It seems to be becoming more and more of a regular phenomenon to hear some horror story about how contamination has affected the drinking water of thousands of residents somewhere around the world.
The fact of the matter is that, while you may be sitting there thinking that it would never happen to you, I would give you 10-1 odds that people living in Flint, Michigan or Camelford, Cornwall figured it would never happen to them either.
So, let’s look at 7 great tips for making sure that your water is as clean as it can be.
1. Test your water
The first habit you should get into is to make sure you test your water regularly. There is no particular rule for how often you should check, and it also depends where you’re getting your water from. It seems that anywhere between one to three years seem to be the norm for most standard testing. However, if you get your water from a well, and you live in a monsoon area, you should probably check your drinking water after any heavy rains as well. As to what you should test for, Penn State states that it is almost certainly unnecessary to go for a whole barrage of tests which will end up costing a fortune. The university goes on to say that water testing should focus on standard parameters such as total coliform bacteria and E.coli once a year.
Total dissolved solids and pH values should be tested for every three years. Other tests should be done specifically based on what the land around you is used for. Finally, you should always test your water whenever you notice any suspicious new stains, smells or unusual tastes.
2. Water quality report
Your local water authority probably issues annual reports concerning the quality of the water it provides. For example, in America, Community Water Systems (CWS) must publish a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR). The information contained in each CCR allows you to make decisions based on the results. If you are a homeowner, the CCR should be sent to you each year. If you rent a property, you can go online and find it. Each CCR contains information such as: where your water comes from (lakes, rivers, reservoirs, etc.); contaminants found in the water; the possibilities of any adverse effects caused by the aforementioned contaminants; how your local CWS is doing in relation to national standards; and finally, if your local CWS has violated any of the water standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
3. Filter your water
Now that you know the quality of your water, you can make the right decision as to how you’re going to make it cleaner. Filters are a great way to get the contaminants out of your water, but because there are so many types, the most difficult thing to work out is which one to buy.
Let’s look at some of the most common types:
- Probably the most effective filter is a reverse osmosis (RO) filter. If you want to remove pretty much everything, then an RO filter is the correct choice. They also make your water taste and smell better. However, they’re probably the most expensive option as well.
- Whole house filters are your next best option for removing contaminants and like RO filters, they can make your water taste and smell better. Another benefit is that the water in your entire house will be treated.
- Other options that won’t break the bank include under sink filters, countertop and gravity filters, and tap filters.
It is worth noting that water filters are not to be confused with water softeners. The latter is not suited to make your water safe for consumption, as mentioned by BOS.
4. Update your piping
Your plumbing is not immune to daily wear and tear and, unless your pipes are relatively new or have recently been replaced, you may well have a problem. For example, if your water is dirty, i.e. discolored, smells odd, and/or tastes strange, then you may face corrosion inside your pipes.
Also, find out what your pipes are made of. These days, pipes are made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), brass, or copper, so you should have no problems if your pipes are new. Older pipes were made from lead, cast iron, or galvanized steel. These you may need to check. Low water pressure is another big clue that there may be a problem with your pipes. Low pressure can be caused by leaks which, while not necessarily having an effect on the quality of your water, may well have an impact on the size of your bill. Another cause of low water pressure are clogged pipes, which will definitely have an effect on the quality of your water. The best place to start is to look for pipes that are exposed. Check in your basement first. If you can see any leaks or discoloration on the pipes themselves, this may suggest that there are problems elsewhere in your house.
5. Drinking bottled water
If for whatever reason, it’s not possible to do any of the above, then your next best bet is to drink bottled spring water. Bottled spring water may also be an option if the problem with your tap water is only temporary. After all, buying bottled water for a week will be a lot cheaper than installing filters that are only needed temporarily.
6. Boiling your water
It might be the case that it is not possible for you to buy bottled water; for example, in a state of emergency. If filtration is out of the question too, then the next best thing is boiling. Boiling water gets rid of organisms such as bacteria, parasites, and viruses that cause diseases. Unfortunately, it also makes the water taste flat. A couple of methods to solve that problem is to let the water stand for a few hours after pouring it from one container to another. You can also add a pinch of salt. The CDC has some great advice for times where boiling water is your only option.
7. Disruptive construction or sewer work
Finally, the problems being caused by your water may be only temporary, as I partly mentioned above. If you have a problem with your tap water, especially if it has appeared quite suddenly, it may be because of disruptive construction or sewer work.