As a whole, the water quality issue is something that is of great concern for our company and those that are making an effort to live more consciously. We’ve outlined some of the concerns about green algae, the dumping of Lake Okeechobee and the even amount of waste that is dumped by municipal water treatment facilities. Because water is a limited resource, it’s important to protect what we have. But what about the water that gets treated and sent back to your home if your water is connected to municipal water facilities? And how can we maintain high quality drinking water? Here are some questions and answers to common water quality questions:

What are the most common water contaminants?
Common water contaminants include a few different minerals, chemicals and pathogens that enter the water a few different ways. Chemical runoff from lawn sprays, pesticides, mining sites, animal and farm waste, and industrial pollution are all factors that contribute to the presence of chemicals and pathogens in our water. According to the National Resources Defense Council these things include:

  • Lead: this can come from pipe corrosion and plumbing fixture and can cause brain damage in infants and children
  • Arsenic: this can cause cancer, skin issues, birth defects and issues with reproduction
  • Chlorine By-products: (trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids), which can cause cancer and reproductive problems
  • Pathogens: (germs) that can make people very sick, especially those with weakened immune systems]

To view a full list of drinking water contaminants, click here.

What’s the difference between well water and publicly treated water?
Before it comes from your faucet, your water undergoes a train of treatment wherein it passes through a series of steps to filter and disinfect it before it is delivered to your tap if you’re connected to a municipal water source. In some ways, the treatment train has negatively impacted the water quality. When water is pushed out to a treatment facility and forced to travel through aged pipes and systems and there is no natural infrastructure in place to treat the water it must be treated with chemicals. If you’re questioning what you can do as a consumer to closely monitor the contaminants in your drinking water, here is a list of actions that you can take to ensure that your water is safe.

Does that mean well water is better than treated municipal water?
According to Leegov.com, Lee County has experienced a general decline in the quality of its surface water over the last several years due to development, agriculture and other human activities. Hurricanes and other storms obviously accelerate this decline. We’ve seen an increase in algal blooms, and an overall decrease in the health of our wildlife. While surface water may contain less chemicals, it’s still subject to exposure to the pathogens and contaminants that are in your local area. Because of this, we caution against excessive use of fertilizers, pesticides and even cleaning chemicals in the home – since they contaminate water and can impact the natural biology of a septic system, ultimately impacting how the water is treated. If you suspect that your well water could be contaminated, you can have a lab come out and test the quality of your water. You can search here for a list of certified laboratories.

In 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act was presented to amend some of the treatment and the act was even expanded in 1996 to protect surface water as well. However, the health of our water throughout Lee County and the world is being impacted by pollution, development and the overuse of chemicals both locally in your neighborhood and throughout the region. The quality of the water that we drink is suffering as a result. While Lee County government is subject to “Total Maximum Daily Loads” for pollution reduction via the Federal Clean Water Act, doing our part to reduce contaminants ourselves will go a long way to improving the quality of our water throughout the area. If you want to learn more about how you can help protect your drinking water, here are some great consumer resources.

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