Potable water is water that is suitable for drinking according to Webster. The term potable has been used to denote water that is safe to drink. It has mineral and other dissolved solids below the threshold set for safe drinking water. It is relatively free of biological life forms that cause disease or short-term discomfort. It is also a shrinking resource as the populations expand throughout the world. It is estimated that 1 to 2 billion of the people worldwide lack safe drinking water. This lack of suitable drinking water is responsible for up to 30,000 lives a week, people who die for lack of potable water.
Safe Drinking Water Act
Most of us in developed communities have access to at least minimally adequate water. What is the criteria for potable, safe drinking water?
• Physical includes dissolved compounds and minerals. Heavy metal, organic compounds, suspended solid (TSS) and turbidity. Heavy metals are those that are relatively high densities and appear on the Periodic Table of Elements with high Atomic Numbers and Atomic Weights or Mass.
o Iron, cobalt and zinc are essential trace heavy metals needed for a healthy metabolism. Iron and copper are essential for oxygen transport throughout your body. Cobalt aids complex syntheses and cell metabolism. Zinc aids hydroxylation which is the process the body uses to rid itself of much of the garbage or waste from cellular process into substances that are more easily removed by the liver and kidneys. However, these are trace elements, i.e. small amount, high concentrations can be toxic.
o Cadmium, mercury and lead are highly toxic.
• Chemical parameters are those that involve significant health risks. Nitrates and arsenic.
• Microbiological are all those nasty monocellular beasties that cause so many health problems. Coliform bacteria, E. coli, pathogenic species of bacteria, viruses and protozoan parasites.
o Fecal contamination, coliform bacteria, and its presence show contamination from sewage. Worldwide water borne disease were blamed for 1.8 million deaths in 2006.
Drinking Water Testing
So how do we ensure our water is safe. First have it tested. The technicians from the AAA Water Team can run tests on your water. Whether well or municipal source, the water should be tested for hardness, mineral contamination and biological activity. We will then recommend a plan for your water treatment. Most municipal water supplies are chlorinated to kill microorganisms that present a health hazard, but this adds a disagreeable taste to the water.
Advantages of Custom Water Treatments
A carbon filter absorbs the chlorine and passes the water on to your drinking water outlets. Hard water, causes dingy grayish whites in the laundry. Mineral matter can cause drying of the skin. Water softeners use ion exchange to substitute salt for the calcium and magnesium. But that may not be the best for those on a low sodium diet. Some only soften the hot water side for laundry and other bathing or cleaning duties like the dishwasher. Filters can remove metals, like arsenic, iron or copper. They also take out industrial and pharmaceutical byproducts like pesticides or hormones, and turbidity, cloudy water from suspended material and of course sediment.
The king of water treatment is the reverse osmosis processes that removes most contaminants, include biological from the water. With a carbon filter and pre-sediment filter, reverse osmosis probably provides the safest drinking water available. The downside of reverse osmosis is the upfront costs.