Saturday, January 28, 2017

Mildly Confused the routine statements of GVWater bureaucrats on pH (potential of Hydrogen)

Sure, there's no water quality advisory now during winter, but it does give me time to reflect on the frequent mild confusion experienced during water "episodes" in the summer...but I've never jotted it down onto the blog.

Until now.

Let's look at a water source change notice...this one from February 20, 2015, when all customers were on the Duteau source (versus the majority of domestic users on the Kal Lake source).

"Customers who are not normally on the DCWTP water source
 will notice that the water is softer
 and the water has a low alkalinity and pH."

So when bureaucrats issue a notice that says the water has a low alkalinity and pH, I believe that means it's either close to neutral (7), or heading into acidic conditions (the lower the number, the more acidic it is).

Then there's hardness and softness, relating chiefly to calcium: 

Hard water has a lot of dissolved mineral and soft water has very little dissolved mineral in the water. The most common mineral in water is calcium, however, other minerals can also be present. Most people's tap water is either slightly hard or soft depending on where it comes from.  

Mildly confusing, n'est-ce pas?

Suffice to say that the Kal Lake water source is mildly "hard", and Duteau Creek is "softer".
But saying that "water has a low alkalinity" could better be explained as "near neutral", or "mildly acidic", etc.

Here are a few pH scales from the internet, some with interesting examples:



My point in all this is that Duteau Creek water is most often a higher pH than Kal Lake water, so to say "it has a low alkalinity and pH" borders on confusing.

Say it like it is.  Duteau Creek's water pH (at reporting time) is 7.2, softer than Kal Lake's water, which is at 6.7 (for example).

"Kind'a nitpicking?" Kia would've summarized.

Another pH example was in the May 2014 Rotarian, and I found it interesting too:

Drain cleaner pH 14
Bleach pH 13
Soapy water pH 12
Ammonia pH 11
Milk of Magnesia pH 10
Baking soda pH 9
Seawater pH 8
Pure water pH 7
Milk pH 6
Black coffee pH 5
Hot sauce pH 4
Vinegar pH 3
Lemons pH 2
Stomach acid pH 1
Battery acid pH 0

Have you heard of the following ingenious idea? 

An inexpensive option for point-of-use water filtration in the developing world, according to research published in PLoS ONE.  Mechanical engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology investigated whether the porous membranes of plant xylem, the part of a plant that conducts the flow of sap from root to leaf and filters out air bubbles, cold also filter out pathogens in water.  In the study, xylem from a pine tree removed more than 99 per cent of bacteria through simple pressure-driven filtration." 
You can do the same experiment by following the easy instructions here

Here's the project on Youtube.

Great project for the kids!
Hopefully Vernon's Science Center will demonstrate the idea at one of their shows this summer.

Sign longer confused.

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