GLENN HAEGE

Take steps to ensure your water is safe

Glenn Haege
Special to The Detroit News

With the Flint water crisis in the national spotlight, it should be a reminder that safety and quality of the water coming from your faucets is not guaranteed. While finding any level of contaminants in drinking water is an extreme situation, it would be prudent not to assume that the water you use is always safe.

For example, the Center for Disease Control, cdc.gov, indicated in a report on waterborne disease outbreaks associated with drinking water and other non-recreational water that during 2009–2010 (the most recent years for which finalized data are available) 33 drinking water associated outbreaks were reported, comprising 1,040 cases of illness, 85 hospitalizations, and nine deaths.

The city water that most people have is filtered at the source before it is distributed to your home, but contaminants can still be part of the water you drink at the faucet and it doesn’t guarantee its quality or safety.

“There are a lot of variables in the quality of water that comes out of the faucet, but the biggest variable is the delivery system,” said Jamie Reynolds at Reynolds Water Conditioning, (800) 572-9575, reynoldswater.com. “Things like aging water mains and old galvanized plumbing in an older home can greatly affect the quality of water that comes out of the faucet.”

Reynolds said plumbers often used leaded solder on those old galvanized pipes, and over time even that could seep into the water you drink at your faucet.

It was the delivery system, not just the source of the water that contributed to the lead contamination problem in Flint.

The good news is that there are ways to improve the quality and safety of your water that range from fairly inexpensive for a point of use filtration system to a point of entry whole house filtration system.

“I see that more people have a concern with their water quality, but many just buy bottle water instead of treating it in their homes,” he said. “But the cost of buying bottle water is very expensive versus adding a filtration system for a faucet.”

“The PureStream Bottled Water Filter is installed at the point of use and filters the water coming out of the faucet for around $250 to $300 installed,” he said. “This type system would provide a solution for homes in Flint.”

There are also more advanced systems available for point of use at the faucet, such as a reverse osmosis system that runs $750 to $1,200 installed.

While filtering the water only for drinking is the most popular for many homeowners, water quality for the entire house can be improved with a whole-house point of entry system that can range on average from $1,000 to $1,500 installed.

There are excellent sources of information regarding water safety. The Water Quality Association, wqa.org, and its book, “Water Quality for Dummies” that can be downloaded from the website.

Homeowners who want to have their water tested to have a better understanding of the exact contaminants in it should contact a testing laboratory such as the National Testing Laboratories in Ypsilanti, (800) 458-3330, ntllabs.com; or Aqua Test Laboratories in White Lake Township, (248) 698-9500, aquatestlabs.com.

The NSF also offers a Contaminant Reduction Claims Guide on its website to help consumers locate a list of filtration products and the contaminants they filter so you can buy a system that fits your specific water issues. And you can visit the Water Quality Association’s website for information on home water quality issues and advice.

Water quality and safety are synonymous. So don’t take chances with the water you drink every day. Do some research yourself to find out what contaminants could be in your water and take some proactive steps to guarantee it is safe to drink.

If you would like to suggest a question for this column, e-mail askglenn@masterhandyman.com. If you want to talk to Glenn Haege, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536, from between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. “The Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations.