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Town water and chlorination

                                  


Joined: May 24, 2009
Posts: 99
Does the chlorinated water in town water hurt the microbiology? I am thinking of installing a filter to remove it.

Thoughts?
Jan Sebastian Dunkelheit


Joined: Aug 08, 2010
Posts: 201
Location: Germany/Cologne - Finland/Savonlinna
Elemental Chlor dissociates in water and reacts with herbal and animal tissue by oxidation. It's toxic and kills bacteria. When Chlor comes in contact with organic particles in the water it produces even more toxic and cancer-causing substances like Trihalomethanes. You not only have to filter Chlor out of the water but also the other (mostly unknown) toxic byproducts from chlorination. Ask yourself: Would you feed your children with vegetables watered with filtered chlorinated water?

Don't you have a roof for rainwater catchment? It's cheaper in the long run anyway.


Life that has a meaning wouldn't ask for its meaning. - Theodor W. Adorno
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
In practice, the topmost part of the soil will absorb the brunt of it, and irrigation will be infrequent enough that microbe populations can bounce back completely.

If you are irrigating your lawn every day, it might cause problems even without chlorination.

If you do collect rainwater, lawn irrigation might be the lowest-priority use for it. Compost and food animals would probably be a higher priority to me, followed by irrigation of food plants.


"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men.  They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
Jan Sebastian Dunkelheit


Joined: Aug 08, 2010
Posts: 201
Location: Germany/Cologne - Finland/Savonlinna
In practice only the topsoil will be polluted and degraded? Now that's a relief. No, seriously. Beside the yet mostly unknown health risks and unknown chemical reactions of chlorinated water in the landscape there is one aspect that should make you think: When you water your garden with chlorinated water all the negative loaded minerals will be gradually washed out of the soil, e.g. phosphate, sulfur, nitrate. Because chlorid is blocking all the positive loaded anodes with an anion. It is highly reactive. Watering with chlorinated water has a cumulative effect on the soil, too. In the end you have to use mineral oil fertilizer to replace your missing nutrients.

In Europe it is forbidden to water plants with chlorinated water that serve humans directly or indirectly (e.g. cattle, chickens) as a food source. It is also strictly forbidden to empty your swimmming-pool's content in the landscape.
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
Dunkelheit wrote:
In practice only the topsoil will be polluted and degraded? Now that's a relief. No, seriously. Beside the yet mostly unknown health risks and unknown chemical reactions of chlorinated water in the landscape there is one aspect that should make you think: When you water your garden with chlorinated water all the negative loaded minerals will be gradually washed out of the soil, e.g. phosphate, sulfur, nitrate. Because chlorid is blocking all the positive loaded anodes with an anion. It is highly reactive. Watering with chlorinated water has a cumulative effect on the soil, too. In the end you have to use mineral oil fertilizer to replace your missing nutrients.

In Europe it is forbidden to water plants with chlorinated water that serve humans directly or indirectly (e.g. cattle, chickens) as a food source. It is also strictly forbidden to empty your swimmming-pool's content in the landscape.


I think you're over-estimating the amount of chlorine, and conflating covalently-bonded chlorine with chloride ions.

I didn't say, or mean, "only topsoil." Tap water usually doesn't have much chlorine in it (pool water is a very different  story), and good soil has a lot of buffering capacity. Most soil microbes will survive, unless the soil is extremely poor or the irrigation is idiotically frequent.

Most of the chlorine does eventually become chloride ion, but not enough to dissolve absolutely every cation. In fact, a reasonable amount of irrigation will probably not even put in as many chlorine atoms as healthy soil would have sodium atoms. Also, if stored rainwater is scarce, using it on the lawn doesn't make much sense to me, if it might later mean chlorinated tap water is used in the garden.

I absolutely agree that food production via irrigation with chlorinated water is a bad idea in the long run, I just wanted to state that seldom, deep irrigation of a lawn might be, on balance, a good thing for microbial life, even if the water is chlorinated.
Jan Sebastian Dunkelheit


Joined: Aug 08, 2010
Posts: 201
Location: Germany/Cologne - Finland/Savonlinna
I'm sorry that I missunderstood you. Ah, it is chlorine not chlor and once I wrote chloride. It is hard to write spezialised stuff in a foreign language.

I know little about the particular chlorination in the US. How much chlorine do you have in your tap water in the farest and nearest from the source households? Don't forget that many reactions take place before the water flows out of the tap, e.g. carcinogenic Trihalomethanes. In Germany there is no intentional chlorination, the tap water is high standard drinking water. We use ozone and ultraviolet radiation to desinfect the drinking water.

I agree with you that watering the lawn on a regular basis is pretty absurd and infrequent deep-watering is good. Only the unknown health risks when turning this chlorinated (possibly carcinogenic) lawn into a vegetable garden is making me itchy.
john smith


Joined: Aug 14, 2010
Posts: 70
Location: western u.s.
Dunkelheit wrote:
In Germany there is no intentional chlorination, the tap water is high standard drinking water. We use ozone and ultraviolet radiation to desinfect the drinking water.


That is wonderful.  I wish the same was done here.  There are some good water treatment facilities but they are quite few. 

The water here has enough chlorine that you can smell it coming out, and sometimes the smell is quite strong.  Chloramines are hard to remove.  As of 6 years ago, the city dumps fluoride in the water now too.  I used to have really nice vegetable gardens every year, but no more.  The beds are all dry.

I was thinking of building a aqua/hydroponics system to save good water, but they are quite expensive and not sustainable.  So I'd like to come up with a xeroscape for perennial veggies and trees.


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