The conversation about tap water has been heating up lately. In fact, there are a lot of misconceptions floating around. You may have heard a few of them, such as tap water is safer than bottled water, or tap water is practically laced with lead. Let’s clear up some of the confusion.
What is Tap Water?
Any water that’s supplied through a plumbing system of some kind is tap water. These days, “tap water” usually refers to treated, publicly available water provided by a government via the municipal sewer system. You have also heard tap water referred to as potable water. Potable water is water that’s safe to drink and prepare food with.
What Makes Tap Water Safe or Unsafe?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, between 10 percent and 20 percent of Americans’ exposure to lead comes from contaminated water. Because lead accumulates in the body over time, even low levels of lead can eventually become toxic to the body.
So, why does tap water get such a bad rap? Well, cities pull public water from open sources of water. To get to your taps, it needs to pass through a central plumbing system. At several different points during collection and transfer, there’s a chance different contaminants could find their way into water supplied this way. These contaminants come from a variety of sources including sewage treatment plants, septic systems, wildlife, storm runoff, wastewater discharges, oils or gases, agricultural pesticides, hard scale, or copper and lead piping.
However, cities don’t just take tap water directly from open sources and pipe it into your home. Governments are responsible for making sure tap water is safe before it ever gets to you. To do this, all tap water undergoes a variety of treatments, including adding chemical compounds like chlorine and ammonia to clean the water and filter out acidity and contaminants. Cities ensure their water passes yearly inspections to make sure their tap water filtration process is working as it should be.
Is my water at risk for lead contamination?
If you use a municipal water supplier, you can ask for a copy of their Consumer Confidence Report, with is required to be conducted on a regular basis. Safe levels of lead in the water should be below 15 parts per billion. If you have well water, it is important to test that water when the well is new and then again when there is a pregnant woman, an infant or even a child under the age of 18 living in the home.
The only way to really know the quality of the water coming out of your faucet is by testing it, either by asking your local water supplier to do the sampling or by purchasing a lead testing kit from your local home improvement store.
But for those living in Louisville, you can feel free to drink your tap water at ease. Louisville Water’s lead program is considered an industry model for managing water quality, replacing lead service lines, and educating customers. Isn’t that refreshing?
Have a question about your water quality? No problem. Simply call your Louisville Dauenhauer, any hour.