To some “Water, Water, Everywhere!” is a comic story but to others in other parts of the world, it’s not amusing. Despite its abundance on earth, water has been one of the scarcest commodities both in quantity and in quality. In spite of advances in technology, drought and water borne diseases are common place globally. Drinking water supplies are exposed to all sorts of contamination sources and therefore causing confusion among consumers about their water quality. On one hand we are lead to believe that drinking water is well treated and safe to drink, on the other hand we can see news reports about few inefficient water treatment plants, or operators who try to manipulate water testing results. Water advisories are common-advising consumers to flush their water before they drink when certain contamination is discovered.
One sort of relief is that EPA indicated in “Water on Tap” report that the “actual events of drinking water contamination are rare, and typically do not occur at levels likely to pose health concerns.” But the report says further that “there are growing numbers of activities that can contaminate our drinking water.” Drinking water supply (surface and groundwater) can be exposed to such contaminants from combined sewer overflows, sanitary overflows, stormwater runoffs, concentrated animal feeding operations, failed septic tank discharges, and a host of others. These contaminants range from fertilizer, pesticides, pharmaceutical drugs, toxic wastes, oil, radionuclides, and metals. (USEPA, 2003)
Contamination from the source
Drinking water supply is sometimes exposed to harmful contaminants right from the source. Disease-causing bacteria can get into municipal drinking water, well water, or contaminated ice. According to the 2002 CDC report, from 1985 to 2000, 251 outbreaks and 462,169 cases of waterborne illness related to contaminated drinking water were reported. Some of these cases were linked to surface water supply sources that have been contaminated by sewage. Some drinking water contaminations have been linked to Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO) and raw sewage discharges into distribution lines. Forty two percent of water-borne disease outbreak was linked to Giardia. Our website provides info on
EPA identified 59 CSO outfalls in seven states having outfalls within one mile of drinking water intake. Although the Report to Congress did not find any relationship between a CSO discharges from these outfalls and the transport of contaminants to the vicinity of the intake, it says a more complex modeling is needed to do a better study. (USEPA, 2004)
Contaminants from home plumbing systems:
Water can be contaminated by lead in home plumbing systems. Lead contamination can lead to a variety of health problems. According to EPA, “in babies and children, exposure to lead above the action level of 0.015 mg/l can result in delays in physical and mental development.” While it is rare that lead can contaminate water from the supply, lead can leach to drinking water from corroded pipes in homes that have lead pipes, joints, and solder.
How to obtain fresh tasting and healthy water – The good news is that advancement in water treatment technology has made it possible to remove these contaminants from our drinking water. Although, technology has not caught up with the pharmaceutical water contamination, most water treatment devices can remove drugs that contain volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). According to the NSF International, although many of the NSF certified treatment devices are specifically designed to remove pharmaceuticals right now “many of these products can help provide additional protection against wide array of other contaminants.” Consumers have a wide selection of water treatment devices to choose from and you don’t have to buy bottled water-which can cost you lots of money annually, to obtain healthy water. In fact, studies have shown that some bottled water contains some level of bacteria. This is because tap water and bottled water are not regulated by the same standards and the same agencies.