Tag Archive: cleaning storage tanks


There is a link between many water contamination outbreaks and poorly ran water systems. The link is dirty water tanks. After water is treated at water plants it is stored in water tanks and towers near your home or business waiting to be used. Failure to properly inspect and clean these facilities is a big part of the problem in many systems. Legionnaires Outbreaks simply do not happen at well maintained systems that properly inspect and clean their water storage tanks. Over time sediment builds up on the floor of tanks and towers that store drinking water. Layers of sediment on the floor of the tank can become a safe habitat for bacteria, protozoa and even viruses! The contaminants grow under the sediment until they overtake the disinfectant chemicals. This is not rocket science it is basic housekeeping. Floors need to be kept clean, especially floors inside your drinking water tanks.

Potable Water Line Air divers equipped with surface to diver communications can remove sediment efficiently from water tanks and towers with a vacuum cleaning process.

Potable Water Line Air Diver

Potable Water Line Air Diver

Several inches of sediment may contain countless bacteria, protozoa or even viruses.  The AWWA recommends that tanks be cleaned every 3 to 5 years or as needed.  Keeping your tank floors clean is the best way to insure the health of your water system.  Photos- Ron Perrin Water Technologies http://www.ronperrin.com

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All water tanks accumulate sediment over time.  The soft sediment in the floor of water tanks and towers becomes a safe habitat for bacteria, protozoa and even VIRUSES!   *** see reference at bottom of the page.

Out of sight out of mind-

No one thinks about the sediment.   Most have no idea it is even there.

Not the water utility administrators, not the mayor not the elected city council members.  Many times elected officials vote to clean or  repaint the exterior of a water tower and never consider the inside condition.  The popular view is that Pure Treated drinking water is pumped into the water storage tank or tower where it is held, until the end user opens a tap at their kitchen sink and gets a glass of crystal clean water.

The Truth-

All water distribution systems accumulate sediment in tanks over time.

The water is often tested daily, if the chlorine residual goes down – operators do not ask why, they just add more chlorine, over time the additional chlorine breaks down and itself becomes a contaminate in the tank that can cause cancer.   *** See References below

Instead of constantly adding more and more treatment chemicals, simply cleaning the sediment from the floor of the tanks is the solution.

A countless number of biological contaminates can use the sediment in the floor of water tanks and towers to get a foot hold in a municipal drinking water system and grow into a real health concern.  Why should we care what is on the bottom of a water storage tank?

We drink off the bottom of water storage tanks!  Of course like many things the adverse health effects are unequally distributed to poor communities where drinking store bought bottled water is not a given, It is also these communities who have underfunded water systems that suffer from lack of maintenance.

Many utility systems that can afford inspection and cleaning of their systems simply do not allocate the funds for it because there are no regulations requiring them to do so.

In Texas yearly inspections of water storage tanks and towers are required.

Tanks get inspected in Texas.  The problem in this state is there is no rule or regulation requiring tanks to be cleaned. So while thanks get inspected every year,  most are seldom if  ever cleaned.

The AWWA (American Water Works Association)  recommends that water storage tanks be cleaned every 3 to 5 years or as needed.  The EPA has published multiple white papers about contamination public water systems and the importance to keep tanks free of sediment.

Few ever read EPA white papers and AWWA recommendations are largely ignored when there are no rules or regulations backing them up.

Of course there is always someone who is doing the right thing out there, just because it is the right thing to do.  In this case that would be the City of Arlington, Texas.

According to surveys conducted by the Environmental Working Group, Arlington, Texas has The best water in the United States, probably making it the best water in the world.  Arlington is located in the middle of the DFW metroplex getting its water from the same source as 50 other systems.   The water is treated in two water plants using similar treatment chemicals and methods as surrounding systems.

What sets them apart?  For the past 18 years But they  have made a commitment to keep their tanks clean,  Every year a Potable Water Dive crew is contracted to vacuum the tanks clean while they remain full of treated drinking water.    The divers literarily clean dust from the floor of water storage tanks, while surrounding cities allow multiple inches to accumulate before cleaning.

Too many water utilities in this country have no idea how much sediment if  any  is in the floor of their water storage tanks because they have never hired an inspection crew with underwater cameras to check it out.  It is never thought of so they stay caught in the cycle of adding more and more treatment chemicals when contamination is detected.

Lack of regulations in this overlooked undervalued part of our infrastructure is needlessly putting millions of people at risk for illness, cancer and even death.  When the solution is as simple as cleaning the floor of a storage area.  It just so happens that this area stores water, and it is often 150 foot or more up in the air.

The City of Arlington has proven the effectiveness of keeping water storage tanks clean,

According to the research I did for my book “Inspecting and Cleaning Potable Water Storage”  the majority of states do not have regulations requiring inspection or cleaning.

Do you think the EPA should require tanks to be Cleaned?

Take the poll :     CLICK HERE AND TAKE THE POLL AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS BLOG

Please share this with friends check out my Videos posted on you tube  just search RON PERRIN

Visit http://www.ronperrin.com

This is a vastly complicated subject, that can be pulled down to three very simple terms.

  1. If you have a water storage tank or tower in your town there is sediment in it.
  2. Sediment bad,
  3. Remove Sediment and you remove the inorganic contaminates the habitat that organic contaminates can grow in.

See other videos and Vote Me Up! at http://current.com/users/ronperrin.htm

*** Quick Reference:

See:  Disinfection byproducts list at: http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/index.cfm#Byproduc

Reference: Health Risk From Microbiological Growth and Biofilms in Drinking water Systems.  Published by  the EPA office of Water  June 17, 2002.

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

QUOTE:

PAGE 26        G. Sediment Accumulation

Significant microbial activity may occur in accumulated sediment (USEPA, 1992b). Organic and inorganic sediments can also accumulate in low-flow areas of the distribution system, and enhance microbial activity by providing protection and nutrients (USEPA, 1992b). Biofilms that slough can accumulate in the periphery of distribution systems leading to sediment accumulation and the proliferation of some microorganisms (van der Kooij, 2000). Sediments may be an important source of nutrients in open finished water reservoirs, by accumulating slowly biodegrading materials which

are then broken down and released into the water column (LeChevallier, 1999b). The opportunities for biofilm development may be more abundant in storage tanks than in distribution system piping. Frequently, water is drawn from storage tanks only when water demand is high, such as during drought, fire flow, and flushing operations. This intermittent use results in prolonged storage times that may lead to increased sediment accumulation and lack of a disinfectant residual in the finished water storage vessel. Biological and aesthetic effects can be observed following the release of accumulated sediments from low flow areas of the distribution system (Geldreich, 1990).

Many studies have identified microbes in accumulated sediments, including both pathogens and non-pathogens. These include bacteria, viruses, protozoa, algae, fungi and invertebrates. Opportunistic pathogens that have been detected, and can multiply in sediments, include Legionella and mycobacteria (van der Kooij, 2000). Some primary pathogens can also survive for some time in sediments. Hepatitis A virus survived more than four months in sediments at both 5/C and 25/C (Sobsey et al., 1986). Other opportunistic pathogens found in sediments include Pseudomonas fluorescens

and Flavobacterium spp. (Berger et al., 1993). Sediments can also release nutrients into the water which stimulate biofilm growth downstream (LeChevallier, 1999b).

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Page 34      I. Proper Storage Vessel Management and Alteration

Proper storage vessel management and alteration, when necessary, can prevent contamination of the distribution system. Following TCR violations in 1996 in Washington D.C., one measure that proved effective in bringing the system back into compliance was the cleaning, inspection and disinfection of storage tanks and reservoirs (Clark, et al., 1999).

END QUOTE

What is it?  It’s a video about how sediment builds up in our public drinking water supplies.  It should help you understand the importance of having your potable water storage tanks inspected and cleaned.

Out of sight and out of mind.  The cleaning of water storage tanks remains one of the most overlooked health concerns today.  I have been showing this video to every person I can for years.  I just can’t get to enough water utility managers, water board members, mayors and city council people to make a difference.  Information is power, the right people just don’t have the right information to make the right decisions.  Everyone is cutting back and it is easy to cut back on a maintenance budget.  Tell the water utility manager to do the inspections himself.  So, year after year the water tank is inspected without seeing the inside floor of the tank.  Because an inspection contractor with an underwater camera was not in the budget.  So the sediment goes unseen and unnoticed year after year.  Inspections and cleanings would only be one or two percent of the budget.  But the money never gets allocated because the people in control do not understand the importance of it. As the economy gets worse, fewer tanks will be inspected and cleaned while more and more people will return to drinking tap water.

I need your help.

We have all seen the silly or funny “viral videos” that make their way around the world.  This one deserves to be shared so that more people who have influence on the way water systems are managed will understand the problem.  Tanks need to be inspected. If they are dirty, they should be cleaned. It is a very simple message and one that I have spent everything I have made in since 1997 trying to get across to water managers. Please share this video with your friends and encourage them to pass it on to their water utility, city council person, or water board.  Managers just don’t know what is going on inside their water storage tanks.  Having them inspected by a professional with underwater camera equipment will let them know if they have a sediment problem.  If they have sediment, removing it is a cost-effective way of maintaining the public health of that water system.

Also see our page at www.current.tv . Just type “Ron Perrin” into the main page at current or use this link:

http://current.com/users/ronperrin/all/0.htm

If you don’t know about Current TV, it is a cable channel and web site that is viewer created. If your video gets enough votes they put it on TV.  My mission is to show as many people as I can the health concerns of sediment in Public Water Supply storage tanks.  This would be a great way to get my message to thousands of people at a time.  Click on my link below and VOTE me “UP!” on the right side of the page!  By helping to spread this message YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE!    Thanks for your help!

This web site is about spreading this message and educating people about the importance of inspecting and cleaning their water potable storage tanks.

Thanks for your help,

Ron Perrin

Ron Perrin Water Technologies has been inspecting and cleaning potable water storage tanks since 1997.  We serve the mid-west and southern United States.    For more information see our web site at: www.ronperrin.com , or call us toll-free at: 1-888-481-1768.

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