Problems We Found With Drinking Water in Austin
Problems We Found In Austin's Drinking Water
Kezia Snipe | Hydroviv Research Analyst
For Hydroviv’s assessment of tap water in Austin, we aggregated water quality test data from Austin Water Utilities, the city’s water provider and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as from samples that we collect and analyze. We cross reference these data with toxicity studies in the scientific and medical literature, and delve into upcoming regulatory changes. The water filters that we offer at Hydroviv are optimized with these figures in mind.
Source Of Austin Drinking Water
The City of Austin receives its drinking water from three water treatment plants that pump surface water from the Colorado River as it flows into Lake Travis and Lake Austin.
Arsenic Found In Austin Drinking Water
Arsenic is a toxic metal that is known to cause cancer and other health issues. Unlike lead, which distributes into water from plumbing, arsenic comes from the source water itself. Austin is in compliance with the EPA’s water quality standards but it is very important to point out that EPA’s standard balances the toxicity against the costs of removing arsenic from drinking water. The most recent tap water quality report reported an average arsenic concentration up to 2 parts per billion for the city. Hydroviv recommends that anyone with more than 1 part per billion take steps to remove arsenic from their water, especially if they have children.
Lead In Austin Drinking Water
Lead enters tap water through older lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. When corrosion control measures put in place by the municipality fail (like what recently happened in Flint, Michigan), lead leaches into the drinking water, and can reach dangerous levels. Currently, 10% of samples analyzed for lead in Austin are 4 parts per billion. Though in compliance with federal regulations, EPA and CDC both acknowledge that there is no safe level of lead, and federal regulations do not take into account levels measured at an individual tap. The American Academy Of Pediatrics recommends that taps with more than 1 part per billion lead be remediated.
Chromium 6 Levels In Austin Drinking Water
Chromium 6 is a highly toxic metal that is not regulated by the EPA. In recent years, Austin’s tap water has averaged 170 parts per trillion for Chromium 6. For a bit of perspective, these levels are 8.5 times higher than the concentration determined to have negligible impact on cancer risk.
Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) In Austin Drinking Water
DBPs are a category of emerging contaminants that form when chlorine-based disinfectants react with naturally-occurring organic matter. Although these chemicals are not currently regulated very well, the EPA website discloses that high levels of disinfection byproducts are associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems.
Chloramine In Austin Drinking Water
While most municipalities use chlorine as the primary disinfectant, Austin’s water is disinfected with chloramine (produced by mixing chlorine and ammonia). Chloramine is primarily responsible for what many customers report as the “bad taste” of tap water, and unlike chlorine does not dissipate if a container of water is left in the refrigerator overnight. Most one-size-fits-all water filters use filtration media that doesn’t do a great job removing chloramine, but the filters that we design and build at Hydroviv for Austin uses special filtration media that is purposefully designed to remove chloramine as well.
Still Have Questions About Austin Tap Water?
Hydroviv is a water filtration company that uses water quality data to optimize water filters for each city’s water. The contaminants that we list above are what we consider to be major “points of emphasis” that we use to build water filters that are built specifically for Austin's tap water, but all of the water filters that we build provide broad protection against other contaminants commonly found in drinking water (e.g. VOCs, heavy metals [including lead], pharmaceuticals, solvents, pesticides, mercury).
If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Austin's tap water, or just have questions about water quality in general, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com, reach out by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or through our live chat. We also frequently post water-related news on Twitter or Facebook. We pride ourselves in being a reputable source of information on water quality, and your questions will be answered by scientists, not salespeople (we don't have any salespeople).
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- Kezia Snipe