Category: Clean your tanks


From my conversations with others in the industry this is what

their concerns are for storage tanks.

None of the tools that are outlined below have worked to get PWSs to

clean their tanks every 5 years.  Unfortunately, it comes down to the

personal preference of each PWS’s Manager whether the tank is cleaned on

a schedule recommended by guidance.

Some manager’s religiously clean their tanks every year, or every three years but for others, it never

occurs to them to clean their tanks.

This is unacceptable and can

sicken hundreds and cause fatalities.  Because nothing has worked, it is
vital for the protection of public health to create a regulatory (not
guidance) back stop that any system that has not cleaned and inspected
their storage tanks in the last 5 years would incur a violation.  This
is not a burden to those PWSs that have done what is right and followed
guidance but it does provide equal public health protection for those
who have not followed guidance.  We need to ask ourselves, where will
the next waterborne disease outbreak, like Alamosa occur?   In Alamosa,
one person died and 1300 others were sickened in a waterborne disease
outbreak that was caused due to neglect of their storage tanks – this
was completely preventable.  This person died needlessly.  Create a
regulatory backstop to prevent waterborne disease outbreaks from ever
occurring from such a preventable cause.

AWWA guidance and EPA whitepapers do not work to get PWSs to clean their
tanks every 5 years!

AWWA Manual M42 recommends tanks be drained, inspected and cleaned at
least every 3 years.  This same recommendation is reflected in EPA’s
Whitepaper on Finished Water Storage Tanks.  Kirmeyer, one of the
industry’s most  knowledgeable persons on storage tanks and water
quality, recommends tanks be drained, cleaned and have a comprehensive
inspection every 3  to 5 years.  These recommendations are ignored and
unknown to most PWSs.  They are recommendations, they are nice to do and
as a consequence, tanks are not cleaned and inspected and that’s why we
continue to find feet of sediment inside of tanks.  They don’t realize
the public health significance that sediment and holes large enough to
allow birds, rodents and insects into their tanks can have, it can lead
to waterborne disease outbreaks.  Salmonella can last for months in a
wet environment.  Clearly guidance does not work to get PWSs to clean
their tanks every 5 years.  We need a regulatory backstop to get PWSs to
do what is right for public health protection.  This does not need to be
delayed to study this to death, this is one of the most simple and
practical ways to protect public health.

None of the 50 states use their Significant Deficiency authority in
sanitary surveys for ground or surface water to clean their tanks every
5 years

None of the states have “not cleaning and inspecting their tank within
the last 5 years” as an item on their list of significant deficiencies.
The reason is States don’t realize the public health significance of
sediment buildup and/or the significance of breaches to a storage tank.
That is why cleaning and inspection is not on State’s significant
deficiency lists for sanitary surveys.  When you have both sediment
buildup and breaches, that is a fatal combination, and what causes
waterborne disease outbreaks like in Alamosa, Colorado.  One person died
from this Salmonella waterborne disease outbreak in Alamosa, he died,
from something that is totally and completely preventable.  There is a
class action lawsuit ongoing at this time.   You may justly ask why
aren’t we having waterborne outbreaks at more systems?  Because along
with sediment buildup and holes you need an event that would scour this
disease laden sediment into the distribution system.  Unfortunately,
that event that would awake this sleeping giant of a public health
concern is uncontrolled (e.g., fire flow, poor operation, power outages,
etc.) and that is completely unpredictable.  Gideon, Missouri had holes
that allowed salmonella contaminated bird feces into their tank but, it
was not until they underwent a flushing program that accidentally
drained their tank and flushed contaminated sediment into their
distribution system that the outbreak occurred.  This series of events
that led to hundreds of illnesses and 7 deaths stands ready to occur
again at hundreds of PWSs across the country.  EPA you have given the
drinking water industry a tremendous opportunity to prevent hundreds of
serious illnesses and fatalities from occurring from something the
industry already recognizes is vital to perform by creating a regulatory
backstop.  But, and I can not say this strongly enough, if you are
relying on significant deficiencies to achieve this goal it is not and
will not work unless there is a regulatory back stop.

State regulations that require PWSs to inspect their tanks only do not
work to get PWSs to clean their tanks every 5 years!

In the State of Texas where they have regulations that require PWSs to
have yearly inspections do not clean their tanks even when provided
overwhelming video and picture evidence of the sediment buildup.  They
don’t clean their tanks because they are not required to.  It is
impossible to inspect the floor of a tank when the sediment is not
removed.  The State of Wisconsin has recommendations for inspection
every 5 years, yet in the City of Brookfield two tanks were last cleaned
at a frequency of 7 years with 4 to 12 inches of sediment and another at
a 15 year frequency with 28 inches of sediment.     Clearly regulations
and recommendations to inspect only do not work to get PWSs to clean
their tanks every 5 years.  We need a regulatory backstop to get PWSs to
do what is right for public health protection.

State recommendations to inspect and clean their tanks do not work to
clean tanks every 5 years

Recommendations are largely ignored by PWSs.  Actually it’s much worse,
PWSs don’t even know these recommendations exist.  For example in the
State of Minnesota they had recommendations that stated ” All water
storage tanks should be inspected, cleaned and disinfected on an annual
basis.  Cleaning and disinfection should take place more frequently when
there have been identified water quality issues”.  The City of Moorhead,
one of the largest PWSs in the State, was unaware of any such
recommendation.  Recommendations to inspect and clean do not work to get
PWS to clean their tanks every 5 years.  We need a regulatory backstop
to get PWSs to do what is right for public health protection.

Protect public health over politics

Many agencies purporting to protect small systems (e.g., Rural Water,
RCAP, etc.) from the high costs of regulations are the very same systems
with the highest levels of sediment and most significant holes in their
storage tanks.  Many of these small systems can clean their tanks by
themselves with their own staff and fire hoses.  If these agencies were
truly helping these systems they should be assisting them to comply with
industry guidance of cleaning their tanks every 3 years.  If this were
the case such agencies would be able to say don’t worry about a
regulation to inspect and clean your tank it will never apply to you
because we ensure your tank in cleaned every 3 years.   The cost of a
cleaning a storage tank does not compare to the cost of a waterborne
disease outbreak and defending yourself from class action lawsuits.

Article by Chris Griffin ADEM, Posted on the Alabama Department of Environmental Management  web site.

Would you drink from a dirty water glass?

This is a great article that ask a great question.  It also points out that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management has certain recommendations about routine water tank and tower maintenance that include tank inspection at least once every five years.

But they have gotten it WRONG.  Alabama requires the tank to be inspected by draining and disinfecting the interior a minimum of once every five years.

What is wrong with that you ask?

Disinfecting is NOT CLEANING.  We are not all speaking the same language here.  Many say disinfecting assuming when that is done the tank will be clean.  This is not the case.  From the engineers who build water storage tanks down to the managers who run the systems there has been a major break in communications with what is actually in water storage facilities.

The tanks & towers are designed to be CLOSED SYSTEMS, they store the crystal clear clean water that comes from the water plant.  When Alabama DEM requires operators to drain & inspect the water storage tanks and then disinfect the interior, that disinfection process is to kill whatever contamination may have been introduced into the tank during the inspection.  Sediment that was on the floor of the facility before the inspection is there after the tank is disinfected and placed back into service.

Disinfecting is not Cleaning,  if you have contaminates like bacteria, protozoa or even viruses buried in the sediment before the disinfection the majority of them are going to be there after the disinfection.  The only way to remove them from the facility is to CLEAN the TANK.

Most tanks and water towers were not designed to be cleaned.  There are no handy cleaning ports to open up and wash things into.  It was assumed by the designing engineers  that only clean water would be stored in these facilities and there was no need.

The reality is that over time sediment accumulates on the floor of water storage tanks and towers.  They need to be Cleaned out, not looked at and disinfected.

Once sediment is de-watered a few inches of soft simi -liquid sediment can become 1/2 inch of hard clay like coating stuck on the floor of the tank.  An underwater inspection can offer more information about the facility without any disruption in service.   Divers deployed to clean the tank can remove everything that is loose in the floor of the facility and provide video documentation confirming the job was done and the floor is now clean.

Washing a tank out after draining it for an inspection is not a viable way to clean a tank.  For example on an elevated tower, where is the sediment being washed to?  We have seen many cases where it was washed down the center standpipe only to return when the facility is put back in service.

The other option is a bucket and shovel, where even the most dedicated crew can not get 100% of the sediment out.  The shovel is also hard on the painted surface of the floor.  Divers removing the sediment OUT of the facility and onto the yard of the tank is really the best option.  When you consider the  disruption in service, man hours and cost of water divers are also the most economical option to clean a water storage tank or tower.

 

This is a great article that ask a great question.  It also points out that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management has certain recommendations about routine water tank and tower maintenance that include tank inspection at least once every five years.

But they have gotten it WRONG.  Alabama requires the tank to be inspected by draining and disifecting the interior a minimum of once every five years.

What is wrong with that you ask?

Disinfecting is NOT CLEANING.  We are not all speaking the same language here.  Many say disinfecting assuming when that is done the tank will be clean.  This is not the case.  From the engineers who build water storage tanks down to the managers who run the systems there has been a major break in communications with what is actually in water storage facilities.

The tanks & towers are designed to be CLOSED SYSTEMS, they store the crystal clear clean water that comes from the water plant.  When Alabama DEM requires operators to drain & inspect the water storage tanks and then disinfect the interior, that disinfection process is to kill whatever contamination may have been introduced into the tank during the inspection.  Sediment that was on the floor of the facility before the inspection is there after the tank is disinfected and placed back into service.

Disinfecting is not Cleaning,  if you have contaminates like bacteria, protozoa or even viruses burried in the sediment before the disinfection the majority of them are going to be there after the disinfection.  The only way to remove them from the facility is to CLEAN the TANK.

Most tanks and water towers were not designed to be cleaned.  There are no handy cleaning ports to open up and wash things into.  It was assumed that only clean water would be stored in these facilities and there was no need.

The reality is that over time sediment accumilates on the floor of water storage tanks and towers.  They need to be Cleaned out, not looked at and disinfected.

Once sediment is de-watered a few inches of soft simi -liquid sediment can become 1/2 inch of hard clay like coating stuck on the floor of the tank.  An underwater inspection can offer more information about the facility without any disruption in service.   Divers deployed to clean the tank can remove everything that is loose in the floor of the facility and provide video documentation confirming the job was done and the floor is now clean.

Washing a tank out after draining it for an inspection is not a viable way to clean a tank.  For example on an elevated tower, where is the sediment being washed to?  We have seen many cases where it was washed down the center standpipe only to return when the facility is put back in service.

The other option is a bucket and shovel, where even the most dedicated crew can not get 100% of the sediment out.  The shovel is also hard on the painted surface of the floor.  Divers removing the sediment OUT of the facility and onto the yard of the tank is really the best option.  When you consider the  disruption in service, man hours and cost of water divers are also the most economical option to clean a water storage tank or tower.

Potable Water Diver in DRY SUIT

Sand & Sediment being pumped

Sand & Sediment being removed from a Potable Water Tank

If you have any more details about  rules for inspecting & cleaning water storage tanks in Alabama or any other state contact me-  Im always glad to share information.

By Photos by Ron Perrin   (c) Ron Perrin 2010 all rights reserved

Tap water in 42 states is contaminated with more than 140 unregulated chemicals that lack safety standards, according to the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) two-and-a-half year investigation of water suppliers’ tests of the treated tap water served to communities across the country.

In an analysis of more than 22 million tap water quality tests, most of which were required under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, EWG found that water suppliers across the U.S. detected 260 contaminants in water served to the public. One hundred forty-one (141) of these detected chemicals — more than half — are unregulated; public health officials have not set safety standards for these chemicals, even though millions drink them every day.

EWG’s analysis also found over 90 percent compliance with enforceable health standards on the part of the nation’s water utilities, showing a clear commitment to comply with safety standards once they are developed. The problem, however, is EPA’s failure to establish enforceable health standards and monitoring requirements for scores of widespread tap water contaminants. Of the 260 contaminants detected in tap water from 42 states, for only 114 has EPA set enforceable health limits (called Maximum Contaminant Levels, or MCLs), and for 5 others the Agency has set non-enforceable goals called secondary standards. (EPA 2005a). The 141 remaining chemicals without health-based limits contaminate water served to 195,257,000 people in 22,614 communities in 42 states.

Read the full report Here: http://www.ewg.org/tapwater/findings.php

To date only the State of Florida has set standards for cleaning water storage tanks.  Not only should standards be set for additional contaminates I thisnk is is just as or pehaps more important that standards be set for keeping tanks clean.  At this time it is just not understood how much sediment accumulates in an average water storage tank over a few years.  That sediment becomes a habitat where bacteria and other contaminates can thrive.

Once in your tank bacteria can grow rapidly if it finds a place to hide from the treatment chemicals sent to destroy it.

The EWG’s report also points out that “90 percent compliance with enforceable health standards on the part of the nation’s water utilities, showing a clear commitment to comply with safety standards.” If standards are put in place giving water utilities a time table that water storage tanks should be cleaned and or inspected the water utilities will comply.  For the most part they or the people controling their funds do not understand the improtance of inspection & cleaning.

Even after the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) two-and-a-half year investigation of water suppliers’ tests of the treated tap water served to communities across the country.  No one looked at the effects of Sediment in the water storage tanks.  It apparently was not an issue, never thought of,  the investigation only looked at reports of what the water utilitys found in their systems.

Keeping your water storage tanks clean may be one of the most overlooked maintenance procedures in the water industry.  Out of sight and out of mind, sediment in the bottom of your water storage tanks is never seen and rarely thought of. 

In 2002 The EPA Office of Ground and Drinking Water issued a paper on distribution systems titled “Health Risk From Microbial Growth and Biofilms in Drinking Water Distribution Systems”.  See the link below to read the full report.

That report sited –

Hepatitis A is a  primary pathogen that has been documented to survive more than four months in the sediment of a potable water storage tank.  

Bacteria, protozoa, and viruses can find sediment in the floor of a water storage tank an inviting habitat.

 

So if the EPA knows all of this why are most water storage tanks so dirty?  Like most thisngs in comes down to MONEY.

If you live in a new progressive community the likelyhood of your water storage tanks being inspected and cleaned on a regular basis is much better than if you are in a older, smaller and les affluent community.  If regulations are put into place money would need to follow to allow ecanomically depresed communities to maintain there systems properly.

I have been inspecting and cleaning water storage tanks since 1992.  What I have seen is the more ecanomically depresed  the community is the more likely they are to need their tanks cleand.  They are also more likely to drink more tap water.  I would think that the more affluent a community the more bottled water is consumed.  So we end up with the people who need clean tap water the most getting it the least.   I have found something important to do but I cand only help a very small % on my own. The health concerns associated with sediment in the water supplies are much biger than I am.   It is bigger than papers written and published by the EPA detailing the problem. It will take the general public to be concerned and perhaps a little sikened and outraged wouldnt hurt.  It will take people like you and me making noise and getting attention on this subject before the proper action will be taken. The Mission of this blog is to make some noise on this subject.  Let me know what you think.

If you are interested in this subject there are a few things to do:

Leave a comment:  Subscribe to this blog for future updates.

The EPA has published many reports on this subject.  The work has been done to establish the problem.  Its up to us to make sure something gets done about it.

 

Additional referenced and papers from the EPA.

http://www.epa.gov/safewater/disinfection/tcr/pdfs/whitepaper_tcr_biofilms.pdf

http://www.epa.gov//safewater/disinfection/tcr/pdfs/issuepaper_tcr_inorganiccontaminantaccumulation.pdf

http://www.epa.gov/safewater/arsenic/pdfs/occurrence.pdf

http://www.epa.gov//safewater/mdbp/word/alter/chapt_2.doc

http://www.epa.gov/safewater/wot/pdfs/book_waterontap_full.pdf

http://www.epa.gov/safewater/tcrdsr.html

 

Ok for years I have been saying it wrong  POT (like a pot on the stove) able.  Now,  I have been corrected

My company Inspects cleans and Dives in poh-tuh-buhl Water Tanks. 

it is Pronounced [poh-tuh-buhl] [Origin: 1565–75; < LL pōtābilis drinkable, equiv. to L pōtā(re) to drink + -bilis -bleOld French, from Late Latin pōtābilis, from Latin pōtāre, to drink, from pōtus, a drink  Reference: Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)Cite This Sourcepo·ta·ble   Audio Help   [poh-tuh-buhl] Pronunciation KeyShow IPA Pronunciation

Ok, Ive been saying POT-ABLE for so long I think I will just change to DRINKING WATER.  My Company

Inspects drinking water tanks with a remote camera,  we can identify problems with interior coatings, corrosion and sediment.  Sediment in patable water storage systems is a real problem.  Sediment can be a habitat for bacteria to grow.  Bacteria in a citys drinking water is not usually a good thing.  The more sediment in a water storage tank or tower, the more chance there is for bacteria to come into the system, find a place to get a foothold and grow into a problem. 

When our inspections find deep sediment in a water storage facility we offer to clean it out using commercial divers.  Divers enter the water system wearing a dry suit enclosed in their own enviroment, they are washed down with a chlorine solution meeting AWWA standards.  The diver can then remove the sediment without wasting several hundred thousands or even millions of gallons of water.  This cleaning process also get the tank cleaner than the traditional method of taking the facility out of service.  Everything that is loose on the floor is removed.  If the tank is drained the loose semi liquid sediment often compresses into a hard clay like substance making cleaning much more dificult and not nearly as effective.  See more about our Inspection and tank cleaning service at www.ronperrin.com .

We are now happy to Inspect and clean Drinking Water Tanks.

Also See our other blog At www.tankdiver.us .

 

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