Clean drinking water is one of the most significant issues facing the planet. According to the World Health Organization, about 2 billion people worldwide drink are forced to drink water from a contaminated source. Since contaminated water can contain cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and a host of other pollutants, water treatments to create clean drinking water are vital. Still don’t think so? The World Counts reports that 80% of all diseases in the developing world are water-related.
Those of us living in first-world countries like America think we are safe from contaminated water, but that is far from the truth. The average American uses 100 to 175 gallons of water a day to drink, bathe, and cook. Yet, it’s estimated that millions of Americans are exposed to unsafe drinking water every day.
Even when water is legally safe to drink, it can still be contaminated with things you don’t want to go into your body. Let’s look at water treatment, why you need it, and how it can help you live a healthier life.
Why Do You Need Water Treatment in The First Place?
Our drinking water comes from significant sources like lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. It would be nice to think this water is drinkable as is, but unfortunately, that’s a fairy tale.
Besides naturally occurring chemicals, we also have to consider what gets dumped into our water supply. When we discuss contaminated water worldwide, most of what makes it unsafe to drink is not the presence of chemicals like chlorine and uranium but the presence of human waste. Gross, we know.
In addition to human waste, many other unnatural things end up circulating in our drinking water. Remember flushing your goldfish down the toilet as a child? So does half of America. Many people also flush pharmaceuticals down the toilet, leading to it being one of the top ten tap water contaminants in America. Then there are things like plants, rocks, and algae that float around in large bodies of water. So, before cities and towns can provide drinking water, it first needs to go through a water treatment process.
What Is Water Treatment and How Does It Work?
Water Treatment in the United States usually consists of several steps. The treatment process traditionally undergoes nine steps: collection, screening and straining, chemical addition, coagulation and flocculation, sedimentation and clarification, filtration, disinfection, storage, and distribution. Each step in this thorough process varies depending on the municipality where the water gets treated. They break down as such:
- Collection– Water has to come from somewhere, so the first step in the process is collecting water from a significant source. This is typically done from a reservoir or lake and then transported to a water treatment facility through a series of pipes and pumps.
- Screening and Straining– This step is self-explanatory. Nobody wants a leaf in their drinking water. The first step is to remove large items found in natural water sources. This can include trash, fish, and plants. Typically, it is accomplished using a sizeable mental screen, much like we use a colander to drain our pasta.
- Chemical Addition– To get to the next step, chemicals are added to the water to eliminate any nasty naturally occurring sediments. This chemical causes all the ugly stuff to clump together and form what’s called floc.
- Coagulation and Flocculation– This occurs in a machine where again chemicals are added to make the gross things you don’t want in your water stick together or coagulate.
- Sedimentation and Clarification– This is a process where the stuff formed from the previous step will settle to the bottom, allowing it to be easily separated and removed from your water.
- Filtration– Water passes through a filter and removes organic compounds that affect taste and smell.
- Disinfection– Once all the visual particles are destroyed, a water treatment plant disinfects the water to remove bacteria and viruses. Think scary things like Cholera and Polio. We don’t want those in our drinking water! More often than not, the water gets disinfected using chlorine, but the levels are carefully monitored.
- Storage– Once the water is clean and drinkable, plants store it in water tanks or underground in containers known as clear wells.
- Distribution– The final step is when you turn on your sink and water is pushed from the pipes underground and into your kitchen sink.
Is Water Treatment Enough?
Just become something is designated as safe to drink doesn’t mean it’s pure. You’ve probably never tasted pure water in your life. Every water source is filled with minerals and chemicals, and unless you filter them out, they go directly into your body when you drink. You would be surprised at how many common contaminants lurk in your water!
Typically, governments regulate how much of a particular chemical is allowed to be in public water sources. They rarely restrict its absence entirely. For example, did you know it’s completely legal for there to be uranium in your water? The EPA requires that uranium be less than 30 micrograms per liter to be considered safe for consumption.
Regulation is possible through something called an MCL. This stands for maximum contaminant level. There’s one for just about every chemical out there, and the list contains harmful chemicals like uranium and mercury. You can easily remove these chemicals by taking one step past water treatment with a whole house water filtration system. Thankfully, the U.S. uses water treatment throughout the country to ensure our drinking water won’t cause any long-term health effects. Sadly, this isn’t the case for many developing countries around the world. Until water treatment is adopted worldwide, clean drinking water will continue to be a leading health crisis.
The Science of Water
As you can see, there are unseen pollutants, toxins, and chemicals in our water. Nobody wants to put them into their body! While water treatment can make water technically safe to drink, it’s not enough to give you the freshwater you are hoping for every time you cook a meal for your family or fill your pet’s water bowl.
If you are concerned about the safety of your drinking water, The Science of Water is here to help. We’ve been a certified Puronics water system installer for more than 35 years and are invested in providing you with clean, safe, and tasty water every time you turn on the tap. We can help you get started with a free water test to help customize the perfect solution to eliminate all of your water concerns.
If you are interested in learning more about our services, please contact our team at (352) 745-7070 or (904) 580-0000.
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