On July 28th, 2010, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the human right to water and sanitation. This right acknowledged all civilizations access to sufficient, safe, acceptable, and accessible (physically and financially) drinking water.
Since then, infrastructure has significantly improved around the world, however, 29% (2.2 billion people) of the Earth’s population still live without safely managed drinking water.
It is estimated by the WHO that by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living under water-stressed conditions.
With a lack of sanitation services and waste management, establishing proper water storage and rainwater harvesting can be near impossible.
Even with Canada housing 20% (9% of the world’s renewable freshwater) of the world’s freshwater reserves, these issues remain close to home. Nearly 73% of Indigenous Peoples’ water systems in Canada are at medium or high risk of contamination.
What can be done to help the world’s water crisis?
How can individuals help with water loss prevention?
What storage alternatives do we have?
What Defines Safe Water?
Humans need on average 3.7 litres and 2.7 litres of daily fluid intake for men and women, respectively. This number raises in warmer climates.
While this doesn’t seem like much, communities around the world still travel more than 30 minutes to get safe drinking water.
But what is the definition of safe drinking water?
This requires water to be at a reasonable pH level and lack contaminants, such as pathogens and feces. Safe levels of minerals are relative to each country’s definition of safe drinking water.
How Can Individuals Help?
As mentioned before, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas within half a decade.
To combat inequalities, rising populations, climate change, and water scarcity, communities and individuals must take action. By re-using wastewater, recovering water, rainwater harvesting, and wastewater irrigation, areas can dramatically reduce waste.
While a lot of these initiatives are long term projects, plenty of individuals can look to preserve water with their own inexpensive water storage tank.
Water Storage Tanks with Built-in Antimicrobial Technology
In times of shortage, one of the easiest ways for residents to improve their water access is the simple addition of water storage tanks (also known as water cisterns).
These water storage containers are available in plenty of materials, most commonly being plastic, concrete or steel.
Built to store water on any premises, these water storage tanks come in a variety of sizes to suit your family or community size.
Unfortunately, steel tubs can be quite expensive and are susceptible to corrosion.
Concrete options are resilient, but they are extremely heavy and typically require expensive machinery to put in them place.
Plastic residential water tanks (polyethylene or polypropylene) and fiberglass water tanks are the most affordable and lightweight option of the three popular materials.
Plastic and fiberglass are also advantageous as antimicrobial additives can be built directly into the structure during the manufacturing process.
Antimicrobial technologies prevent the growth of bacteria that lead to unwanted odors and stains and help to extend the life of the water storage tank.
How Ultra-Fresh Works to Prevent Odors and Staining Caused by Bacteria
The photos below are representative of how an antimicrobial treated product prevents staining from happening.
Two water storage tanks, one treated with Ultra-Fresh antimicrobial and another without, were tested using the ISO 22196.
The same amounts of bacteria (E. coli) were added to each sample and then incubated for 24 hours.
Afterwards, both samples were assessed to determine how many bacteria were remaining.
As seen in the below photos, heavy amounts of bacteria were recovered from the untreated water storage tank sample. In contrast, no bacteria were recovered from the antimicrobial treated water storage tank.
The chart below demonstrates how an antimicrobial treated water cistern performs over time.
The same number of bacteria were added to a water storage container with antimicrobial treatment, and also one without an antimicrobial treatment.
As per the ISO 20743 test method, the samples were incubated for 24 hours at 98F/37C (body temperature). Afterwards, the number of bacteria remaining were determined.
The bacteria on the untreated plastic grew exponentially (from about 50,000 to almost 500,000!).
However, the Ultra-Fresh treated water cistern, had 99.9% fewer bacteria as compared to the untreated sample after the same time period.
Therefore, the conclusion is very clear: less bacteria = less odors and stains.
The addition of antimicrobial technology delivers a product that stays cleaner.
Plastic Water Storage Tank Maintenance
Cisterns, even with antimicrobial additives, require routine maintenance and cleaning to preserve their lifetime’s usefulness. It is recommended by several government agencies, to clean your water storage tank at least once a year.
As well, the following activities should be followed with cleaning to ensure there are no contaminants present. These include:
- Construction or repair around the cistern
- Flooding (underground water storage tanks)
- Extended periods of non-use (beyond average refilling cycle)
- Assess samples of water to look for bacteria
- Long exposure to the sun
How to Clean a Water Storage Tank
When it comes time to clean your water storage, you’ll want to drain, clean, and disinfect for optimal preservation of materials and to limit the chances of contamination.
After your cistern is completely drained, you’ll want to start removing any debris or sediment with a pressure washer or stiff brush.
Using a mop (or a pressure washer), rinse your water storage tank so debris can easily be removed with a wet vacuum (or a dry mop in case you don’t own a wet vac).
Check for damage such as cracks or leaks (areas such as hatches and vents are susceptible to issues) before proceeding to disinfection.
Removing pathogenic microorganisms doesn’t stop at your water storage tank.
Pipes and tubing must be cleaned as well to ensure your water is safe to drink.
To disinfect your water storage tank, start by filling it with water.
Whilst filling, begin to add household bleach (chlorine) at 50 mg/L of water. This works out to be 0.5 Litres of chlorine per 450 litres (100 imperial gallons) of untreated water.
Once your cistern has been filled with diluted chlorine, open your household taps one-by-one until your smell chlorine odor, then shut off your tap. Leave this mixture in your piping and water cistern for at least 6 hours to remove pathogens.
From here you will need to drain the disinfection solution. Avoid draining anywhere surface water can be affected. As well, chlorine can affect bacteria needed for septic systems.
Flush your plastic water storage tank and plumbing with clean water by running each faucet and toilet until chlorine odor is no longer present.
If possible, ask your water hauler to wait for you to flush your system. It’s often the case that they will top up your cistern after chlorine has been rinsed.
Our Antimicrobial Expertise
Thomson Research Associates (TRA) is a global leader in the field of antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial, and anti-dust mite treatments (see regulatory information), providing antimicrobial protection to finished products for over 60 years.
Our ultimate goal is to satisfy our clients’ specific needs through excellence in service, science, and support. Find out how we work with you through our scientific testing laboratory, highly-qualified technical and regulatory specialists.
We offer a selection of products, including options that are US EPA registered, BPR compliant and OEKO-TEX® listed. Please refer to product label or contact us directly for region-specific approved end-uses.
Furthermore, acknowledging our social responsibility, we have partnered with bluesign® in our joint initiative for the removal of harmful substances and practices from the manufacturing process.
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