An essential part of leading a healthy life is drinking clean, pure water. The importance of decontaminated water goes beyond just drinking it to stay hydrated as you use water for cooking, cleaning, and hygiene as well. Fortunately, the drinking water supplies in the U.S. are among the cleanest and safest in the world. On the other hand, the same can’t be said about the sources as they usually become contaminated, causing disease and sickness in those who consume it. Public drinking water systems use different methods to treat the contaminants that lurk in the water and fix all issues in order to ensure safe drinking water for the community. In the following, we will show you what are the treatment processes that the water undergoes.
Types of Impurities
The amount of impurities that reside in raw water can present a hazard to human health if they’re ingested through drinking. These dangerous impurities can be grouped into four main categories, more precisely physical, biological, chemical, and radiological.
- Physical impurities are materials that don’t dissolve when they’re in the water.
- Biological impurities include small living organisms of all kinds, the most common being bacteria, germs, viruses, and algae.
- Chemical impurities are substances that dissolve in the water as a repercussion of man-made and even natural processes.
- Radiological impurities are chemical contaminants that have unstable atoms, emitting ionizing radiation.
Coagulation and Flocculation
During the coagulation process, alum or polymer is added to the untreated water, causing the small dirt particles in it to stick together. As this process takes place, groups of dirt particles form larger particles by sticking together. These particles are called flocs and they are easy to get rid of through an effective process such as filtration.
There are various types of filtration systems out there, and what they all have in common is the fact that they are capable of removing the unwanted particles that lurk in drinking water. These filters are made of several layers, usually sand and gravel layers, but there are cases where crushed anthracite is used. The suspended impurities that reside in the water are collected through the filtration process, this treatment working best when combined with disinfection as it boosts its effectiveness. For maximum constant performance, the filters are routinely cleaned through the process of backwashing.
Before the water enters the distribution system and reaches your home, it’s passed through an essential process, more precisely disinfection. This is a treatment that effectively eliminates disease-causing parasites, viruses, germs, and bacteria. The most commonly used disinfectant is chlorine due to its effectiveness, and residual concentrations are kept in place to protect against potential biological contamination in the distribution system.
Some might not agree with the presence of fluoride in their drinking water, but the truth of the matter is that it’s essential. The water fluoridation treatment process is applied to community water supplies with the purpose of properly adjusting the level of free fluoride ion in order to reduce dental calories. Don’t be afraid of the presence of fluoride in the water as the levels aren’t high, all public systems having to obey an agreement that was set back in 1957.
An unbalanced pH is definitely unwanted as the acidity of your body rises to dangerous levels because of it, causing health problems and fatigue to appear. To treat this problem, public systems add lime to the water that has been filtered in order to adjust its pH level. Also, by doing this, the natural softness of the water is stabilized so that corrosion to the distribution system and the people’s plumbing being minimized.
Sedimentation is another essential part of an effective drinking water treatment, a part that is tightly linked to the flocculation process. As the floc particles along with the water undergo the treatment process, they are passed through large sedimentation basins. Here, the water moves very slowly in order to make the heavy floc particles settle to the bottom. The particles that end up at the bottom of the basin are called sludge, and they are piped to drying lagoons.
Health Problems Caused By Contaminated Drinking Water
If the drinking water that you consume isn’t free of the upper mentioned impurities, you are likely to fall victim to a wide range of illnesses and health problems. These unwanted health effects range from no physical impact to severe problems and even death. The most common effects of drinking contaminated water include:
- Hepatitis A;
- Legionnaire’s disease;
- Kidney problems;
- Central nervous system problems.
Unfortunately, the list is a lot longer than this, each type of impurity that might lurk in the drinking water being potentially hazardous to the person who consumes it. What we recommend is that you take extra precautions and don’t solely rely on municipal water treatment but rather take action and filter the water as well.