With more than 30 years’ experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Mark Nelson is a Class 1 Drinking-Water Operator and a CBWA (Canadian Bottled Water Association) Certified Plant Operator. As founder and president of Nelson Water in Ottawa, Mark focuses on dealing with challenging water treatment system designs for problem water. He also heads the largest water bottling plant in the city of Ottawa with a delivery network throughout the Valley.
Any discussion about human health and water consumption will inevitably turn to the quality of the water at some point. After all, water is essential for all life, but when you drink your next glass of water are you really getting the best water for your health. Many people purchase bottled water, but many of these products are not much better than regular tap water. So, what do what types of characteristics determine the quality of drinking water and how can you be sure that you’re getting the best water for you and your family?
Why Do We Need Good Water Quality?
The consumption of poor quality water will have a negative impact on the health of people. Water pollution is a major global problem that leads to a huge number of deaths each and every year. Here in the developed world, we have basic sanitary systems in place to deal with some of the worst waterborne diseases. Thanks to the introduction of chlorination, we have water free from diseases such as dysentery and cholera that still cause misery in other parts of the world today. But, if you’ve ever felt sick for no discernible reason, the consumption of poor quality drinking water could have been to blame. Chlorine is an effective disinfection agent, but there are many contaminants that it cannot clean from the water supply. For this reason, many homeowners now take matters into their own hands and install a water filtration system to ensure they have good quality drinking water.
7 Major Sources of Water Pollution
Good quality water for public use is becoming increasingly rare due to a number of factors. An increasing population is putting the water treatment system under strain, the infrastructure needs significant investment, and industrial and agricultural processes have contributed pollutants to our waterways during runoff. Let’s take a closer look at the seven major sources of water pollution in Canada today.
The need for ever greater yield from agricultural production has led to an increase in the use of pesticides and insecticides. These chemicals are used everywhere to artificially boost the harvests and to promote the rapid and lush growth of grass for golf courses, landscaping projects, and the lawns in many homes. These chemicals will lie on the surface of the grass or plants until the next storm when the runoff will transfer them to our waterways. Pesticides are arguably the biggest source of pollution in our water because they easily seep into the surface water and groundwater supplies. The consumption of water laced with these chemicals can lead to wide variety of health issues, such as digestive problems, allergic reactions, and even a cardiac arrest.
- Sewage Systems
It may come as no surprise to learn that a major source of public water contamination is our sewage and septic systems. The lines that carry waste to the sewage treatment plants can have holes, cracks, and breaks like any other type of plumbing pipes. When human waste seeps out into the soil surrounding a sewer line or septic tank, it will contaminate the soil and groundwater. These could lead to illnesses such as dysentery and hepatitis for water users. Consuming drinking water that contains bacteria such as E.coli can be deadly, but it’s particularly risky for infants, children, elderly people, and those with compromised immune systems.
This is a well known poison that can be deadly to consume, even in smaller quantities. Arsenic is actually a natural contaminant found in many groundwater sources, and it can make its way into well water supplies. In moderate quantities, arsenic can lead to digestive problems, but larger quantities can result in organ failure and even death in extreme cases.
Many people hear the term nutrients and automatically assume that this must be a net benefit for the water consumer. But, certain types of nutrients can be dangerous if they are consumed in larger quantities. The presence of fertilisers, pesticides, and other nutrients designed to boost crop yields can be dangerous. The negative health consequences could vary from a mild stomach upset to fatalities. Nutrient contamination is especially dangerous for young children that are still undergoing development.
Most people have heard about lead poisoning in water supplies and the negative health effects of exposure and ingestion. Many people don’t know that water is a very effective solvent, and given enough time, it can dissolve many materials, including lead. Since the discovery of lead related water problems, many lead plumbing pipes and fixtures have been removed. But, some lead pipes still remain, and we still have lead pollution problems from lead paint chips and other products. All of these sources of lead can be dissolved in our water, and this is not removed at the water treatment plants. Lead is particularly dangerous with negative health effects, such as nausea, headaches, anemia, kidney damage, memory problems, developmental issues in children, and even death.
Chlorination has been used for over a century to disinfect our water supplies. This is a tried and tested method, but bacteria can still be present when that treated water reaches your taps. As we mentioned earlier, every complex system can be compromised, and this is equally applicable to the water delivery system. Even a pinhole crack in a water supply pipe can allow bacteria, viruses, or cysts to enter the public water supply. This is especially true during the warmer parts of the year when bacterial growth can double.
Nitrates are produced due to the natural waste from animals and humans. Nitrates are used in compost and fertiliser products because they help to promote rapid growth in plants. Many gardeners and farmers use nitrate based products to get better results, and this can lead to nitrates running into the water supply during rainfall. Nitrates are dangerous to people, but babies and young children are especially at risk. The presence of nitrates in the bloodstream can prevent the free movement of oxygen, and this can lead to permanent damage or even death.
What Can You Do?
Improving your water quality at home isn’t complicated, and it may cost far less than you may imagine. Many homeowners install their own water filtration systems to remove all of the contaminants mentioned above and other sources too. Ask your local water treatment professional for help and advice on choosing the right water treatment system to address your specific water quality issues today.