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Advice on improving water quality?  RSS feed

 
khurram haroon
Posts: 10
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hello all permies,

I need Permaculture's help to suggest me how to improve the condition of ground water available for my land. I got it tested and the results are disappointing declaring water to be unfit for irrigation. I'm sure someone among you would help me come out of this frustration for what to do to make the available water fit and healthy for my land. putting down the results of chemical analysis for your expert opinion:

Electrical Conductivity: 2400 (ideally it should be 1000 at max)
Calcium + Magnesium (Ca+Mg): 8.8
sodium (Na): 15.2
carbonate (CO3): Nill
Bicarbonate (HCO3): 9.8
Chlorine (Cl): 10.3 (ideally it should be under 4.5)
Sodium Adsorption Ratio (SAR): 7.3 (ideally it should be <=6)
Residual Sodium carbonate (RSC: CO3+HCO3-(Ca+Mg)): 1 (ideally it should be less than 1.25)

hope to have a solution here.

regards,
KH
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3382
Location: woodland, washington
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what are you wanting to irrigate? and where are you located?

my first thought is to try to add as much organic material to your dirt as you can. heavy mulch could prevent water from evaporating so that irrigation won't be such an issue.

if you're in a real arid spot, piles of rocks can help irrigate by condensing water from the atmosphere in the mornings after they have cooled off overnight. that water wouldn't have any of the excess ions you're saddled with in the ground water.

contouring your land to capture any precipitation rather than allowing it to run off could also help.

I think we'll be able to give you some good ideas, but we'll need to know quite a bit more about your situation.
 
Taylor Brown
Posts: 21
Location: Little Rock, AR 7b
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Assuming your chlorine level is being reported in milligrams per liter (or the equivalent parts per million), that appears to be your biggest problem. To my knowledge, groundwater does not have naturally occurring chlorine. Therefore, it is likely that somebody is adding chlorine to disinfect it. Typically, public water systems chlorinate to a level 0.2 through 2.0 mg/L (or ppm) to kill microorganisms. Above 4.5 you should be able to detect a chlorine smell or taste. Chlorinated water is not so good for irrigation because you actually WANT microorganisms in the soil.

Chlorine will dissipate from a surface exposed to air. Therefore, if you can store water in a rain barrel, or pond, before irrigating with it, you can decrease the chlorine level. A swimming pool test kit might help you check the level.
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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i agree, you need to pond filter this stuff first. charcoal on the inlet, and pine cones will help too.

Peroxide will oxidize chlorine immediately , and will drop out as a condensate. It will use alot of it tho....

calcium/Mag looks like our az desert, and they say it needs extra zinc for plants to be able to uptake them.

I thought our water was hard and saline !

 
Max Kennedy
Posts: 484
Location: Englehart, Ontario, Canada
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Ummm, peroxide (H2O2) and chlorine are both oxidizing agents and don't combine to precipitate/condense in any chemical reaction I am aware of and I've done a lot of work as an environmental toxicologist in cleaning up groundwater. Chlorine can be precipitated using iron. An easy method is running the water through a column filled with rust. You get ferric chloride out of the reaction and have to dispose of that but the chlorine is removed. To remove calcium you might try bubbling CO2 through the water. Reality is your water is brackish and it will need a fair bit of treatment to use unless you want to salt poison your land. If only smaller amounts are needed you might try solar distillation.
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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we use peroxide to settle out chlorine when we use bleach for water treatment for backpacking. you can watch it happen. most hikers have switched to chlorine dioxide now. Aquamira.
don't know if it works with that.

is that ferric oxide the same they use to etch circuit boards ?

will it clean the surface of copper plate, or oxidize it worse ?
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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ferric oxide and acid releases hydrogen gas right ?
is that a clean way to dispose of it ?
 
Max Kennedy
Posts: 484
Location: Englehart, Ontario, Canada
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I see, you're not settling out chlorine but organochlorides. The chlorine has combined with organic molecules, eg bacteria, tannins etc, and the peroxide acts on that. It isn't salts it's acting on but the organochlorides. Ferric oxide is basically rust. Etching is done with ferrous chloride.
 
khurram haroon
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Thank you ladies & gentlemen for responding back. I surely can pick & try many of your useful suggestions for improving my water quality. For those who have asked for more input about my location, situation, i must add some intro. My land is located in Pakistan (a country full of problems). I'm 43 years old Pakistani male qualified in Physics & Mathemetics, but a world traveller by virtue of Apparel business, having no experience in farming at all yet me and a friend have bought some bad land (10-12 acres in all whatever cheap we could afford) and have planned to live our future life practising Permaculture. The ground water from the nearing well is also tested and found unfit. Isn't it a perfect recipe for a failure?


But we are those who believe in two things:

a. permaculture is the only responsible way of living a life. It is need of the hour. This is a silent revolution in disguise of gardening which can change the word as we dream it to be.
b. It is not what circumstances offer to us, it is how we respond to the given situation, that determines our fate.

Shall get back to you with answers of some of your other questions.

rgds,
KH
 
khurram haroon
Posts: 10
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dear Permies,

please see below data of water test report. i think nothing could be worse than that:

Electrical Conductivity: 5030
Calcium+Magnesium: 8.6
sodium: 41.7
Carbonate: Nill
Bicarbonate: 9.8
Chloride: Very high
Sodium adsorption ratio: 20%
Residual sodium carbonate: 1.2

is there something which Permaculture could do to fix these or improve significantly through a mechanism which works for irrigation needs (not a small scale solar still for drinking water)

rgds,
KH
 
Deb Berman
Posts: 54
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I've been thinking about this...

I think the best thing to do is to not have to use your ground water.

How much precipitation do you get a year? Do you have a wet and a dry season, and if so, how long is your dry season usually? How much rain usually falls at one time?

Have you tested your soil?

What are your goals for your land?

Answers to these questions can probably lead to a plan that doesn't have to rely on your ground water at all but still gets you where you want to be.

Cheers
 
Renate Howard
pollinator
Posts: 755
Location: zone 6b
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I think a pond/cistern system would be the way to go. You don't want to salt poison your land. You could set it up to harvest rainwater from roofs of buildings, maybe even making extra roofs like for an outdoor area like a patio. You can also recycle grey water from your house to use to water plants. I'd keep that in a separate tank, tho, in case it causes algae growth or something.

Also you may want to look at hugelkulture berms to catch any falling water and keep it from running off.

And maybe start out with plants that do well in the wild in your climate (without additional watering). If part of your system is to raise goats for dairy or meat, then you can expand the list of plants to any that make good fodder for them. Buying large trees from nurseries is harder than little seedlings because the large trees need watering for 5 years or more before they get established while seedlings are often independent after one year. The biggest issue with seedlings is losing them in weeds or mowing over them by accident, but putting a mulched area around them should help with that.

There are also watering devices that are pretty simple that you can use instead of irrigation. Like collars around new trees that slowly release water into the subsoil, which can be as simple as a ring of 2 liter bottles with small holes in the bottom that let the water seep out. Large scale irrigation sounds to me like you want to grow row crops, which imho isn't really the way in an arid climate - you lose so much water to evaporation and let the minerals build up on the soil surface.

One other issue - if the water is that bad, did the previous owner already salt-poison it? Have you had any soil testing done to see the quality of your topsoil? If it is already salty you may want to start out with plants that can tolerate salt until the levels come down, then work your way slowly to the more salt-sensitive plants you want to grow.
 
David Williams
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erm, i know this post will be "out of step" with the others but... Ponds , and aquaculture .... but must be stepped (various stages) as for broad-acre , grow salt tolerant plants and use their biomass in a concentrated area to improve the humus and water retention ... most salt tolerant plants filter it out before it enters the plant through it's roots , use this to do the work for you....secondly, sunlight kills chlorine.. use it in ponds that fill with algae that produces C02 this will change the state of the carbonates , there are many brackish water fish that can be used that are vegetarian / omnivorous ... then transfer the water from this stage to a second stage water filtration ... many different types of reeds and trees can be used here , find ones that suit your climate, this should sufficiently filter water enough for normal aqua-culture and farming small scale with an intensive system making you a lot more self-sufficient ... in arid area's with less than 20 inches annually i wouldn't recommend broad acre food farming without a lot of previously installed infrastructure, (trees with canopy and farming between the rows) or large expensive equipment on a "hit and miss" crop cycle ...i hope some of this info may help you , but good luck on your adventure, who know's 10 years from now you might be pakistans largest inland prawn/shrimp farmer
P.S. i think in essence your rebuilding a new ecology, this is a long term and frustrating process , will need a lot of inputs, i do think activated carbon and zeolite will be needed to treat the water to be potable, and may include distilation too
 
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