It’s a term that you may have often come across before, but exactly what is “potable water”?
Potable water refers to all water that is safe to drink and does not pose any risks to human health. One example of potable water is tap water. It seems simple enough, but how do we determine which water is truly potable and which isn’t suitable for consumption?
Sources of potable water
Generally speaking, there are two main sources of water: ground sources (such as springs and aquifers) and surface water (from glaciers, rivers, and streams) - the water that comes out of your tap usually comes from one of these two sources. According to the Safe Drinking Water Act set out by the US Environmental protection Agency (EPA), all public water supplies in the USA (including tap water) are regulated to meet the current norms for potable water. The following contaminants are monitored, with the regulations providing strict ranges of their acceptable norms in milligrams per liter of water:
- Microorganisms, such as Coli
- Disinfectants, including the likes of Chlorine and Chloramine
- Inorganic chemicals, such as Asbestos, Arsenic, Fluoride, and Lead
- Organic chemicals, including Vinyl Chloride
These regulations allow your tap water to remain safe for consumption and make your water the safest it can be. Bottled water should also comply with these established standards. The contaminants listed above are known to cause reactions of varying severity, ranging from a mild stomach bug, as in the case of some microorganisms, to problems with the nervous system and have even been linked to the development of cancer.
Some contaminants are excluded entirely, whereas others are permitted in minimal amounts.
However, because this can at times be difficult to regulate, some substances can be found in concentrations that significantly exceed the levels set out by the EPA, which results in many of us drinking water that is slowly making us unwell. This kind of water is especially dangerous for kids and those with weaker immune systems.
So, what’s the solution? Can we transform unsafe water into potable water, and if so - how?
Well, there are two main options:
- purifying or filtering the water
- buying bottled drinking water
Filtering and purifying water
Water filters in the same form that we recognize them all today have been around for several decades. There are a number of different types of filters and water purification systems, but the type you need generally depends on the kind of water that you have. For example, if you know you have water that has high levels of chlorine, you may want to consider getting an effective under-sink water filter that is specifically targeted at removing chlorine from your water. Remember to check whether it will actually work to get rid of excess chlorine, rather than simply removing its taste. This also goes for any other contaminants and substances that you may have in your water. The best reverse osmosis systems are usually installed under the sink too. One of the best things about this type of purification method is that it not only provides you with great-tasting water straight from your tap, but it will also remove contaminants such as salts, chloramines, pesticides, and other harmful inorganic substances.
Another highly convenient option would be a water pitcher filter. In this case, you do not need to spend any time at all on installation - it’s ready for use as soon as you unpack it! The best countertop water filter will remove contaminants such as chlorine and fluoride and perhaps even some more complex impurities such as heavy metals. However, this system may struggle to remove all harmful substances from your water, especially more complex ones such as viruses and microorganisms.
If you’re not keen on the idea of installation, but know that the water in your area is not that pure and needs some more filtration than a countertop filter can provide, then a water distiller is your perfect match. This appliance will not only remove common impurities including chlorine but will eliminate almost all known contaminants. Another huge advantage of this system is that you won’t need to replace any filters, making it a great investment in the long run.
Bottled drinking water
Many people choose bottled water over tap water. Although this can be a good way of being sure that the water you’re drinking is potable, this option is not that good for the environment, especially considering the amount of plastic we already waste unnecessarily as a planet. In addition, although this is still highly debated, the chemicals plastic bottles release into the water is considered to be bad for human health. However, if you do like the taste of bottled water and can’t imagine giving it up, then the best source of crisp and great-tasting, and best of all, potable, water is something like a bottom loading water dispenser. These are just like traditional water dispensers, but more compact. These can help you to save plastic as you won’t have to buy bottled water that often - only every 5-6 gallons or so. This will save you money, time and give you a long-lasting supply of clean, drinkable water!
Potable water is simply a term used when talking about water that is safe for human consumption. In the US, it is extremely widely available, and all public water sources are regulated to ensure the water you drink is maximally healthy. However, in most cases, whether this is due to personal preferences regarding taste, or because the water in your area is not the best quality, you may wish to make your water more drinkable and eliminate all harmful impurities that are considered to be within the normal range by the EPA. Thankfully, there’s a solution out there to suit every budget and every taste - and we hope we’ve helped you to discover the best source of potable water for your home!