Have you noticed a white buildup on your pots and kettles lately?
You might be looking at a mineral buildup due to hard water.
Why am I seeing this mineral deposit now, you might ask.
The Greater Vernon Region has two main water sources. Kalamalka Lake and Duteau Creek.
A few months ago the North Okanagan Regional District began upgrades to the Duteau Water Treatment facility.
Until the project is completed, residents typically receiving water from Duteau Creek are now getting treated water from Kalamalka Lake.
The water from Duteau Creek and Kalamalka Lake is quite different. Water from Duteau is considered "hard" and water from Kalamalka "soft".
How does one remove the built-up deposits? Is there a health risk to drinking "hard water"?
First, what is hard water?
The hardness of water is generally due to the presence of calcium and magnesium. Hardness is reported in terms of calcium carbonate and in units of milligrams per litre. More than 120 mg per litre is hard, below 80 mg per litre soft.
Harder water has the effect of reducing the toxicity of some metals like copper, lead, zinc to name a few. Soft water may have a corrosive effect on metal plumbing, while hard water may result in scale deposits in the pipes.
If the water has a hardness of greater than 500 mg per litre, then it is normally unacceptable for most domestic purposes and must be treated.
The two major water sources for Greater Vernon Water and their water hardness level:
1) Kalamalka Lake hardness is 180 mg/L
2) Duteau Creek hardness is 30 mg/L.
Hard water generally isn't a health risk if the minerals are calcium and magnesium and levels are below 500 mg per litre. That said, hard water can be a nuisance, and expensive because it causes a mineral buildup on plumbing fixtures and reduces the effectiveness of soaps or detergents
How does water become "hard"?
Water is a good solvent and picks up impurities easily. As water moves through soil and rock, it dissolves very small amounts of minerals and holds them in solution
According to Puracy.com, the best hard water stain remover is a paste of white vinegar and baking soda applied to affected surfaces. Let it sit for 30 minutes then wipe clean with a dry cloth.
For tougher jobs, products like CLR may be the answer.
What can you do if deposits are clogging your water pipes? For serious clogs unfortunately the only safe fix is pipe replacement.
Pouring solvents like CLR into pipes to clear mineral deposits is NOT AN OPTION.
Solvents such as CLR are difficult to clear from treated pipes and will cause severe health issues or death if consumed.
Minor buildups of hard water may be cleared from plumbing by pouring vinegar into your water or sewer line. The vinegar may take a day or longer to work. A thorough flushing of drinking water pipes is required to remove the vinegar taste.
Hard water may also shorten the life of your clothes and washing machine.
According to Bustle.com, the number one detergent for hard water is Tide HE Turbo Clean Liquid Detergent.
If you like your detergent you can add a scoop of borax to your laundry load to soften the water.
Your dishwasher and dishes may benefit from a rinse aid designed for hard water. Consumer reports tested three such aids. Finish Power Up Booster Agent, Glisten Dishwasher Cleaner & Hard Water Spot Remover, and Lemi Shine Original were reported to have positive results.
Sometimes the best and safest option may be to call a plumber.
If you're considering a home water softening system according to Aquatell you can expect to spend anywhere from $400 to $3000 depending on the size of your residence.
The Duteau Creek project is expected to be completed sometime in January 2023