Problems We Found With Durham's Drinking Water – Hydroviv

Problems We Found With Durham's Drinking Water

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Problems We Found With Durham's Drinking Water

Emma Schultz, M.S. | Scientific Contributor   

For our assessment of Durham tap water, we aggregated water quality test data from the City of Durham Department of Water Management 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 look at upcoming regulatory changes. The water filters that we sell in Durham are optimized with these issues in mind.

Source Of Durham Drinking Water

Durham’s drinking water is surface water-based, and comes from two primary sources: Lake Michie, built in 1926, and the Little River Reservoir, built in 1988. Two additional surface water sources, Jordan Lake and Teer Quarry, are available to meet current and future demand. A severe drought in 2007-2008 saw use of both supplemental sources. The City of Durham utilizes two water treatment plants, the Williams Water Treatment Plant and the Brown Water Treatment Plant, both of which are currently undergoing renovations and expansions.

Lead In Durham Drinking Water

Lead enters consumer tap water through older lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. When corrosion control measures fail (such as in Flint, Michigan), lead leaches into drinking water and reaches toxic levels. Recent analysis for lead in Durham found 90th percentile concentrations of 3 parts per billion. Although the Action Level for lead is 15 ppb, both the EPA and CDC recognize that there is no such thing safe levels of lead. Of course, federal regulations cannot take into account levels measured at an individual tap.

Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) In Durham Drinking Water

DBPs are a category of emerging contaminants formed when chlorine-based disinfectants combine with naturally-occurring organic matter. While these chemicals are not well regulated, the EPA has explicitly stated that they are linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems. Durham’s drinking water has recently had moderate levels of DBPs, with a recent average of 73.8 parts per billion.

Use Of Chloramine In Durham Tap Water

While many cities use chlorine as their primary disinfectant, Durham’s water is disinfected with chloramine, made by combining chlorine and ammonia. Chloramine is the frequent culprit when customers report a “bad taste” in their tap water, and unlike chlorine will not fade away if left in the fridge overnight. The recent chloramine running annual average for Durham was 2 parts per million. Most one-size-fits-all water filters use filtration media that don’t adequately remove chloramine, but the filters that Hydroviv builds for Durham use special filtration media that are purpose-built to remove chloramine as well.


Still Have Questions About Durham’s Tap Water?

Hydroviv is a water filtration company that uses water quality data to optimize water filters for each city’s water.  The chemicals that we list above are what we consider to be “points of emphasis” so we can build the best water filter for Durham tap water, but all of our water filters 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 Durham tap water, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com, reach out by email (hello@hydroviv.com) or through our live chat.  We also frequently post water-related news on Twitter or Facebook.

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  • Emma Schultz