Common Drinking Water Pollutants

The dangers of sediment in our water supply are well documented.  Sedimentary runoff is the leading cause of water pollution in many areas.  Typical sources of sedimentary runoff include: industrial and commercial sites, agricultural sites, construction sites, and the neighborhoods where we live.  Sediment can consist of debris, animal waste and chemicals which are transported by water runoff into the water supply. 

Chemical contaminants

The most common chemical contaminant of runoff water in residential areas is phosphorus or phosphates.  Phosphorus is a common ingredient in many household cleaning products, especially laundry soap and dishwasher detergent.  Phosphorus acts as a water softener and suspends dirt and/or food particles during the cleaning process.  This allows for the dishwasher detergent or laundry soap to be more effective in cleaning your clothes and dishes. 

Phosphorus (or phosphates) in the water supply an cause a change in the ecosystem of the ecosystem, creating or feeding large algae blooms.  These algae blooms disrupt the balance of freshwater ecosystems because the algae overpower the pond or lake, suffocating the life that is native to the area.

Because of the harm to the environment caused by phosphorus, many states have outlawed the sale of cleaning products containing phosphates.  This ban has caused some people living near the border in these states to actually cross state lines and purchase their cleaning materials.  These rogue “criminals” are not necessarily anti-environment, they have discovered that the products without phosphate simply do not work as well as those with the chemical additive.

Debris and sediment

Another common source of contamination to the water supply is debris and sediment from agricultural and construction sites.  This debris either carries organic waste into the water supply or debris such as leaves, twigs, sand, etc.  The debris from either site may contain chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, petroleum, paints, etc.  By using filtering systems, such as placing an inlet filter over storm drains, this debris is caught and will not enter the water supply.  In newly built neighborhoods that are missing their lawns and landscaping, this runoff and sediment can be a challenge a well.

The use of a simple filter to strain out debris is an effective, economical and environmentally friendly way to promote a healthy environment and protect the water supply from unwanted materials.

Having chemicals in our water supply is clearly a concern as far as our physical health is concerned, but sediment from runoff can also build up in reservoirs, reducing the volume of water that the reservoir can hold over time and build up in pipes.  Using effective sediment filtering can help reduce the damage that sediment can cause all around.