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Old 09-06-2012, 08:52 PM   #21
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Well I hope the state does it for you, but if they don’t, I’d do another test. That would tell you if the last one was a fluke or not. I can think of three possibilities.

1. Your sample was contaminated
2. Ward Labs screwed up big time
3. Fraud, plain and simple

If you do another test and it comes up dirty, you can cross off 1 and 2.

I hope you’re taking notes on this, so you can have a good story for channel 5. If that IL EPA gal (hope you got her name) doesn’t call back by Monday, I’d call her. Don’t be shy about mentioning your cousin that works for the Post-Dispatch and the neighbor that works for KTVI. I was going to say Senator Not-Yet-Indicted, but that’s probably a waste of time. You gotta love Illinois politics.

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Old 09-07-2012, 01:55 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wynne-R View Post
Well I hope the state does it for you, but if they don’t, I’d do another test. That would tell you if the last one was a fluke or not. I can think of three possibilities.

1. Your sample was contaminated
2. Ward Labs screwed up big time
3. Fraud, plain and simple

If you do another test and it comes up dirty, you can cross off 1 and 2.

I hope you’re taking notes on this, so you can have a good story for channel 5. If that IL EPA gal (hope you got her name) doesn’t call back by Monday, I’d call her. Don’t be shy about mentioning your cousin that works for the Post-Dispatch and the neighbor that works for KTVI. I was going to say Senator Not-Yet-Indicted, but that’s probably a waste of time. You gotta love Illinois politics.
Haha! That's exactly what I was going to do too. I had a from the City of Highland Water Company call me back and he came out today and got another sample to test. He also said that the water gets blended from two water facilities and he's going to check with the other one, Alhambra City Water or something like that.

I have his name and number too so I'll give him a call tomorrow to verify that he got another sample. We were going over the report and he said that the Hardness level was different too.

So hopefully I get a matching sample back from them and if not then I'm going to call Ward Labs and explain the situation and ask if they can send me out another bottle so they can do another sampling just to make sure there wasnt any contamination happening along the way somewhere.
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Old 09-07-2012, 03:23 PM   #23
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That’s encouraging that the water company is not dragging their feet. Getting a do over from Ward Labs is a great idea. They have a dog in the hunt.

I see on their website they do agricultural testing, soil samples and whatnot. I didn’t know that before. It seems likely the nitrate is from their end. The place must be like a barn. If they only did water tests it would be different.

Good luck, John. Let us know how it comes out.

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Old 09-07-2012, 07:34 PM   #24
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Latest news: The Highland Water Treatment Plant, who provides ~half of the water that comes into my neighborhood, with Bon Madison providing the other half, came out to my house yesterday and got a sample of my water.

Here is what he emailed me: "Glen from Grantfork and I came out and got a sample yesterday around 2:30PM. We tested the nitrates on that sample and got a 2.2mg/L."

I'm thinking Ward Labs somehow contaminated my water sample while they were testing it... I email the Customer Service Dept for Ward Labs and asked if they could send me another sample kit and if it were possible that my sample may have gotten contaminated with Nitrates somewhere in the testing process because the past three years my water has had a Nitrate level of ~0ppm, and that I had the Highland WTP test it and it only had 2.2ppm Nitrate. I haven't heard back yet but I'm being hopeful.

Also, if that sample got contaminated I can't trust the other numbers they sent me now can I?

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Old 09-07-2012, 08:07 PM   #25
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No, not really. I'd say they owe you a new test. It's possible that your sample got mislabeled as being someone else's sample or it's possible that only the nitrate test got screwed up. There is no way to know really unless they run an audit trail which I would think they would want to do.

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Old 09-07-2012, 09:21 PM   #26
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That’s a new wrinkle. Now they say, just kidding, it’s not .02, it’s 2. Two orders of magnitude. Are you #bleeping# kidding me? Somebody’s got some ‘splaining to do.

Sounds like somebody took a dump in the treatment pool and sort of neglected to tell anyone. Your original sample was what, two weeks ago? I find it easier to believe the problem has been diluted from 11 to 2 than to imagine they’ve been under-reporting x100 for years.

I gotta say Ward Labs is looking pretty good right now. I hope they do the right thing and give you another test. You really need independent analysis. Ideally IL EPA should step in, because both Ward and the municipalities have dogs in the hunt.

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Old 09-10-2012, 01:49 PM   #27
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I talked to the guy at Ward Labs, Josh, and he asked me to send him another water sample and he'll run the test again for free, so I'll get that out to him this week and hopefully get the same numbers. Then it's going to be Highland WTP doing some 'splaining...

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Old 09-19-2012, 01:50 PM   #28
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I got the new water test results back from Ward Labs.

Date: 18 September 2012
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 316
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.53
Cations / Anions, me/L 5.8 / 5.8

ppm
Sodium, Na - 39
Potassium, K - 4
Calcium, Ca - 44
Magnesium, Mg - 21
Total Hardness, CaCO3 - 198
Nitrate, NO3-N - 0.4 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S - 19
Chloride, Cl - 61
Carbonate, CO3 < 1
Bicarbonate, HCO3 - 172
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 - 141
Total Phosphorus, P - 0.33
Total Iron, Fe < 0.01

From around 5 September 2012

ppm:
Sodium, Na - 32
Potassium, K - 3
Calcium, Ca - 45
Magnesium, Mg - 21
Total Hardness, CaCO3 - 200
Nitrate, NO3-N - 11.3 (UNSAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S - 19
Chloride, Cl - 55
Carbonate, CO3 < 1
Bicarbonate, HCO3 - 135
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 - 111
Total Phosphorus, P - 0.44
Total Iron, Fe < 0.01

Everything is pretty close to the same except for the Bicarbonate and the Alkalinity... And I was extremely surprised and happy to see how much of a difference there was in the Nitrate level, had to have been some cross-contamination going on somwhere in the process, but I'm happy to see it so low now.

Back to the Alkalinity; at what levels for most beers do you want Alkalinity? I would assume I'd have to go at least 50/50 RO water when brewing anything other than really dark beer?

What do you guys think?

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Old 09-19-2012, 04:27 PM   #29
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50 gets thrown around a lot as an upper limit but lower than that is better. There's a lot of 'it depends' in this. If you were doing delicate lagers you'd want the alkalinity, sulfate and sodium down. To get the sulfate level down sufficiently you'd need at least a 4:1 dilution (sulfate now at 57 would come down to 12 which is marginally OK) and that would also take the alkalinity down to 22 which is pretty good. But it would also reduce your calcium to 9 and chloride to 11 but while traditional pils is brewed at levels lke that a bit more chloride and calcium would benefit so you would probably want to supplement with calcium chloride.

But if you wanted to do an English beer with sharp hops character you want that sulfate - in fact you probably want more and you could use sulfuric acid to simultaneously reduce the alkalinity and add sulfate while leaving the calcium and chloride where they are. I don't advocate the use of sulfuric acid because of safety considerations and difficulty in obtaining FCC (food grade) material. Lots of brewers use phosphoric which is safer and sold in food grade by lots of LHBS.

OTOH you can get to exactly what you want by using straight RO water and adding salts as required. A big advantage with straight RO is that it doesn't matter what the vagaries of you water supply may be - the mineral additions are always the same for a particular style. It makes life awfully simple but there are those that find acid addition plus mineral addition adjusted for the variations in supply simpler. Matter of personal preference really.

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Old 09-19-2012, 07:52 PM   #30
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I think RO water is going to be my best bet; like you said it's easy to account for where your numbers are going to be and you can easily make little fine-tuning adjustments from batch to batch using RO water. I got an RO system for under the sink that I think will work really well for brewing and cooking. The only thing is I might want to think about getting a water softerner at some point with the hardness coming in at 200ppm.

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