In the UK 1.2M people rely on Private Water Supplies such as lakes as their source of drinking water
However, due to climate change, changes in the biology of the water, the risk of hazardous dumping and other factors, purifying lake water is not always easy.
In this case study, we explore the problem of Loch water purification at Loch Walton in central Scotland, and show the results of the IF WaterOne purifier.
"Yellow and manky water to crystal clear"
"It gets rid of all the bugs and means we’re not using as many plastic bottles."
Lock Keeper at Loch Walton since 1990
Water quality changes throughout the year
Seasonal temperature fluctuations lead to changes in water stratification and nutrient cycling, influencing water purity.
Heavy rainfall can introduce pollutants and sediments into the lake, while warmer summer conditions may trigger harmful algal blooms that can impact microbial contamination.
In regions with winter ice cover, reduced oxygen levels can result from limited gas exchange effecting water quality.
Traditional purifiers clog and fail over time
While reverse osmosis (RO) systems can effectively purify lake water for drinking, they face challenges due to seasonal variations in lake water quality.
Fluctuations in temperature, sediment levels, and the presence of contaminants, especially during algal blooms, can strain RO membranes.
Pre-treatment is often necessary, and energy demands may increase during colder months.
Maintenance, fouling, and biological contaminants pose concerns, and water scarcity during dry seasons may impact RO feasibility.
Existing systems can't do it all, require large amounts of maintenance, and leave the user unsure of the water quality from month to month.
Piping water large distances isn't an option
The club conducted a feasibility study to find out the cost of laying mains piped water to the club. This would have needed to come from the closest source which was 3km away.
Laying pipes over large distances through rocky areas can be expensive, and initial feasibility quotes from Scottish Water came back at over £50,000-60,000.
Filters become bacteria breeding grounds
The Club's team found that maintaining the system throughout the year was an ongoing challenge. Filters needed to be changed more frequently at different times of the year, and there was no way of knowing that the water was safe to drink.
They also started to see bacteria growth in the cartridge that should have been clean, and due to the force required for the water to go through the pump, the water pressure in the property became very low.
Finally, the water was coming out green, and nobody wants to drink green water.
Remote communities rely on plastic bottles
To ensure the drinking water quality for its members, Loch Walton decided to move to a bottled water dispenser for the club and keepers house.
This did ensure the water would be safe, but it was not the ideal solution they were looking for.
Limited availability, higher costs, delivery delays due to remote access and weather conditions, as well as environmental concerns.
Logistical challenges, supply chain vulnerabilities, and the need for storage space further complicated the situation.
What we did
We installed a WaterOne non-consumable purifier
In October 2023, IF visited the property and installed a WaterOne unit to see if we could provide a solution.
We met the keepers and members of the club, learning more about the challenges of seasonality and water access.
The installation process taught us numerous lessons in how to develop the technology and design for the future.
We gave the device to Loch Walton to use for two weeks
We tested purified and unpurified samples with UKAS labs
Taking multiple samples of the water before and after the device is crucial to see the effectiveness of the system.
We took 10L of samples for a full test suite at UKAS accredited Scottish Water labs.
We were testing for all contaminants and water challenges identified in the 2017 Private Water Supplies Directive. This includes, E.Coli, Parasites, Bacteria's, Heavy Metals, the pH level etc
Loch Walton has safe drinking water
Scottish Water provided us with the test results a week later, which successfully passed all the required standards. Bacteria, E. coli, heavy metals, and other parameters within the full Drinking Water Inspectorate suite were removed.
As a result, the drinking water at Loch Walton now meets all the legal standards mandated for commercial properties in both the UK and Europe, ensuring safe and compliant drinking water.
After we removed a lot of contaminants
Why the WaterOne system works
The vapour distillation process used by IF involves converting water into vapour, then condensing it to produce purified water.
This method has the ability to consistently produce high-purity water, regardless of the variable water quality often found in lakes. It effectively removes a wide range of contaminants, including sediments, biological agents, and dissolved minerals, addressing the challenges of seasonal changes in temperature, algal blooms, and nutrient fluctuations.
Distillation's robust and reliable process ensures a consistent supply of safe drinking water while minimising environmental concerns associated with waste byproducts. Its scalability, low maintenance, and longevity further make it a strong choice for communities and facilities seeking a dependable solution for lake water treatment.
Harmful contaminants removed
Litres of drinking / cooking water a day
large dispenser plastic bottles saved per year
Miles of pipe avoided
Times more drinking water used due to greater access
Litres of water waste avoided over using Reverse Osmosis *
of CO2e saved in one year **
saved over bottled water per year
*Assuming 1/3 water wastage experienced through Reverse Osmosis
**based on 14L a day through plastic bottles
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