Is My Tap Water Really Safe to Drink?

There are a lot of misconceptions floating around tap water. Depending on who you talk to, tap water is either safer than bottled water, or it’s loaded with radioactive metals and poison! The worst part of tap water urban legends is, when you start thinking about them, you swear you can taste something in your water. Even if there’s nothing there.

So what’s the truth? Is your tap water safe to drink? Are you actually tasting metal when you fill up a glass from the kitchen sink? Should you think about installing a home water filter? Here are the facts when it comes to both tap water in general, and YOUR tap water specifically.

What is Tap Water?

Any water that’s supplied through a plumbing system of some kind is tap water. These days, “tap water” usually refers to treated, publicly available water provided by a government via the municipal sewer system. Simply put, tap water is pretty much any water you can access publicly, for free. Tap water is often referred to as “potable water.” Potable water is water that’s safe to drink and prepare food with.

Treating tap water and keeping it clean is almost always the responsibility of the local government agency. For example, the City of Dallas Water Utilities Department supplies Dallas’ tap water. Agencies like these are responsible for overseeing the procedures and treatments that make public water safe to use.

What Makes Tap Water Safe or Unsafe?   

So, why does tap water get such a bad rap? Well, cities pull public water from open sources of water. To get to your taps, it needs to pass through a central plumbing system. At several different points during collection and transfer, there’s a chance different contaminants could find their way into water supplied this way. These contaminants come from a variety of sources including sewage treatment plants, septic systems, wildlife, storm runoff, wastewater discharges, oils or gases, agricultural pesticides, hard scale, or copper and lead piping.

However, cities don’t just take tap water directly from open sources and pipe it into your home. Governments are responsible for making sure tap water is safe before it ever gets to you. To do this, all tap water undergoes a variety of treatments, including adding chemical compounds like chlorine and ammonia to clean the water and filter out acidity and contaminants. Cities ensure their water passes yearly inspections to make sure their tap water filtration process is working as it should be.

Where Does Tap Water Come From?

Cities pull public tap water from a wide variety of sources depending on wherever large quantities of water are available. Common sources include lakes, rivers, streams, creeks, water wells, underground aquifers, or other sources from the municipal water supply.

Seven sources provide Dallas’ supply of tap water: the Elm Fork of Trinity River and lakes Ray Roberts, Lewisville, Grapevine, Ray Hubbard, Tawakoni, and Fork. The City of Dallas Water Utilities Department’s’ 2015 Water Quality Report included the map of water sources above. After water is pulled from these sources, it is piped to municipal water treatment plants where it is made safe to drink. Then the treatment plant transfers it to the publicly-accessible water supply.

So: Is Your Tap Water Safe?

Alright, enough education. Time for brass tacks. Dallas tap water is safe to drink. The Department of Water Utilities tests Dallas’ water 40,000 to 50,000 times a year to make sure it meets a high standard for cleanliness and safety, and for their efforts Dallas currently has a “Superior Public Water System” rating for water systems awarded by the state.

You can learn more about Dallas’ water supply by checking the annual water quality reports for free online. If you have any questions or concerns about the quality of your water, you can call 311 anytime to ask them or to request a water quality test. Most towns and cities in the US have water quality information available online, and the government provides a number of resources for learning about water quality and conservation online, as well.     

Hopefully, all this talk about safe tap water is enough to put your mind at ease. Remember, however, that even the cleanest tap water is susceptible to contamination from old or corroded pipes. Check your personal water quality as well as your cities’. If you suspect your pipes are affecting your water, give us a call today. We can run tests to determine the health of your plumbing system and make a recommendation that works for you. Happy drinking!