Water Myths and Realities

Myth: We shouldn't have to think about drinking water.

Reality: We can no longer take our drinking water for granted. Public participation is vital to protecting our water resources, building adequate treatment plants, improving water delivery, analyzing costs versus risks, and enacting appropriate legislation.

Myth: We have less water today than we did 100 years ago.

Reality: There is the same amount of water on earth today as there was three billion years ago. The difference is that today many more demands are placed on the same amount of water. These increased demands have, in a sense, created a different kind of water: water that is regulated, treated and sold. Because our demands on water continue to grow, but our supplies don't, drinking water counts on everyone lending a hand to conserve, protect and get involved with decisions that affect our water resources.

Myth: Once you use water, it's gone.

Reality: Once water is used, it is recycled many times. Some water is recycled for use within a week, other water may not be used again for years.

Myth: If lead is in your water, it is the utility's fault.

Reality: The most common source of lead in drinking water is the plumbing in your home. Your plumbing may have lead pipes or lead solder in the connections. Lead is a contaminant that is particularly harmful to pregnant women and young children. If you are concerned about lead in your water, contact your local health authorities to find out how you can have your water tested by a certified laboratory. If tests reveal that the lead content of your water is above 15 parts per billion, you should reduce your exposure to it. Since warm water absorbs more lead than cold water, when you cook, always start with cold water. Because water standing in pipes tends to absorb lead, clear the pipes before drinking by letting your tap run until the water is cold. Catch the running water and use it to water your plants.

Myth: Bottled water is safer than tap water.

Reality: Not necessarily. The safety of bottled water and tap water initially depends on the source of the water. Monitoring and source protection, treatment and testing ultimately determine the quality of the finished product. In the United States, the 1996 Reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act will require that bottled water be monitored and tested in the same rigorous manner that tap water has been subject to for years.

Myth: Using a home water treatment device will make tap water safer or healthier to drink.

Reality: Some people use home water filters to improve the taste, smell and/or appearance of their tap water, but it does not necessarily make the water safer or healthier to drink. Additionally, all home treatment devices, regardless of the technologies they use, require regular maintenance is not performed properly.

* Special thanks to the American Water Works Association. Please visit their web site at www.awwa.org for additional information.

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