The Water Professional Tries to Go on a Vacation - North Carolina

Brian Oram, Licensed Professional Geologist
Featured Water Professional

This year the family went to North Carolina and stayed in the vicinity of Atlantic Beach. What more can you ask – beach, warm weather, multiple pools, historic sites,  and an opportunity to read, chat with kids and my wife while still getting some networking and consulting work done. During the visit, we had the opportunity to visit a number of historic sites, the local Aquarium, tourist destinations, and of course shopping.  Some of the really interesting stops were the Bogue Banks Sea Turtle Project, miniature golf, biking, Laury Caverns, local Ghost Tours, and Historic Civil War Battlefields. 

When we travel, I still wear my water quality professional and educator hat, but before we travel I always check out the local drinking water quality. 

How do we do this?

We go to the KnowYourH2O website Widgets page (View Page).

Go to the Safe Drinking Water System Widget and enter the zip code for the destination. 

The Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS) contains information about public water systems and their violations of EPA's drinking water regulations. These statutes and accompanying regulations establish maximum contaminant levels, treatment techniques, and monitoring and reporting requirements to ensure that water provided to customers is safe for human consumption.

We found that the local water company was serviced by groundwater wells and that the system had historic issues with Total Coliform Bacteria, Haloacetic Acids and Trihalomethanes (Disinfection By-products).  Because of this information, we brought with us our portable water treatment system which connects to the faucet.

When we got to the condo, the first thing I did was flush all the water lines for 30 minutes including the cold and hot and the tub and shower. If I could easily remove the aeration devices on the faucet, I did ! After flushing, the cold water was clear with a few gas bubbles, but the water had an off taste (A little Alkalinity or Chalky Taste and no I was not COVID-19 positive) with a Musty/ Chlorine Odor.  

Why did I remove the aeration devices?

  1. The aeration devices restrict the water flow and once they are removed it is quicker and easier to flush the water lines.
  2. The aeration devices tend to accumulate mineral scale that can include trace materials and be a place where bacteria may grow.
  3. These devices need to be removed and cleaned.

I also cleaned all the aeration devices and shower heads because they had some biofilm, black mineral coatings (Likely Manganese or Copper), and some coatings that had a blue-green/white color with a powdery / crystalline appearance (Likely Copper, Lead with Carbonates and Sulfates).  To clean, I used a combination of vinegar and alcohol and the final cleaning was done using a citric-acid-based cleaner. I still do not understand how housekeeping can clean a unit and always miss the deposits and films on the faucets, aerators, and showerheads. 

First thing this trip, we used our portable counter-mounted water treatment system which is specific for lead and chlorine by-products (View Product ) with UV sterilizer (View Product) and our drinking water filter pitcher (View Product) because I like to drink “COLD” water with lemon. 

Before you ask – do we own other “Counter-Mounted Units” for other contaminants, the Answer is YES. We also own a Mobile water treatment system that can be used when we rent a Cabin or go Camping (View Product).

If this is not enough to make most individuals laugh, I normally take this opportunity to get up-to-date on some of my favorite TV shows and the news while on vacation. During this trip, I heard many reports and ads about the water contamination at Camp Lejeune and I remembered driving through that area to get to my destination. So while sitting on the beach and by the pool drinking a Rum and Coke, I learned more about the legacy of Camp Lejeune. 

I share what I learned in my next blog article “My Vacation Learning More about Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Drinking Water Contamination."