Lately we’ve been seeing water treatment systems advertised (often under the banner of “chemical free”) for the rural New Zealand market which treat iron contamination but make no mention of addressing manganese. Given the regularity with which we find water sources here containing levels of manganese higher than the NZ Drinking Water Standard of 0.04mg/l, we thought we’d highlight some of the issues around concentrated manganese in water supplies and the benefits of successfully treating the contaminant.

What is Manganese?

Manganese is a naturally occurring mineral that is found in rocks and soil and may also be present due to underground pollution sources. Whilst is is seldom found alone in a water supply, manganese is frequently found in iron-bearing waters although it is more rare than iron. From a Chemistry point of view, manganese can be considered a close relative of iron since it occurs in much the same forms.

Effects of Manganese

When manganese is present in water, it is every bit as annoying as iron, perhaps even more so. In low concentrations it produces extremely objectionable stains on everything with which it comes in contact. Deposits collect in pipelines, and tap water may contain black sediment and turbidity due to precipitated manganese. When fabrics are washed in manganese-bearing water, dark brown or black stains are formed due to the oxidation of the manganese.

The health effects of consuming too much manganese aren’t yet conclusive however it has been linked to possible neurological damage when present at certain levels. That aside, manganese contaminated water is extremely undesirable to use in the home and creates a bitter metallic taste that can make the water unpleasant to drink for both humans and farm animals.

Successful treatment

Due to the fact that dissolved manganese oxidizes slower than iron, it is generally more difficult to remove from water. Light concentrations of manganese can be removed with a water softener whilst higher concentrations may be removed with oxidizing filters with considerable success. Very high manganese concentrations, or those complicated by organic matter may require chemical oxidation, as with iron, plus filtration. A scientifically engineered water treatment system such as the Iron Man STS from Temple Water can lower the levels of manganese to within NZ Drinking Water Standards and negate its troublesome effects.

If you suspect you have a water source containing manganese which isn’t being effectively treated, conduct a thorough water test and analysis to determine your water’s attributes. Only then will you know which treatment solution may be appropriate for your property and its requirements.