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PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2003 10:15 am 

Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2003 8:18 am
Posts: 10
Location: Mesquite, TX
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 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 you help.

 Post subject: chemicals in water
PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2003 11:16 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2003 12:45 am
Posts: 420
Location: Whitesboro,TX
You are probably overly concerned about these chemicals in the yard and under concerned about you personal consumption of these chemicals. Compost tea and beneifical bacteria will probably do fine on you outside grass and plants along with water in during the rest of the year.
The concern is that there are over 500 chemicals in any given day in the average city water supply. What are you going to do to protect yourself and family from the cancer causing chemicals in the water that you drink or shower and/or take a bath in.
Look at
Robert D. Bard

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2003 1:29 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 6:29 pm
Posts: 125
Location: Rowlett TX

I used to breed tropical fish for a living in college and grad school so I definately get your concern about Chloramines and other stuff.

Here's a few suggestions....

1. Chloramine is a tougher chemi than chlorine... usually added in summer to knock out the algae blooms. There are Aquarium products such as Kordons Novaqua (chlorine removal) and Amquel (Chloramine). If they make water safe for wild Lake Tefe Discus that are spawning then believe me, it ain't gonna kill a nematode.

2. Ever notice how after fertilizing and watering ya green up a little but after an actual by-God rain the grass goes wild???? Part of that is due to water hardness - rain water is a wonderful solvent and dissolves nutrients a LOT better than hard water. Plants go nuts for it.

So while we are not going to solve the water supply being filled with crud you don't want issue there are some things that can be done... kinda depends on how much it means to you.

When I bred South American Discus (Soft water fish, require PRISTINE soft, acidic water and excellent biological filtration, ie nitrifying bacteria) I used Reverse Osmosis water. RO Units for the home have gotten reasonable - basically you have a prefilter (sediment, look at one after 5000 gallons and you'll barf), carbon filter, and a reverse osmosis membrane. That third puppy lets two things through - 2 parts hydrogen, 1 part oxygen. That's about as good as you can get but it is not a cheap way to do things in mass quantity. If you are concerned about chloramine killing the microbes in your compost tea you are dead on - that is exactly what it is for. I would suggest using a tank sprayer and good water rather than the hose when you use concentrated compost teas... one word of caution. if you start your tea with hard tap water and get a nice concentrated mass of bacteria and microscopic critters and mix that hard water with pure water what basically happens is that the pure water rushes through the cell membranes to dilute the hard water in the cells and POP goes the critter.... I used to do this to kill fish parasites.

Whole house RO systems ain't cheap but there are less expensive water softeners that can be combined with activated carbon to significantly reduce the chemicals you drink or feed your plants.

Sooooo...... if you really want to maximize the critters in your tea I would suggest starting with soft water (Rain, RO, Distilled) and then add the tea to a tank sprayer with more soft water... then spray it on in the evening or early morning when there is dew.

Great question.... hadn't considered that watering my compost pile with chloramine-laced water would do for my compost pile what it would do for my gas mileage in the tank of my car.

As to the 500 chemicals that we drink in any given day? Yuck, hadn't really thought that through but as a rule I drink distilled or RO water in the house more because it is a great 'flusher' but when i think about how that prefilter used to llok with that nice sludge it don't seem like a bad idea.

....of course 6 ice cubes and 4 oz of good bourbon not only reduces the chance of swallowing bacteria but also reduces your inclination to care :-)

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2004 5:07 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 06, 2003 10:59 am
Posts: 277
This interesting item in this month's Scientific American magazine: ... 414B7F0000
discusses a potential corrosion side effect of a switch from chlorine to chloramine.

In theory, theory and practice are the same; in practice, they aren't -- lament of the synthetic lifestyle.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2004 9:50 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2003 3:12 pm
Posts: 111
Location: San Antonio,TEXAS
try this hose end filter by Dchall San Antonio:

I use one, seems to work, but I have not tested the water, just lazy/overworked.

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