BY WATER QUALITY ASSOCIATION (WQA)
Drinking water contaminated with nitrates made national headlines recently when a University of California-Davis study predicted the presence of nitrates in drinking water will intensify in the years to come across California’s Salinas and Central valleys.
While the Davis’ study hones in on California’s nitrate problem, nitrates impact water quality across the United States.
What are nitrates?
Nitrates form when microorganisms break down fertilizers, decaying vegetation, manures and other organic materials. Principal sources of nitrate contamination include animal waste, fertilizers and septic tanks.
How are nitrates regulated?
Nitrates are regulated in the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974. The law authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to determine safe levels of potentially harmful chemicals in drinking water. These levels are called Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLG). The EPA sets the MCLG for nitrates at 10 parts per million (ppm).
Where are nitrates a problem?
Nitrate is a tasteless, colorless and odorless compound that homeowners cannot detect unless they have their water chemically analyzed. Municipalities are required to test water sources for nitrates annually and keep nitrates at safe levels. Homeowners with private wells should use a certified laboratory to test their water for nitrates and other contaminants on an annual basis.
Why is it important to regulate nitrate levels?
Although nitrate is necessary for human and environmental health, high concentrations in drinking water can be harmful. Read more…
Icky calcium build-up and high energy costs are just 2 of the many annoyances associated with hard water.
Save money and help the environment by checking on your water quality
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
(ARA) – Bruce Farrar didn’t like what hard water was doing to his home.
“Our dishes in the dishwasher were terrible,” says Farrar, who lives in Newport Beach, Calif. “The inside of the dishwasher was just covered with calcium. Also, our showers had glass doors and I had to put a special cleaner on them because of the calcium buildup.”
But the problems didn’t end there. Hard water was also preventing the family’s clothes washer from functioning properly, requiring the use of more soap and hotter water, which increased Farrar’s grocery bill and energy costs. The added energy needs were also putting more wear and tear on his hot water heater, decreasing its lifespan.
Nearly 90 percent of American homes have hard water – water containing high levels of calcium and magnesium, according to The U.S. Geological Survey. The hardest water is commonly found in the states that run from Kansas to Texas as well as in Southern California. How can you tell if you have hard water? If your shampoo and soap don’t lather up like they should, if you see scaling on your pipes and showerheads or if you have nasty brown rings in your sinks and toilets, your water is probably hard.
To know exactly how hard, and what to do about it, you should have your water diagnosed by a water quality professional. Read more…