

Thanks,
Patrick

Amedean Messan
pollinator

Joined: Nov 11, 2010
Posts: 706
Location: Burlington, NC - Woodland, Clay - Zone 7
    
  22
How much are you willing to spend? This link has an overview of water purification options.

http://www.pureflowinc.com/pages/technologies/index.html

There is not currently a method to single handedly remove select elements economically at a consumer level. You are limited to removing most or all minerals from the water with current technology. Personally, I like electrodeionization but also consider that your water will have no minerals so you will need to supplement. The quality of water in a well designed filtration system is much better than municipal supplies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrodeionization

The most economical method would be collecting rain water for drinking and use the well water externally.


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tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 2977
Location: woodland, washington
    
  49
we have a lot of iron and manganese in our well water. I don't remember the numbers involved, but there was a lot of black manganese sludge involved. a slow sand filter solved the problem for under $100. this page has some good information.


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duane hennon
volunteer

Joined: Sep 23, 2010
Posts: 348
    
    2


a more hi-tech method is with ozone/filter
how much water are you going to use?

http://www.ozonepurewater.com/OzP-WT.htm
Amedean Messan
pollinator

Joined: Nov 11, 2010
Posts: 706
Location: Burlington, NC - Woodland, Clay - Zone 7
    
  22
we have a lot of iron and manganese in our well water. I don't remember the numbers involved, but there was a lot of black manganese sludge involved. a slow sand filter solved the problem for under $100. this page has some good information.


Sand is usually an inert material and cannot remove ions from water. Soluble metals are chemically bonded to water and cannot be removed mechanically. Not even a magnet will remove iron ions from water. I would retest your water because I think your sand trap gave you a sense of false security if you iron and manganese levels are too high. Otherwise, both are beneficial minerals at the right concentration.

a more hi-tech method is with ozone/filter
how much water are you going to use?

http://www.ozonepurewater.com/OzP-WT.htm


An ozone filter does nothing but kill microorganisms. You can use active carbon to remove ions from water because it is very reactive but you do need to cycle the filter. I do not know the measure of its effectiveness but it is not as effective as reverse osmosis or deionization.
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 2977
Location: woodland, washington
    
  49
Amed Mesa wrote:
Sand is usually an inert material and cannot remove ions from water. Soluble metals are chemically bonded to water and cannot be removed mechanically. Not even a magnet will remove iron ions from water. I would retest your water because I think your sand trap gave you a sense of false security if you iron and manganese levels are too high. Otherwise, both are beneficial minerals at the right concentration.


it's not the sand that's doing the filtering, it's the slime that grows on it. you're right that the sand is inert, but the layer of slime (biofilm or hypogeal layer if you want to sound fancy) is not.

the major disadvantage is the slow rate of filtration. we solved the problem with a 500-gallon storage tank that gravity feeds to the rest of the land.

the major advantages are that it's almost ridiculously cheap, easy to build, and extremely effective. removes most biological, chemical, and metallic contaminants. even removes ions.

I don't have our before-and-after water test results on hand, but they are dramatic. so I'll pitch a slow sand filter again. great way to remove manganese.
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 2977
Location: woodland, washington
    
  49
Amed Mesa wrote:
An ozone filter does nothing but kill microorganisms. You can use active carbon to remove ions from water because it is very reactive but you do need to cycle the filter. I do not know the measure of its effectiveness but it is not as effective as reverse osmosis or deionization.


both manganese and iron are oxidized by ozone, at which point they become far less soluble and drop out of solution. it's just a matter of letting it settle out of water after that.
Ardilla Esch


Joined: Feb 05, 2010
Posts: 141
Location: Nortern New Mexico, Zone 5b
    
    2
I like backwashing filters with filox/catalox/pyrolox media for manganese and iron. The upfront cost for a whole house/well filter would be about $1000 to $1500 depending on the amount of water to be filtered, but they are quite effective and have lower operation and maintenance hassles than other filters. I would steer clear of greensand filters since you have to backwash with potasium permanganate for effective long term filtration.

172 ug/L manganese is plenty to stain white laundry and such, but should be fine for irrigation. I have the filter backwash going into a mulched basin. The backwash by its nature has much higher iron and manganese than the water being filtered, but the plants don't care.

It isn't a deal breaker IMO. Manganese is fairly easy to deal with. If there was high heavy metals, radionuclides, nitrates/nitrites, organic compounds, etc. - then I would think twice.
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 2977
Location: woodland, washington
    
  49
Ardilla Esch wrote:I would steer clear of greensand filters since you have to backwash with potassium permanganate for effective long term filtration.


I agree. permanganate is nasty stuff.

just to be clear, a slow sand filter or biosand filter is a very different animal than a greensand filter. the only maintenance required is occasionally refreshing the sand as the infiltration rate starts to decline. depending on the load in the water and the size of the filter, this might have to be done four times in a year, or once every ten years. the basic idea is to scrape off a thin top layer of sand and replace it with new sand. when I do mine, it takes between five and fifteen minutes every four months or so.


as for Filox et alia, the frequent backwash requirement wastes a lot of water. Pat JFree doesn't mention much about the location other than that it's in California, but that's not exactly the wettest state in the union. sure, the backwash can be used for irrigation, but chances are good that it would quickly clog up any drip emitters it was run through. if there's some good slope to the land, the backwash could be used to passively irrigate, maybe after running it through some reed beds. still looks like wasted water to me.

another issue with that stuff is the expense of replacing the media when it's finally used up. Filox lasts a long time, but it's very expensive to replace. might still be the best option if the low-tech, DIY solutions don't appeal, though.
Ardilla Esch


Joined: Feb 05, 2010
Posts: 141
Location: Nortern New Mexico, Zone 5b
    
    2
Typically the backwash volume isn't too bad, especially if it is controlled by volume filtered instead of by days/hours elapsed. My filter backwashes less than 10 gallons per week. The amount of backwashing required depends on water chemistry and how much water you use.

I agree you shouldn't try pushing the backwash through drip emitters. Treat that water as if it was grey water and there shouldn't be problems.

This kind of filter isn't the best choice for everyone. I recommend finding out what the rest of the basic chemistry looks like before choosing a treatment method.
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 2977
Location: woodland, washington
    
  49
ten gallons in a week isn't bad. certainly less than a leaky faucet. I would guess that your water has relatively small iron and manganese loads to begin with. or that you conserve water very well. or both. at any rate, that's not bad at all.
Patrick Freeburger


Joined: Nov 09, 2009
Posts: 51
Thanks everyone. The land is just south of San Jose, CA in the hills and we get about 15-18 inches or rain a year. The land has several springs which I assume has the same level of Manganese (the other chemicals are ok). I am hoping to keep my irrigation to a minimum, but it's good to know it will still go through a drip line. I did a worst case water usage for livestock (or best case farm depending on how it goes) and it is not as bad as I had feared. It looks like exposing the ground water to air (oxygen) eliminates the manganese so a figure eight water flow may be an option for some things, but most of it will need to go through one of filters you mentioned.


[Thumbnail for water oxygenation.png]

[Thumbnail for water usagev2.JPG]

Amedean Messan
pollinator

Joined: Nov 11, 2010
Posts: 706
Location: Burlington, NC - Woodland, Clay - Zone 7
    
  22
both manganese and iron are oxidized by ozone, at which point they become far less soluble and drop out of solution. it's just a matter of letting it settle out of water after that.


Thanks, I did not know this until now and I will look this up. From what I recently read filtration would be required for the non-soluble micro particles. I do not know how effective as far a efficiency this process compared to the other options but I am interested.
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 2977
Location: woodland, washington
    
  49
Amed Mesa wrote:
both manganese and iron are oxidized by ozone, at which point they become far less soluble and drop out of solution. it's just a matter of letting it settle out of water after that.


Thanks, I did not know this until now and I will look this up. From what I recently read filtration would be required for the non-soluble micro particles. I do not know how effective as far a efficiency this process compared to the other options but I am interested.


those two also oxidize fairly rapidly on exposure to oxygen in the air, which is why the flowforms Pat JFree mentioned work. last I checked, pre-made flowforms were pretty expensive, but not as expensive as most filtration equipment.

and, for what it's worth, the slow sand option filters insoluble iron and manganese oxides very well. I'll stop the broken record routine now, but I've been really impressed with this simple, effective, appropriate technology.
Mary Atwood


Joined: Feb 04, 2014
Posts: 2
After trying to deal with a very high manganese level mg/L 2.45 and iron levels at 19.5 we are at wits end. The property has been standing since 1729 and was purchased last Feb. as a fixer upper. We had no idea the water supply was so bad. The town has been little help and we were told to trust the local water company. We had already trusted one company and had $3000 green sand and chlorine treatment that just didn't do the trick. The local man, with a water treatment co., told me he had to put in a potassium permanganate tank to backwash the filters properly. After failing to work he was supposed to tweak the system but we learned he just put in a water softener with salt as it's treatment. We would have probably been able to hook that up by ourselves but used him because he assured us he had dealt with the high numbers before. My sister uses a softener and said never to mix bleach with a softener system. It seems we have been lied to and hopefully our first system hasn't been damaged. I have been learning as much as I can about the different treatment methods and am hoping someone here might be able to help more. Sadly, there are too many crooked people set up to sell water treatment. It's criminal and will be reported. He wants to come back and straighten out HIS mess but I do not trust him after being lied too. Would a bio sand tank make a difference with the levels this high? And can it be set up with a pump so we aren't pouring gallons of water in by hand. (been doing enough hauling drinking water to the house) Good drinking water is so important to all of us and this dilemma has me learning more than I ever cared to know about water. We are in a residential area where the iron/mag is known to be high....ours is just off the charts.
Thanks for any ideas.
duane hennon
volunteer

Joined: Sep 23, 2010
Posts: 348
    
    2


hi Mary,

yes, those people. without enough morals to sell used cars, sell residential water systems

the people I mentioned above, whom I have dealt with in the past, are pretty conscientious and knowledgeable
I think it would worth a phone call to them
http://www.ozonepurewater.com/OzP-WT.htm

with that much mang and iron, it must also cause staining of fixtures and washing problems

good luck

have you thought of a cistern and rainwater roof collection?

K Nelfson


Joined: Nov 07, 2012
Posts: 117

In grad school, I learned that iron is an essential nutrient to many critters. Iron chelators are an effective antimicrobial agent. So the scum is probably biological...
Mary Atwood


Joined: Feb 04, 2014
Posts: 2
thanks Duane,

I will research it some and plan on calling the State tomorrow.

I have been talking with the family about alternatives, such as cistern. I know of some streets in the area that have water pumped in as apparently they have the same problem. The local well driller had to do new well, near a quarry, and was not permitted to go lower than 100 ft.. They wouldn't tell him why but he relayed it to me. Some locals believe the quarry caused a problem, perhaps blasting underground. (1/2 mile away)
Fortunately we happen to have excellent water at our own home so we bring 5-7 gallons over for cooking and drinking and even the dishes. I help with some of the laundry too and showers are taken here on some days. that water is brutal on hair. This is my parents retirement home but for now my daughter, son in law, and grandchild live there. You would think these water people would care about an infant. The first one admitted he's at a loss....$3000 later! The next one was going to save us. We figured we were paying more than honestly. Just venting now but also warning others....get every detail in writing BEFORE they work.
I believe the State of Ct. may help because the levels are so high. I thought 2 filters would have worked best....but then what do I know?
thank you for responding. I will let you know how this turns out. I am determined.
 
 
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