In most households, the days of drinking water straight from the tap are long gone. Many consumers purchase bottled water for all cooking and consumption. Others use low-cost, countertop water filters or rely on single-tap filters instead. To understand the need for water treatment in your Denver, CO home, it helps to take a look at your options. The following are several ways to both filter and purify water along with some of the top reasons for using them.
Where Denver Water Comes From and What the Latest Water Quality Report Says
With collection systems that span over eight counties, Denver obtains its water as runoff from the Rocky Mountains. From its source, it’s considered by some to be one of the cleanest water supplies in the nation. However, this doesn’t account for the contaminants that it picks up as groundwater or when traveling through municipal and residential pipes.
With limited soil and limited, natural filtration in the form of ground covering, even the Rocky Mountains themselves introduce many particulates, minerals, and chemical contaminants that could impact human health. Homes in the region that were built before 1951 have a high likelihood of containing pipes with considerable amounts of lead. Aging pipes also release hard water minerals and rust that can dry out the skin, damage the hair, and cause a host of additional health and cosmetic problems.
Annual Water Quality Testing
Tap water in Denver is tested annually by both local water companies and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). All recent assessments show Denver’s water quality as passing the EPA’s quality standards. However, this simply means that all contaminants identified within municipally-treated water are below the federal standard or present in legal amounts.
The Problem With Water Quality Testing
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the EPA has not changed its standards for water quality or water safety in more than 20 years. Unfortunately, this means that current assessments don’t reflect relatively recent and increasing concerns over per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals. Also known as “forever chemicals”, the EPA states that PFAS contaminants can be harmful to human health even when present at exceedingly low levels.
It’s also important to note that the “legal” amounts of chemicals certainly aren’t healthy and they’re rarely even safe. As per the EWG, some legally allowed contaminants are subjected to regulatory standards that are more than four decades old. Among the legally allowed contaminants that are present in higher concentrations than permitted by the EWG’s more stringent health guidelines are:
- Dichloroacetic acid
In Denver, Bromodichloromethane was found in concentrations 107 times greater than recommended by the EWG, even while passing EPA inspection. As such, the only way to ensure that you and your household are drinking, cooking with, and bathing in clean, healthy water is by treating your water yourself.
Water Filtration and How It Works
Water filtration sieves out solid particulate matter. Although it does so on a micro-scale, it’s not dissimilar to pouring pasta and pasta water through a strainer. Solids are kept back and liquid flows through. With exceedingly dense filtration materials, water filtration can eliminate protozoa, dirt, sand, silt, and pipe sediment. Thus, if you have a countertop water filter that you’re treating your tap water with, this unit is only fit to remove solid contaminants. Any dissolved chemicals in your water will flow right through.
If your home was built before 1951 and has lead-containing pipes or if your pipes are deteriorating and contaminating your water with rust and hard water minerals, a water filter won’t help. Moreover, if your water contains dangerous microbes, a filter won’t eliminate bacteria, viruses, or other germs. However, even when using low-cost countertop water filters, many consumers report their water as being both fresher-smelling and better-tasting.
Countertop, Single-Fixture, and Whole-House Water Filters
It’s additionally important to note that all water filters aren’t made equally. Some products filter out more ultra-fine particulate matter than others. Some treat only a limited amount of water and are only applicable for certain forms of water use. For instance, if using countertop water filters, you’re still bathing in and breathing in dissolved chemicals each time you turn on a bathroom tap. Most people who rely on countertop filters are also still using untreated tap water for cooking.
Single-fixture water filters make it a little easier to minimize exposure. If you have one at your kitchen tap, you can quickly treat all of the water that you wash or boil your food in. However, this attachment won’t have any impact on the water that comes out of your showerheads.
Connected to main water supply lines, whole-house water filters treat the water that comes out of all taps. When shopping for a whole-house water filter, you’ll likely find that some product manufacturers, installers, dealers, and consumer use the terms “water filtration” and “water purification” interchangeably. In reality, they’re vastly different water treatment methods.
What Is Water Purification?
Water purification eliminates many of the dissolved chemical contaminants found in municipally-treated tap water. These include sanitizing agents like chlorine and chloramine, as well as contentious additions like fluoride. With a water purifier installed, your water won’t reek of bleach or taste like a swimming pool when it reaches your cup. It won’t dry out your skin and hair, irritate your throat, or agitate your airways when breathed in. Water purification can also make your cooked foods taste better given that you won’t be adding unknown chemicals to each dish.
How Water Purification Works
Water purification uses one or more methods to remove both solid particles and unwanted chemical impurities. These include UV light radiation, distillation, reverse osmosis (RO), ion exchange, or adsorption. The best way to distinguish between water filtration and water purification is that while filtration sieves solid particles out, purification removes dissolved chemical contaminants as well.
For most whole-house water purifiers, water purification is a multi-stage process. Municipally treated water is passed through pre-filters to remove chlorine, chloramine, dirt, silt, and sediment. It then moves through a reverse osmosis membrane that extracts dissolved salts, bacteria, colloids, viruses, and pyrogens by rejecting these contaminants according to their charges and sizes. This water is then routed to a storage tank for distribution. However, before sending water to taps, many whole-house purifiers send it through final filters. These final filters are much like the simple, carbon filters in countertop water filters. They eliminate residual chlorine smells and improve clarity and taste.
All whole-house water purifiers produce a limited amount of water waste. This is routed via drain lines into septic systems or the municipal sewer main. Comparatively, water filters do not. All of the solids captured by their filters are disposed of during filter replacement, and very little liquid is lost.
What to Remember When Searching for a Residential Water Treatment System
Be wary of manufacturers and installers who don’t make a clear distinction between water filtration and water purification equipment. Given that waterborne contaminants can vary from one Denver household to another based on the age, type, and integrity of plumbing systems, it’s also a good idea to have a building-specific water quality test performed.
A professional water quality assessment will tell you which contaminants pose the greatest risk in your household and which equipment types to target. It will also tell you whether or not your water quality concerns are related to the hardness of your water and hard water minerals rather than groundwater and municipal water treatment chemicals. If this is the case, you may be better served by a water softener.
We’ve been proudly serving Denver, CO since 2012. We offer outstanding plumbing, drain, and sewer services. We also provide video camera inspections and an impressive range of residential water treatment options. To find out more or schedule an appointment, contact High 5 Plumbing now.