What Do Whole House Filters Address?
What Do Whole House Filters Address?
Drinking water, also referred to as potable water, comes from a variety of sources, including city water, private wells, and bottled water. While each of these has its own pros and cons, the main concern regardless of the source is the quality of the water. To promote health and well-being, drinking water must be as pure and contaminant-free as possible. However, not all water sources are the same, and some contain more contaminants and disease-causing bacteria than others. When that is the case, the water must be filtered, and the best way to do that is with a whole-house water filter.
The Differences between City Water and Well Water
City water and well water have many similarities, but they are not the same. City water is a term often used to describe any type of water production and distribution system that delivers water to a customer rather than the customer owning a private well. However, there are several types of such systems, including public and private water systems.
Public Water Systems
Public water systems are regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and, in certain cases, by states and tribes. They provide water to 90 percent of the people who live within the United States. These systems can be further subdivided into community water systems (CWS), non-transient non-community water systems (NTNCWS), and transient non-community water systems (TNCWS). Community water systems make up the bulk of public water systems. They provide drinking water to the same set of customers on a year-round basis. Community water systems include city water systems as well as those provided by counties, townships, and tribes. The term “public” means that the water system serves the public. However, it may be owned by a public entity such as a municipality or by a private company.
Private Water Systems
Private water systems include individual wells and small, non-public water systems with no more than 15 service connections. Private water systems are not regulated by EPA and could be subject to pollution from stormwater runoff, failed septic tanks, industrial pollution, landfills, underground storage tanks, and fertilizers and insecticides. For safety purposes, water quality in private wells should be checked at least once per year by a qualified lab.
Regulation of City Water and Other Community Water Systems
City water systems and other types of community water systems are highly regulated by EPA and individual state agencies. Water samples must be collected and tested on a regular basis to ensure that contaminants are below established levels. Water systems must also have emergency procedures in place and be ready to respond immediately to any type of emergency, including power outages and line breaks. Additionally, city water systems must issue boil water notices and otherwise inform the public when any condition exists that might expose the public to unsafe drinking water.
Contaminants in City Water
Although city water is highly regulated, it still may contain contaminants. EPA currently regulates more than 90 contaminants. To meet those regulations, water samples must be tested on a regular basis to ensure that the regulated contaminants are below a threshold known as the maximum contaminant level (MCL). Meeting those regulations, though, does not mean that the water is free of contaminants. It only means that the contaminant level was below the maximum amount allowed by EPA when the water sample was collected. Here is a partial list of the 90 contaminants that EPA regulates:
- Haloacetic acids
- Chlorine dioxide
- Carbon tetrachloride
- Di(2-ethylhexyl) adipate
- Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate
- Dioxin (2,3,7,8-TCDD)
- Ethylene dibromide
- Heptachlor epoxide
- Oxamyl (Vydate)
- Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
- 2,4,5-TP (Silvex)
- Vinyl chloride
Viruses, Bacteria, Microorganisms, and Parasites in City Water
City water may also contain harmful microorganisms and viruses. EPA regulates the maximum level of several microorganisms, including cryptosporidium and giardia lamblia. Both of these are known to cause diarrhea, vomiting, and cramps. They also regulate the maximum amount of Legionella pneumophila, which is known to cause Legionnaires’ disease. Fecal coliform and E. coli are also regulated. The presence of either of those microorganisms might indicate that the water sample is contaminated with feces.
Other contaminants that city water systems may contain include radionuclides. These include alpha and beta particles plus photon emitters. Also included are radium 226, radium 228, and uranium. Each of these contaminants has been linked to an increased risk of cancer and possible kidney toxicity.
How Do Cities Treat Their Drinking Water?
Most city drinking water comes from either groundwater or surface water. Some city water systems are able to bore deep wells into the aquifer and pump out water of a such high quality that the only treatment required is to inject the water with chlorine to kill germs and bacteria. The majority of city water systems, though, draw water out of lakes or rivers. In those cases, the water has to be treated in a water treatment plant by using the following steps:
- Coagulation – adds chemicals that combine with dirt and other dissolved particles to create larger particles that are easier to filter out.
- Flocculation – adds additional chemicals and then mixes the water so that even larger particles are created for the purpose of filtering.
- Sedimentation – allows the larger and heavier particles created by coagulation and flocculation to sink to the bottom of the water tank.
- Filtration – filters the clear water above the particles that sunk to the bottom during the flocculation stage. The type of filters used varies from system to system. Typical filters are sand, gravel, and charcoal. Some water treatment plants use an ultrafiltration system or reverse osmosis.
How Do Contaminants Get into City Water Systems?
As previously mentioned, city water systems use either deep wells or surface water. Each of these water sources can become contaminated by seepage from the same pollutants listed above under private water systems. Although city water systems are required by regulation to treat the water so that contaminants are below minimum acceptable levels, they are not always able to do that because of such things as power outages, equipment failure, dig-ins, and a number of problems related to aging infrastructure as discussed below. Contaminants may also enter a water system during natural disasters like storms and floods or by man-made disasters like fires, explosions, accidents, and terrorism.
Aging City Water Infrastructure
Many people are aware that bridges, roads, dams, and levees in the United States are in bad shape and need to be repaired or replaced. What they may not know, however, is that much of the infrastructure within city water systems, including the underground pipe, is in equally bad condition. Most major city water systems have struggled to keep up with increased demand and have concentrated on adding new pipe rather than replacing old pipes. The result is that a significant amount of pipe in the ground is operating on borrowed time. Some of it has been in the ground for over one hundred years. Much of it is rusting and leaking, which allows contaminants to enter. In the worst cases, rusted galvanized pipe can actually lead to lead poisoning.
Water Line Breaks
According to Deloitte, there are almost a quarter of a million water line breaks per year in the United States. Incredibly, that’s almost 700 per day! Many of those are because of the aging infrastructure problems mentioned above. Others are caused by dig-ins or by the ground shifting. When water lines break, contaminants can enter the water line at that point. City water systems are required by regulation to notify the public when any event may lead to unsafe water, including line breaks. In most cases where lines break, the city will issue boil water notices (BWNs) advising customers to not drink the water unless it has been boiled. Just like the number of water line breaks has been increasing, the number of BWNs has also been increasing. As an example, the Texas Water Journal reports that the number of boil water notices issued in Texas increased by 73 percent between 2011 and 2016. Other states are reporting similar numbers.
Details Concerning Boil Water Notices (BWNs)
EPA requires city water systems to issue BWNs whenever water quality is in question. The BWNs must notify customers that their drinking water may contain contaminants and not to drink it unless the water has been boiled. The reason for boiling the water is to destroy disease-causing bacteria. The notices are also to specify when the situation occurred, what the possible health effects are, and who is most vulnerable to the contaminants involved. The BWN must also include mitigation efforts the city is taking along with a time estimate as to when the situation is expected to be resolved. Additionally, the BWN is required to specify what actions consumers might take to mitigate the possible adverse health effects. Occasionally, though, customers are unaware that their water might be contaminated simply because they did not see the boil water notice or because the city water system was slow in issuing one.
Compromised Water Distribution Systems
Even if a city water system meets all of EPA’s requirements and produces acceptable water, the water still may become contaminated as it flows through the city’s distribution system or through the pipe that connects a home to the city system. As discussed above, city water systems must issue a BWN whenever there is a line break. However, some older pipes may be rusted and have holes or loose joints that go undetected for years. This can allow contaminants to enter the water between the points of water production and consumption. City water systems make an attempt to look for compromised water systems by spot-checking water at strategic locations. However, that method is insufficient to guarantee the absence of contaminants at every point within the distribution system and service lateral.
Contaminants Not Regulated by EPA
Some people may be surprised to learn that EPA does not regulate contaminants found in water that are known to cause skin discoloration or to adversely affect the smell or taste of drinking water. Such contaminants fall under secondary, non-enforceable regulations. Although EPA may issue recommendations concerning those contaminants, city water systems are not mandated to implement those recommendations. However, some states may include these secondary contaminants in their water quality standards.
The Addition of Chlorine to Drinking Water
City water systems routinely inject chlorine into their drinking water to eliminate disease-causing bacteria. While this may be a good way to ensure water safety, it often results in an undesirable taste and smell. Highly chlorinated water can also cause dry skin and hair and can fade clothes that have been washed in it. Additionally, chlorine can dry out rubber seals on appliances that use water, such as dishwashers and washing machines.
How to Filter Contaminants from Drinking Water
As previously discussed, contaminants can still enter a city water system even though the system meets all EPA regulations. The best way to prevent those contaminants from entering your home or office is to install a whole-house water filter. Such a filtering system will provide good-tasting, clean, and contaminant-free water to every water tap. Kind Water Systems’ carbon filter will filter approximately 90 chemicals, including the following:
- Acetic Acid
- Citric acid
- Diesel fuel
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Lactic Acid
Kind Water Systems’ whole-house water filter will also address approximately 70 organic materials, including the following:
- Vinyl Chloride
How Does a Whole House Filter Work?
A whole-house water filter is also known as a point of entry (POE) water filter. That means that the filter is installed at the point where water enters your home or office. The advantage of installing a filter at that location is that all of the water you use for drinking, cooking, bathing, and washing clothes has been filtered. You do not have to worry about installing individual filters throughout your home to achieve clean-tasting and contaminant-free water. If you are unsure of what contaminants may be in your water, it is highly recommended that you start with a water test.
What Is the Best Whole House Filter?
The best whole-house filters on the market are available from Kind Water Systems. Our model number E-1000 provides clean and healthy water to every tap through a two-stage filtration process. In the first stage, dirt, debris, rust, and other sediments are filtered out. Then a carbon filter addresses contaminants, including the chlorine or chloramine that was injected by the city water system. Our model number E-1000 is easy to install and maintain and is suitable for temperatures that range from 36 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It will handle up to six bathrooms and provide flow rates of up to 15 gallons per minute (GPM).
Ava Martin from QualityWaterLab.com said about our system: “Kind Water Systems has outdone itself with this premium, budget-friendly water filter that eliminates city water contaminants for less. Packed with powerful catalytic carbon, it may be the best thing to happen to drinking water since faucets.”
Kind Whole House Filter with Ultraviolet Filtration
If you want the ultimate in water filtration, Kind Water Systems’ model number E-1000UV adds ultraviolet filtration to our E-1000 model, resulting in a three-stage filtration process. In addition to the first two stages which filter sediment, chlorine, and contaminants, the third stage uses ultraviolet light to address pathogens that are able to survive chlorine treatment, such as cryptosporidium and giardia. The process is instantaneous and uses no chemicals.
Ultraviolet treatment will filter 99.9 percent of harmful bacteria without degrading the taste or smell of your water.
Here are some of the benefits of our ultraviolet water filtration system:
- Uses no harmful chemicals
- Provides instantaneous disinfection
- Requires no holding tank
- Has no effect on water pH or conductivity
- Generates no by-products
- Consumes very little electrical power
- Removes no beneficial minerals
- Uses an environmentally friendly process
- Requires very little maintenance
Kind Salt-Free Water Softeners
Kind Water Systems also provides salt-free water softeners with TAC Media that can be combined with our whole-house filters. Water softeners will extend the life of your appliances that use water by removing hard water scale. Kind water softeners require no salt or electricity and are virtually maintenance-free. You can get a combination whole house filter and salt-free water softener with our model number E-3000 or a combination whole house filter with UV and salt-free water softener with our model number E-3000UV.