Reducing High TDS Water with Reverse Osmosis Systems

Reverse Osmosis Systems for High TDS Water

Dime Water was asked to provide a reverse osmosis system to reduce an extremely high TDS water measured at over 5,000 ppm, which also had high sodium and sulfate levels. The pictured reverse osmosis system was designed and constructed for a cattle ranch in South Dakota, with the help of the United State Department of Agricultures’ engineers.

Total dissolved solids (TDS) is a measure of the combined content of all inorganic and organic substances contained in a liquid in molecular or micro-granular (colloidal sol) suspended form. TDS is measured in mg/liter or parts per million (ppm). If the TDS is high, cattle will be reluctant to drink then, drink a large amount at once, causing the animal to become very sick and potentially die. The primary symptoms of high TDS water in cattle is diarrhea.

The reverse osmosis system’s advantages:

  • anti scale chemical feed to prolong equipment life
  • fully automatic multi tank filter system
  • operation is fully automatic and controlled with a microprocessor housed in a environmentally sealed enclosure
  • specially constructed for robustness and exposure to harsh ambient conditions
  • treated water quantity is over 16,000 gallons daily

Required for all life processes, water is the most important nutrient for range cattle. The total body water of cattle is usually between 56% and 81% of body weight and a loss of 20% of the body’s water will be fatal. This loss of body water occurs through milk production, fecal and urine excretion, sweat and vapor loss. Water quality, especially sulfates, can affect animal gain and health. A water analysis is recommended if animal performance is disappointing.

What Is Ground Water Quality?

Ground water quality is judged by the amounts and types of materials that are present in the water. Water contains a variety of dissolved substances including gases and ions, and it may also contain organic matter and suspended materials. Generally, good quality water is water that is safe for its intended use. A few substances such as lead, nitrate or arsenic may be harmful to health, but most substances dissolved in water do not adversely affect the smell, appearance taste or hardness of the ground water. The United State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established enforceable and recommended drinking water standards for humans and livestock in the United States.

Dime Water also added a special feature to the system: a blending valve to adjust the final quality, to get extra daily treated water volume and maximize water efficiency.

The existing water chemistry found at the ranch prevented cattle from drinking as they should, which resulted in limited weight gain and a loss in revenue at the time of sale. Estimates showed weight gain may be as high as 50% once good water quality is provided. It is very important to do a TDS analysis for water quality and if the concentration is over 3,000 ppm TDS, then further analysis of sulfates should follow. Knowledge and management of stock water quality can be an important part of an effective ranch plan.


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