Water Blog

Brrrr. Old Man Winter is Here!

Brrr. Winter is upon us and the temperatures continue to drop! Now is the time for you to protect your pipes against old man winter and freezing. 

Winter weather brings icy winds and dipping temperatures which can do a lot of damage to your home by freezing pipes and leaving you without flowing water.

There are many precautions you can take now to help you avoid the expense and inconvenience of frozen pipes during an extended cold spell.

Before Freezing Weather

1. Disconnect and drain hoses from outside faucets. If your home has a separate shut-off valve for outside faucets (usually located in the basement or crawl space) then use it to shut the water off to your outside faucets. Then go outside and turn on the faucets to drain water from the line. If your home does not have a separate shut-off valve for outside faucets, then wrap each outside faucet with insulation or newspaper.

2. Insulate pipes or faucets in unheated areas such as the garage, crawl space, or attic. Check with your local home improvement store for which materials to use to insulate your pipes.

3. Show household members how to turn off water to the house in case of emergencies. The main shut-off valve is often located near the water heater or the washing machine. If a pipe bursts anywhere in the house – kitchen, bath, basement, or crawl space – this valve turns it off.

4. Turn off and drain irrigation systems and backflow devices. Wrap backflow devices with insulating material.

5. Cover foundation vents with foam blocks, thickly folded newspaper, or cardboard.

Just a little prevention may help save you from the heartache and pain of frozen pipes and the need to pay a plumber.

 

 

Water Quality My Water Smells - What Does it Mean?

Have you noticed a sulfur smell when you turn on the water at the sink, in the bath, and hot water? Do you sometimes see a pink residual in the bathtub or sink?

The water that comes to your tap actually contains small quantities of many substances. Most are beneficial, such as the appropriate amount of a disinfectant, like chlorine, that helps keep your water safe from germs and fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay.

Carolina Water Service is required to follow all the state and federal water quality standards to provide our customers reliable water.  This means we must treat the water before it gets to your home to remove potentially harmful bacteria. 

What is the primary reason the smell or the pink residue (which is bacteria) may happen? Your water filtration system may be removing the chlorine or chloramines Carolina Water Service uses to treat your water. This may explain why your neighbor beside you or down the street, who is not using a water filtration system water has no smell or residue.

How can you prevent the smell and other issues from happening? If you must have a water filtration system in your home, it is strongly suggested that you monitor the filters, change them frequently.

Filters are recommended to be checked and replaced every six to eight months by most manufacturers. If you have not checked your system or the filters, it is recommended to do so as soon as possible. It is a good practice to keep a replacement filter(s) on hand to make the switch helpful and easy.

Another common occurrence is a “rotten egg” odor. Many times, this is caused by a reaction between naturally occurring sulfates in the water and a corroded magnesium or aluminum anode rod in water heaters. To get rid of the odor, you’ll need to flush and disinfect your water heater tank and consider replacing the anode rod with a zinc or aluminum-zinc alloy rod, as they do not react negatively to sulfates.

Carolina Water Service receives calls to test customer’s water that smells or is cloudy. When the company sends an operator to your home to conduct the water quality test, the water is always taken from an outside spigot to obtain water before it reaches the in-home water filtration system. Over 95% of the test reveal no signs of smell or cloudy appearance.

To seek more information about water and filtration system, check out the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website at https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water

 

Water Quality Hardness – What Does it Mean?

Hard water contains high levels of dissolved calcium and magnesium ions. Calcium and magnesium occur naturally in soils. As groundwater or surface water comes into contact with these minerals, they may dissolve and enter the water supply. Calcium and magnesium help give water a pleasant taste and are necessary for our health. A small portion of our necessary dietary intake of calcium and magnesium comes from the water we drink.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations with enforceable standards on the number of contaminants allowed in drinking water. These standards protect the public from contaminants that may pose a risk to human health.

All public water providers must meet the requirements of these standards when supplying water to their customers.

In addition, the EPA has a set of standards known as the National Secondary Drinking Water Regulations. These standards are recommended guidelines that water providers can follow, but the standards are not enforceable. Substances found on this list are not harmful to human health but may cause unpleasant taste, odor, and color changes.

This link is to a complete list of EPA’s Primary and Secondary Drinking Water Regulations: the EPA has not placed calcium or magnesium on either list. The reason is that neither substance is considered harmful to health or thought to cause concerns with taste, color, or odor.

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-06/documents/npwdr_complete_table.pdf

One parameter on the Secondary list related to water hardness is Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). TDS is a measure of all dissolved minerals in the water. The recommended maximum standard for TDS in drinking water is 500 milligrams per liter (mg/L). Above this level, the taste and color of the water may be affected, and it may leave deposits on appliances and dishes.

Water hardness is measured in the laboratory by the amount of calcium carbonate present. Although there is no set standard for the classification of water hardness, the following chart provides generally accepted classifications based on the concentration of calcium carbonate.

 

Water Hardness Measured as Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3)

Concentration in (mg/L)

Classification

0 to 60

Soft

61 to 120

Moderately Hard

120 to 180

Hard

More than 180

Very Hard

Source: United States Geological Survey (USGS); The USGS Water Science School, http://water.usgs.gov/edu/hardness.html

Water classified as hard will leave mineral deposits on faucets and dishes and may have a salty taste but will not negatively affect human health. Some parts of the country have very hard water with typical concentrations of calcium carbonate ranging from 200 to 300 mg/L in drinking water.

Carolina Water Service utilizes groundwater as our primary source of drinking water. North Carolina’s groundwater supplies are naturally high in calcium and magnesium ions, so groundwater is usually hard. Hardness levels are higher in areas along the coast and throughout the sandhills area.

 

 

 

To Flush or Not to Flush? We have the Answers to this Question!

Today, there are many products on the market that promise the consumer that it is flushable. Baby wipes, clean wipes, feminine hygiene items such as tampons, adult diapers, and multi-layer toilet paper cleaning wipes, and even pre-moistened towelettes all claim to be flushable. But guess what? This is not the truth.

The truth is that these products create blockages in the sewer system and your lines costing up to thousands of dollars to repair. Carolina Water Service, Inc. of North Carolina (CWSNC) crews spend hours clearing the wall of wipes out of our wastewater treatment plants. Some people say, “well it went down the toilet fine.” However, once it hits a bend in the line, it gets stuck and if everyone flushes a lot of these items, then we have blocked sewer lines.

There are only three things that you can flush down the toilet - urine, feces and toilet paper. Just remember that the only this to flush is human waste, or the three Ps: pee, poo, and paper.

Here is a list of things not to flush.

Paper Towels
Cosmetic Wipes
Baby Wipes
Condoms
Tampons and Pads
Dental Floss
Contact Lenses
Cotton Swabs
Diapers – baby or adult
Facial Tissues
Medication
Cigarette Butts
Hair
Chewing Gums and any Food
Cooking Grease and Oil
Bleach
Band-Aids
Paint
Cat Litter
Dryer Sheets
Cotton balls

The toilet was invented only to dispose of human waste and if you use it for other than this one purpose, you damage your plumbing, cause the community to face sewer issues and can pollute the water supply in some instances. Flush smart and help CWSNC keep our wastewater treatment systems working to their greatest capacity!

 

 

A Boil Water Advisory – What is this and what do I do?

You receive a call, text or email about a water main break and a boil water advisory from Carolina Water Service, Inc. of North Carolina (CWSNC).  But what does this mean? Is my water safe to use? What do I do? Below is information about what a Boil Water Advisory is and what you need to do to keep your family safe during these notices.

A Boil Water Advisory is a public health recommendation from CWSNC advising customers to boil their tap water before using it. This is in response to an event that could have allowed contaminants to enter the water distribution system. Because the water quality is unknown, customers should assume the water is unsafe to drink and take the necessary precautions listed below.

When does CWSNC issue a Boil Water Advisory?
Typically, we issue a Boil Water Advisory after a water main break repair, small or widespread loss of pressure in our water system, or a natural disaster.

In some cases, our crews can repair a water main while maintaining adequate pressure to prevent contamination from entering the water distribution system. (When we do a repair in this way, no Boil Water Advisory is needed.)

When we issue a Boil Water Advisory, we notify only the customers affected. If the risk of contamination is widespread, CWSNC will put information on our website, notify customers using our My Utility Connect application to inform the public. You can also find these notifications on our website under the Service Alerts Tab – the red tab at the top right corner of the website.

How long will a Boil Water Advisory be in effect?
An advisory will remain in effect until bacteriological test samples show the water is safe to drink. Bacteriological testing typically takes 24 to 28 hours to complete.

What should I do during a Boil Water Advisory?
Boil tap water before using it for drinking, making ice, washing dishes, brushing teeth or preparing food. Bring tap water to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute and let it cool.

Should I use my coffee maker, water or ice dispenser when a boil water advisory is in effect?
During an advisory, do not use water from any appliance connected to your water lines. This includes water and ice dispensers in your refrigerator/freezer. Use boiled or bottled water to make coffee and ice.

How should I wash dishes during a Boil Water Advisory?
Household dishwashers are generally safe to use if the water reaches a final rinse temperature of at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit or if the dishwasher has a sanitizing cycle.

To wash dishes by hand:
Use boiled water; or wash and rinse dishes as normal. Then in a separate basin, add 1 teaspoon of unscented household bleach for each gallon of warm water. Soak dishes in basin for a least 1 minute. Let dishes air dry completely.

Should I bathe or shower during a Boil Water Advisory?
It is safe to bath or shower but be careful not to swallow any water. Use caution when bathing babies and young children. Consider giving them a sponge bath to reduce the chance of them swallowing water.

Can I wash my hands during a boil water advisory?
Yes, vigorous handwashing with soap and your tap water is safe for basic personal hygiene. However, if you are washing your hands to prepare food, you should use boiled (then cooled) water, disinfected or bottled water with hand washing soap.

What if I drank some of the water before I found out about the advisory?
This advisory was issued as a precaution, so your risk of getting sick is very low. However, if you begin to have a fever, diarrhea, or nausea you should seek medical attention.

How will I know when the advisory or notice has been lifted?
CWSNC will rescind the Boil Water Advisory when the results from the testing have been confirmed that the water is safe to drink. You will receive your notification the same way you were informed of the advisory.

Is a Boil Water ADVISORY the same as a Boil Water NOTICE? NO!
We issue a Boil Water Advisory when water contamination is possible. In an advisory, we recommend that affected customers boil CWSNC water before consumption or use bottled water. A Boil Water Advisory is voluntarily issued when water contamination is possible. We provide the notification as a courtesy to keep our customers safe just in case.  During an advisory we recommend that customers vigorously boil water for at least 1 minute before consumption or drink bottled water.

We issue a Boil Water Notice when contamination isconfirmed in the water system. During a notice, affected customers must boil their water before consumption or use bottled water. A Boil Water Notice is required by law to be issued when contamination is confirmed in the water system. During a notice, affected customers must boil water before consumption or use bottled water.

If you have any questions, call our Customer Service Department (800) 525-7990.

 

FATS, OILS, and GREASE - OH MY!

Bacon! Sizzling in the frying pan, browning to perfection, ready to be applied to that lettuce, bacon and tomato sandwich – YUM!

 But what should you do with the remaining grease? Pour it down the sink!?!?

 Simple! Follow our guidelines for how to properly dispose of fats, oils, and grease or FOG!

First, NEVER pour fats, oils or grease down the sink!  This could result in a Sanitary Sewer Overflow.

Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO) occur when untreated wastewater flows from the collection system and into the environment due to abnormal causes.

A wide variety of factors can cause an SSO but the leading cause for decades has been Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG). These substances, when poured down the drain, solidify in the sewer pipes and cause blockages that do not allow normal wastewater to flow.

If the blockage becomes large enough, normal wastewater flow will begin to back up and release elsewhere, such as a manhole or cleanout.  The untreated wastewater then flows freely into storm drains, creeks and lakes that can have a severe impact. YUCK!

 Here are some examples of FOG that you should never put down the drain.

FATS

· Cheeses

· Ice Cream

· Butter

· Meat Trimmings

 OILS

· Salad Dressings

· Cooking Oil

· Vegetable Oil

· Canola Oil

· Olive Oil

· Corn Oil

GREASE

· Gravy

· Bacon/Sausage

· Mayonnaise

So, how do you properly dispose of fog? Easy!  Scrape all pans into garbage. Then Dry Wipe pan with paper towel and dispose of in garbage. Pour liquid oil or grease into solid container (ex: glass jar, metal coffee can etc.) and allow to cool and solidify. Then toss in garbage. Contact your local government to see if they have a cooking oil recycling program.

A new major factor that has been contributing to SSOs has been Flushable wipes. Although these wipes are flushable, they do not break down like normal tissue paper does. As a result, these wipes get stuck in the sewer pipes and the pumps that move the wastewater. If you use these wipes, please dispose of them in the garbage not the toilet.

Enjoy your bacon but be responsible and properly dispose of that grease!