Alternatives to UV Water Treatment
Few water treatment technologies are available for general residential use that can be used for microbiological contaminant control. Bacteria, including coliforms and E.coli, as well as viruses, yeasts, molds, algae, and waterborne oocysts like cryptosporidium and giardia (beaver fever) readily pass through almost all sediment and carbon filters, and are also unaffected by water softeners, iron filters, and most other sophisticated water treatment equipment.
Traditionally, a chlorine feed system has been used for residential water sterilization to kill these unwanted contaminants. While effective, growing evidence that chlorine may form hazardous bi-products when it reacts with organic contaminants in the water has reduce the popularity of chlorination systems. Even the chlorine itself has been shown to have toxic effects on the human body and animal tissues. As a result, activated carbon filtration must be set-up after the chlorinator to reduce the chlorine and bi-product levels. Further, the chlorine affects the taste and smell of the water. Further still, chlorination systems are relatively expensive and complex to set-up and maintain. Accordingly, chlorine systems are rapidly declining in popularity.
A small number of suppliers are pitching ozone systems to kill microbiological contaminants. These systems have shown some promise but are extremely complex and expensive, and there is some concern about the effects of accidental ozone release into the home environment (ozone is toxic).
Some proponents of whole house reverse osmosis (RO) systems have also pitched these systems for microbiological contaminant reduction. While we are big believers in reverse osmosis technology, and while we do agree that RO is an effective alternative for oocyst reduction (giardia and cryptosporidium), RO should never be relied upon solely for bacteria and virus removal. While the risk that bacteria or viruses will penetrate the membrane is very low, any risk of contamination by e.coli or other serious disease-causing bacteria or viruses is too high in our opinion. Whole house reverse osmosis systems also have some serious practical shortcomings including huge water wastage (hard on your well, water pumps and septic system), the necessity of large water storage facilities, and slow production water rates.
On the contrary, ultraviolet (UV) sterilization is not only highly effective, but it is also easy to install and maintain, very affordable, and it does not impart any unwelcomed odors or tastes to the water of add any chemicals.