Alken-Murray logo header - interpreting water test results


In addition to your standard tests, there are circumstances which suggest that additional tests may be required before Alken Clear-Flo® can be prescribed.

These include:

1. Chlorine: Because of its strong oxidizing properties, chlorine acts as a BIOCIDE. The test for this should read "0" (zero), before Clear-Flo® is added. If this is a problem in your natural waterbody, someone is likely backwashing a swimming pool into your influent water or else there is an industrial or municipal effluent in your influent water. If the problem is a swimming pool nearby, have a talk with your neighbor and encourage them to dump elsewhere. If you cannot locate the source of this problem, contact Ken at Alken-Murray to prescribe a chemical de-chlorination solution for you. Fish, plants, algae and bacteria can all be killed by Chlorine.

CHEMetrics kit recommended: K-2505: 0 - 1 ppm & 1 - 5 ppm

2. Copper (total soluble): Copper sulfate is often added to water to control algae. This is toxic to both fish AND bacteria. DO NOT APPLY Alken Clear-Flo® when the copper test measures levels above 0.5 ppm (mg/l). Lethal concentrations of copper for marine organisms is 5.8 to 600 ppm, depending on species. Copper is toxic to Mysid shrimp at 77 ppm.

CHEMetrics kit recommended: K-3510: 0 - 1 ppm & 1 - 10 ppm

3. Detergents: Where detergents (anionic surfactants) are used to clean machinery, animals, and the household, the runoff may be contaminated. The Clear-Flo® 1200 will work to eliminate this contaminant when its concentration is less than 1 mg/L. Alken Clear-Flo® 7004 should be used to treat detergents greater than 1 mg/L. Some surfactants can be lethal in quantities as small as 10 to 12 mg/L (Triton-X114), so this is an important parameter if you suspect runoff from animal washing or other industrial effluent. The U.S. drinking water standard prohibits levels above 0.5 mg/L.

CHEMetrics kit recommended: K-9400: 0 - 3 ppm

4. Iron: Concentrations above 1 mg/L will impart a foul taste to the water. High concentrations can indicate runoff from mining operations or industrial effluent and indicate the need for further investigation before prescribing a treatment regimen. The US drinking water standard prohibits levels above 0.3 mg/L.

CHEMetrics kit recommened: K-6010: 0 - 1 ppm & 1 - 10 ppm

5. Lead: Lead is a poison whose effects are cumulative. Drinking water should not exceed 20 ppb. When groundwater contains a higher level, it may indicate contamination from the discharges of smelting or mining operations, or leachate from municipal sewage sludge fertilizer. Lead is toxic to freshwater species at 1.3 to 8.7 ppm, while marine species are more tolerant. The LC50 of lead for diatoms is 7940 ug/L. (Test needs to be performed by a suitable independent laboratory)
6. Mercury. Mercury is a common trace metal used in industry as a biocide. Acutely toxic to marine organisms in the range of 3.5 to 1678 ppm. Organomercuric compounds may be toxic to marine organisms in the range of 0.1 to 2.0 ppm. Alken-Murray's current formulas cannot withstand high levels of mercury, so alternative treatment options must be considered to decrease the level of mercury.(Test needs to be performed by a suitable independent laboratory)
7. Tributyl Tin. This substance has been declared, by the California Department of Fish and Game, to be "the most toxic substance ever released in the marine environment." This substance, which can be toxic in concentrations as low as 50 parts per trillion in water, is found in marine paints and antifouling coatings. Fortunately, Tributyl tin appears to be less bioavailable in sediment than it is in seawater, so higher levels may have less effect on benthic biota (bottom dwelling creatures) than might be expected, were the substance suspended in water. If you suspect this substance, obtain testing from an environmentally certified laboratory. We are not aware of any test kits for this substance. (sometimes mispelled as tributylin tin)

8. Sulfite: Sulfite is not normally found in natural waters. Its presence, therefore, usually indicates contamination from pulp and paper industrial effluent, or food canning (used as a preservative). An excess of sulfite can lower the pH and render the water corrosive.

CHEMetrics kits recommended: K-9602: 2 - 20 ppm

For seriously polluted water, you may also need kit K-9610: 10 - 100 ppm

 9. Phosphate: High phosphate concentrations in surface waters may indicate fertilizer runoff, domestic waste discharge, or the presence of industrial effluents or detergents. If high phosphate levels persist, algae and other aquatic life will flourish, eventually decreasing the level of dissolved oxygen due to the accelerated decay of organic matter. Algae blooms are encouraged by levels of phosphate greater than 25 micrograms/L. Obtain tests in the 0 to 25 ppm and 25 to 200 ppm ranges. To combat waste accumulation, in the presence of high phosphate levels, you must double the initial dose of Alken Clear-Flo® normally prescribed for the size of the pond/lake/waste treatment plant.

Phosphorous Discharge Standards
1) Total Phosphorous for discharge < 100 micrograms/L
2) Where stream enters lake < 50 micrograms/L
3) Discharge into a lake < 25 micrograms/L
4) Algae blooms are encouraged by levels of phosphate > 25 micrograms/L
5) Phosphate phosphorous - > 100 micrograms/L may interfere with coagulation process in water treatment plant

CHEMetrics kit recommended: K-8510: 0 - 1 ppm & 1 - 10 ppm & K-8510D: 0 - 25 ppm & 25 - 250 ppm

10. Phenol. Phenol is usually found in a waterbody if pine cleaners and phenolic sanitizers are used and then washed into the drain system. If water has more than 1 ppm, add Alken Clear-Flo® 7002 to your Clear-Flo 1000 line prescription.

CHEMetrics kit recommended: K-8012: 0 - 1 ppm & 1 - 12 ppm

11. Hydrocarbons. Although most people know that petroleum spills are toxic to aquatic life, they are often unaware that rinsing used motor oil into the storm sewer or pond is also harmful. Benzene, Toluene, Xylene and Benz(a)Pyrene should not exceed 0.1 ppm. Smaller amounts can be handled by Clear-Flo formulas, but amounts exceeding 0.1 ppm should be treated with Clear-Flo 1006. Botryococcus braunii, a chlorophyte order of Chlorococcales algae produces C34 hydrocarbons with characteristics similar to crude petroleum. When it blooms, this algae appears as a slimy bright green scum on the surface of the water. B. braunii grows especially well in the presence of high nitrates., and will test positive on a hydrocarbon test when present. Clear-Flo 1006 should be prescribed to clean the water, eliminating both the food for this algae and its exudate.

(Kit for this is more expensive than to have TPH tested by an independent lab, so we only recommend CHEMetrics K-9310, along with equipment, for distributors to monitor treatment of soil for their clients.)

12. Cyanide. Cyanide is used in many chemical and refining processes. Effluent from electroplating and metal cleaning operations, coke ovens, steel manufacturing, etc. can end up in lakes and ponds if the factory is not careful. Levels above 0.01 ppm are unsafe for marine species. . If the waterbody does contain fish, you can apply Alken Clear-Flo 1015, but request that Yucca schidigera be omitted, to allow application of higher dosages, with safety. For wmunicpal or industrial astewater with cyande problems, you can apply Alken Clear-Flo 7015, which is currently available or ask Alken-Murray to augment whatever bacteral product has been selected, to remediate other pollutants in your system, with a serious percentage of Alken-Murray's cyanide-degrading Bacillus megaterium, AMC 300. Fortunately, B.megaterium AMC 300 has demonstrated remarkable compatibility with a wide assortment of strains in the Alken-Murray microbial collection, but any new combinations should be verified with Valerie Anne Edwards.

A chemical solution for cyanide in wastewater that does not also contain high levels of ammonia is alkaline chlorination to safely remove cyanide, but if ammonia levels are high, you could end up with undesirable levels of chloramines.



CHEMetrics kit recommended: K3810: 0 - 0.1 & 0.1 to 1.0

13. COD. Chemical Oxygen Demand measures organic and inorganic content as indicators of the amount of dissolved oxygen that will be removed from the water column or sediment due to bacterial and/or chemical activity. Normal COD in a pond should be less than 10 mg/L. A COD of 60 mg/L in a natural pond or lake or aquaculture pond or tank is in emergency need of treatment.

CHEMetrics kit recommended to distributors only, as equipment is needed too:K-7351(0 - 150 ppm), K-7361 (0 - 1500 ppm), & K-7371 (0 - 15000 ppm) plus Hach COD Reactor model 45600, Lab-Guard or Hach Safety Shield, Hach DR-890 datalogging colorimeter and Eppendorf Electronic pipettor (100 l - 5 ml).

14. BOD. Biological Oxygen Demand measures the amount of oxygen utilized by organisms in the biochemical oxidation of organic matter in a wastewater sample in a specified time (usually 5 days), and at a specified temperature. BOD measurements are used as a measure of the organic strength of the water. Although it is not identical to COD, the speed with which one can obtain COD test results, often dictates that this test is used for prescription purposes. Typical natural water has a BOD from 0.8 to 5 mg/L. Anything above 6 mg/L needs to be treated as it will rob the water of needed oxygen for the fish.

Testing for BOD should be performed by an outside lab unless distributor has appropriate equipment. The BOD test performed independently is fairly inexpensive for an individual pond owner.

15. Pesticides. Although the USA banned the use of DDT since the early 1970's, nondegraded DDT can still be found in water, released by erosion and storm runoff. Levels as low as 14 ppm in the water are acutely toxic to marine organisms. Chlordane is acutely toxic between 2.4 and 260 ppm. Heptachlor epoxide is acutely toxic at 0.04 ppm. Endrin is acutely toxic from 0.037 to 1.2 ppb. Dieldrin is toxic above 0.1. Alken-Murray's formulas can withstand and degrade small amounts of these substances, but a large scale contamination may require alternative treatment options. Independent laboratory tests are required if you suspect pollution from particular pesticides.

16. FOG, aka Fats, Oils, and Grease (from natural plants, fish and animal feed etc) can cause stress to aquatic animals if the level is above 0.1 mg/L. Sudden die-offs will occur if this level reaches 85 - 100 mg/L. Most Alken Clear-Flo 1000 line aquatic products contain some degraders of fats and greases, but if the level exceeds 6 mg/L, you should add Clear-Flo 1003 to your regimin of pond water treatment.

Independent laboratory tests are recommended for this only if you suspect this to be high in your pond or lake, such as from kitchen waste runoff (illegal in the USA), fatty diet fed to cultured fish showing an oily layer at the top of the water.

17. Silicate, often contributes to pond water turbidity and helps diatoms and algae to proliferate. Higher levels of microbial assistance are needed when silicate levels are high (up to 100 mg/L has been found). Adding sand to a formula, adds silica, which can feed algae. Ideal levels to discourage algae should be low, < 15 mg/L.

CHEMetrics kit recommended: K-9010: 0 - 1 ppm & 1 - 10 ppm & K-9011: 0 - 0.2 ppm

When the waterbody contains a variety of toxins, a custom blended formula will be created, taking into consideration the levels of the each contaminant. 

  Interpreting Tests - part 1

  Interpreting Tests - part 2

  Interpreting Tests - part 3

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