Water Quality InformationWritten By Actual Experts


Why Does Washington, DC Water Taste Bad Right Now?

Analies Dyjak @ Wednesday, March 27, 2019 at 2:39 pm -0400

Analies Ross-Dyjak  |  Water Nerd
Updated March 24, 2020 to include new chlorine switch dates

Our Water Nerds have received a ton of questions about a noticeable change in the taste and smell of Washington DC's tap water. While we've heard lots of interesting hypotheses, what's really happening is that the Washington Aqueduct (where DC Water purchases water from) has recently switched over its disinfectants from chloramine to chlorine, for an annual "spring cleaning" of the distribution lines. DC residents can expect funky-tasting water from March 23-May 4, 2020.

How Are Chloramine and Chlorine Different?

We answer this question in much more detail in a different post, but here's the skinny on chlorine in drinking water: Like a growing number of US cities, Washington, DC uses chloramine as the primary disinfectant for a couple of reasons:
  1. Chloramine persists longer in the distribution system, so it does a better job killing bacteria in areas of the water distribution system that are near the end of the pipes, or don't have as high of flow as other areas.

  2. It forms fewer disinfection byproducts in the presence of organic matter.

  3. Chloramine-treated water doesn't have as strong of a taste as chlorine-treated water.

While these are all great reasons to use chloramine, most cities that use chloramine undergo a more aggressive disinfection cycle for a few weeks each year (aka "Spring Cleaning"). 

What Are The Impacts of Switching to Chlorine?

People often find that the water tastes and smells like pool water during the disinfectant switch, in addition to your bathroom smelling like swimming pool's locker room after showering. If you want to fix this problem... you have a couple of options that don't involve bottled water (horrible for the environment and less regulated than tap water!).
  1. Get a water filter that's designed to handle it (and lead, chromium 6, VOCs...)!

  2.  If you let chlorinated tap water sit in a pitcher overnight, a good amount of the chlorine taste and smell will go away. However, many people find that the water tastes "stale" when this happens (from the less volatile disinfection byproducts).

When Will Washington, DC's Water Switch Back Over to Chloramine?

The "Spring Cleaning" period is scheduled to take place from March 23 until May 4, 2020. After May 4, the water utility provider will switch the disinfectant back over to chloramine. Until then... non-Hydroviv users will just have to hold their noses!

Other Great Articles We Think You'll Love:
Tap Water Chlorination: The Good, The Bad, The Unknown
What Are Disinfection Byproducts and Why Should I Care?
Fluoride in Municipal Tap Water: What You Need To Know

Problems We Found With Orono/Veazie's Drinking Water

Analies Dyjak @ Tuesday, July 31, 2018 at 4:56 pm -0400

Analies Dyjak  |  Policy Nerd

For Hydroviv’s assessment of drinking water quality in Orono, Maine, we collected water quality test data from the most recent Consumer Confidence Report and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We cross referenced water quality data with toxicity studies in scientific and medical literature. The water filters that we sell at Hydroviv are optimized to filter out contaminants that are found in both Orono and Veazie drinking water.

Where Does Orono Source Its Drinking Water?

Orono and Veazie source its drinking water from four groundwater wells located just off of Bennoch Road. Orono-Veazie Water District treats its drinking water with chlorine, fluoride, and sodium hydroxide.

Lead In Orono/Veazie Drinking Water

In recent years, both municipalities have had a major problem with Orono-Veazie water quality, including lead in drinking water. Lead enters tap water through old lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. 10% of sites that were tested for lead had concentrations over 3.7 parts per billion. Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Disease Control, and American Academy of Pediatrics all recognize that there is no safe level of lead for children. Treated water leaving the plant may be in compliance with the loose EPA threshold of 15 parts per billion, but could become contaminated once exposed to older infrastructure. Additionally, municipalities are only required to test a handful of homes every few years, so the levels reported in the most recent annual water quality report might not reflect the lead levels in your tap water. Houses built before 1986 were most likely built with lead plumbing and lead fixtures. This is a huge problem for water quality in Orono, Maine because lead exposure can cause developmental issues, lowered IQ, and damages to the kidneys and brain. Orono has historically had high levels of lead in drinking water. For example, in 2012, 10% of samples tested for lead had concentrations over 13 parts per billion.

Disinfection Byproducts In Orono/Veazie Drinking Water

Orono/Veazie municipal water is contaminated with disinfection byproducts or DBPs. DBPs are formed when the chlorine-based disinfectants that are routinely added to the water supply, react with organic material. They are split into two categories: Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and Haloacetic Acids-5 (HAA5). Water samples were collected and tested for DBPs from 1215 State Street and the University of Maine Student Union. Concentrations of HAA5 averaged 9 parts per billion at the State Street location and 33 parts per billion at the UMaine Student Union. Concentrations of TTHMs averaged 64 parts per billion at the State Street location and 36 parts per billion at the UMaine. For a bit of perspective, EPA’s Maximum Contaminant Level is 60 parts per billion for HAA5 and 80 parts per billion for TTHMs. Disinfection Byproducts are a category of emerging contaminants which means they have been detected in drinking water but the risk to human health is unknown. Regulatory agencies have very little knowledge about the adverse health effects of DBPs, and their toxicity. EPA has stated that they have been linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems.

It’s important to note that only a handful of contaminants are required to be included in annual Water Quality Reports, and that there are hundreds of potentially harmful unregulated contaminants that aren’t accounted for. If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Orono-Veazie water quality, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com to talk to a Water Nerd on our live chat feature or send us an email at hello@hydroviv.com.

Other Articles We Think You Might Enjoy:
Lead Contamination In Drinking Water
Disinfection Byproducts In Drinking Water: What You Need To Know

What You Need To Know About Manganese In Drinking Water

Analies Dyjak @ Thursday, October 18, 2018 at 12:19 pm -0400

Analies Dyjak  |  Policy Nerd

October 16, 2018: Windham, Ohio issued a “do not drink advisory” for Village Water Plant residents. Manganese was detected at concentrations over the Health Advisory Level. We wanted to discuss what exactly manganese is, potential health effects, and how it enters drinking water.

What Is Manganese?

Manganese is an extremely abundant earth metal. It’s naturally present in the environment, but is also used in iron and steel manufacturing.

Is Manganese Good For You?

In low doses, yes! According to the FDA, it’s important for bone mineralization and metabolic regulation in children. It also helps with cartilage and bone formation. It’s naturally found in foods such as beans, nuts, pineapples, spinach, sweet potatoes and whole grains. You’ve also most likely seen manganese tablets in the supplement isle of the grocery store!

What Are The Negative Health Effects of Manganese In Drinking Water?

Manganese can cause adverse health effects when concentrations exceed the Lifetime Health Advisory Level of 0.3 parts per million. Reports have concluded that chronic ingestion of water containing manganese may lead to neurological effects in older adults and infants. Long term exposure can cause lethargy, muscular weakness. In Windham, EPA set a “do not drink” advisory for infants under 1 year old and nursing and pregnant women. This is in part do to the fact that infants are the most sensitive population to any type of contamination.

What Causes Manganese In Drinking Water?

Clogged water lines typically cause concentrations of manganese to increase, which is what happened earlier this month in Windham, Ohio. Clogs prevent chlorine from entering the distribution system. Chlorine is an oxidant, and is typically used to treat manganese in drinking water. Water utility providers typically use chlorine to treat biological contamination, but it’s also used to reduce the concentrations of iron and manganese in drinking water. Exposure of high concentrations of manganese is possible if treatments (such as chlorine) fail. Private wells are not regulated and therefore not required to meet federally mandated drinking water standards. If you use a private well for drinking water, it’s important to keep this in mind for all types of contamination.

Will Boiling My Water Remove Manganese?

No. Boiling your tap water will not remove manganese, or other metals from drinking water. Boil advisories are typically issued if biological contamination is thought to pose a threat to a drinking water supply. People should always take drinking water advisories seriously, and listen to recommendations from city officials.

Manganese in drinking water is not a huge cause for concern, but it's important to be aware of the potential adverse health effects. It's also important to listen to boil advisories and other information regarding drinking water in your community. 

Other Articles We Think You Might Enjoy:
How Do I Test My Home's Water For Lead?
Why Are So Many Schools Testing Positive for Lead?
Why You Need To Stop Using a TDS Meter To Evaluate Your Home's Water Quality?

Whole House Water Filters: Frequently Asked Questions

Water Nerds @ Sunday, July 17, 2016 at 8:20 pm -0400

We get a lot of questions from people about Whole House Filters. Because Hydroviv has a “Help No Matter What” mindset when it comes to technical support, we sometimes find ourselves helping our website's visitors evaluate products that we don’t sell!

What Is a Whole House Water Filter?

As the name suggests, whole house filters are installed on a home’s main water supply, so they process all water that comes into the house, including water used to flush toilets, do laundry, and water the lawn.

How Much Should I Expect To Pay For A Whole House Water Filter?

Systems marketed as whole home water filter systems can range in price from less than $100 to $10,000. Because the system is installed on the main water supply line, these systems typically require a licensed plumber for installation, which can add considerably to the overall system cost. Replacement cartridges can also be a significant cost for whole house filter systems. Because ALL incoming water is filtered by whole house systems, cartridges need to be replaced more frequently than if the same cartridge is used in a point of use application.

How Effective Are Whole House Water Filters?

Chemical Removal

With whole home water filters, you typically get what you pay for. Most whole house systems are designed to process large volumes of water for water softening and chlorine removal, and are not designed to remove things like chloramine, arsenic, disinfection byproducts, or lead. If you spend several thousand dollars on a high-end whole house system, pay to have it installed by a plumber, and replace the filtration media as prescribed, the system will probably perform as advertised. Just make sure that the system is designed to filter the chemicals you want removed... we have talked to people that have spent thousands on a whole house filter only to learn after the fact that it does not filter lead! On the other end of the price spectrum, most of the low cost whole house filters are only good for removing sediment from the water, and don't do a good job removing dissolved chemicals.  The other thing to keep in mind is that if you remove chlorine from your home's water at the point where it enters the home, you introduce the risk of bacteria growing in all pipes downstream of the filter, because the filter removes the disinfectant.

Flow Rate & Impact On Water Pressure

Another performance aspect to consider is the impact on your home's water pressure, because a whole house filter can act as a "choke point" for water delivery. You don't want to run into a situation where there isn't enough water pressure to take a shower because the dishwasher is running and someone is brushing their teeth. Be sure to take into account that the cartridges used in single stage whole house filters become clogged over time, and the water pressure can drop dramatically throughout the filter's lifetime. A good plumber is a very good resource for helping you calculate your home's water demand and thus plan for the right water filter for your main water supply.

How Good Are "General Purpose" Whole House Water Filters?

Simply put, it's not possible to build a whole home water filter that "filters everything bad" from your water on a whole house scale. For that level of filtration, you need to filter at the point of use (e.g. individual faucets- more on this below). However, there are some applications where whole house filtration makes sense. For example, we just launched a whole house water purifier that is purpose-built to remove sulfur (rotten egg smell) from water.

Hydroviv’s point of use filtration systems are designed to filter the water in your home used for drinking, washing food, cooking, and showering. By remaining focused on these applications (and ignoring the water used in toilets & washing machines), we are able offer consumers high-performance water filtration systems that cost less than the competition, and don’t require a plumber to install.

It's also important to point out that whole home water filters and point of use filters serve different purposes, but they can work well together. If you have a whole house filter that removes sulfur, it will take some pressure off your point of use system and extend its lifetime.

Where Can You Go For Advice On Whole House Water Filters?

If you’re considering a whole house system, feel free to take advantage of Hydroviv’s “Help No Matter What” mindset to technical support, and we can will do our best to help you find a system that suits your needs. We're happy to help!

Other Great Articles We Think You'd Enjoy:

What is Chomium-6?
What You Need To Know About Fluoride In Tap Water
Is Lead Lurking In New York City Tap Water?

Problems We Found In Norman, Oklahoma's Drinking Water

Goodwin Media Collaborator @ Thursday, July 26, 2018 at 3:04 pm -0400

Analies Dyjak  |  Policy Nerd

**Updated September 30, 2020 to include current data

For Hydroviv’s assessment of Norman, Oklahoma drinking water, we aggregated water quality test data provided by the city's Consumer Confidence Report, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and supplemental health information. We cross referenced the city’s water quality test data with toxicity studies in scientific and medical literature. The water filters that we sell at Hydroviv are optimized to filter out contaminants that are found in Norman's drinking water.

Chromium 6 In Norman's Drinking Water

Chromium 6 is a highly toxic metal that is currently unregulated by the EPA. Chromium 6 pollution is associated with metal processing, tannery facilities, chromate production, stainless steel welding, and pigment production. Norman, Oklahoma has some of the highest levels of Chromium 6 in the country. In the 2020 Consumer Confidence Report, the city of Norman tested for Total Chromium, instead of Chromium 6 - which is a far more toxic type of chromium. According to test data completed by the Environmental Working Group, the average concentration of Chromium 6 detected in Norman's drinking water was 39,300 parts per trillion. For a bit of perspective, these levels are as high as 1,965 times higher than the concentration determined to have negligible impact on cancer risk. EPA has acknowledged that Chromium 6 is a known human carcinogen through inhalation, but is still determining its cancer potential through ingestion of drinking water. Lung, nasal and sinus cancers are associated with Chromium 6 exposure. Acute respiratory disease, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, hematological, hepatic, renal, and neurological distress are health effects associated with high levels of chromium 6 exposure.

Arsenic in Norman's Drinking Water

Norman, Oklahoma has a big problem with Arsenic in drinking water. The current levels of Arsenic in Norman drinking water are 14.4 parts per billion. The allowable level (also known as the Maximum Contaminant Level) for Arsenic in municipal tap water is 10 parts per billion. This is the first time in recent years that Norman has had high levels of Arsenic in drinking water. In previous years, Arsenic levels have been 2 parts per billion, which is well below the federal standard. 

Chloramine In Norman’s Drinking Water

While most municipalities use chlorine as the primary drinking water disinfectant, Norman’s drinking water is disinfected with chloramine. Chloramine is primarily responsible for what many customers report as the “bad taste” or “pool smell” of tap water. Concentrations were detected as high as 3.9 parts per million in treated water, which is just under the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level of 4 parts per million. Unlike chlorine, chloramine 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 Norman use a special filtration media that is purposefully designed to remove chloramine.

Strontium In Norman’s Drinking Water

Strontium is an unregulated contaminant that was also detected in this years water quality report. Strontium naturally occurs in certain vegetables, grain, and livestock but is also a byproduct of coal and oil combustion. Concentrations of Strontium in Norman's drinking water were detected as high as 442 parts per billion. For a bit of perspective, this is twice as high as concentrations found in Oklahoma City. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, children are the most susceptible age group to the negative health effects associated with Strontium exposure. Bone growth can be effected if children ingest high enough concentrations through drinking water.

It’s important to note that only a handful of contaminants are required to be included in annual Consumer Confidence Reports, and that there are hundreds of potentially harmful unregulated contaminants that aren’t accounted for. If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Norman's tap water quality, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com to talk to a Water Nerd on our live chat feature or send us an email at hello@hydroviv.com.

Other Articles We Think You Might Enjoy:
5 Things To Know About Chromium 6 In Drinking Water
Chlorine vs. Chloramine: What You Need To Know 
2018 Oklahoma City Water Quality Report