fresh clean water
we've tapped a few sources for the skinny on our water and filtering systems

By: Thomas M. Ciesla
Originally published in Houston House & Home Magazine; January, 2003. Article has been reformatted for online publishing

A survey conducted and released in May 2001 by the Water Quality Association found that 9 out of 10 Americans have serious concerns about the quality of their drinking water. In addition, almost half of the respondents (49%) believe that federal water quality standards should be stricter and one in every three Americans (32%) believes that household drinking water isn't as safe as it should be. Closer to home, the City of Houston produces and delivers 145 billion gallons of water annually to residents and surrounding communities. In their Annual Water Quality Report for 2001, the city notes that while contaminants were found in our drinking water, none exceeded the EPA standards for maximum contaminant levels.

Why Treat Your Water?
While only one half of one percent of water flowing through municipal water systems is consumed as drinking water, awareness of water quality is higher than ever. As we increasingly view the purity of water as an essential quality of life issue, more of us are taking personal responsibility for the quality of our water by installing water treatment systems in their homes as concerns of water quality arise. These concerns usually surface when odor or cloudiness is noticed in the tap water, or staining of plumbing fixtures or washed clothing is evident.

Source water contaminants range from salts, metals, viruses, bacteria, pesticides, herbicides and organic chemicals. Even after processing surface water, the City of Houston's Annual Water Quality report lists the presence of contaminants such as arsenic, barium, copper, ethylene, lead, nitrate and selenium – all within the EPA maximum allowances of course. Chlorine, a chemical commonly used to disinfect source water is also present in your tap water. According to Bob Johnson of Bob Johnson and Associates Inc., a Houston firm with 30 years of water treatment experience ranging from residential to nuclear power plant applications, “Chlorine dissipates while traveling through the pipelines, so to meet regulated minimum levels, water utilities put ammonia into the water to stabilize the chlorine. These two chemicals then combine to form chloramines.” The effect of lifetime exposure to chlorine or chloramines is currently under study.

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