When it comes to what’s in our water, how can homeowners figure out what’s safe and healthy to consume? This is a very interesting topic to talk about, especially because of events like the Flint water crisis that are going on around the country. The reality is, we take it for granted that our water is suitable to drink. That may or may not be true, and it’s important that homeowners are educated about the different things that should (or shouldn’t) be in the water, especially if they rely on a community to provide water or they use a municipal water system. Drinking water regulation does exist, and the standards apply to any public water source. A public water source is defined as a system that provides potable water to five or more homes.
First, let’s cover a few things that are in the primary regulated standards. (There are lots of other things that technically cannot be in the water, but we’ll go over the main ones for the sake of simplicity.) There are no bacteria or microorganisms allowed in a regulated drinking water system. These are things that would be harmful to someone if ingested, potentially resulting in stomach issues and/or sickness. If you have a private water system, you should get a lab test for verification. It’s the responsibility of the system’s owner to take a sample to a lab and have it tested for bacteria.
Lead is another thing that’s regulated, which can be harmful to infants or pregnant women. In rural areas where fertilizer is spread, nitrates from the fertilizers can get into the water source. Chlorine is put into water to remove bacteria and make it safe to consume. Four parts per million is the limit allowable in a public water source. To put that into perspective, the recommended level of chlorine in a swimming pool is half that amount, at two parts per million. If you’re drinking water that falls well within the accepted level, you’re practically drinking swimming pool water. That’s a tremendous amount of chlorine.
Next, let’s take a look at the secondary standards. These are things that aren’t necessarily harmful to you, but they can potentially be harmful to your plumbing system, fixtures, or appliances. Hardness in the form of calcium can cause scale buildup, and it’s a non-regulated item. PH is a regulated item, and it should be 6.5 or higher (7 is perfect). Iron is a regulated item. It isn’t harmful, but it will stain and clog up fixtures. Knowing the differences between primary vs. secondary standards goes a long way towards understanding your water.
All municipal systems are required to either send out a letter or at least publish a public letter annually, which shows what’s in the water. If you haven’t received a letter, you’ll have to go online to find the published version that shows the content that was tested for in the municipal system. As far as what we can do at Wisler Plumbing, right now we’re running a special where we perform a comprehensive water test for things like lead, chlorine, nitrates, hardness, pH, and iron for $21.95. It doesn’t test for bacteria, however. This comprehensive test will allow you to find out if these things are in your water and whether or not it meets the national primary drinking water standards.
Great water is water in its purest form, with very little contaminants or materials in it. If you have a lot of stuff in your water, it’s probably not great water. Your best bet is to drink water that hasn’t picked up any contaminants or other things during the hydrologic cycle. If you have any questions about our comprehensive test for $21.95, contact us online or give us a call at 540-483-9382.