Which Water Treatment Industry?
"When treating potable water I suggest people stay with proven and standard types of treatment that the water treatment industry uses."
The part of the water treatment industry that has to demonstrate performance and effectiveness of their filtration systems uses a lot of chemical pretreatment to make their backwashed filters effective. They constantly measure turbidity of the finished water and test to verify the effectiveness of the filters for removal of pathogens and other contaminants. They publish data on the quality of the water they deliver to their customers and send annual reports to their customers as required by law.
That is not the same as the part of the water treatment industry that furnishes treatment systems for individuals who have no means of verifying the actual performance of the systems in removing suspended solids from their potable water.
Cartridge systems are widely used in the food, beverage, chemical, and electronics industries, as well as in small water systems, because they are effective and don't depend on process controls and chemical pretreatment to make sure they work. They use cartridge systems because nothing else is as effective in removing the contaminants that will damage their products. The cartridges from reputable suppliers are a commodity that is supported by testing that proves their effectiveness.
One must distinguish between PARTICULATE FILTERS and other treatment systems used in homes. Ion exchange water softeners work great. Greensand filters will remove some iron and manganese. Activated carbon filters will remove some organic compounds, chlorine, and radon, but there are also cartridge forms of carbon filters that are equally effective. Acid neutralizers will raise the pH to acceptable levels. But a couple of cubic feet of sand in a fiberglass tank will not effectively remove fine particles and small pathogens (1 to 5 microns) without chemical pretreatment.
There are examples of sand filters that work. Swimming pool filters work because chemicals are added to the pool. Diatomaceous earth filters use a layer of very fine diatomaceous earth on top of the sand to make it effective, but I have never seen one installed as a residential water filter. There are "slow sand filters" that rely on a biological layer growing on the top called a "Schmutzdecke" (literal translation - layer of filth), to make them work.
One of the problems with INSTALLATIONS of cartridge filters is that people often put in a little 10" filter that they bought at Home Depot and think they are filtering their water. Those filters don't have enough area and they usually don't remove particles consistent with the micron rating on the package.
I install small engineered water systems where people have to use surface waters (lakes and ponds) to deliver water to the public. When people have spent thousands of dollars on dry holes and are desperate for a solution to serve their residential youth camp or island community, and have to meet the EPA Surface Water Treatment Rule requirements, they call me. I use cartridge filters exclusively. I'm a retired engineer and it is more a hobby than a business, but my customers and state regulators are very happy with the systems that I install.
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