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Water glossary



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Water Glossary - B

  • Back Pressure: Pressure that can cause water to backflow into the water supply when a user's waste water system is at a higher pressure than the public system.

  • Backflow: The flow of water in a medium in a direction opposite to normal flow. Flow is often returned into the system by backflow, if the wastewater in a purification system is severely contaminated.

  • Backsiphonage: Reverse seepage of water in a distribution system

  • Backwashing: Reversing the flow of water through a home treatment device filter or membrane to clean and remove deposits.

  • Bacteria: Microscopically small single-cell organisms, that reproduce by fission of spores.

  • Bacterial water contamination: The introduction of unwanted bacteria into a water body.

  • Barrage: Any artificial obstruction placed in water to increase water level or divert it. Usually the idea is to control peak flow for later release

  • Base: An alkaline substance that has a pH that exceeds 7.5.

  • Bed Load: Sediment particles resting on or near the channel bottom that are pushed or rolled along by the flow of water.

  • Beneficial use: The amount of water necessary when reasonable intelligence and diligence are used for a stated purpose; Texas law recognizes the following uses as beneficial: (1) domestic and municipal uses, (2) industrial uses, (3) irrigation, (4) mining, (5) hydroelectric power, (6) navigation, (7) recreation, (8) stock raising, (9) public parks, and (10) game preserves.

  • Benthic zone: The lower region of a body of water including the bottom.

  • Bicarbonates: Salts containing the anion HCO3-. When acid is added, this ion breaks into H2O and CO2, and acts as a buffer.

  • Binder: Chemicals that hold short fibers together in a cartridge filter.

  • Bioaccumulation (bioconcentation): A term used to describe a process that occurs when levels of toxic substances increase in an organism over time, due to continued exposure.

  • Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD): The amount of oxygen (measured in mg/L) that is required for the decomposition of organic matter by single-cell organisms, under test conditions. It is used to measure the amount of organic pollution in wastewater.

  • Biocide: A chemical that is toxic to microorganisms. Biocides are often used to eliminate bacteria and other single-cell organisms from water.

  • Biodegradable: Capable of being broken down by living organisms into inorganic compounds.

  • Biodegradable pollutants: Pollutants that are capable of decomposing under natural conditions.

  • Biofilm: Population of various microorganisms, trapped in a layer of slime and excretion products, attached to a surface.

  • Biological contaminants: Living organisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and mammal and bird antigens that can cause harmful health effects to humans.

  • Biological diversity (biodiversity): The variety of different species, the genetic variability of each species, and the variety of different ecosystems that they form.

  • Biological oxidation: Decomposition of complex organic materials by microorganisms through oxidation.

  • Biologically activated carbon: Activated carbon that supports active microbial growth, in order to aid in the degradation of organics that have been absorbed on its surface and in its pores.

  • Biomagnification (biological magnification): A cumulative increase in the concentrations of a persistent substance in successively higher levels of the food chain.

  • Biomonitoring: A test used to evaluate the relative potency of a chemical by comparing its effect on a living organism with the effect of a standard population on the same type of organism

  • Bioremediation: A process that uses living organisms to remove pollutants

  • Biosolids: A nutrient-rich organic material resulting from the treatment of wastewater. Biosolids contain nitrogen and phosphorus along with other supplementary nutrients in smaller doses, such as potassium, sulfur, magnesium, calcium, copper and zinc. Soil that is lacking in these substances can be reclaimed with biosolids use. The application of biosolids to land improves soil properties and plant productivity, and reduces dependence on inorganic fertilizers

  • Biosphere: The earth and all its ecosystems

  • Biota: Collectively, the plants, microorganisms, and animals of a certain area or region.

  • Biotransformation: Conversion of a substance into other compounds by organisms; including biodegradation.

  • Blackwater: Wastewater from toilet, latrine, and agua privy flushing and sinks used for food preparation or disposal of chemical or chemical-biological ingredients

  • Blind spots: Any place on a filter medium where fluids cannot flow through.

  • Blinding: A build-up of particles in a filter medium, that prevents fluids from flowing through.

  • Blinds: Water samples containing a chemical of known concentration given a fictitious company name and slipped into the sample flow of the lab to test the impartiality of the lab staff

  • Block-rate pricing: Method of charging on the basis of the volume of water used.

  • Blowdown: The water drawn from boiler systems and cold water basins of cooling towers to prevent the buildup of solids

  • BOD: Biochemical Oxygen Demand. A measure of the amount of oxygen required to neutralize organic wastes

  • BOD5: The amount of dissolved oxygen consumed in five days by bacteria that perform biological degradation of organic matter.

  • Bog: A type of wetland that accumulates appreciable peat deposits. It depends primarily on precipitation for its water source and is usually acidic and rich in plant matter, with a conspicuous mat or living green moss.

  • Boiling point: The temperature at which a liquid boils. It is the temperature at which the vapor pressure of a liquid equals the pressure on its surface. If the pressure of the liquid varies, the actual boiling point varies. For water it is 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 100 degrees Celsius

  • Bottled water: Water that is sold in plastic containers for drinking water and/ or domestic use.

  • Boundary water: A river or lake that is part of the boundary between two or more countries or provinces that have rights to the water.

  • Brackish water: Water that is neither falls in the category of salt water, nor in the category of fresh water. It holds the middle between either one of the categories.

  • Breakpoint chlorination: Addition of chlorine to water until there is enough chlorine present for disinfection of water.

  • Breakthrough: Crack or break in a filter bed that allows the passage of floc or particulate matter through a filter.

  • Brine: Highly salty and heavily mineralized water containing heavy metal and organic contaminants.

  • Buffer: A substance that reacts with hydrogen or hydroxyl ions in a solution, in order to prevent a change in pH.

  • Buoyancy: The tendency of a body to float or rise when immersed in a fluid; the power of a fluid to exert an upward force on a body placed in it.

Water glossary