Coping: Is Stagnant Water Poisoning Us?

Environment/Health:  Here’s a health tip that we picked up from Zeus the Cat that I’d completely forgotten about.  Yet, it is potentially one of the easiest health pick-me-ups you can find.  The effects aren’t huge – at first – but it’s one of those slow poisoning deals that may constitute an unseen attack on the middle class.

So let’s start with the cat because he’s really smart.

As you know, when we’re gone showering, we put a small plastic bowl in the tomorrow of the shower and let the shower wand hang down over it.  When the cat wants water, he will come in, meow a bit, asking “would you turn the water on for me, please?”  We do…except for those times at 1:30 AM – then he can use what’s in the bowl.  Point is?  He likes fresh running water…

(Continues below)


Nature, you see, has “hard-coded” a strong preference for running water into some cats.  Zeus just happens to be very much in touch with his “inner catness” because unlike citified cats, he spends lots of time outdoors ranging.  Summertime?  Might only come in the house for a quick meal of dry food and running water – and then he’s out, again…

Which has what to do with slow poisoning of the population?

Let’s begin with a typical water line set-up on rural property like ours:

Obviously, when we turn on the water in the house, it pulls in fresh water from the rural mains.  Tests good.

BUT, when water has been standing stale/stagnant in the Garden line, it can (in effect) inject what are both live and dead biologicals at the Tee where there is some mixing due to turbulence.

Now, I couldn’t tell you how much, but it’s pretty awful, rank, disgusting, putrid water.  Any time water can stand still (and depending on temperature), it can go bad.  Very, sticking, putrid bad.

When it’s cold outside, it may take a month, or two.  Nevertheless, this weekend, we got the “purge the stagnant lines” project done for another 90-days.

Since it’s cool in the ground, 90-days is OK.  It will be done again in March, or so.

But in the guest house, where we have a water heater keeping water toasty for things like the odd shop cleaning project?  Well, that water (on the hot water side) gets to stagnant in a month to 45-days.

Sure. you can think that plumbing inspectors would require that domestic water come off first when facilities are plumbed – and many will.

But those downstream connections pass through Tee’s and that’s where the health risk likely is.

I know, you may not think it applies in placed like office buildings, but when I was head of a vocational college (a billion years ago) a company came into the mid-rise office building we were in and drained the fire sprinkler system.

OMG!  The smell  was disgusting.  Made me want to puke.  And a week later I notice something at the water cooler:  The building water tasted “fresher.”  Not a lot, but enough as to be noticeable.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of “sick building syndrome” but most of it is thought to come from heating plants and air conditioning schemes.  Thing is, some of it may come from this “stagnant water” problem that I’ve never seen written up in a blog directed at the general public.

It makes me wonder if researchers could just look for “Tee’s” ahead of domestic water if they wouldn’t find a link to all kinds of diseases.

I expect they would find a moderate to strong correlation, but this is not medical advice.

Maybe it will waste 20-gallons of water every three months to open up our lines and let ’em rip for 3-minutes.  Doesn’t take long to do it…and we only have three “suspect” lines.  One goes down to the ‘goat barn” – about 125-feet and one goes up to the garden – and “L” that is probably 150-feet.

But how much water does it take to get sour?

The water heater in the guest quarters?  That’s a 20-gallon tank and I flush it now once a month.  Even in that time, the water is beginning to “turn.”

OM2’s son water out Sunday – helping with some of the “heavy work” around here.  He’s seen the same thing in greenhouses that he’s worked at in the Texas state college agriculture program he graduated from.

Don’t me to sound gross, but when we have to turn on the water in the greenhouses that’s been sitting a few months, it smells like a continuous bad fart for a while…”

He then explained that the greenhouse water doesn’t get turned on that much because most of their water is captured rain water.  So the water in the pipes gets to stand still for a good long while.

Something to put on your list of home maintenance projects.  Wherever you have an outlet, turn it on for 3-minutes full force every month or two.

Yes, even if you have (like we do) filters on everything we drink in the house.

What the old computer term?  Garbage in, garbage out?

If anyone thinks Ure nuts, tell ’em to send an email to Zeus the Cat.  His email is  (Pronounced Zeus is hot, not Zeus I Shot, although next time he gets us up at 2:30 AM to chat about meowly things, that’s subject to change…)

Now, let’s go have some freshly brewed, fresh-tasting bean and check out the markets…oh wait!  Almost forgot!

*Important Note from the Bar

Yesterday (Dec. 10) was Trader Vic’s birthday.

Trader Vic’s is a restaurant chain headquartered in Emeryville, California, United States. Victor Jules Bergeron, Jr. (December 10, 1902, San Francisco – October 11, 1984, Hillsborough, California) founded a chain of Polynesian-themed restaurants that bore his nickname, “Trader Vic”. He was one of two people who claimed to have invented the Mai Tai.[1] The other was his amicable competitor for many years, Don the Beachcomber.

He would have been a hundred and fifteen…We hoisted a ceremonial Mai Tai (2?) Sunday afternoon.  Substituting because orgeat syrup is not something common to Texas stores…

My most memorable economic discussions  were “back in the day” with the late Dr. Paul Erdman at the Trader Vic’s which used to be on the lower level of the Westin Hotel (in Seattle) a few billion years back.

Question during #2 (or was it 3?) was “Wonder what Erdman would have had to say about Bitcoin?

R.I.P. both.

Write when you get rich,

author avatar
George Ure
Amazon Author Page: UrbanSurvival Bio:

24 thoughts on “Coping: Is Stagnant Water Poisoning Us?”

      • Yep for instance I have a garden hose that’s attached to one of those tall cut-offs that go underground under the ice level and the hoes goes up and over something and then goes down and then comes around either to the front or to the back into a 55 gallon metal trash can and what I forgot to do before it was freezing cuz there’s another cut off valve or released file Eminem halfway between in the hoses to drain the water out before it freezes what I forgot to do while filling the drum up or the can 55 gallon can was to cut off the valve on that until the next morning when I came out most all of the liquid had siphoned out through the opening half way that I described earlier

      • Isolation valves–turn off garden water line until it is used. A check valve is a mechanical back flow preventer that does not require a reverse condition to function. It is designed to be a permanent “No” going back to the unused water.

        Potable water treatment options are like a Microsoft program–there are a zillion different ways to do something. There are also zillions of different variations for the source water to be treated.

        The situation can be as cumbersome and expensive as you want, or as simple as your knowledge and brilliance can conceive.

        Not knowing what you have available in your area or what you want, if you even know, from my experience, Culligan has good options — if you want to remove that special bouquet of odours that some trapped well waters can develop over time.

  1. The Safe Drinking Water Act was passed in 1974. One of its requirements is the prevention of contamination caused by the ingress of tainted water (sprinkler run-off, pooling etc) back into potable water lines when ‘backflow’ occurs. This can be on a residential level or municipal level but the result of ingress is exactly as you have described. When no faucets are running on one of your ‘tee’ legs, flow in a connected leg can draw stagnant water (and bacteria) into the system through something similar to Venturi effect. A backflow preventer is simply a slightly more sophisticated check valve that only allows flow in the desired direction. It’s especially important when you have irrigation occurring near a leach field.

    • Exactly – but how many homes are there will side lines around the house without b/f preventers? I expect a LOT of ’em. Thing is, I expect the b/f preventers aren’t very good – and who digs them up to test them?

      • My lawn and garden do tee off the main line into the house however that line goes to an above ground back flow preventer. Every house in my neighborhood newer than 1978 is plumbed with a back flow preventer.

        Mine is a large brass body above ground valve . This needs to be flushed and drained before freezing temps.

        Our water tastes bad so it is all filtered through an inline filter and then a Berkey.

  2. The news had on today a finding that bitcoin was being used to buy & sell illegal drugs. Will bitcoin become the preferred currency of the Black Market?

    • BECOME! It has been the defacto standard! Why do you think silk road and…oh… i’m gonna go pull my hair out.

      • So the War on Drugs has found another way to print money. That the financial world has embraced Bitcoin is a sad state of affairs. When the crash comes, there is going to be wailing in the streets. My concern is how many markets will it take down with it…And we are worried about NK…This could be the real bomb. Remember, good times do not last forever.

  3. Well, I get to pull out this piece of advice once in awhile, and now is the perfect time.

    In a former chunk of this life I worked in a major metropolitan water department lab and occasionally handled taste and odor complaint calls.

    Frankly, I would flush those lines much more frequently than you are currently doing. There is NO residual chlorine in those lines after a couple of days — so nothing to prevent the growth of bacteria.

    Every spring and fall the taste and odor complaints would spike for a few days as the reservoir ‘turned over’ with the temperature change, and we had a brief algae bloom that tasted terrible, and exceeded the level of our activated charcoal filtration to handle.

    Then when summer came and everyone had their garden hoses out, another type of taste and odor complaint would come in. This one tasted even worse. And it had nothing to do with the water coming out of the plant.

    The garden hose was laying out in the yard, full of water, in the hot sun. Chemicals in the hose were reacting with the residual chlorine in the water. The resultant reaction yielded an obnoxious flavor that could be detected by the human tongue at Parts Per Billion. Easy for that level of contamination to get past the faucet valve. In fact, running water in the house would tend to pull water through the valve, combined oftentimes with pressure on the hose side from one of those sprayer heads that cut off flow at the nozzle.

    Solution? Disconnect all hoses. Run tub, shower and kitchen sink faucets for a few minutes and taste again. Problem solved.

    Let me leave your readers with one piece of safety advice. DO. NOT. EVER. leave a hose section connected in a mud/utility sink where the hose end can contact the water level. Just imagine the brew of dog poop washed off shoes, pesticide containers, and random household chemicals that end up in those sinks. It would not take much of that pulled past the valve to send the family to the ER.

    Industrial situations address the safety issues of possible contamination with backflow preventers. Homeowners rarely think of these things.

    Thanks for the opportunity to post this public service announcement.

    • so I’ll ask you too ,what was the alkalinity level coming out that water plant.? Thanks

      • About 8.5 to 9. We had to alkalinize it with lime. Water plants do that to reduce rusting of iron and steel valves, pumps, and sometimes the lines themselves.

  4. You can get copies of what is in your water organic and inorganic at water district. Called the customer confidence report to be done yearly. If have higher levels of maginaze or iron can smell and taste bad

  5. I change sediment filters every 2 months here in Oregon, and was adding 1/2 cup chlorine to the filter nearest the well head so the complete system would flush out. I began to notice a grey/black stain in the toilets. It finality dawned on me (I belive) that the chlorine was dissolving the rubber bladders in the 2 pressure tanks! I added a fitting AFTER the tanks and now just flush the pipes and fittings.

    • I live in Oregon too and have lived in both the Portland and in an area where chlorine was used by the other city to treat the water because they used Columbia River water – heavy chlorine use leaves greenish sediment in toilets. Never had it in Portland . . .

  6. Most texas fresh water has considerable arsenic levels not to mention several other contaminants..
    We had a report similar to palistine texas years ago.. they suggested everyone filter their water.. well I have been a big one for filters anyway.. my drinking water goes through a sediment filter then a second sediment filter with a finer filter.. then it goes through a water structuring cartridge.. I built mine and the water goes around quartz I have marbles in there to.. just before that is a line where I have a real magnetic softener.. ( I am still skeptical on that one everything I have read pretty much says its all hype and sales but what the heck I had some real magnets and thought why not just for the heck of it the same thing with water running over rocks.. I doubt any of that does anything either but my mom always ran water over her rocks for the fridge water and I do to even though I think it isn’t doing anything..I have been doing that for years long before it became a fad) then to the reverse osmosis system just beyond that I have an ozone generator and ultra violet then to the tap.
    Now maybe that is a little overkill.. but it works been doing it for years and the water is great and it wasn’t that expensive to do.. the biggest cost is replacing filters. the two sediment really shows how much is going through your system.. those get changed quite often..

Comments are closed.

Toggle Dark Mode