About 90 percent of Americans get their drinking water from public water systems, which are monitored and regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The remaining 10 percent rely on private wells for water, which is not regulated by the EPA.
The EPA has identified and set legal limits on more than 90 contaminants that can potentially enter our water system and harm human health. They are grouped into two main types.
Chemical contaminants can include arsenic, lead, copper, chemicals from herbicide runoff on our farms, chemicals added during sewage and wastewater treatment, discharge from factories, leakage from underground storage tanks, and corrosion of household plumbing tanks.
The potential health effects from long-term exposure to some of these chemicals includes increased risk of cancer, reproductive issues, liver or kidney problems, cardiovascular issues and nervous system effects.
Microbial contaminants are microorganisms (really, really, really, small living organisms) that come primarily from human and animal waste. These are some of the nasty little suckers that can cause severe stomach issues such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea and vomiting.
Protect your well
If you get your drinking water from a private well, you are responsible for testing your water annually to make sure it is free from contaminants. The EPA also recommends that you test your private well immediately if there are problems with ground water or drinking water in the area, conditions near the well change significantly because of flooding, there are land disturbances, there is new construction or industrial activity, any part of the well system is repaired or replaced, or there is a change in water quality (i.e. odd smell, color or taste).
Water purification vs. water softening
Water purification is the process of removing the bad chemicals and microorganisms from your water. This is done for the public water system to create clean drinking water, but it can also be used to produce water for other purposes, such as water that would be used for medical or industrial purposes.
Water softening addresses hard water. Hard water has an excess of minerals in it. It is not necessarily dangerous to drink, but usually it does not taste good. It can also make washing your hair, body, clothes and dishes more difficult. If you are interested in a water softener system for your home or business, Advantage Water Conditioning can help you every step of the way.
Protecting our drinking water
You can do your part to protect our drinking water with some commonsense steps. Never dump hazardous waste products (motor oil, pesticides, paint, flea collars, mothballs, medicine, household cleaners) on the ground where they could potentially seep into the ground water. You should also try to limit the use of pesticides and fertilizers on your lawn.