The United States has one of the safest water supplies in the world. However, national statistics don’t tell you specifically about the quality and safety of the water coming out of your tap. That’s because drinking water quality varies from place to place, depending on the condition of the source water from which it is drawn, and the treatment it receives. Now you have a new way to find information about your drinking water if it comes from a public water supplier (The EPA doesn’t regulate private wells, but recommends that well. owners have their water tested annually.) Starting in 1999, every community water supplier must provide an annual report (sometimes called a “consumer confidence report”) to its customers. The report provides information on your local drinking water quality, including the water’s source, the contaminants found in the water, and how consumers can get involved in protecting drinking water.
There is no such thing as naturally pure water. In nature, all water contains some impurities. As water flows in streams, sits in lakes, and filters through layers of soil and rock in the ground, it dissolves or absorbs the substances that it touches. Some of these substances are harmless. In fact, some people prefer mineral water precisely because minerals give it an appealing taste. However, at certain levels, minerals, just like man-made chemicals, are considered contaminants that can make water unpalatable or even unsafe. Some contaminants come from the erosion of natural rock formations.
- Physical contaminants primarily impact the physical appearance or other physical properties of water. Examples of physical contaminants are sediment or organic material suspended in the water of lakes, rivers and streams from soil erosion.
- Chemical contaminants are elements or compounds. These contaminants may be naturally occurring or man-made. Examples of chemical contaminants include nitrogen, bleach, salts, pesticides, metals, toxins produced by bacteria, and human or animal drugs.
- Biological contaminants are organisms in water. They are also referred to as microbes or microbiological contaminants. Examples of biological or microbial contaminants include bacteria, viruses, protozoan, and parasites.
- Radiological contaminants are chemical elements with an unbalanced number of protons and neutrons resulting in unstable atoms that can emit ionizing radiation. Examples of radiological contaminants include cesium, plutonium, uranium and Radon.
Did you know?
- In the United States, water utilities treat nearly 34 billion gallons of water every day
- In the United States and Canada, the total miles of water pipeline and aqueducts equal approximately one million miles; enough to circle the globe 40 times
- Americans drink more than one billion glasses of tap water per day
- Children in the first six months of life consume seven times as much water per pound as the average American adult.