Problems We Found With Orlando Drinking Water


Emma Schultz, M.S. | Scientific Contributor
**Updated May 4th, 2021 to include most recent data

To assess Orlando drinking water quality, we aggregated water quality test data from the Orlando Utilities Commission, Orange County Utilities Department, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the US Geological Survey. We cross referenced these data with toxicity studies in scientific and medical literature, as well as upcoming regulatory changes. The water filters that our Orlando-area customers use are optimized with these drinking water quality issues in mind.

Source Of Orlando Drinking Water

Orlando drinking water comes from an underground freshwater reservoir known as the Floridan Aquifer. It is primarily fed through rainwater filtered through hundreds of feet of sand and rock in a natural filtering process. The Orlando Utilities Commission operates seven water treatment plants, which draws up the water from the aquifer and treats it before distributing to customers. The Orange County Utilities services customers from 3 regional water facilities and 8 remote facilities. The water is distributed through 1,931 miles of water mains throughout the 451 square mile service area.

What Are The Major Concerns in Orlando’s Drinking Water?

Contaminants of concern in Orlando’s drinking water include Arsenic, Disinfection Byproducts, Lead, and PFAS. 

Arsenic in Orlando Drinking Water

Arsenic is a hazardous heavy metal that can cause cancer and other health problems. Arsenic originates in source water naturally. In the Orange County Utilities Water System, varying amounts of arsenic were detected in the different distribution areas, ranging from 0.18 ppb to 10.6 ppb. While Orlando’s Arsenic levels were not in violation of EPA water quality standards, consumers should know that the U.S. EPA's standard balances toxicity against the costs of removing arsenic from drinking water. We strongly suggest that tap water with levels higher than 1 part per billion be treated to remove arsenic, especially in homes with children.

Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) In Orlando Drinking Water

DBPs are a category of emerging contaminants that form when chlorine-based disinfectants (added to the water supply to protect consumers) react with naturally-occurring organic matter. EPA regulates two categories of DBPs: Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and Haloacetic Acids (HAA5). The EPA has stated that DBPs have been associated with increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems. Haloacetic Acid levels in Orlando water ranged as high as 59.9 parts per billion, which is just shy of the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level of 60 parts per billion. Trihalomethane levels ranged as high as 93.1 parts per billion, which exceed the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level of 80 parts per billion.

Lead In Orlando Drinking Water

Lead enters into Orlando's tap and drinking water through older lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. 2017 analysis for lead in Orlando found a 90th percentile concentration of 3 parts per billion. The EPA , CDC, and American Academy of Pediatrics have all made clear that there is no such thing as a safe level of lead, and of course, federal regulations cannot take into account levels measured at an individual tap. Hydroviv Drinking Water filters are NSF/ANSI Standard 53 certified to remove lead from drinking water.

PFAS in Orlando’s Tap 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. A new study out of The Yale School of Public Health recently found that exposure to PFAS increases the risk of miscarriage by 80-120% in pregnant women. The Centers for Disease Control also issued a disclosure regarding a potential intersection between PFAS and COVID-19.

Even small amounts of PFAS are extremely toxic. PFAS are measured in parts per trillion, and one part per trillion is equivalent to one drop of water in 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

PFAS have been detected in a growing number of municipalities across the United States. Most cities are not required to test for or remove PFAS from drinking water, including Orlando. 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.  

Still Have Questions About Orlando's Tap Water?

Hydroviv is a water filtration company that uses water quality data to optimize water filters for each location. The chemicals that we list above are what we consider to be “points of emphasis” so that we can build the best drinking water filter for Orlando tap water.

Other Articles We Think You Might Enjoy:
Everything You Need To Know About PFAS Contamination in Tap Water
Drinking Water Quality in Miami, Florida
How Does Lead Enter Drinking Water?
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