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Angelika Maier
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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We have a big tank but sometimes (now) it is dry for months and we will run out of water. We have town water too but they put yucky fluoride in there and chlorine and maybe more.
I want to run the whole garden with town water to not having to drink tap water. But what does that do to the plants? Does fluoride or chlorine accumulate in the soil? How is that water in the veggie garden?
Would it grow fluoride 'enriched' vegetables? And the chlorine?
 
James Freyr
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I have similar concerns with municipal water. The problem with fluoride and chlorine is they're difficult to remove from water. Fluoride is a very small molecule and goes right thru most filters. Some chlorine can get trapped in activated carbon, but a lot still goes thru. One of the best ways to remove these, and everything else for that matter, is with a reverse osmosis filter. I have one under my kitchen sink for drinking water, but they're pricey and very slow. Attached is a photo of my filter setup I use to irrigate my garden when too many days go by without rain. The blue filter housing is a regular 5 micron activated carbon filter, and the little white housing after that is a catalyst dechlorinator. Fluoride still goes thru both of these. The chlorine on the other hand doesn't get removed, but "deactivated". The small white filter has some sort of mineral compound in it and works by attaching minerals to the chlorine molecules to render them ineffective at killing microbes. The chlorine is still there, it's just been changed. As far as growing fluoride enriched vegetables, I don't know anything about how and if plant roots will uptake the fluoride ion and deposit it in their tissue and fruit. Maybe someone else here can shed some light on fluoride uptake by plants. What I like about the large 20 inch blue filter I use is it minimally restricts the flow, so I can irrigate without it taking all day. The dechlorinator also has a very good rate of flow. They're not perfect, but at least I'm removing some crap from the water and I can feel at least a little better about using tap water to irrigate. If I was made of money, I'd love to have a $50,000 commercial reverse osmosis machine housed in a barn to irrigate with, but that's just not practical.


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Jarret Hynd
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Location: Sask, Canada - Zone 3b
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We are told to not drink the water from the town, so I assume they even go a little heavy on chlorine since the water source must be a bad one. I've only researched this a bit, so take it with a grain of salt and practice due-diligence.

Guidelines for water treatment, at least in my area, are: Fluoride is added at 1mg/litre and Chlorine is added at 5mg/litre. 1mg = 0.0002 of a TSP if you can picture that.

I am unsure about Chlorine's effect on plants, though they probably aren't good, but Chlorine does dissipate from water naturally as UV light and air break it down. Leaving it exposed to these elements for a couple days should help remove noticeable amounts of Chlorine.

Another method is using Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) to neutralize Chlorine and the reaction is very fast. This also works to remove "tougher" forms of Chlorine like Chloramine. Article Here. Since you only have to use tap water occasionally for watering, this option would be fairly cheap. Ascorbic acid seems to have general benefits on plants aswell, though I've never personally tested this, but from what I've read ascorbic acid is fundamental to plant growth via cell repair and development. 

As James describes, the fluoride is harder to get rid of. The only common methods I know of would be distilling or reverse osmosis, but this would be overkill for your situation. Personally, at 1mg/litre I wouldn't worry too much about it, as most water sources have a certain amount of naturally occurring fluoride in them.
 
Antonio Scotti
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Location: Spain
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Hi
the problem with chlorine in irrigation water is that it kills soil microorganisms, so I'd say to get rid of the chlorine as much as you can before using it for irrigation.
Sometimes the type of chlorine they put in water is not just chlorine gas (which evaporates from the water if you leave the water at rest for some 8+ hours) but some other compound like
chloride dioxide, which stays in the water (as far as I know) even after exposing the water to open air for sometime.
Cheers
 
s. ayalp
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Chlorine is a very active element as far as I know. I would connect city water to the water tank and let it sit for at least two days with the top open. If there is not much dirt, it might even clean the tank or at least kill the odor. I don't think after couple of days it will pose any significant impact on soil microorganisms.
About fluoride, it is true that it has enough reasons to be concerned but, as far as I know, plants metabolize only minute amounts. It remains in the soil. It has dramatic impact on health if inhaled though, which is usually seen around dried lake beds or unregulated industrial areas. Besides, again as far I know, it is not very mobile in the soil structure. While I am not an expert on the subject, I would search how it is used by the plants. Maybe there are plants that accumulate fluoride.
Hope it helps.
 
James Freyr
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Hey Jarret I had never heard of using ascorbic acid to neutralize chlorine. That's really cool and I'm filing that one away in my brain for future reference. Thanks for sharing!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Chlorine can be countered with ascorbic acid as noted already, one of the easiest methods is to route a pipe that is clear where the sun can shine on that pipe, a reflector under the pipe speeds up the breakdown of the chlorine.

Small amounts of fluoride are not detrimental but if the levels are above 1% by volume then you would need to be able to get it out of the water, the best methods flocculate the fluoride and that means you now have solids to get rid of.
The best way to use these flocculating systems is through a sand filter, making it easier to change to new filters as needed. Then you can use a fungi bed to clean up that spent sand filter.

Redhawk
 
Kerry Rodgers
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It is critical to know which chlorine-type chemical you are dealing with.  My tap water has chloramine.  The Brenda Land article linked above looks very good and applicable within the scope the author indicates, but she does not consider chloramine, since it would not be used in the situation she is writing about.   Chloramine is much harder to remove than other chlorines--which is why tap water providers are using it, after all!  Also, you cannot depend on the concentration being consistent over time or pipeline distance.

In her classes, Elaine Ingham advocates dechlorinating water used for irrigation, compost, and compost tea using humic acid.  The humic acid is a large molecule that "complexes" the chlorine, rather than reacting or removing it.  It holds chlorine on its surface to render it ineffective.  Add just enough to the water that you can see a slight color imparted to the water (the humic acid is dark brown, so the water becomes slightly yellow-brown).  It works fine with injectors.  A key advantage is that the dosing is not critical.

Liquid humic acid concentrate can be bought from ag sources, in which case it is extracted from low-grade coal (fossilized decayed organic matter).  But she says the best source is your own compost.  Pour a little (clean) water over mature compost and collect the leachate out the bottom.  I've found this easy to do with my worm bins.  The collected liquid should be a very dark, opaque brown--not light brown like iced tea.  

Dr Ingham is not thrilled with ascorbic acid treatment as a practical technique for farmers.  From memory, her main argument is that the dosing is somewhat critical--too little is ineffective and too much is detrimental.  Also, ascorbic acid is colorless, so you don't have a ready indication of concentration, or whether your injector has stopped working.  Also, note the difference that Ingham is considering applying the treated water to microbiologically active soil or compost, while the Land paper is considering cleaning up water before discharge into a larger water environment.  The relative concentrations are rather different, and the sensitivities of the organisms involved may be rather different as well.

I'm doing the humic acid thing on my little half-acre, but I haven't tried to do any measurements myself.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Indeed it is very important to know which method of chlorination your water treatment plant is using as well as what concentration they are using.

I have tried both humic acid and ascorbic acid with an indicator dye the humic acid works without the need of adding anything else as well having a larger benefit to your soil.

Good Post Kerry, thank you for posting.

Redhawk

 
Ellie Strand
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Location: Eau Claire, WI
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Kerry,

First, thanks for the chloramine/humic acid info. Now to my question: have you noticed any difference since you started to use humic acid to remove chloramine?

I have drip irrigation hooked to municipal water that treats with chloramine so humic acid is not practical. Does anyone have a solution?
 
Kerry Rodgers
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Location: North Texas, Dallas area suburbs, US zone 8
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Ellie Strand wrote:have you noticed any difference since you started to use humic acid to remove chloramine?


I haven't, but I'm not regular enough with the irrigation that my plants are not in water stress all the time.

I'm also curious about the drip irrigation issue.  I assume humic acid would gum up emitters or drip tape, but I haven't heard anyone say.  It works fine with spray heads.
 
Deb Rebel
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I have used vitamin c powder to remove chlorine quickly from water for pond changes.

Putting the water into standing holding and aerating it for a few hours will dissipate the chlorine. Chloranimine will break down and dissipate too, with overnight. A double dose of your neutralizer will work too but generally I lean towards hold in open containment and areate vigorously (good bubble stream with submerged bubbler head) for a few hours.

Ask your city what they are using. By law they have to do a full panel set of tests and publish them once a year, here it is the end of June. You can ask to see that and it will tell you everything that's in that water, how much, etc. Locally here I had to go a few years ago and ask about nitrates and chlorine or chloranimine and the city lady said I was the first person in her fifteen years there that had asked about the water. She proudly dug out the report and said 'oh goodie I get to report this to the feds' (as in someone had asked and they had complied. Instead of photocopies I took phone pictures so I had digital copies) Town here uses seven wells, we pull from a deep aquifer, and there are reports for EVERY well as well as what the tower was holding.

We do not fluoridate. Big urban I used to live in had levels naturally and my plants seemed to do okay with it as well as my ponds.
 
Cody DeBaun
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Kerry you're telling me that the worm bin leachate I haven't found a use for yet will neutralize the chloramine in the garden hose water I've been trying to get rid of? That's amazing news!

I've been worried that the addition of something like that would result in those 'disinfection byproducts' that people talk about when criticizing chlorination for its carcinogenic effects (iodoacids, that kinda thing). Doesn't adding humic acid to chlorine or chloramine result in these compounds? Are these maybe not as detrimental if applied to the soil, instead of applied to the gullet?
 
Angelika Maier
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Thanks for all the answers! It is about practiacality. I want to use a hose my garden is too big to be watered with a watering can. It seems they are using chlorine and chloramide (if I understand that right), there is a disinfection byproduct which is called trihalomethane and the flouride is: 0.94 – 1.04 10th to 90th percentile range what I don't understand either. This is the analysis they have it online: http://www.sydneywater.com.au/web/groups/publicwebcontent/documents/document/zgrf/mdq0/~edisp/dd_044721.pdf
I have a water tank but I don't want to 'waste' it on the garden, I would not like to drink that stuff (apart from what they are putting in the water is probably very OK)
 
David Livingston
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I was brought up on artisian well water that had naturally huge amounts of chlorine , fluorine ,bromine and iodine and nope I dont have two heads we would just let some tap water sit in the air and we found many of these halogens like vampires dont like sunlight .

David 
 
Jane Southall
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Location: Limestone, TN
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I really want to convert back to well.  The previous owners opted for city.  I thought about rain water collecting.  Thanks for all the info.
 
David Livingston
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sounds like a good idea - a test for any well on your property should not cost that much I assume that since you live in lime stone your rock is ......
 
Jane Southall
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One would think.  Lime stone.  But I used to live on Upper Pig Pen and never saw a pig nor a pen.  Bad joke.  Too expensive, for now.  Yes, it is on the list. Thanks.
 
Angelika Maier
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I wonder what tap or well water would do to the soil on the longer run!
 
Antonio Scotti
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Well you know...."it depends"...if the well water isn't too limey or contaminated, shouldn't be much of a problem. Tap water may have chlorine in it and if you use it straight as it is, without any further treatment, it will end up killing soil life.
 
Angelika Maier
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James I had a second read through the thread and had a look at your filter system. It looks neat. Do you get mains pressure with that?
One idea I got was getting a hose end fertilizer thingy (I don't know how it's called) and filling something (?) in to neutralize the fluoride and chlorine.
Yesterday I read about soil and how important all these little bugs are, if you constantly water with chlorinated water, wouldn't you kill a good amount of these?
If you would consider to apply EM while watering with chlorine water that would be futile - wouldn't it?
 
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