You hear a lot about water protection lately, but what about water quality? Where does a household water even come from, how is it maintained and how can you know if it is safe for you and your family? Here's what you need to know about the water in your home and what may indicate a problem
Sources of domestic water: Most households in the United States depend on a public water supply, which either comes from underground sources called groundwater or surface water sources such as rivers, lakes and streams. These municipal water sources are managed and maintained by the city, and each household pays for how much water they use. In more rural areas, a household can fetch its water from a spring, cistern or other freshwater source such as a pond or stream.
Septic tank versus sewage system: If your household uses a public water supply, that supplier is also responsible for treating waste and polluted water at a water treatment plant. If your home cannot access a community water system, you will probably use a septic tank to process your household waste. Septic tanks and off-grid water sources can be cost effective for a homeowner, but problems can be both costly and dangerous. As cities grow and expand their local water and sewerage services, some homeowners choose to connect their septic tanks to the community's sewer system. If you trust a septic tank, make sure you keep it well maintained and call a professional as soon as you notice a problem.
What you need to know: According to the Centers for Disease Control, "the United States is fortunate to have one of the safest public drinking water supplies in the world." The Community's water system must meet certain safety and quality criteria set out and regulated by both federal and state laws. In addition, all public water systems must share regular reports with consumers. On the environmental protection website, you will find the annual consumer confidence report for your local water system, which should also be shared with you by the supplier.
Making decisions about what is safe to drink: Although there are rules that determine what levels of certain pollutants are acceptable to local water systems, some groups of water quality believe that they do not go far enough, and that "Legally not necessarily as safe." The Environmental Working Group offers consumers a national tap water database, where you can learn more about the pollutants in your local drinking water, including those that are not currently regulated by law. If you decide that your local water supply is not what you want it to be, EWG also has a filtering guide so you can find a solution that works for your family.
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