It’s easy to assume your tap water is safe—just flip on the faucet and what flows must be fine. But it’s a dangerous journey from the source to your tap; one that is unfamiliar to most of us. If you’re wondering where your drinking water comes from and what happens to it before it hits the tap, then this is for you.
Tap Water Starts As Source Water
Tap water comes from two water sources collected by your local public water utility to distribute to your tap; surface water and groundwater. Surface water is water found in reservoirs, rivers, lakes, and streams that flows into public water supplies. Groundwater is underground water that’s found in small spaces between sand, soil, and fractured rocks known as aquifers. Groundwater is typically accessed through a private well, or pipe, drilled into an aquifer.
Source Water Is Often Contaminated When It Arrives To Public Water Systems
As you can imagine, there are all kinds of ways source water can become contaminated before it’s collected by local water supplies and served up as drinking water. That’s why we don’t simply stick straws in streams or drill our own wells and tip back a glass.
We’ll go into more detail later, but everything from natural disasters to animal feces can contaminate source water. The bottom line is source water must be treated by your local public water system before water travels to your tap. All public water supplies are responsible for following water treatment practices designed to ensure tap water meets water safety standards set by the Safe Drinking Water Act and regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
What About Water Treatment?
While water treatment is a well-intentioned way to make drinking water tap-ready, the drinking water standards surrounding it have been proven to be subpar—and in many cases, non-existent. Therefore, water treatment isn’t a cure-all for contaminated source water.
As a matter of fact, the water treatment process can create and introduce new contaminants to tap water. For example, almost all public water systems disinfect water with chlorine and/or other disinfectants. Disinfection is a delicate balancing act. If anything goes awry, the result can be tap water littered with disinfection byproducts like Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and Haloacetic Acids (HAA5).
The majority of current drinking water safety standards aren’t stringent enough to completely protect public health—and many dangerous contaminants that have been found in tap water remain unregulated today. Therefore, what the government deems “safe” likely isn’t safe enough.
From Treatment To Tap: The Scary Truth
Your public water supply is responsible for distributing tap water to your home via pipes. After treatment is completed at public water suppliers and treatment plants, water flows to your tap.
The problem is the journey from treatment to tap presents new dangers.
Source Of Tap Water Contamination
How To Protect Yourself & Your Loved Ones
While many who don’t trust the tap turn to bottled water, the water inside and the packaging around it share the same concerns as tap water—plus more. That’s why your best bet is to get a certified water filter that goes above and beyond to eliminate the covert and common contaminants known to plague the tap and pose health risks. If you want clean and safe drinking water you can count on, check out our full line of advanced filtration systems here.
Want To Know What’s In Your Tap Water?
Our free database linked here compiles all of the test results from local public water supplies so you can see exactly what’s in your water. We’ve included the legal limit for each regulated contaminant as well as EWG health guidelines for every contaminant to give you a complete and transparent assessment of the water that flows out of your tap and the health effects detected contaminants pose.