Water Perceptions
I have observed a recurring theme in my twenty years of experience with regards to water quality. There are a multitude of perceptions that have been expressed by people regarding the water at their home or cottage. For some the idea that their well water is clean, clear and safe is literally passed from generation to generation. For others there has been no development on the lake for years and the water must be safe. More times than I can count, I have heard that “my shore well is lake water as it is fed directly from the lake”. In new home construction I often hear “When they drilled the well the test was good, it is deep and cannot have any bacteria.” These types of water perceptions are literally endless but share the common theme that the water is safe just the way it is. I believe that this is the way that many people want to see their water.

Septic-System-Water-ContaminationSeptic Systems
The most common water perception that I have observed is “my septic system is at the back of my house and the well is out front, it cannot contaminant my water as it is too far away”. This perception is commonplace for many people who live in rural “subdivisions” which have no municipal services (i.e. water and sewer) and are a grouping of homes side by side, back to back each with a well and septic system. The reality is that all septic effluent is discharged from the system through weeping tile into the ground. How the effluent travels once it enters the ground is subject to layers of soil, rock formations and the groundwater table.

The Public Health Unit
“I had the water tested at the Health Unit and everything is good, it passed the test.” This idea is also common place with many people never testing the water again after the initial test or unless the house is up for sale. The idea of a Health Unit test being a good indicator of overall water quality is also common as the perception is that the test is for everything and they would let me know if the water is not safe. Many people are surprised to find out that it is just a bacteria test for coliform and E. coli and not for arsenic, lead, chemicals, pharmaceuticals or any other water contaminant.

A Public Health Unit Test is for Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Coliform Bacteria

Ultra-Violet-Disinfection-ExplainedUV Systems
The “blue light” is commonly referred to as a drinking water system and sold as such by hardware stores, plumbers and a variety of other companies. It is a benchmark piece of equipment in a real estate transaction and the general perception is that “my water is safe if I have a UV installed”. The perception is if the “green light” is on, my water is safe to drink. A UV system provides only bacteria disinfection and does not physically remove anything from the water. It has minimum incoming water quality requirements which are often overlooked, and systems are often not maintained properly. Many people are not aware that the UV Lamp/Bulb is protected by a quartz sleeve which requires regular cleaning.

Drilled Wells
It is generally perceived that deep water sources i.e.: 100 feet and deeper cannot contain bacteria as they are too far into the ground for bacteria to survive. This is something I have heard repeatedly and is a reason why many people do not test their well water. Areas with heavy rock formations are subject to a series of deep fissures which can bring surface water deep into the ground to the water table. I have seen bacteria present in wells as deep as 200 feet.

Brita & Refrigerator Filters
The Brita water filter does not claim to be a “removal all” treatment system and has warnings on the package not to be used on microbiologically unsafe water. The same can be said for many of the refrigerator filters common in newer style fridges with water dispensers (both of these have a primary purpose to remove chlorine from water using carbon media) Despite this they are used widely throughout the country on rural unchlorinated well and lake water by homeowners who believe that it will make their water safe to drink regardless of the incoming water quality. Carbon media has the potential to breed bacteria under the right circumstances.

Best Practice RecommendationBest Practice Recommendation
Whatever your perception of water is, ensure that it is based on accurate information about the water source. The risks to water quality are diverse with most contaminants invisible to the human eye. You cannot judge the quality by the taste, smell or colour alone. Consult a qualified water treatment professional for water testing and treatment options.

Volume 3 – Issue 1 Wahl H2O - Water Awareness
Copyright 2019 Jeff Wahl – Wahl Water | All Rights Reserved
Contact Jeff via email [email protected]

Add Comment