Some small-scale desalination units use 'beach wells'; they are usually drilled on the seashore in close vicinity to the ocean. These intake facilities are relatively simple to build and the seawater they collect is pretreated via slow filtration through the subsurface sand/seabed formations in the area of source water extraction. Raw seawater collected using beach wells is often of better quality in terms of solids, silt, oil and grease, natural organic contamination and aquatic microorganisms, compared to open seawater intakes. Sometimes, beach intakes may also yield source water of lower salinity.
Household water treatment systems are composed of two categories: point-of-use and point-of-entryExternal (NSF). Point-of-entry systems are typically installed after the water meter and treat most of the water entering a residence. Point-of-use systems are systems that treat water in batches and deliver water to a tap, such as a kitchen or bathroom sink or an auxiliary faucet mounted next to a tap.
Water purification is the process of removing undesirable chemicals, biological contaminants, suspended solids, and gases from water. The goal is to produce water fit for specific purposes. Most water is purified and disinfected for human consumption (drinking water), but water purification may also be carried out for a variety of other purposes, including medical, pharmacological, chemical, and industrial applications. The methods used include physical processes such as filtration, sedimentation, and distillation; biological processes such as slow sand filters or biologically active carbon; chemical processes such as flocculation and chlorination; and the use of electromagnetic radiation such as ultraviolet light.
There is another method that produces fully purified water in one step, and that is distillation. A solar still can be built by digging a hole, putting an empty pan in the bottom, setting a bucket full of impure water into the middle of the pan, and then setting a peaked clear plastic sheet over top. This will evaporate the water out of the impurities, collect and condense it inside the plastic, and let it drip down into the empty pan. The problem with this method is that it is very slow and produces relatively little water.
Purifying water can be done through a variety of methods, like using a filter, treating with chemicals, or boiling. Water should be purified whenever you have reason to believe that it could be contaminated. Typically, this is necessary if you are camping in the wilderness or your home water source has been compromised. Whatever the reason, purifying water will remove any sediments and contaminants, as well as kill any germs, so that you can enjoy clean water without worrying about getting sick.
In some systems, the carbon prefilter is omitted, and a cellulose triacetate membrane is used. CTA (cellulose triacetate) is a paper by-product membrane bonded to a synthetic layer and is made to allow contact with chlorine in the water. These require a small amount of chlorine in the water source to prevent bacteria from forming on it. The typical rejection rate for CTA membranes is 85–95%.
As with any other filter type water purification method, careful attention has to be taken to pathogen/virus and chemicals size. During hurricane Katrina a lot of the water was contaminated with petroleum based chemicals from flooded cars. What is removed from the water is dependent on the filter pore size. However, it is difficult to beat the lightweight option that water purification straws and bottles provide for most situations.