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HPC; UV Lights; Chlorine

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#1 QAGB

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 03:03 PM

Hi all,

 

I've scoured the website looking for answers to some of my questions, but need to figure out how to put this all together.

 

Recently, I found out that we were using well water as a major source for our incoming water. We have city water, but apparently it's not enough to keep up with production. I wasn't informed of this until we did water testing and I was baffled as to why HPC/APC counts were high on our water tests.

 

Based on what I have read, a great many of you out there aren't actually testing HPC/APC frequently on your water testing. Most of you are focused on E.coli and Coliforms; which is fine, and we test for those as well.  Those counts remain in specification (thankfully). Does anyone really test for HPC in their water? If so, what are your baselines? We've always been <100 on this count, so we have used it as a baseline for nearly 10 years. The reason why we use it is because we have many finished products that are micro tested, and we want to make sure that our source water isn't contaminating our finished product.

 

Secondly, we attempted to shock our water tanks over a weekend not too long ago using 100ppm chlorine, letting it sit for several hours, and then flushing out the entire system. At the time, we thought our tanks were the culprits (they were partly), and HPC results were better after the testing but still well over our baseline. We tested the source water at the well and it was good. The source water coming into the line to the building however, is bad. Therefore, there is some sort of contamination point after the well, and before the tanks.

 

We have UV lights on both tanks, and a UV light for the incoming water. We had a professional in the water industry come in, and they thought we should put a couple more UV lights on the incoming side (because we're using the water faster than the UV lights can treat it), and a couple UV lights on the outgoing side to our lines so that we can treat the water going to be used for production. 

 

Apparently, we're not going to go the route of using UV lights. We've been told to actually shock the source water from the well, but that's not a route I would want to go. We don't know the water level, and we would need to know the exact water level at the time of shocking in order to know the amount to add. No commitment has been made to bring someone in to check the water level, so I'm stuck.

 

I know there isn't exactly a regulation for HPC amounts in water as it is not considered hazardous, but my concerns are that our counts are higher than our baseline and higher than any levels I've seen from results in the last 10 years. Also, just because HPC in itself doesn't mean we are going to have micro issues, it does strengthen the possibility (and we have seen some higher than normal counts in some areas). 

 

Should we remove HPC as a target specification for water and hope the best for our micro tested products? We make low risk products, but still need to meet specifications. Shocking our tanks every quarter really won't mean a lot either, as conditions do change and we're just putting out an immediate fire instead of preventing it at that point. 



#2 Scampi

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 04:10 PM

So elevated HPC levels are not necessarily indicative of a health issue in water

 

"As stated by the Health Canada guidelines on HPC testing, “HPC results are not an indicator of water safety and, as such, should not be used as an indicator of potential adverse human health effects.” The World Health Organization (WHO) states that methods such as coliform testing are better indicators than HPC to test the sanitary conditions of water."

ww.moldbacteriaconsulting.com/bacteria/heterotrophic-plate-count-what-is-hpc-and-when-is-the-right-time-to-use-it.html

 

100 ppm isn't enough to shock the whole system.....you need to target closer to 250ppm and then flush----as you don't know how big the well is (and short of a geologist coming I don't know that you ever would) it is a guessing game

 

I'm guessing you have a filter somewhere that has a buildup on organics on it inside the facility that is causing the spike, and that's why levels are worse inside than from the well

 

Everyone I know on well water (unless it's deep drilled well) chlorinate the water at least once/year (usually after spring thaw and melt)

 

I would remove HPC from the well water altogether and just test for coliform and ecoli (the municipal standard) AND investigate any filters that may be on the system that no one knows about

 

AND now that you know you've got well water, you'll want to double check that there are back flow preventers so yucky stuff doesn't end up in the well water


Because we always have is never an appropriate response!


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#3 QAGB

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 04:24 PM

So elevated HPC levels are not necessarily indicative of a health issue in water

 

"As stated by the Health Canada guidelines on HPC testing, “HPC results are not an indicator of water safety and, as such, should not be used as an indicator of potential adverse human health effects.” The World Health Organization (WHO) states that methods such as coliform testing are better indicators than HPC to test the sanitary conditions of water."

ww.moldbacteriaconsulting.com/bacteria/heterotrophic-plate-count-what-is-hpc-and-when-is-the-right-time-to-use-it.html

 

100 ppm isn't enough to shock the whole system.....you need to target closer to 250ppm and then flush----as you don't know how big the well is (and short of a geologist coming I don't know that you ever would) it is a guessing game

 

I'm guessing you have a filter somewhere that has a buildup on organics on it inside the facility that is causing the spike, and that's why levels are worse inside than from the well

 

Everyone I know on well water (unless it's deep drilled well) chlorinate the water at least once/year (usually after spring thaw and melt)

 

I would remove HPC from the well water altogether and just test for coliform and ecoli (the municipal standard) AND investigate any filters that may be on the system that no one knows about

 

AND now that you know you've got well water, you'll want to double check that there are back flow preventers so yucky stuff doesn't end up in the well water

 

 

Hi Scampi,

 

Thank you for your response. I know there isn't a health issue with HPC, but still we test finished goods for APC, and wouldn't want elevated levels to affect our finished goods (and we have seen some abnormalities with finished goods results in the last few months). Everything that I read about shocking the system said 50-200 ppm, but I was afraid to go very high because I've never done this before. I read that a well digger has the proper tools to tell us the water level, but I'm really not sure where to go from there, nor does anyone seem all too interested in finding out.

 

I'm going to ask our maintenance department if they have an incoming filter. I really am not sure, as they've only said that there is a UV light at the incoming line from the well. I've now seen that UV light, and apparently it is too small to treat the water. On the back end of the discussion, after finding out about the well, I did find out that the maintenance department puts some chlorine in the well annually. I don't know what caused the contamination (if there is a filter and it has buildup -- or if because of recent water levels being extremely high, we got an influx of organics). 

 

Thanks for the tips. I think I'd agree with removing HPC from required testing in most cases. I should say that most of our products are low risk, but with us using water as an ingredient in most of our products (and many requiring micro testing by the customers), would that be advisable? 

 

At least I know that coliform and E.coli are at safe levels, if we do remove HPC from our specifications. I will check on the filters and back flow preventers. I know we have them on our main line from city water and on hoses as well. Our maintenance department checks the hoses, and we have an outside company do our back flow prevention for the main line from the city. I hope we have the same for the well source.

 

Thanks again!



#4 Scampi

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 04:37 PM

UltraViolet lights are a great solution IF they are sized properly AND changed frequently.....but they have limitations based on water turbidity, the bulbs tend to get coated and then do not function as well

 

The water LEVEL won't help unless you know the SIZE of the water table to calculate volume

 

If you did have a major rise in the water level, that is where the contamination has come from.........when the ground becomes saturated all the way down, the contaminates can readily seep through using the liquid as the transportation system; in the dried months, the material between the surface and the water table act like sponges in a way and remove some of the contamination and organics

 

I do think it's odd that NO ONE in QA was told about the well water.....hmmm you may want to review the blueprints of the building to see if anything else has been "missed"

 

So the well water has never been sampled prior to entering the building before?


Because we always have is never an appropriate response!


#5 Charles.C

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 04:46 PM

Hi QAGB,

 

I guess the EU does not entirely share the US/Canadian viewpoints.

 

APC is a mandatory micro.characteristic, with stated limits at 22degC (100cfu/ml) and 37degC (20cfu/ml) respectively. Not sure how they justified the inclusion or the values though.

 

Along with several other micro. indicators, eg enterococci.


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#6 QAGB

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 06:05 PM

UltraViolet lights are a great solution IF they are sized properly AND changed frequently.....but they have limitations based on water turbidity, the bulbs tend to get coated and then do not function as well

 

The water LEVEL won't help unless you know the SIZE of the water table to calculate volume

 

If you did have a major rise in the water level, that is where the contamination has come from.........when the ground becomes saturated all the way down, the contaminates can readily seep through using the liquid as the transportation system; in the dried months, the material between the surface and the water table act like sponges in a way and remove some of the contamination and organics

 

I do think it's odd that NO ONE in QA was told about the well water.....hmmm you may want to review the blueprints of the building to see if anything else has been "missed"

 

So the well water has never been sampled prior to entering the building before?

 

 

Hi Scampi,

 

I think the UV light was put in way before we started using well water as a large portion of our source water; and so the UV light was enough for the city water. However, since no one bothered to tell me about the well water until I started inquiring on the high HPC, I never would have thought to ask about the UV light being substantial enough in size for its intended purpose. As far as the UV lights are concerned, I know these are all on a PM schedule done by maintenance; so they do check the lights on all of our tanks and so forth.

 

I get what you are saying about volume. I figured if we knew the dimensions of the well as well as the water level, that we could "roundabout" figure out the concentration; and maybe aim a little lower in ppm so as to not overshoot the target. I've never had to do anything like this before, so I'm trying to figure out a way to do it (if we really need to do it).

 

Unfortunately Scampi, I don't always get to know the ins and outs until people have already done things without telling me. The only way I found out, as I mentioned, was that the water testing I did recently came back high, and after several attempts (thinking maybe the point of sampling was contaminated somehow) I kept tracing the lines backwards. At that point, I called a meeting, and reluctantly was told we started using well water...without my knowledge for production. I knew we had a well onsite (and that was only after some time I was given this information by accident....I initially thought everything was city water). I was told it was just for non-production areas (break rooms and so forth). I was told that all of our production water came from the main city line. So when I started seeing high results, I was extremely puzzled. 

 

So, the answer to the testing situation technically is yes; we've sampled well water before. We pick random areas in the plant, including bathrooms, maintenance, labs, and breakrooms to do water testing. So while some of our testing was city water, some of it too was well water; we just didn't know it at the time, unfortunately. 

 

Digging up schematics would be next to useless for us. The building we have is very old and has been added onto several times. Everything is very piecemeal. There are 6 individual levels in this building with lots of random rooms and pits throughout the interior and exterior. At least we have only one main source area for water entry, so at least that has been established.



#7 Charles.C

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 06:36 PM

Hi QAGB,

 

Is using hypochlorite injection (or related) out of the question ?


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#8 Scampi

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 06:41 PM

That really adds to my argument that there is a filter somewhere that is the source of your trouble!

 

The other options, since it's not the well, it to just flush the lines for 48 hours......you can put that water in my flower bed! JK!  Sometimes long line flushing is sufficient

 

you could dump the chlorine post well/pre facility and then you know that you don't have to worry about chlorine residue in the well


Because we always have is never an appropriate response!


#9 QAGB

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 06:50 PM

Hi QAGB,

 

Is using hypochlorite injection (or related) out of the question ?

 Hi Charles,

 

We'd have to be very careful about that given the nature of some of our products. On the other hand, I can't get buy in for additional UV lights which would reduce our problems; much less an injection system.



#10 QAGB

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 06:53 PM

That really adds to my argument that there is a filter somewhere that is the source of your trouble!

 

The other options, since it's not the well, it to just flush the lines for 48 hours......you can put that water in my flower bed! JK!  Sometimes long line flushing is sufficient

 

you could dump the chlorine post well/pre facility and then you know that you don't have to worry about chlorine residue in the well

 

 

Hi Scampi,

 

Yep we wasted a lot of water trying to shock the system after the contamination point. You would have had water for your flower bed for years to come. I'm curious to know if there is an inline filter somewhere. It has yet to be mentioned, but I should be able to find out for sure tomorrow.



#11 Scampi

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 07:34 PM

Let us know, you have my curiosity peaked!


Because we always have is never an appropriate response!


#12 Charles.C

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Posted 11 July 2018 - 02:42 AM

 Hi Charles,

 

We'd have to be very careful about that given the nature of some of our products. On the other hand, I can't get buy in for additional UV lights which would reduce our problems; much less an injection system.

 

Hi QAGB,

 

A non-contact option is obviously admirable but, as i understand, UV systems always have limitations regarding manageable throughput.

 

IMEX (seafood) injection systems are an effective, low-cost solution from a microbial POV  but i appreciate it may depend on product/process sensitivity. This was one reason for the long-ago introduction of ClO2 but, unfortunately it came (at least then) with a financial / complexity cost.


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#13 QAGB

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Posted 11 July 2018 - 04:32 PM

Let us know, you have my curiosity peaked!

 

 

So I found out that we do have an inlet filter. I asked our maintenance department, and the water is filtered prior to going into a holding tank. I asked if we could take the filter out, but apparently not today because the tanks need to be full to pull the filter (and they are less than half empty right now). Needless to say, I'm very curious to see what is found.



#14 Scampi

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Posted 12 July 2018 - 01:58 PM

Hazah!  You are almost there.....if they can't remove the filter because of the depth of the tank, that leads me to think that the filter is now partially saturated giving any algae type material the perfect place to grow!


Because we always have is never an appropriate response!


#15 redfox

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 07:49 AM

Hello QAGB,

 

This link may help...

http://www.moldbacte...-to-use-it.html

 

 

regards,

redfox






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