Where does our local hard water come from?
Where does our water come from?
So how safe is our water to drink?
Firstly, let's be clear, it is safe to drink your water. Your choice to filter it comes down to your personal choice and perception of taste
The calcium in hard water is good for us, right?
Our bodies need calcium to make our bones strong, and it is true that chalk gives us this important source of calcium. However, there is more to it than meets the eye...
There are two forms of calcium - Dairy calcium and Rock calcium. Our bodies can fully absorb the calcium found in dairy products, however, we have less success absorbing rock calcium.
As a result, any excess rock calcium we absorb that doesn't get flushed down the toilet when we go to the loo can be left behind in our kidneys, and there are some suggestions that this can contribute to painful kidney stones. For more information on this subject, you can find that here.
Rock Calcium. Is that chalk?
Yes, quite like the chalk we use to write on blackboards.
It's perfectly harmless though. If you run a glass of water straight from your tap, it's almost impossible to see as it has dissolved in the water supply.
There is chalk in our water supply?
You might think we are kidding, and you'd be forgiven for thinking that! But the short answer is yes. And you'd be astonished to see how much there actually is. In fact, if you'd like to see for yourself exactly how much chalk is in your water, we'll be happy to come and do a simple test to show you.
Here is a sample of water I took on March 13th, 2018 in Headcorn, near Ashford.
The central glass vial is sat inside a glass of normal tap water, to show the difference between what we can see, and what we can't.
"So, if it is as safe as they say, we can just drink tap water, right?"
OK, so if we can drink it, why do so many people filter it?
The answer to this comes simply down to our own individual preferences to taste.
If all you have ever drunk is incoming hard water straight off the mains, then the pure water is masked by chlorine and dissolved chalk. But it is in fairness perfectly safe to drink. A lot of people, however, don't like the flavour of mains water, and some people just don't trust it either.
But where does this distrust stem from?
It doesn't help when from time to time we are instructed by the water boards to boil our water due to unsafe levels of bacteria detected. That gives a lot of people cause for concern.
However, the real trust is closer to home, and the answer can be seen in our kettles and glasses of water.
In Kent and Sussex, regional statistics state that every person uses approximately 156 litres of water a day, and this figure has been growing by approximately 1% a year with the advance of larger shower heads and pumped water systems used in modern British homes.
Of all this water, only 4% is used for drinking water and food preparation purposes:- that's just 6 litres a day!
With so little water used for drinking and food preparation purposes, mains water is treated at water treatment plants to be safe enough to drink, but that is it - no further treatment happens to it once it leaves the water treatment works, and so by the time it reaches you, it will be very different as it will pick up contaminants, sediment, and minerals along the way.
So with 160 litres of water per person being consumed every day, where does it all go if just 4% is used for drinking water?
We each use on average 156 litres of water a day
29 litres is flushed down the toilet
9 litres is used to wash dishes and around the kitchen
43 litres is used for personal hygiene
23 litres is used to wash our clothes
18 litres is used outside
28 litres is used for miscellaneous internal use including washes the pets, cleaning, and leaks
Just 6 litres is used for drinking. Tea, coffee, glasses of water, squash
So how is our water treated?
At the point your water passes its quality tests...
It still has to be sent to pumping stations, pumped through hundreds of pipes, into your street and then on into your home, from there making its way through your pipework before making its way eventually to your kitchen tap.
That's a long distance to cover without any further treatment
Step 1: water is collected in reservoirs and from aquifers ...
Step 2: and pumped to water treatment works...
Step 3: where the water treatment and cleansing process begins.
Step 4: as the water is filtered, solids are removed...
Step 9: and eventually chlorine is added to purify the water and kill off any bugs ...
Step 10: after which the water quality is tested and passed as "fit for consumption".
Step 11: From there it goes to storage reservoirs...
Step 12: and a final water pumping station...
Step 13: before being pumped toyour neighbourhood, and home ready for your use. Along the wait can pick up sediment, and taste & odours you may prefer to filter out.
Step 14: Once in your home, it goes to your own cold water tank, or hot water cylinder...
Step 15: Where your water is stored, ready for your use.
Step 16: Eventually we open our taps, and bathe or drink our water. The chlorine that was added around step 9 continues to be present in our water supply.
The important factors that determine our enjoyment of drinking water, i.e. the taste of it, are left to the individual homeowner to manage.
So it makes sense that the water we drink should be a better quality than the water we flush down the drain or use to water the garden.