Iron will generally cause staining of fixtures when the concentration exceeds 0.3 mg/L or 300 parts per billion. Iron has a disagreeable odor and taste and most people do not want excessive concentrations in drinking water. Iron is considered a nuisance, not a health concern, but we have had customers that reported upset stomachs, diarrhea, or constipation from drinking water with high concentrations of Iron. Each individual seems to handle Iron differently.
Most of the time, Iron forms compounds with Chloride, Sulfate, Nitrate, or Oxygen. Iron comes in two oxidation states, 2 or 3. Water with Iron 2 in it comes out of the ground clear but turns orange or brown upon standing. Water with Iron 3 is already oxidized and comes out of the ground orange colored.

We have found that we are very successful at treating Iron. Very low concentrations can be treated with a water softener, and increased concentrations can be treated with a variety of equipment to precipitate and filter out the Iron. We have many satisfied customers that have experienced other treatment process, and ours is the only one that has worked for long periods of time. We understand water chemistry and can solve your individual water problems.


Manganese will cause black or grey stains on your fixtures. It can also promote growth of Manganese Reducing Bacteria.

Iron-related Bacteria

Iron Related Bacteria is usually present wherever water contains Iron, Manganese, and organic material. The bacteria prefers slow, stagnant water such as toilet tanks or rarely used water lines. In wells, it tends to grow tendrils near or on the supply pipe at the bottom of the well. If undisturbed, it can grow large enough to clog well screens and reduce the flow of water.

The bacteria's appearance is best described as red slug slime, and is not easily cleaned from household fixtures and appliances. The bacteria can be one of five species and each has its own characteristics. The main differences are the appearances and odors of the bacteria. The commons odors are sour milk, oil, dirt, and blood.
This bacteria is not detected by a normal "bacteria" test. The standard health department bacteria test is used only to check for Coliform Bacteria.

A well can be sanitized to eliminate the bacteria, and if the concentration of the bacteria is low this may control the bacteria until the next sanitation. If these sanitations become needed more often, more aggressive control becomes necessary. These aggressive controls include ultraviolet light or Chlorine injection. Instructions on the proper way to disinfect wells can be found here.
Iron Related Bacteria is a very common problem in Southwest Washington, and can be easily remediated by the staff at Aquatech.

Manganese Reducing Bacteria

These Bacteria form a black or dark grey slime in pipes, valves, tanks, and less frequently used water lines. This bacteria reduces Manganese and combines it with available sulfur, producing Managanese Sulfide, which has a disagreeable rotten egg smell. Well sanitation should remove this bacteria, but the underlying Manganese problem should also be addressed.

Slime Forming Bacteria

The name describes this variety of bacteria quite well. Although there are several species, they clog pipes, valves, tanks, toilets and faucets. Once the bacteria are established, they tend to be quite aggressive and will harbor other bacteria. They tend to cause foul odors, poor taste, and sometimes they cause the water to become thick and cloudy. They generally require an agressive program to eliminate the bacteria and a vigilant program to monitor for their return.


In Western Washington, the water usually has a pH less than 7 (neutral) due to the large amounts of rainfall. This rainfall, coupled with the material it drains through, can sometimes decrease the pH below 6.8. When the pH is below this point, corrosion begins to occur in metal pipes, valves, tanks, faucets, and fixtures. Older homes with lead solder in copper pipe may experience increased levels of lead and copper in the water. Newer homes with lead free solder may experience rapid copper corrosion. This is most easily identified by pinhole leaks in the copper pipes and fixtures that turn a bluish color.

The remedy to this situation is a neutralization system that increases the pH with crushed marble or calcium carbonate.

Water may also have a pH greater than 7. This problem typically exists in areas with ancient salt deposits. These areas contain Sodium Bicarbonate that oxidizes to Sodium Carbonate as it is pumped from the ground. This causes white deposits wherever the water dries or in appliances where the water is heated.

Our experience has shown there are two effective methods for treating water with low pH. One uses an ion exchange media and salt, similar to a water softener. However, instead of removing metals it exchanges chloride for bicarbonates and carbonates. The pH is lowered and the white spots are eliminated. In more severe cases, we add citric acid to acidify the water. The bicarbonates and carbonates are converted to Carbon Dioxide and vented from the system.


Hardness is due to Calcium and Magnesium in the water. Hardness is easily identified by the gray scale or residue left behind when water evaporates or is heated. Soaps, detergents, and shampoos do not wash well in hard water and most manufacturers of these products add water conditioners to their products to make them work better.

A water softener uses salt and ion exchange resin to soften the water. The ion exchange resin traps the Calcium, Magnesium, and Iron and holds it until the regeneration process occurs. Usually once a week the water softener draws salt into the resin and the Sodium in the salt replaces the Calcium, Magnesium, and Iron which exit the system through a drain.

Sodium Chloride is the salt that is normally used for regeneration, but Potassium Chloride can be substituted if you are on a low-Sodium diet.

In addition to eliminating the gray residue, the Reionator water softeners also reduce the amount of Chlorine in your water, which improves taste. Softened water allows you to use much smaller amounts of shampoo, soap, and detergents. Shampoo rinses from hair more easily. Appliances such as water heaters, coffee makers, and washing machines tend to last much longer because they don't get clogged with hard water residue.

Our water softeners also come with a limited lifetime warranty - one of the best in the business.

Lack of water

Many wells or springs do not supply sufficient water to provide a home with an adequate amount of water on a continual basis. Our answer to this problem is a polyethylene storage tank which is continually supplied by the water system. When the tank is full the water supply pump is shut off and water is used from the tank. A second, smaller pump is used to move water from the tank to the home. We have tanks in sizes from 100 gallons to 2200 gallons, and pumps from 1 to 3 horsepower. With these systems, you can enjoy water pressures in the 40-60 psi range all the time.

Lack of pressure

This problem generally occurs in city water systems where the supply is less than the demand. Quite a number of homes experience low water pressure, particularly in the upper stories. We can install an auxiliary pump and pressure tank to boost the incoming water pressure. These systems can be as simple as a 110 volt pump that plugs into an existing wall outlet.

Maximum Contaminant Levels as Defined by the State of Washington

ParameterMaximum Contaminant Level (MCL)
Iron0.30 ppm
Arsenic0.010 mg/l
Lead0.05 ppm
Copper1.00 ppm
Manganese0.05 ppm
Sodium8-80 ppm
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)-
Hardness250 ppm
Nitrate10 ppm
Synthetic Organic Chemicals (SOCs)Should not be present in drinking water
Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOAs)Should not be present in drinking water
Iron Bacteria-


What do I do if a laboratory analysis shows my drinking water exceeds these limits?

Contact Aquatech today for a consultation on how to remedy your drinking water problems.