*Updated 10/7/2022 to Include Most Recent Data*
Christina Liu | Hydroviv's Science Team
Miami-Dade County Water Department (MCWD) delivers drinking water to over 2.3 Million people each day. MCWD operates three regional water treatment plants: Alexander Orr, Jr., John E. Preston and Hialeah. There are five smaller water treatment plants which make up the South Dade Water Supply System and the Hialeah Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment Plant. For Hydroviv’s assessment of Miami-Dade County’s drinking water, we aggregated water quality test data from Miami-Dade County’s Water and Sewer Department, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Environmental Working Group, and the US Geological Survey. Our Water Nerds then cross referenced these data with toxicity studies in the scientific and medical literature, as well as upcoming regulatory changes. The custom water filters that we build for our customers in Miami are optimized with this research in mind.
Source of Miami-Dade County’s Drinking Water
Miami-Dade’s primary source of drinking water is groundwater from wells. The wells withdraw primarily from the Biscayne Aquifer with a limited number of wells withdrawing from the Floridan Aquifer. The Biscayne Aquifer is located just below the land surface in South Florida and is composed of a porous rock with small cracks and holes through which rainwater seeps and fills.
What Are The Major Concerns in Miami-Dade County’s Drinking Water?
Contaminants of concern in the Miami-Dade County’s drinking water include Lead, PFAS, Disinfection Byproducts, Radium, Uranium, Arsenic, and Chromium 6. Chloramine is used to disinfect the water.
Lead In Miami-Dade County’s Drinking Water
In 2018, Hydroviv’s Founder and Chief Scientist was interviewed by The Miami Times and discussed the issue of lead in the drinking water tested in homes in the Miami-Dade County area.
Lead enters into the consumer's tap water through old lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. When corrosion control measures fail (as witnessed in Flint, Michigan), lead leaches into the drinking water, reaching toxic levels. 2021 lead sampling by the Miami-Dade County Water Department detected levels as high as 3.6 parts per billion. EPA, CDC 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.
PFAS in Miami-Dade County'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. 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. Miami-Dade County voluntarily tested the water for PFOS and PFOA, and the levels were measured to be as high as 36 ppt and 11 ppt, respectively. 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.
Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) In Miami-Dade County’s 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. In 2021, Haloacetic Acid levels ranged as high as 54 parts per billion, nearing the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level of 60 parts per billion, while Total Trihalomethane levels ranged as high as 63 parts per billion, compared to the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level of 80 parts per billion.
Radium and Uranium in Miami-Dade County’s Drinking Water
Radium is formed when uranium and thorium undergo radioactive decay in the environment. Two of the main radium isotopes found in the environment are radium-226 and radium-228. Radium in drinking water is of primary concern because this radiation may cause cancer, kidney damage and birth defects. Radium levels in 2021 were reported to be as high as 1.4 ppb with the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level Goal 5 ppb. Uranium levels measured as high as 11 ppb in 2021, with the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level Goal set at 30 ppb.
Use Of Chloramine In Miami Tap Water
While most cities use chlorine as the primary disinfectant, all of the municipalities within Miami use chloramine, which is made by combining chlorine and ammonia. Chloramine is frequently the issue when customers report a “bad taste” in their tap water, and unlike chlorine will not fade away if left in the fridge overnight. The 2020 chloramine running annual average for the Miami-Dade County was 2.5 parts per million, with samples ranging as high as 5 ppm while the maximum residual disinfectant level, in comparison, is only 4.0 ppm. Most one-size-fits-all water filters use filtration media that don’t adequately remove chloramine, but the filters that Hydroviv builds for Miami-Dade county water use special filtration media that are purpose-built to remove chloramine as well.
Arsenic in Miami-Dade County Drinking Water
Arsenic is a hazardous heavy metal that can cause cancer and other health problems. Arsenic originates in source water naturally. 2021 Arsenic levels measured across the different water treatment systems ranged from 0.4 ppb to 2 ppb. While Miami-Dade County’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.
Chromium 6 Levels In Miami-Dade County’s Drinking Water
Chromium 6 is a highly toxic metal that is not regulated by the EPA. Miami-Dade Water was measured to have Chromium 6 levels ranging from 38 parts per trillion to 170 parts per trillion. California has determined that 20 parts per trillion is the contaminant level below which there is minimal health risk. The Chromium 6 levels in the Miami-Dade County Water System range from about 2 to over 8 times the level generally accepted as safe.
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 Miami-Dade County water, but all of our filters also include broad protection against a wide range of contaminants.
If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Miami-Dade tap water, or just have questions about water quality in general, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com, reach out by email ([email protected]) or through our live chat. We post water-related news on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
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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