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A Quick Look At Filtering Your Drinking Water

by Andrea Lawson

If your home is connected to your community water supply, it's already been treated so it's safe to drink. Community water supplies are also tested regularly to ensure the water is safe and the levels of contaminants are within government guidelines. Here is an overview of how public water supplies are treated to make the water fit for drinking.

Water Treatment Process

Raw water isn't safe for human consumption unless it is water from deep underground that has been naturally filtered. Water used for community supplies is usually surface water and recycled water that is contaminated with microbes, chemicals, and heavy metals. The first step is to pull out heavy particles. This is done by adding a chemical to a water reservoir that acts like a magnet for suspended particles. The particles clump together and become so heavy that they fall to the bottom of huge sedimentation tanks leaving cleaner water on the top. This process is called coagulation.

The clean water is then moved through filtration chambers. These are huge vats filled with gravel, sand, and charcoal. As the water sinks through them, more contaminants are removed. This is similar to the process that water goes through in nature, or with a septic system, in that water becomes purified as it passes through the soil. The final step is to disinfect the water with chemicals such as chlorine. This is done to kill off any pathogens that survived the treatment process. Once the water is treated, tested, and safe for drinking, it is stored in a water tower and sent through a piping system to your home.

Improving Water Quality

While water from your faucet is safe to drink, you may not like the way it tastes. Water quality varies from city to city because of the various mineral compositions in different geographic areas. If you travel a lot, you've probably noticed how water tastes different in different cities. One way to overcome this problem is to install a filter in your home to pull out bad tastes and odors. A simple charcoal filter on the end of your faucet may work well enough. If you want more protection from contaminants, you can install a reverse osmosis system under your sink.

Filtering is the best way to improve the quality of water, whether it is done in a treatment plant or in your home. Boiling the water kills off disease-causing microbes, but it doesn't get rid of dangerous chemicals, heavy metals, or excess minerals. Keep in mind that bad odors and bad tastes do not necessarily mean the water is contaminated unless it is a sudden change. If you have concerns about the quality of your tap water, call your water supplier and ask about their methods of purification and ask to see recent water testing results. If you're worried about the level of contaminants even though they are within acceptable ranges, then you may want to consider augmenting the community water treatment process with a home water filter. Contact a water treatment company, like Water By George Water Systems, for more help.