One water well contractor's view on water treatment.

Water treatment can allow contractors to offer a better quality product to customers.
A lot of drillers offer water treatment as a part of their services. This is a good thing because it expands our customer base and allows us to offer a better quality product to our customers. Basic water quality is well understood by the drilling industry but is not well understood by our customers. To make the problem worse, some treatment-only dealers prey upon ungrounded fears caused by chicken-little-the-sky-is-falling ideas that come along.

I went to a presentation a while back where a water treatment dealer assembled a group of concerned but naïve citizens to warn them of the dangers of radon. He had government studies, medical studies, scientific studies - all well organized to alert the folks to the very real dangers of radon gas. Then he went into all the possible treatment methods. After an hour and a half or so, he asked if anyone had any questions. I raised my hand and asked him if radon had ever been detected in any of the local water supplies. “No, but it's dangerous,” he said and then indicated that all this high-dollar treatment equipment will prevent any problems. I think some of the folks bought equipment anyway.

This is part of the problem with water treatment: People don't understand the dangers, and some of the treatment industry preys on this fear. It seems to me that it is up to us in the industry to better educate the public to help them with better buying decisions. Most water treatment problems are cosmetic in nature and not catastrophic. A little hardness never hurt anybody, but soft water is better. Same for two other common problems - iron and sulfur. Simple treatment will alleviate these problems and there isn't any use going to extremes. There are many water treatment “systems” out there that create huge commissions but don't in any cost-effective way improve water quality. How 'bout a magnet on your pipes to cure who-knows-what?

I came home from the rig one day when I lived in Texas. I was greeted by a young commission salesman who worked for one of the largest water treatment companies in the world. He offered to test my water “for free” and tell me what I needed to fix it. I told him I didn't think my water needed any fixin'. “You never know what's in there until you test,” he replied. I told him I didn't have time for his dog-and-pony show right now, but if he'd come back on Thursday at 6 o'clock, I'd let him test the water. The next day I went to a drugstore and bought a gallon of distilled water. I put it in the pump house. When he arrived on Thursday, he set a neat-looking lab big enough to create weapons of mass destruction on my kitchen table. He was fixin' to get a sample out of the kitchen faucet, and I told him, “Wait a minute, I'll get a sample straight from the well.” I went out and poured his beaker full of the distilled water. After enough testing to detect life on Mars and which turned the water every color of the rainbow, he said, “Just look at that! You drink that?”

Concerning the quality of my water, he told me that: 1) cows wouldn't drink it, 2) fish wouldn't swim in it and 3) my kids would be born nekid unless I bought a $4,200 treatment unit from him - that he didn't really understand the workings of other than he was going to make a 50 percent commission. It was then that I told him who I was, what I did for a living and what he'd just tested. I also wrote down his name, his boss' name, his boss' name and a bunch of other stuff while he packed up his Mr. Wizard kit and hauled-tail out the door.

I went into a water treatment dealer the other day to ask a question about state testing procedures. While I was there, I noticed they were selling a dog-water purification unit for $78. That's right, $78. They said they sold quite a few of them. I got to thinking about my dog, LugNut. When Lottie ain't home and I let him in, he drinks out of the toilet bowl, and after some of the stuff I've seem him eat, purified water is waaaaay down the list of his health concerns!

Point is: To most drillers, if the customers' water is so sorry that they need treatment expensive enough to balance the debt of a third world country, they probably just need a new well. Ninety percent of Americans have access to good clean, high quality water without a continuing maintenance expense. The water treatment science is a wonderful thing properly applied, and a huge rip-off in the hands of the wrong people. Let buyers beware.