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Author Topic: Well Water Treatment  (Read 1301 times)

roblack

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Well Water Treatment
« on: May 02, 2018, 09:52:35 AM »
Hello everyone.

Does anyone have advice on treating well water for a sprinkler system? I live in south florida with limestone soil, and think the well water is pretty hard and alkaline. Where the sprinkler hits a bit window, getting some spotting and residue on the glass that is difficult to remove. Also, want the plants to have best water possible. Any recommendations or suggestions?

Thanks, and apologies if this has been covered before. Couldn't find info in my searches, but not sure I am using the search engine effectively.

spaugh

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Re: Well Water Treatment
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2018, 10:35:34 AM »
How many gallons a day?  How many plants etc?  I got 2 x 400gpd RO filters running on mine for doing potted plants and misting.  I don't use that much but can if needed.  Could easily water a couple dozen trees with it.

Really no other way to remove hardness from the water.  You can filter out the dirt but to remove disolved solids RO is going to be the best (maybe only) option.  I sent Mark in TX the links to make the RO system, can repost here if you want it.  It's about 100$ for every 400gpd filter.   And that will probably use about 1200gpd or more of well water input and leave you 800gpd of harder waste water you need to do something with.

I put the waste water on an oak tree and holy cow the oak tree is growing out of control!

You can get TDS (total disolved solids) meters on amazon or ebay for around 10$.  That will give you a good idea how hard the water is.  Mine is 600ppm out of the ground and around 20ppm after RO treatment.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2018, 10:53:25 AM by spaugh »
Brad Spaugh

shaneatwell

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Re: Well Water Treatment
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2018, 11:03:20 AM »
I'm going to get those details from you someday :)
Shane

KarenRei

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Re: Well Water Treatment
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2018, 11:07:31 AM »
How many gallons a day?  How many plants etc?  I got 2 x 400gpd RO filters running on mine for doing potted plants and misting.  I don't use that much but can if needed.  Could easily water a couple dozen trees with it.

Really no other way to remove hardness from the water.  You can filter out the dirt but to remove disolved solids RO is going to be the best (maybe only) option.  I sent Mark in TX the links to make the RO system, can repost here if you want it.  It's about 100$ for every 400gpd filter.   And that will probably use about 1200gpd or more of well water input and leave you 800gpd of harder waste water you need to do something with.

I put the waste water on an oak tree and holy cow the oak tree is growing out of control!

You can get TDS (total disolved solids) meters on amazon or ebay for around 10$.  That will give you a good idea how hard the water is.  Mine is 600ppm out of the ground and around 20ppm after RO treatment.

RO is not the only way to remove hard water. Far from it.  Most home water softeners, for example, work by swapping out the calcium and magnesium in solution for sodium and potassium, using sodium or potassium chloride that you replace regularly. In the case of watering plants, you'd obviously want potassium, which is a nutrient you need to give your plants regardless.  NOTE: given the reaction, I wouldn't expect it to add chlorine, but you might want to check to be sure.

Another type of water softener is a slaked lime softener. Which sounds weird because you're adding calcium/magnesium compounds to reduce calcium and magnesium ;)  But when it dissolves, it raises the pH, causing dissolved CO2 to convert to carbonate, precipitating out both the added ions and those already in the water as carbonates.  It also flocculates your water (removes particulates) and other less soluble ions (iron, arsenic, etc)

Lastly, if your only real problem is pH (after all, plants need calcium and magnesium), you could just add sulfur.  A little bit goes a long way (although it takes a year or so for bacteria to break it down to lower the pH). If you want a faster change, you can use (VERY diluted) sulfuric acid.



« Last Edit: May 02, 2018, 11:24:57 AM by KarenRei »
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spaugh

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Re: Well Water Treatment
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2018, 11:34:34 AM »
How many gallons a day?  How many plants etc?  I got 2 x 400gpd RO filters running on mine for doing potted plants and misting.  I don't use that much but can if needed.  Could easily water a couple dozen trees with it.

Really no other way to remove hardness from the water.  You can filter out the dirt but to remove disolved solids RO is going to be the best (maybe only) option.  I sent Mark in TX the links to make the RO system, can repost here if you want it.  It's about 100$ for every 400gpd filter.   And that will probably use about 1200gpd or more of well water input and leave you 800gpd of harder waste water you need to do something with.

I put the waste water on an oak tree and holy cow the oak tree is growing out of control!

You can get TDS (total disolved solids) meters on amazon or ebay for around 10$.  That will give you a good idea how hard the water is.  Mine is 600ppm out of the ground and around 20ppm after RO treatment.

RO is not the only way to remove hard water. Far from it.  Most home water softeners, for example, work by swapping out the calcium and magnesium in solution for sodium and potassium, using sodium or potassium chloride that you replace regularly. In the case of watering plants, you'd obviously want potassium, which is a nutrient you need to give your plants regardless.  NOTE: given the reaction, I wouldn't expect it to add chlorine, but you might want to check to be sure.

Another type of water softener is a slaked lime softener. Which sounds weird because you're adding calcium/magnesium compounds to reduce calcium and magnesium ;)  But when it dissolves, it raises the pH, causing dissolved CO2 to convert to carbonate, precipitating out both the added ions and those already in the water as carbonates.  It also flocculates your water (removes particulates) and other less soluble ions (iron, arsenic, etc)

Lastly, if your only real problem is pH (after all, plants need calcium and magnesium), you could just add sulfur.  A little bit goes a long way (although it takes a year or so for bacteria to break it down). If you want a faster change, you can use (VERY diluted) sulfuric acid.

I don't think you can get as low TDS and neutral PH as RO water as simply and cost effective a's RO.   If you use a water softener you have to add salts or some other input which means buying bags of it at the store correct?  And then now as you mentioned you are either left with new salts or moving the PH the wrong direction. 

I've never heard of anyone using a water softener for watering plants.  Maybe someone somewhere does it?  For sure lots of people are using RO for their plants.   There are commercial groves around here with 20,000 gpd RO setups for avocado production.  This is what people use to get pure water.  Any large scale hydroponic outfit will be doing the same thing.  Remove as much as possible and add whatever fertilizers you want to your RO water. 
Brad Spaugh

roblack

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Re: Well Water Treatment
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2018, 10:00:24 AM »
Thanks for all the replies. Not sure what I want to do yet.

Had heard that a sprinkler add-on could be used to supply chemicals that softened the water and was also good for the plants. Wondering if such a thing exists.

Used to do make a lot of RO/DI water for reeftanks, but on the scale that would be needed for irrigating my yard and trees, seems like a bit much.

Plants all seem happy and healthy enough. Might just leave as is, and move the sprinkler head that is hitting glass and causing spotting.

roblack

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Re: Well Water Treatment
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2018, 10:07:09 AM »
How many gallons a day?  How many plants etc?  I got 2 x 400gpd RO filters running on mine for doing potted plants and misting.  I don't use that much but can if needed.  Could easily water a couple dozen trees with it.

Really no other way to remove hardness from the water.  You can filter out the dirt but to remove disolved solids RO is going to be the best (maybe only) option.  I sent Mark in TX the links to make the RO system, can repost here if you want it.  It's about 100$ for every 400gpd filter.   And that will probably use about 1200gpd or more of well water input and leave you 800gpd of harder waste water you need to do something with.

I put the waste water on an oak tree and holy cow the oak tree is growing out of control!

You can get TDS (total disolved solids) meters on amazon or ebay for around 10$.  That will give you a good idea how hard the water is.  Mine is 600ppm out of the ground and around 20ppm after RO treatment.

Not sure how many gallons. House and yard are on a little over a 1/3 acre lot. 30 in ground trees, a lot more if you count surinam cherries that create a privacy fence. Lots of potted plants outside that receive sprinkler water. And plenty o' grass.

We do have a beautiful oak. Pretty far away from the well pump though.

I have a tds meter, somewhere in the garage. Time for a journey to Narnia.

Yes, please post your RO setup Brad. Would like to see what you are doing and generate more ideas.

KarenRei

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Re: Well Water Treatment
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2018, 10:47:14 AM »
How many gallons a day?  How many plants etc?  I got 2 x 400gpd RO filters running on mine for doing potted plants and misting.  I don't use that much but can if needed.  Could easily water a couple dozen trees with it.

Really no other way to remove hardness from the water.  You can filter out the dirt but to remove disolved solids RO is going to be the best (maybe only) option.  I sent Mark in TX the links to make the RO system, can repost here if you want it.  It's about 100$ for every 400gpd filter.   And that will probably use about 1200gpd or more of well water input and leave you 800gpd of harder waste water you need to do something with.

I put the waste water on an oak tree and holy cow the oak tree is growing out of control!

You can get TDS (total disolved solids) meters on amazon or ebay for around 10$.  That will give you a good idea how hard the water is.  Mine is 600ppm out of the ground and around 20ppm after RO treatment.

RO is not the only way to remove hard water. Far from it.  Most home water softeners, for example, work by swapping out the calcium and magnesium in solution for sodium and potassium, using sodium or potassium chloride that you replace regularly. In the case of watering plants, you'd obviously want potassium, which is a nutrient you need to give your plants regardless.  NOTE: given the reaction, I wouldn't expect it to add chlorine, but you might want to check to be sure.

Another type of water softener is a slaked lime softener. Which sounds weird because you're adding calcium/magnesium compounds to reduce calcium and magnesium ;)  But when it dissolves, it raises the pH, causing dissolved CO2 to convert to carbonate, precipitating out both the added ions and those already in the water as carbonates.  It also flocculates your water (removes particulates) and other less soluble ions (iron, arsenic, etc)

Lastly, if your only real problem is pH (after all, plants need calcium and magnesium), you could just add sulfur.  A little bit goes a long way (although it takes a year or so for bacteria to break it down). If you want a faster change, you can use (VERY diluted) sulfuric acid.

I don't think you can get as low TDS and neutral PH as RO water as simply and cost effective a's RO.   If you use a water softener you have to add salts or some other input which means buying bags of it at the store correct?  And then now as you mentioned you are either left with new salts or moving the PH the wrong direction. 

I've never heard of anyone using a water softener for watering plants.  Maybe someone somewhere does it?  For sure lots of people are using RO for their plants.   There are commercial groves around here with 20,000 gpd RO setups for avocado production.  This is what people use to get pure water.  Any large scale hydroponic outfit will be doing the same thing.  Remove as much as possible and add whatever fertilizers you want to your RO water.

Removing dissolved solids is what water softeners do, it's their entire purpose .  And as mentioned, there's two types. One lets you replace Ca and Mg with the potassium you buy, aka, those "bags you buy" become fertilizer if you make sure they're KCl rather than NaCl. The other uses lime and basically flocculates everything that has limited solubility out of your water.

RO is definitely not the only way to remove Ca and Mg (the "hard" anions). That said, you're right that they don't help with pH, just removing "hard" ions (RO water is acidic)

And as mentioned, if the actual problem is pH, why not just adjust the pH?  It's not like Ca or Mg are bad, they're essential nutrients.   My land has super high Ca and Mg levels, yet low pH. Even have an iron bog in one part (that's where natural acidic waters created by bacteria breaking down pyrite dissolve iron, which bacteria in turn oxidize to an iridescent sheen atop brown iron muds).  If you have enough sulfur, any soil can become acidic.

Now, if your Cl is too high, that's a different story.  You can remove Cl with a rechargeable carbon filter, but I can't imagine that being as practical as RO.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2018, 11:11:05 AM by KarenRei »
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Mark in Texas

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Re: Well Water Treatment
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2018, 10:52:09 AM »
Where the sprinkler hits a bit window, getting some spotting and residue on the glass that is difficult to remove.

Need to see an analysis to give my two cents.  My TDS is like 830 ppm, very high in bicarbs of Mg and Ca.  Not as good as rainwater but the stock I grow loves it.

Vinegar/water solution, squeegee, and newspaper make for easy window cleaning regarding your particular hard water/dirt.

spaugh

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Re: Well Water Treatment
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2018, 12:12:31 PM »
If the issue is water hitting a window, probably just need to adjust the sprinkler.  You really don't want to be watering your buildings anyway.

I have seen the yard photos and they look like the best looking plants on this blog btw.  Seems like they are happy there.

My RO setup is just a rain barrel with a float valve type deal.  Not practical to plumbing up to a in ground sprinkler line.  I will post a new thread next week.  I'm off to visit my in laws in AZ this weekend  :(
Brad Spaugh

Mark in Texas

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Re: Well Water Treatment
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2018, 12:47:25 PM »
I'm off to visit my in laws in AZ this weekend  :(

Give the old lady a big hug, slap on the rump and a "how ya doing?"  Enjoy yourself.  ;D

spaugh

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Re: Well Water Treatment
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2018, 07:02:12 PM »
I'm off to visit my in laws in AZ this weekend  :(

Give the old lady a big hug, slap on the rump and a "how ya doing?"  Enjoy yourself.  ;D

Haha,  actually the MIL is at my pad, house and plant sitting.  We are here now in Phoenix to visit all 800 cousins.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2018, 07:09:21 PM by spaugh »
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