Slow sand filter update March 14, 2019

Its now March 14, 2019. We have had the most severe winter in at least 60 years here in the foothills of the Pacific Northwest part of Washington state, in the U.S A. . We had 20 inches of snow here and freezing temps from December through the beginning of March.  (Interestingly enough, as we talked with acquaintances in Alaska, we found that they had temps higher than, or nearly equal to, ours in many cases. Yes, climate is changing, its getting warmer there and colder here in the winter, and hotter everywhere in the summer.)  The filters have been frozen for 3 months. Damage to the cistern will take months to repair. The filters are damaged but fixable because the pipes were not glued.

We will have another update when we get time to repair everything; and when there is no chance of another extended below freezing weather event. The first filter, that we started back in 2007, is still functional (with the exception of temporary freezing each winter), and has had minimal damage in this most recent period of below freezing weather. Its been running for nearly 12 years now (as of November of 2018); with the exception of freezing weather times. It still produces clean, clear water when it is running. We still have some work to do on it – the electric pump that automatically recirculates water needs repair. We have, however been able to run water through this filter manually by pouring five gallons at a time through it from a bucket. We will do another water quality test as time and finances permit. There is much to repair here and it will take time to get everything done.

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Slow sand filter update

It is now January 25, 2019. We are still working on the website. Nearly complete. We are also working on the filters. It froze here in November, and December, and we are working on repairing the filters. No serious damage. Pipes were not glued, so they just came apart as the frozen water inside expanded. All the filters, with the exception of the five gallon filters are still here and will be started up soon. Several have  been running continuously. The first filter we built, 12 years ago, is still running. The first pond filter we built still runs 24/7 , and the water is crystal clear 24/7. More updates will be posted as time permits.  There has been a lot of damage here due to severe weather events both summer, and winter; so we have much work to do.

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website work

We are working on the website now and hope to have the work done in a few days. More updates will follow.

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slow sand filter update

The oldest filter here was started in 2007. Its still running. The sand has not been changed since it was started, and it has not been wet harrowed for 9 years. The output water needs to be tested, but the water is clear and looks clean. Still it must be tested. The other filters here are still running and in service. The three pond filters, and four other roof water filters are still running, and producing clear water. All need to be tested again. None have had the sand changed. Three of them have been wet harrowed twice in 5 years, but the sand has not been changed. As I get more time there will be updates. Other concerns have temporarily altered my focus. Now, I hope to get back to more filter work.

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Raw Water: A new health trend?

According to some major news media outlets the latest “fad” is “raw water”.  If one reads the “news headlines” about this issue, it becomes evident that the facts are obfuscated behind the desire to sell news. Reading through the articles does show that this situation is more complicated than just unfiltered bottled water. It appears as though somehow news media outlets have branded unfiltered water as “raw water”:


“Raw water” is such a general term, it is ludicrous. Unfiltered water can have anything in it.  Calling spring water “raw water” and saying it is good to drink because it is “natural” is just as dangerous as believing unfiltered water is ok to drink in any circumstance.

Now, what is “filtered” water? Who filters it and through what, and what, if anything, do they add to it?  What is “raw water”, where does it come from and what is in it?

With filtered water we are supposed to know what’s in it and what’s not in it. It has become apparent lately, that lots of nasty stuff like lead, flouride compounds, and even bacteria can be in “filtered” water. Chlorine compounds are usually added to kill bacteria and fluoride compounds help prevent tooth decay.

Spring water can contain harmful bacteria and chemicals from “natural” sources. It can also be quite pure. The only way to be sure of the condition of a water source is to have the water tested regularly and to know the source and the existence of any possible contamination. Testing water is expensive and complicated. I’ve done it. Its nearly impossible to keep up with.  Drinking unfiltered bottled water means you must trust the bottling company to provide safe water.

Please, lets not confuse water from a spring, or a deep well; with water in a lake, river, stream, or public reservoir, in other words, surface water. Water from any of these sources is in effect “raw” water; that is to say, untreated water. Water from a deep well is exponentially safer than surface water. Both are raw water in that they are untreated, or unfiltered by humans. Spring water and deep well water are usually filtered naturally. Often, water must pass through lots of sand and often compact glacial till, before it is accessible. Some well water is actually water that was trapped deep under ground hundreds, and/or tens of thousands of years ago, when there were no people living to pollute. Surface water is subject to contamination from sources not found in subsurface soil, sand and compact glacial till (limestone like substance).  Anything water comes into contact with on the surface will be present in the lake, stream, river, or reservoir it ends up in. Just about anything from motor oil, to dangerous bacteria or viruses, pesticides, herbicides, toxic metals, fertilizers, paint residue, garbage, petroleum products of any kind; anything people use, make, throw out, discard, burn; can be in surface water. Drinking that water with the intention of getting “good” bacteria is totally insane. Putting well water, and spring water in the same “raw water” category as surface water is equally insane.

As far as selling “raw” water: that is an opportunistic scheme using obfuscated facts in order to make huge profits from selling water. If you want water that won’t make you sick; get distilled water and add the necessary minerals to it. A gallon of distilled water costs about 1 dollar. What is being charged for that special “raw water” that supposedly contains all that beneficial bacteria? Do people selling that “raw water” tell you specifically what “beneficial bacteria” you get when you pay for “raw water”?

Rain water is distilled water. True, there may be some contaminants in it but its not really polluted until it hits a surface. Water is one of the best solvents (if not; the best solvent) known to science.




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Slow sand filter update

It is now November 6, 2017. This summer was unusually hot and dry. Many forest fires in this state. Horrific air pollution from the fires. All electrical connections were disconnected for safety reasons. No recirculation of water through the filters for 4 months. Now the rains have returned and the filters are working in spite of being inactive for 4 months.

It looks like this will be another unusually cold winter. The first snow was this past week. Below freezing temps now at night.  More later.

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Slow sand filter update

It is now April 16, 2017. All the filters are now running again after having been frozen solid this winter.  Hopefully we will have the time and finances to do another water quality test on them. As soon as we have more information, we will post it here. We are in our tenth year of work with slow sand water filtration study.

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Slow sand water filters in freezing weather

This is an update on the condition of the filters running here with respect to the below freezing weather we have had here in Western Washington state the past two months. There was nearly 3 weeks (part of December and part of January) where the temperature only got above freezing for 5 days during the daylight hours. From Dec 30 to Jan 19, the average temperature was 32 deg F.  with a low of 18 deg F.

All the filters froze solid. Pipes were pushed apart where they were not glued. Several connections that were glued were totally destroyed. So far, all of the connections that were not glued have been found to be ok. We are slowly repairing the damaged pipes that were glued. One pressure tank was destroyed. That is in the process of being repaired. All of the damage found so far, could have been prevented with proper maintenance.

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Rain water harvesting regulation

We get lots of political posts here, particularly people complaining about “big government” “trying to control rain water”.

Please, keep in mind,  “we the people” are the “big government” “We” can change laws, peacefully. Secondly, there are no State governments in the U.S. that specifically prohibit rain water harvesting. I’ve done the research and there have been posts here by others documenting the legality of rain water harvesting. That said, if you have credible documentation regarding a state law, or a particular county’s law, or an HOA (Home Owners Association) that specifically prohibits rain water harvesting then please, include a link to the source and the text of the law; and we’ll gladly approve your post. There may very well be HOA’s (Home Owners Associations), and, city and/or county governments that prohibit rain barrels / and or rain water harvesting. If you live in an area like that; get together with your neighbors, and have the county and or city laws changed. If you signed an HOA agreement, you’re just out of luck, you’ll need a good lawyer. An HOA is not “big government”. HOA’s are non-governmental organizations. There are limitations, however, on rain water harvesting. In most cases these limitations are not unreasonable, unless you want to have your own private lake in your back yard. There are darn good reasons for water laws, and there are absolutely ridiculous reasons based only on greed, and/or total ignorance. Obviously, in most cases, having several rain barrels, and perhaps a few 1000 gallons of water properly stored, will have virtually no effect on a neighbor’s access to water.

One of the issues that comes up repeatedly is the idea that: “I can do anything I want to on my property and nobody should be able to stop me”, and if I want to build a small lake, and fill it with rain water that should not be anybody’s business except mine. Another common idea is: “rain belongs to no one and falls from the sky, and if it falls on my property it should all be mine”. In a perfect world, that might be true. This is not a perfect world. Ok, this gets really political. “Regulation” is absolutely necessary, because any thing you do on “your” property will, in one way or another, influence your neighbor. Its all about the extent of influence.

Please, please; if you must rant about the political situation regarding rain water harvesting, and have no credible source to cite, don’t post your opinion here. Find a political blog. There are hundreds of pages on this blog, and the last thing people need to do is search through a bunch of political rants looking for information and documentation on rain water harvesting techniques. 


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Slow sand filter update

It is now January 27 of 2017. Its been cold this past 6 weeks: below freezing for 42 days with only 5 days where the temperature was in the upper 30s during the daytime. The ground remained frozen the entire 42 days. That’s 42 nights of  below freezing temps here, mostly in the lower 20’s. All of the filters, with the exception of filter 3, and 4,  were frozen solid until 5 days ago. Filter 3 and 4 froze up when I forgot to increase the flow at night. Had I kept the flow up they would not have frozen. Filter 3, and 4 are the ones that have continuous flow 24/7 from the use of a small pump that either recirculates water through them or runs water through them from a surface well. When I am able I will check all the filters out to determine the extent of damage, if any, and i will post it here. Most of the pipes were not glued, so they just pushed apart with no damage, but I will need to check more closely as the weather warms up. This has happened before just about every year and the filters just keep on working. This year the cold spell lasted slightly longer.

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