FAQs About Drinking Water Issues
What do I do if something “bad” is found in my water?
First don’t panic, there are many things that can be done right away. A good idea is to have the test repeated. If similar results are found then contact local officials to see if similar problems have been reported in your area, if not report what you have found. However, don’t wait for local or state government to correct a potentially bad situation. There is very little water contamination that can’t be corrected or eliminated at the point of use. There are countless filtering devices that can be purchased and installed at the incoming water supply that can remove contamination from bacteria to lead, mercury, or cleaning solvents. Most action taken by official agencies is often some form of filtration on a large scale. In fact, some States have funded programs to help homeowners pay for correcting water problems once they have been documented, New Jersey for example.
I Have Coliform Bacteria in my water. What do I do?
Coliform bacteria is a common contaminant in many water supplies. Public water supplies treat for this condition daily with chlorine. If found in private well water, it can also be treated by chlorine disinfection. In fact, the most common contaminant found in untreated well water is coliform bacteria. Most are not harmful if they are present at low levels. However, certain types such as E-coli or fecal coliform, should not be present even at low levels. Annual chlorination is recommended for private wells. There are other treatment methods available, such as continuous chlorine injection or UV treatment. See Water Treatment for more information.
My pH does not conform to standards. What does this mean?
The pH is a measurement of the acidity of water. The lower the pH, the more acidic the water. The pH of most well water is generally less than 7.0, for areas in sandy soil, and higher if the soil conditions are rocky or contain certain clays. In most cases non-conformity is due to a low pH (<6.5). The pH of water is not a primary parameter, but it is important. If the pH is low, there is a greater chance of certain harmful metals, such as lead, dissolving into the water. Also, a low pH can lead to corrosion of plumbing lines and fixtures. Many types of bacteria, such as iron related bacteria, thrive in waters at certain levels of pH. Non-conformity for high pH is not as common, but could indicate leaching of caustic substances into a water supply. The pH of your water should be in the range of 6.5-8.5. See Water Treatment for treatment methods regarding this parameter.
My water has a “Rotten Egg” smell. I was told this Is “Sulfur”. What can I do?
In our experience, this odor is usually caused by one problem, bacteria. It is also one of the most common complaints for well water and, in fact, is almost always limited to private wells. There are forms of bacteria which are collectively called sulfate reducing bacteria. When sulfates get into the water system, through agricultural products or other means, these bacteria interact with the sulfate and reduce it to sulfide compounds. These sulfides, such as hydrogen sulfide, are what causes the odor.
You can treat the sulfide by removing it through carbon filtration, or aeration of the water. However, it must be remembered that bacteria will ingest carbon as a food source, and can accumulate within the filtering system, giving off a stronger odor than that of the untreated water.
We recommend the same chlorination procedure as described above for coliform bacteria, as the best solution to this problem. You will be surprised how much better well water will be upon performing a yearly chlorination procedure.
If you have public water and this condition exists, you may be located at the end of a water main and flushing of the line may be necessary. In addition, bacteria could be present due to water main/line breaks or temporary water treatment plant problems.
Do You recommend water filters?
Using filtering devices, if maintained properly, can give the user/homeowner better quality water than bottled and/or commercially available sources, usually at a fraction of the cost per gallon over a period of time. The point is to take control of your own environment.
How do you feel about bottled water?
We feel compelled to say something about bottled water. Many people believe bottled water is the safe approach to take. Many bottled water companies do a fairly good job of pre-treating their water prior to sale. However, there are some things to keep in mind.
Most bottled water is sold in plastic bottles and there is mounting concern by some health professionals over this. Strictly speaking, most plastics have the potential of allowing transport of gasses through them. This means that if left standing long enough in an atmosphere that contained vapors from some undesirable source, the water inside the bottle may start to show the presence of these materials. If for instance bottled water was stored in a warehouse with industrial solvents for a period of time, these solvents could be found in the water.
Always look for a date on the container that tells you when the water was bottled. If the date is longer than thirty days or more, you may not want to trust the contents. The same is true for any consumable beverage sold in plastic. The plastics used to make the bottles are also coming under scrutiny for possible leaching of undesirable materials into the product.
I drink bottled water. why should I care about my water supply?