Problems We Found With Austin, Texas Drinking Water
Updated July 17, 2019 to include current data
Kezia Snipe | Hydroviv Research Analyst
Our Water Nerds have updated our assessment of Austin drinking water, to include the most recent data provided by the city. We use data from Austin Water Utilities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as from samples that we collect and analyze. Our Water Nerds then reference these data with toxicity studies in the scientific and medical literature to determine potential susceptibilities. The custom water filters that we offer at Hydroviv are optimized to remove contaminants in Austin drinking water.
Source Of Austin Drinking Water
Austin gets its drinking water from the Colorado River, as it flows into Lake Travis and Lake Austin. This water is then treated at one of three treatment plants before being distributed to Austin residents.
PFAS In Austin Drinking Water
Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances or PFAS are a category of chemicals found in various non-stick/stain resistant products, as well as fire fighting foam. PFAS are considered to be "emerging contaminants" because they are not currently regulated by EPA, but are known to be toxic, carcinogenic, and persistent in the environment. High levels of PFAS have been detected in Austin, specifically at the former Bergstrom Air Force Base located a few miles away from the Colorado River. The levels detected at the Bergstrom Air Force Base are 142 times higher than the public health threshold determined by EPA. Most municipalities don't test for or remove PFAS from tap water, and most water filters are not designed to remove PFAS. If you'd like to find water filters that remove PFAS, check out this recent Duke/NC State study.
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 1 parts per billion. Though Austin's drinking water is in compliance with federal regulations, EPA, CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics all acknowledge that there is no safe level of lead for children. Hydroviv Undersink and filters are NSF/ANSI certified to remove lead from drinking water.
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 175 parts per trillion for Chromium 6. For a bit of perspective, these levels are 8.75 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 drinking and tap 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's water 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 home water filtration systems 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