I am implementing an organic program in my landscape (lawn/flower beds/trees/garden) at my new home in Mesquite, TX, but am concerned about chemicals in the water supply. Mesquite's water is treated with chloramine at the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) in Wylie. The primary source for Mesquite's water is Lake Lavon and is supplemented by water delivered from Lake Texoma and Cooper Lake. Chloramine is a combined form of chlorine (chlorine and ammonia) and its purpose is to kill microbes. It is added to our water supply because its disinfecting qualities are longer lasting and less corrosive than free-chlorine.
So that I can better understand soil microbes, I have read all of the information on Dr. Elaine Ingham's site at www.soilfoodweb.com
and have ordered two of her books, "Soil Biology Primer" and "Compost Tea Manual, 4th ed." She mentions that chlorine is harmful to microbes, but doesn't mention anything about how to remove chloramine on her web site.
From my research on the web I have learned that free-chlorine can be removed from water by allowing the water to be exposed to the air for a few hours before using or by aerating the water with a submerged air bubble stone attached to an aquarium pump, but chloramine can not be removed this way. It must be filtered out.
Further research on organic materials that will filter out chloramine from water have indicated granulated activated charcoal, zeolite and ascorbic acid (vitamin C, Tang etc.) can be effective. As a result, I am designing a rechargeable in-line garden hose filter with these three ingredients and will test the effectiveness of chloramine extraction with reagent test strips.
If it works, this will allow me to use my garden hose applicator sprayer to apply compost tea without killing the microbes in the tea. I would use rainwater, but we haven't received much rain lately. The problem is, my landscape is all watered with my in-ground sprinkler system, which is connected to the municipal water supply. I do not see an economical way of placing a filter on my sprinkler system to remove the chloramine. I have not calculated the size of a rainwater collection reservoir I would need to irrigate an 8,500 square foot landscape, but I would think it would need to be quite large and expensive to retrofit.
The question is: will the chloramine in my sprinkler system water end up killing the microbes I have inoculated into the soil with compost tea and therefore be counter-productive to an organic program? Could you apply the tea and wait a few days before watering with the sprinkler system? If so, what about subsequent waterings? What's the ppm chloramine concentration limit that microbes can survive? Over time, would the chloramine completely wipe out the microbes, or can they reproduce fast enough and overcome the chloramine. Once established in the soil, does the soil offer any protection against chloramine?
This is a new house, with new sod, built in March of this year. Previously the soil was farmland that had not been farmed in at least 7 years. My soil is made up of about 1-inch of sandy-loam topsoil that was delivered with the Bermudagrass sod. The sod was laid over the local heavy clay soil which is called Houston Black Clay from the Upper Cretaceous Taylor Marl Formation. I also applied about 1/3-inch compost as a top-dressing on the grass in late May to start my organic program. It has had Texas Tee organic fertilizer, Garrett juice and horticultural cornmeal applications as well.
Thanks for your help.