Because so many parts of the United States are in a severe drought, water is a precious commodity. Lakes, creeks, and rivers are low or completely dry, and many cities have begun restricting the amount of water citizens may use to keep their lawns alive. It is a very serious situation, and from all reports, relief may still be in the far future.
Take a few minutes to think about how water is used in your home. Whether it’s for drinking, bathing, cooking, or doing laundry, an abundant supply of clean water is an important part of a healthy home. If you know where your water supply comes from and are aware of the most common water supply problems in your area, you will know if the water you are using is safe. Public water supplies are tested for more than 100 different contaminants. Public utilities can give you information about the quality of your drinking water. Some water departments send out annual reports on the quality of water they supply. Groundwater is in the soil and underground rock formations. Private wells and many public water supplies use groundwater as a water source. Other communities use water that is drawn from nearby lakes.
Bacteria and viruses are the most common water supply problems. Pollutants found in private wells are coliform bacteria. Most bacteria won’t make you sick, but it can indicate the possibility of disease-causing bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Chemicals such as gasoline, solvents and pesticides can enter groundwater as a result of their use and disposal. Natural substances such as iron, arsenic, manganese, and radon can affect the quality of your drinking water.
Ways that you can help keep your water supply safe are to follow any water-use advisories issued by your water supplier. Dispose of pesticides, motor oil, and other toxic chemicals properly. Think about reducing your use of lawn and garden pesticides and fertilizers, because these chemicals often find their way into drinking water supplies. Call your water utility office if you notice any changes in your water supply, such as in the taste, odor, or appearance of the water. Install backflow devices on all outdoor faucets. These will prevent water from a garden hose from flowing backwards into your drinking water system. Conserve water. Don’t waste it. Use water-efficient fixtures and fix plumbing leaks promptly.
Americans spend billions of dollars per year on spring, mineral, and other bottled brands of drinking water. Although you think it tastes good or is more convenient, it’s not always better for you. Some bottled water does come from mountain streams or artesian wells; however, most of it is nothing more than treated tap water. Bottling can breed bacteria and other germs, such as a parasite called cryptosporidium, which can cause digestive illnesses. If you have a weakened immune system, look on labels for these protective processes:
- Reverse osmosis
- Distillation (distilled water)
- Filtration with an absolute 1-micron filter
Water filters usually use one of the above terms. Not all bottled water has enough fluoride for optimal oral health, but tap water is treated with fluoride to protect teeth. It pays to know more about the water you are using in your home. Please conserve and protect this precious commodity, and don’t ever take it for granted. When you see water in natural locations all around you disappearing, it makes you appreciate rain, and the lakes, rivers, and streams that make our environment beautiful. So, let’s drink (water, of course) to good health with clean, pure water and plenty of it!
Source: dhs.Wisconsin.gov; CDCP; FDA