The last few months at Case Environmental has been exceptionally busy with a variety of different projects across the country. This ranges from small water sampling investigations to large environmental infrastructure projects for different customers.
However, during a recent weekend some time was spent in search of a well assumed to be present at my home address. After some trial excavation the well was found and revealed to be in exceptional condition.
The well is approximately 15-16m deep and is assumed to have been dug around 1850. Interestingly mains water was already available in the town a few years prior to its likely construction.
Further work is needed but the eventual plan is to make use of the water for non-potable outside uses. As a business I have developmed many projects to reinstate such assets, some of which make excellent drinking water supplies!
Is okay to drink raw water?
There have been many stories in the news recently about the health benefits of drinking raw water but what actually is it and is it safe?
Simply raw water is water that is untreated and free from manmade contaminants. It may come from a variety of sources such as rain water, surface water (such as streams, rivers, lakes and ponds), spring water, well water or borehole.
Those who extol the consumption of raw water say that among the benefits are its probiotic properties but was does that actually mean? Probiotics are believed to be beneficial when consumed to help compliment the naturally occurring bacteria in your digestive system. This may be true for probiotic supplements made in controlled, sterile conditions but any raw water containing bacteria (and other pathogens) should not be consumed; clean water will not readily support pathogens as it is low in nutrients (the food stuff pathogens need to survive); any pathogens present will have been introduced.
If you’re lucky and have a robust immune system many people will be able to drink raw water with low bacterial counts with no ill-effects but depending on the type of pathogens (and quantity present), it could make you ill; this might be a slight upset stomach but it could also be severe gastric illness; in some cases the consequences can be life changing and even fatal; illness caused by raw water is one of the biggest killers in the world. If you are considering drinking raw water it is very important that it is from a source that is well protected, constructed to a high standard and demonstrably free from pathogens (with a comprehensive sampling record to prove).
So if raw water is free from pathogens is it safe? Well not necessarily; when rain falls it is free from dissolved minerals and often quite acidic due to atmospheric carbon dioxide. This means that in contact with metallic elements (such as those used for food and drink preparation) the water can attack it, leaching various heavy metals used (treated water is pH adjusted to stop this happening).
Once water has fallen to the ground it will percolate through the soil and rock, eventually contributing to the water table; the longer water spends in contact with rock, the more dissolved minerals will be dissolved. This can have the effect of reducing the acidity of the raw water and can also impart beneficial minerals but depending on the naturally occurring geology, can also introduce undesirable characteristics; this can include radioactivity, nutrients and various heavy metals (commonly such as lead, arsenic, aluminium etc.). It may also include high concentrations of metals that although not normally harmful, may cause (or aggravate) health conditions.
The author of this article is Andy Case BSc (Hons) CEnv C.WEM MCIWEM, an independent water supply consultant with almost two decades experience in the water and environmental industry. Andy’s experience ranges from small individual private water supplies to large public water supplies and everything in between.
The autumn has been very busy for Case Environmental. Work has seen us across Devon, Cornwall, Brighton, Oxford and London (and everywhere in between)!
Work has ranged from collection of water samples to development and delivery of infrastructure replacement projects. We have also been involved with trouble-shooting problematic water systems, helping to identify simple and easy to implement solutions for our clients.
We look forward to the start of 2018 where just in the first month we have three private sewage infrastructure projects starting!