Saturday, December 09, 2006

So How's the Drinking Water?

How’s your drinking water on SPI today? It sure is better than back ten years ago, when it was basically undrinkable. Let’s admit it, it sucked. I’ve reviewed a few reports from 2004 and 2005 and it sure seems the stuff is good these days, much better. The problems are the same as in the old days – too much treatment with chlorine and too much total organic carbon. But if you take into consideration that we’re getting our water from the Rio Grand, a veritable toilet, it’s not such a bad report card.

Each year the EPA requires all public water systems to certify their water, known as a consumer confidence report or CCR. These reports are supposed to be available to the public and a public hearing must be held. Each year we used to see these reports in the Austin area but down here in “la-la land” I have yet to see one. They probably sneak a notice in the local newspapers and hope nobody has a magnifying lens.

One of the main offenders was disinfectants such as chlorine, which can result in high levels of halo-acetic acid (29/60 ppb) and tri-halo-methane (THM, 52/80 ppb). The latter is a pretty bad actor and is cause for concern, as it is considered as a pollutant and possible cancer cause. Halogenated compounds are never very good to see in the environment.

The other was, hate to say it, crud. Yes, the Laguna Madre Water District got blasted pretty bad for total organic carbon and total dissolved solids (819/1000 ppm), although these are “nuisance” compounds that are not regulated by the EPA or Texas. What it means is that there is a lot of dirt in the water, disinfected dirt but dirt nonetheless.

In spite of these little blips that drinking water down here seems to be very good, maybe A- or B+. That is interesting because many of the locals refuse to drink the tap water. I can tell you when I moved into this house somebody spend a thousand bucks on a water filtration system – which I intend to rip out on account it is actually poisoning my tap water. You heard it here first, folks!


papabeare said...

Thanks for comments. I wondered why their are places all over the Valley ( little windmills etc.) that sell drinking water. They sell water here like other places have StarBucks. Frankly I have had much worse than this. ( Truth be told we moved from one farm we rented because the drinking water was so bad. Ever hear of a "sand point" well. Thats where you live so close to a large river {in this case it was the mighty mo} that all you have to do to get a well is dig about 10 ft into the sand and start pumping. The problem was...though it looked ok in a glass...tests showed you might as well have been drinking out of your aquarium. Off the charts for nitrogen lvls.) Anyway, having lived through that..and trying one half glass full of water from an artisian well that had sulpher in it ( big ickk) the water here is fantastic. My wife, however, who has a better nose than I do, has complained a few times lately that she could smell the chlorine. Once I could even smell it so it must have been nearly as stong as a swimming pool that day.

Sam said...

Most of those windmills and even bottled water is just municipal tapwater with a three-stage filter on it. If only people knew that Ozarka and all those fancy bottled water are just jucky ole well water with the minerals stripped out!

Some minerals are good but there was a little town named Luling that probably had the foulest water I've ever tasted - enough sulfur rotten eggs to knock your hat in the creek.

As to their chlorine injector system down here, somedays it seems OK and the next you can smell it even in the toilet it is so strong. I don't think the quality control is real good ... the water report shows they tend to over-do it quite a bit. Maybe better safe than sorry?

Keep this under your hat but I called the town manager and public works director on account a construction project kept cuttting the waterline in our area. So I had air, sand, and nasties coming out the tap everytime they fixed the pipe! This went on for two weeks.

The response was couched in terms like "you shouldn't be drinking that water anyway, way, it ain't fit for consumption - I drink bottled water."