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Old 01-30-2012, 12:28 PM   #1
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Unhappy EPA Mandate

The EPA stipulates that in the U.S.A. all drinking water cannot excede 10 ppm Nitrates. I have tested my tap water with API test kit and my readings come out 40 ppm, which cannot be true according to the EPA! Has anyone encountered this problem? The test kit is brand new and the bottles are within test dates. I have run this test dozens of times with the high 40 ppm reading following the instructions to the letter. All suggestions are welcome.
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Old 01-30-2012, 12:46 PM   #2
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Are you on a well or city water.

If you're on a well, then your well (which you are responsible for) is in violation of EPA rules.

But if you are on city water, start with a look at their most recent report. The EPA requires that all city water suppliers provide an annual report of what is in their drinking water.

If you confirm the latest report is below the 10ppm, then inform them of the test results you are seeing. Perhaps they will come out to your house and test for themselves if you can show evidence of readings higher than what EPA allows.
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Old 01-30-2012, 12:51 PM   #3
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I am on city water.
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Old 01-30-2012, 01:37 PM   #4
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This is my suggestion as I have a similar situation, however, its fighting an uphill battle. Call your local water authority & have them come out & take samples of your water for testing. This is free. They should contact you in about a week with the results. Call them if you dont hear back. You also can contact your state water authority (that regulates the municipal authorities) for further help. This is the EPAs safe drinking water hotline #800-426-4791- they can also advise on who to contact for more help. When you are contacting everyone, you will need to explain your situation & what yourtest results are showing for nitrate levels. Good luck!!!
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Old 01-30-2012, 01:49 PM   #5
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Thanks jlk. I have a call into the public water supply folks now. How do you cope in the interim if you have this problem? I contacted the API test kit people and they never heard of a faulty high reading only a faulty low reading from improper mixing. This is very frustrating since I do 50% W.C.'s almost daily and my tank water reads 180ppm which cannot be true.
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Old 01-30-2012, 02:00 PM   #6
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Something has to be wrong with the test kit I would say. If your tap has 40ppm of nitrates out of it, it won't add up when you do water changes. It's not like I have a gallon of water that reads 40ppm, then I add another gallon of the same water, now I have 80ppm. It doesn't work like that.
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Old 01-30-2012, 02:15 PM   #7
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Gotta be the kit!

That high of a level seems stupidly out of place...
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Old 01-30-2012, 02:16 PM   #8
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I get the water change theory. What I am saying is that the initial tap water reading of 40 ppm has to be a false high reading since drinking water is mandated by the EPA to be under 10ppm. Maybe the solution for the test kit is bad even if it is not out of date. What I was asking here has anyone else gotten false high readings for Nitrates like I getting using the API test kit. The API people say it is not possible to get false high readings.
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Old 01-30-2012, 02:19 PM   #9
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I would have to agree something is wrong with the test if your getting a reading of 180ppm with 50% water changes daily. This is an extreme solution in the interim- remove the fish to a bucket of tank water & do a 100% water change with a good gravel vac'ing. Just make sure you temperature match the new water to the bucket of tank water & dose water conditioner for the size of your tank. Let it run for 15mins before re-adding the fish. This should bring your tank water down to 40ppm (what your tap reads) & it should be easier to maintain the lower level. Good luck!
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Old 01-30-2012, 04:02 PM   #10
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Something isn't adding up here (and it's not as simple as a test kit gone bad).

If you are doing daily 50% pwc with 40ppm water, but your tank stays at 180ppm, that means that at a minimum your tank is so stocked (or something died) that you are producing enough nitrates DAILY to equate to 140ppm. That's a fricken boat load of ammonia going in the take to keep nitrates that high.

This sounds a lot like what happens with those that do a fishless cycle and keep ammonia dosing high as the nitrite=>nitrate bacteria take hold. Basically, all the high dosing ammonia soon becomes nitrate, and because they are doing a fishless cycle without pwc, that they measure nitrates at 180ppm and do a 50% water change and still have 180ppm reading.

It seems this type of situation occurs because liquid test kits don't seem to do so hot at measuring high levels. So I'm thinking that your 180ppm reading is in actuality something like 360ppm or even 720ppm. Therefore even a 50% pwc leaves levels above 180ppm.

Try doing this. We know the test kit isn't totally faulty because it does measure the tap at 40ppm. So if you do enough PWCs, you should eventually get your nitrate reading at a level between 180ppm and 40ppm.

Stop feeding and do hourly PWC until you get a reading below 180ppm (hopefully very close to 40ppm actually). Then again, without feeding, wait over night and read nitrates again. See if they have gone up (which means something is decaying in the tank) or if they stay the same or lower (which should be the case when you've quit feeding for 48 hours, and/or you have a planted tank).

Once you've got a stable nitrate reading around 40ppm, resume feeding and see how fast the levels begin to increase.
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