The residents of our city of a little over 60,000 just received their water quality report for last year. If you're on city water, I recommend you check your own city’s water quality report. The report begins, “The report has been prepared to meet the requirements of the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) adopted by Congress and to provide our customers with information about their municipal water system.” The report is fairly complete and easy to read.
Our city is on a major river but the water is not drawn from the river. Instead it is supplied through fifteen wells. Of course, ground water will eventually end up in the river, along with other pollutants so perhaps it is easier to control the quality of well water than river water.
The city was required to test seven areas and, and our city water passed all of them without a violation. The areas included disinfection byproducts, inorganic contaminants (including heavy metals), microbiological contaminants (such as E. coli), radioactive contaminants (esp. radium), synthetic organic contaminants (pesticides and herbicides), unregulated contaminants (sulfates, chloroform and the like), and volatile organic contaminants.
The EPA sets standards for about 90 different contaminants but over 2100 different toxins have been identified in drinking water. So it is refreshing to know that the water we trust has been tested and deemed safe according to acceptable standards. A troubling part of the report is this statement: “The state allows us to monitor for certain contaminants less than once per year because the concentrations are not expected to vary significantly from year to year. Some of our data, though representative, is more than one year old.” I wonder, will they know if a sudden surge in the amount of some contaminant occurs?
The chart on the next page of the report includes a list of selected pollutants and the level found in the report. The good news is that all were at a safe level. The bad news is that all were present to some level. These included heavy metals such as copper, lead, and nickel, barium, nitrates, coli bacteria, radium, chloroform, sulfates, and others.
One way to filter my water would be to to distill it, and that would be both expensive and undesirable for it would leave the water tasteless. A certain level of minerals, for example, is needed in our bodies.
The report also promises that chlorine has been added to disinfect the water, and fluoride has been added for dental purposes. Personally I don’t mind the fluoride, and I understand why chlorine must be added to the water. However, enough has been shown about the ill effects of chlorine on the body to make me shutter.
For this reason, I am glad I made the choice I did. Some time ago our family purchased a Berkey water filter which relies on a number of different filtration ingredients to remove contaminants. Most all the areas listed as tested, but present in the water report, are covered in the list of substances removed by the water filter. It also removes the chlorine to an undetectable level. Filtering our water is a double assurance that the water we drink and use for cooking is absolutely safe.