Municipal (City) Water
Most utility companies do an outstanding job of providing us with nearly unlimited quantities of microbiologically safe water. All municipalities in the United States are governed by the regulations contained in the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), authored and enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Safe Drinking Water Act specifies the minimum water quality at the treatment plant before distribution. Compliance means regulated contaminants are not present beyond the level that has been established as the maximum contaminant level (see National Primary Drinking Water Regulations).
Utility companies in Knox, and surrounding counties, have maintained an excellent track record with very few compliance violations. Although the water leaving the treatment plant meets EPA’s current standards there are still three main areas needing improvement.
Those three areas are:
Chlorine serves an important purpose and the idea that we could do away with chlorine at any time in the near future is not realistic.
Chlorine does, however, contribute a very real and serious risk to our health and should be removed from our homes at the point of use. Both from the water we drink and from the water we shower in.
“Chlorine is a pesticide who’s sole purpose is to kill living organisms.”
—As defined by the Environmental Protection Agency
Chlorine adversely affects us in multiple ways:
1. It is absorbed though our skin, our largest organ, in a steamy shower.
“The EPA has raised skin absorption of chlorine to its top 10 carcinogen watch list.”
– The Washington Post
2. Chlorine creates harmful by-products that are also—if not more—hazardous to our health.
“Although concentrations of these carcinogens (THMs) are low, it is precisely these low levels that cancer scientists believe are responsible for a majority of human cancers in the United States.”
– The Environmental Defense Fund
3. Chlorine causes a negative effect on our skin and hair.
“Chlorine chemically bonds with proteins in the hair, skin and scalp. Hair can become brittle and lose color. Skin can dry out with itchy, flaky scalp occurring.” – Dr. Julian Andelman, Professor of Water Chemistry, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health
4. And chlorine simply tastes bad and is an unpleasant odor in the water.
Hardness is dissolved calcium and magnesium also known as lime or scale. Dissolved calcium and magnesium precipitate to a solid rock like form when exposed to heat or oxygen. Whether we realize it or not, hard water has a negative impact on nearly everything in the home that water touches.
The Battelle research institute recently performed a one year study on the effects of water hardness on heating water, on fixtures, and on appliances (see full report here). The results came back stating that…
“Softeners [are] among ‘very best’ household energy savers.” –WQA
The research proved that gas hot water tanks, or tankless heaters, can maintain their manufacturers efficiency rating over a 15 year lifetime rather than leading to as much as a 40% loss in efficiency. The report also stated that electric hot water heaters will form .4lbs of scale accumulation each year for every 5gpg of hardness in the water. For some of our local water supplies, over a 15 year lifetime, that would mean paying to heat 20lbs of rock before you can even heat your water. Showerheads and fixtures maintain a brilliant luster and full flow rather then losing their ability to provide proper flow due to scale buildup.
You have gone to great care to select the perfect fixtures for your home, don’t let water hardness unnecessarily destroy that investment.
Hot water tanks “Maintain the original factory efficiency rating over a 15 year lifetime…”
Less than 1% of the water that comes into the home is used for drinking. It is not necessary for the water we use to wash laundry and dishes with to be removed of all contaminants. However, it provides significant health and taste benefits for the water we do drink to be purified water.
Although our water supplies are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, there are still hundreds of contaminants found in our water supplies that are currently not included in those regulations, but are believed to cause adverse health effects.
In September of 2009 the EPA developed a list called the Contaminant Candidate List (CCL-3). The agency first evaluated 7500 contaminants then narrowed it down to an action list. The CCL-3, which contained 116 chemicals, pesticides, water-borne pathogens, disinfectant by-products and biological toxins that are currently not regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, but which are known, or anticipated to occur, in public water systems.