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  1. #1

    Iron and bacteria making a mess

    So, I have a whole 3 pages of background and musings, but I'll really try to condense it.

    Pond fed system, pump uphill 160' elevation to storage tanks via 900' of 2.5" PVC Rainfall is only source
    (inverter powered 240VAC 1/2hp pump, enabled 11am - 4pm via timer & float switch in tank)

    water test 3 years ago showed 1ppm Iron, .3ppm Manganese. No stains in plumbing fixtures. (new testing being run now, 10 days for results)

    Separate domestic system fed off of the main storage, first is upflow gravel rough filter, then a downflow slow sand filter.
    Awesome water quality 8 months of the year.
    Filtered water stored in 1,500gal tank with ozone bubbler in it, then gravity feed to house at 60psi.

    However, later in the summer, as pond level lowers, I believe water in hillside next to pond, drains into pond, and
    then it all goes to red slime. Filters plug, water tastes nasty, bacteria levels skyrocket, I have to chlorine shock the tank and water lines,
    scrap $200 filters that wont wash clean (even weekly washing won't work). I think iron & bacteria feeding on it,
    overwhelm everything and the slow sand filter plugs and won't flow. Have to use a garden cultivator to break up top 1.5" of sand, which has become like cement, this destroys the schmutzdecke and takes a month to re-establish. It will flow another month and then plug again.
    I suspect this is all iron bacteria. I can run water into a bucket, and it looks clear, but next day red speckles on bottom.

    The slow sand filter processes water at about 5-10 gph, hence the storage tank after it.

    I am thinking a way to trap/stop the iron / bacteria, is to use a smallish tank in the 100 gal range, and aerate it with a aquarium air stone, only using 20 watts or so. Following this, use a cheapie 10" cartridge 20 micron filter to grab the iron bits, and then the de-ironed water goes into the slow sand filter for pathogen processing. Water would be aerated for quite some time in the 100 gal tank, since it's only moving at 10gph.

    Would a 20 micron filter stop enough of the precipitated iron at that point to solve my problem ?
    Would plain air be enough to precipitate iron ?

    I don't have the power or clean water to backwash greensand tanks, I can only clean water up to 15gph with the slow sand, using 200 gal for backwash puts me in the red !

    I need the slow sand to be the absolute filter agent for Raccoon Roundworm Eggs,
    which are prevalent in California wild areas. (this new 20 micron filter element would likely get a majority of the eggs)

    Thanks in advance, Mike

  2. #2
    Pump guy speedbump's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Murphy, NC. USA.
    I'm not sure your dealing with iron bacteria. All the iron bacteria I have dealt with is slimy reddish brown in color but doesn't ever seem to get hard. It just stays slimy. Have you thought of using chlorine somehow?

  3. #3
    Oh yeah, the classic red slime everywhere, irrigation leaks, filters on the driplines, floating on the tanks, resting on the bottom of the tanks, and it grows into the slow sand filter. it's related to water level in the pond, and not so much temperature.
    chlorine is not a good option, as it will kill the schmutzdecke in the slow sand filter, and we really don't want to have to mess with the whole metering system for it.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Letsrunum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Oklahoma, USA.
    Where is your intake located for pulling water from the pond?

    Sounds like your pond is getting stirred up and your intake is located at the bottom of the pond or pond is not that deep. Time goes by for your pond to let stuff settle at bottom and your back to being normal.

  5. #5
    Pond is about 25' deep, and the pump (a conventional deep well pump, Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph )
    is in a 20' well casing, configured as a flow induction sleeve, with intake slots to force the water past the pump. The whole rig is mounted on a "sled" that keeps it off the bottom muck and is at about a 45 deg angle.

    Water is pumped up a hill, to a series of 3,000 gal tanks, and for our domestic water, tank #2, has a connection pipe about 3/4 of the way up to the top, so only the lightest stuff, spills over into tank #1 which only feeds the domestic water system, from cleanest water from the top of the adjoining tank. Directly after the pump, the water passes through a 200 mesh disc filter, which only needs cleaning about 2x a season. This keeps the frogs out of the tanks ! sure lots of stuff gets past, but it stops the big chunks.

    i'm wanting to rely on engineering to filter the water, which is rain water stored in an open pond. All the wild life visits it, so it's going to have all sorts of bugs, but the slow sand filter schmutzdecke eats all the pathogens. It's only when the red slime overwhelms it that I have trouble.

    So if I can aerate the drinking water, can a cheap disposable particulate filter, snag the iron before it gets into the slow sand. If air is not enough to aerate the water, I'd go for the ozone, and only if that can't, I'd look into chlorine or something else to oxidize it so it can be stopped.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Letsrunum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Oklahoma, USA.

    I would look for
    Exclusive Reverse-Flush Technology cleaning filter similar to the

    You already said you can't handle the backwash gpm requirements for

    Most people will spend more money and their time on water treatment than it would be to just drill a well for better water quality.

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