Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Urban Water Problems

Following up on the previous post about bugs in the water supply, you might be interested to know that there have been some HUGE problems with urban water supplies, resulting in hundreds of thousands of illnesses. One example is Milwaukee, Wisconsin back in the spring of 1993 when 403,000 residents became ill and more than 100 died of cryptosporidium contamination.

I only bring this up to reinforce your understanding that the city water supply is not necessarily clean and reliable, just because the water has passed through a complex system designed to make it fit to drink. Knowing this, we have installed a compact filter system on our faucet at home, and all water that is to be used for food preparation or drinking is taken from that filter.

An alternative is to buy bottled water, but I am not entirely confident that the bottler of that water can guarantee purity any more than the city water utility can. Accidents can happen. Equipment can fail. And contaminated water can sneak through the system. So we prefer to filter our own at home.

There are various causes for a community water supply to suffer damage, allowing contaminants into the water lines. This can happen during an earthquake, a severe winter freeze, a flood, a water treatment equipment failure, a sewage treatment equipment failure, or when excavation equipment accidentally breaches a pipeline. And that doesn't even take into consideration an intentional attack on the water supply by terrorists.

So it's a good idea to have your own home water filtration system. One of the best systems is reverse osmosis, but these units are expensive and take up a lot of space under the sink. We used to own a reverse osmosis filtration system, but now we rely on a simple accessory filter that fits on the faucet. Even something this compact and simple will suffice to keep out the bad stuff, because it is rated to eliminate giardia and cryptosporidium. That is the standard to look for in filtration.

Tomorrow we'll talk about boil orders, what that means and how to handle it.

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