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Preventing Tank Contamination | Water Contamination

Municipalities large and small depend on the safe and effective operation of water treatment and storage facilities to provide communities with clean, healthy potable water. In order to do this, water treatment facilities send raw water through a multi-step process that helps filter out impurities, remove sediment, desalinate, and disinfect the raw water before it is suitable for storage in potable tanks and considered safe for human consumption, but even with these advanced treatment processes routine testing, cleaning, and maintenance is still critical to reduce the risk of water contamination from bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Water contamination can occur at any point along the distribution channel beginning with the source (surface water of lakes & reservoirs or groundwater), through a problem or malfunction within the treatment process, or from the point of storage. Typically contaminants found at the source level of the distribution channel can effectively be removed through the proper water treatment process; however some contaminants such as the protozoan Cryptosporidium have been known to survive the water treatment process through facilities using outdated or inadequate filtration technologies. 

Water contamination can also occur at the storage phase of the distribution channel. Depending on the clarity and quality of the water at the source, even the most advance treatment facilities can leave behind trace amounts of sediment that can find its way into the potable storage tank. Over time this sediment can accumulate creating a home for bacteria and other contaminants and can affect the quality and safety of the water in the storage facility. The only way that sediment accumulation can be monitored inside a potable storage tank is through routine inspections performed by qualified potable divers, who can also effectively remove the sediment accumulation and potential colonies of bacteria from the potable storage tank with the use of a vacuum-like pump.

When the proper steps are not followed or actions are not taken to ensure that a community water system is operating safely and effectively each step of the way, the effects can result in a large scale contamination that could affect hundreds if not thousands of people. Illnesses from waterborne contamination can range from flu-like symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea to death in the most severe cases. Since 2013, multiple reports of the rare aquatic amoeba Naegleria fowleri were documented in municipal water sources in Louisiana. Also known as the brain-eating amoeba, once contracted Naegleria fowleri has a fatality rate of more than 97%. A series of testing quickly showed that the affected water systems were not maintaining the state mandated disinfectant level of .5 mg/L throughout the water distribution channel, creating a potentially hazardous situation for the communities serviced by these water districts.

The routine inspection and cleaning of potable water tanks and towers by a team of professional commercial divers is an important health and safety precaution that is unfortunately often overlooked. In most cases, public drinking water flows directly from these tanks and towers to your tap, making these services a critical step towards preventing the transfer of pathogens, waterborne illness, or other harmful contaminants, but even these steps are still reliant upon the standards and testing completed by the water treatment facility in your area. If you are concerned about the quality or safety of your water, home test kits are available and often times you can request that your water be tested by a state or government approved agency in your area. If you would like more information about the potable water services offered by Midco Diving and Marine Services, including our potable tank cleaning and potable repair services, please call our office at 1-800-479-1558 to speak with one of our potable water experts.