The Inside Outside Guys: Water — What’s in your tap?

Ken Calverley and Chuck Breidenstein
Special to The Detroit News

Fresh water. It seems to be everywhere. In fact, if you live in Michigan, you are never more than six miles from a lake or river and never more than 85  miles from one of the Great Lakes, the source of 20 percent of the entire world's fresh surface water supply.

Not only are we surrounded by an abundance of fresh water, but we have a climate that contributes to a relatively fast hydrologic cycle that replenishes our water resources with great consistency.

Living where we do, it is sometimes hard to imagine that 1 in 3 people in the world do not have the same access to this necessary resource.

The water coming out of our tap is easily treated to assure it is healthy and clean.

Water is vital to our health. At the cellular level in our bodies, water is used to metabolize nutrients and get rid of both waste and contaminants and although our mere existence accounts for the daily use of hundreds of gallons of water, too few of us ingest enough clean, healthy water.

Think about it. We use water in the US to grow our 10 million acres of residential lawns, up to 270 billion gallons every week, which, by itself, is enough water to give every human on the planet a shower for four straight days.

Each of us flushes a toilet around five times every day. We use an average of  40 gallons for a shower, another 40 to wash the car, 20 or more to wash clothes and eight or more to prepare daily meals.

That leaky toilet that we may get around to fixing at some point can easily account for more than 20,000  gallons of water in a year; enough to fill half an Olympic-sized pool.

We use a lot of water, but do we drink enough clean, healthy water?

Thirteen million households in this country consume water from a well. Keeping in mind that a well is a hole in the ground drilled deep enough to “find” a water source, we have to ask, “What is actually in the water coming out of the well?”

Groundwater aquifers are ever-changing as water moves through the stone or earth formation. These subterranean rivers may pick up various minerals from the ground such as calcium, manganese or iron. They may also pick up arsenic or other contaminants and carry them into your plumbing system.

Municipal water treatment facilities do a great job of treating and cleaning water before it is put into the distribution system, but issues with that system can allow contaminants to infiltrate the pipes and your home.

What can we do to make certain we are only using and drinking clean water?

The solution for many of us has been bottled water which we consume at the rate of about 30 gallons per person per year. That is the good news.

The bad news is that we in the U.S. open 1,000 single-use plastic water bottles per second; over 2.5 million per hour. And the cost? Around $346 per person per year versus less than 50  cents had we taken that same volume of water out of the faucet at home!

The water coming out of our tap is easily treated to assure it is healthy and clean. Companies like Beauchamp Water Treatment Solutions, located throughout the Metro area, will perform free tests for most of the common water contaminants.

In many cases water softening is used to remove calcium and manganese, two minerals that can shorten the life of water-using appliances and plug up pipes and faucets.

For those who are highly sensitive to the trace amounts of salt a softener might add to the water, or in cases where local ordinance prohibits the use of salt, potassium can be used as a salt substitute in the water softener.

CEO Jerrad Beauchamp suggests that, in those rare instances, the better value for treating the water is to install what Beauchamp calls an RO system using reverse osmosis to purify the water. People drinking water from an RO system for the first time generally notice the improved taste.

Consuming the recommended 8-eight-ounce glasses of pure, clean water every day from our home taps can help to assure good overall health, from our bones to our eyes and our digestive system, and it can go a long way toward helping the environment and saving us money.

Take steps today to assure your home water delivery system is providing you and your family with clean, safe water.

As always, the professionals at can be trusted to help.

For housing advice and more, listen to the Inside Outside Guys every Saturday and Sunday on News/Talk 760, WJR-AM, from 10 a.m. to noon or contact us at