Threats to Urban Water Supplies

water quality issues and contaminantsAccording to the US Census, there are over eighteen million people living in urban areas across Florida. These millions of people, along with the rest of the country, use city water daily to drink from, bathe in, cook with, and do other necessary functions around the home. Because of the high volume of usage, it is important that you are aware of exactly what is contaminating urban water.

The contaminants in city water occasionally differ than those you would find in rural areas’ water supply, and can include the following:

Contamination from Runoff

“Water runoff” in urban areas generally refers to the surface runoff of rainwater that is caused by urbanization. After a storm, for example, there is runoff from the water that seeps into the city’s water supply. With this runoff comes pollutants that are categorized into three main groups: conventional pollutants, toxic pollutants, and nonconventional pollutants, per the Clean Water Act. While there are structural controls that can be put into place to direct the rainwater to locations where it won’t contaminate drinking water, pollutants can and do manage to infiltrate.

Conventional Pollutants

These pollutants are found in household products and other domestic waste. Sewage, oil, grease, and detergents are the main types of conventional pollutants that require filtration. After a heavy storm, if there is excessive rainwater, sewage contamination of water is one of the main concerns that public officials have. This problem was seen in states such as Texas and Oklahoma, both of which experienced heavy storms in 2015. The city of Houston got hit especially hard when a wastewater treatment plant was destroyed by the flooding. Over 100,000 gallons of raw sewage were released into the bayou. While storms of that magnitude are uncommon, rainy areas such as Florida are prone to this type of runoff contamination, and the danger that sewage and other conventional pollutants that come with it.

Toxic Pollutants

The second category regulated by the EPA includes pollutants that can be illness-inducing if present in high-enough quantities. Organic and metal contaminants are two of the most concerning issues. Organic toxins include solvents, automotive chemicals, pesticides of the household variety, and bacteria can all contaminate urban water supplies. Metal contaminants, such as selenium, lead, mercury, and chromium are also concerning, particularly if they are present in large amounts. Recently, studies were done on urban water that showed that lead, selenium, and the pesticide benzene hexachloride (BHC) are the three most “pressing” toxic pollutants in urban water, and among the 77 of the EPA’s list of 126 “priority pollutants” that can be found in urban water supplies.

Nonconventional Pollutants

These pollutants include nitrogen, phosphorus, and any other contaminant that doesn’t fit into the first two categories, yet is present and problematic. In particular, white phosphorus, with a variety of cleaning, agricultural, and military applications, will induce sickness at high-enough levels. These nonconventional pollutants may not be part of the “priority” pollutant list, but you still don’t want them in your water.

Filtration Systems that Can Help

While this list is alarming and may have revealed a side of urban water that you didn’t know existed, there is a solution to water contamination. Water filtration systems will give you a pure, fresh-tasting water that is contaminate-free. Symptoms of water contamination include a “chlorine” taste, foul odor, water hardness, stains on your tub, sink, or plumbing apparatuses, and other physical signs of damage.

Urban water is contaminated through rainwater runoff and other forms of pollution that cause chemicals and contaminates to slip into your water, potentially harming you and your family. This contamination is why urban water must be filtered and cleaned before consumption or use. Crystal Clear Water and Well Systems can provide a free water analysis in order to see water quality can be improved.