Monday, July 22nd, 2019 by Tom Luke
DO TANNINS LURK IN
YOUR WELL WATER?
Homeowners who live in the country often encounter special issues with their well water. City dwellers rely on municipalities to regulate their household water, but if you’re a rural resident who relies on a well, you are often on your own. You may encounter anything from high amounts of hardness and iron content to strong sulfur odors and discoloration of your water. And since you’re a responsible well owner, you have had your well water tested for contaminants once a year and are always on the lookout for reports of groundwater contamination, especially if you live near large farms or an industrial operation.
If you have a shallow well or live in a low-lying or coastal area, you may have encountered a less common problem that affects well water users called tannins. And while this issue does not necessarily carry potential health or safety concerns, it can have an unpleasant influence on the way your household uses water.
Have you encountered, near your property, a lake or river containing light brown or amber colored water? In rivers that move rapidly, this water can even take on the look of root beer as it cascades over rocks and down small waterfalls. While this color is often mistaken for dirt or pollutants in the water, it’s actually caused by tannins—fermented organic materials that are created by the breakdown of vegetation. When water passes over and through this material it takes on a yellow to amber color. In the case of a root beer colored river, water passes through nearby swamps, marshes, or other areas that contain a lot of decaying vegetation, and collects these small plant particles which gives the river its color.
Your well water can be affected in the same manner by tannins. As surface water makes its way downwards towards the aquifer that feeds your well, it can pass through decaying, fermenting vegetation or peaty soil. And, just like the root beer river, water concentrated by decaying material can assume these unpleasant colors.
WHAT DO TANNINS
DO IN YOUR HOME?
They don’t necessarily pose direct safety or health problems to your household water, but they’re not without risks. In addition to the unattractive color, affected water can carry a plant-like, musty odor, and it will have an unpleasantly tangy aftertaste. The tea-like color also works similarly to a dye and has the potential to permanently stain laundry and even porcelain fixtures and dinnerware in your home.
HOW TO TEST
It’s a tricky process, because high iron content can also cause discolored water. A simple way to gauge if your water contains tannins is to fill up a clear glass and let it sit overnight. In the morning, if the discoloration is more noticeable at the bottom of the glass, the disparity is likely caused by iron, as the heavier iron particles will naturally settle. If the entirety of the water remains the same color, tannins are likely the culprit.
When you have your water tested regularly by a certified laboratory, you’ll garner more accurate results. In addition to testing for tannins, a lab will be able to look for any other component in your well water that may be affecting the color or taste, such as iron and hardness.
Should your well water be discovered to contain tannins, and if you’d like to have them removed, you have options, even though tannins can be tricky to treat. For example, even if two wells are within a few miles of one another, the treatment method may be slightly different due to the fact that different tannins derived from different plants are present in the water.
Effective tannin filtration is unique, because it operates more like a water softener than a true water filter. Like a softener, a tannin filter uses an ion exchange resin media to capture tannins and other organic compounds. When the fine, white resin beads that comprise the media have reached capacity, the unit is regenerated and washed with a brine solution and the filtration process is ready to repeat its process.
Should your household water resemble a glass of iced tea but smells and tastes bitter and earthy, it’s probably time to have your well water tested and treated for tannins. Evolve’s EVT water filter will confront your well’s tannin problem and reduce problem minerals, odors, tastes, and other discoloration issues commonly found in homes with a well water supply. Contact us today to schedule a water test and begin the process of fixing your well water...for good!