Problems We Found With Laredo's Drinking Water


Emma Schultz, M.S.  |  Scientific Contributor 

Revised and updated by Christina Liu on 2/23/2022 with most recent water quality data 

For our assessment of city of Laredo's water quality, we aggregated water quality test data from the City Of Laredo Utilities Department, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), USGS, EWG, 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 Laredo are optimized with these issues in mind.

Source Of Laredo's Drinking Water

Laredo’s source of drinking water is surface water, which comes from the Rio Grande River. Laredo owns and operates two water treatment plants which together have a combined capacity to pump up to 85 million gallons per day of treated water. 

Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) In Laredo's Drinking Water

DBPs (including Haloacetic Acids-- HAA5s, and Trihalomethanes--TTHMs), are a category of emerging contaminants that are created when chlorine-based disinfectants added to the water supply combine with naturally-occurring organic matter. Although these chemicals are not fully 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. In 2020 the level of trihalomethanes (TTHM) ranged from 33.9 - 105 ppb, exceeding the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 80 ppb. The level of Haloacetic Acids ranged between 12.7 – 48.9 ppb, with a MCL of 60 ppb. 

Lead in Laredo's Drinking Water

Lead contamination in tap water is different from most pollutants, as lead comes from plumbing, not the water supply. 2019 lead sampling by the City of Laredo reported a lead level at 2.89 part per billion. However, this does not necessarily represent the lead levels at individual taps, and one sample tested exceeded the 15 ppb Action Level. EPACDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics all recognize that there is no safe level of lead for children. In addition, Federal regulations cannot take into account levels measured at an individual tap.

Uranium in Laredo's Drinking Water 

Uranium is a naturally occurring radionuclide typically found in groundwater. Uranium enters water by leaching from soil and rocks, or in releases from processing plants. Long term exposure to uranium in drinking water increases the risk of kidney cancer in humans. Uranium can also decay into other radioactive substances, such as radium, which has also been known to cause cancer. The current EPA federal standard for uranium in drinking water is 30 parts per billion. Uranium levels in Laredo were measured at 1.3 ppb in 2020.

PFAS in Laredo's Drinking Water

Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a category of emerging contaminants commonly used in firefighting foam, Teflon, non-stick surfaces, stain-resistant surfaces, and food packaging. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has determined that PFAS exposure is associated with various adverse health effects, including an increased risk of cancer, lowered fertility rates, and developmental issues in infants and young children. 

PFAS were detected at several military bases within 200 miles of Laredo. PFAS levels in the groundwater at these bases ranged from 8.3 ppt to 27,300 ppt. PFAS is not currently federally regulated, but PFAS levels in drinking water above 70 ppt is considered unsafe by the EPA and CDC, and most agree the safe level should be considerably lower. Not all water filters are designed to remove PFAS from tap water. If you'd like to find water filters that remove PFAS from tap water, check out this Duke/NC State PFAS study. Hydroviv filters are NSF/ANSI Standard 53 certified for PFOA/PFOS removal.

Use Of Chloramine In Laredo Tap Water

While many cities use chlorine as the primary disinfectant, Laredo's water is disinfected with chloramine, made by combining chlorine and ammonia. Chloramine is the frequent problem 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 residual for Laredo was 3.5 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 Laredo use special filtration media that are purpose-built to remove chloramine as well.

How Can Hydroviv Help Me?

Hydroviv is a water filtration company that uses water quality data to optimize water filters for each customer'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 Laredo water, but all of our filters also include broad protection against a wide range of contaminants. Questions? Email

Hydroviv's drinking water filters carry NSF certifications to Standard 42 (aesthetic effects--Chlorine Removal) and Standard 53 (health effects--Lead, VOCs, and PFOA/PFOS removal), and are independently tested to remove hundreds of contaminants.

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