Selecting a Home Water Treatment System

Drinking Water and Human Health February 11, 2011 Print Friendly and PDF

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Steps for selecting a drinking water system:

  1. Have water tested at at state certified or licensed lab.
  2. Review lab results to determine if a water quality problem exists.
  3. Contact your local health department or Cooperative Extension office for help in understanding test results.
  4. If test results show a problem, you may need a water treatment system to fix it.

When shopping for in-home water treatment systems you will likely find systems categorized as point-of-entry (POE) or point-of-use (POU) treatment systems. POE water treatment systems treat all of the water entering and being used in the home. POU water treatment systems, on the other hand, treats part of the water in the home water distribution system, usually at one faucet. The untreated water is typically only used for drinking and cooking. Choosing an in-home water treatment device can be confusing and complicated if more than one water quality problem exists. Sometimes, several problems can be eliminated with one treatment. In other treatment cases, two or more systems may be needed to satisfactorily treat the water.

Depending on your source of water, you may have to correct minor problems before you can address your major concern. The following guidelines for water treatment are based on the belief that it is practical and efficient to treat some water quality problems before others. For instance, only after turbidity, acidity, hardness, and iron have been controlled will activated carbon filters, reverse osmosis units, or distillers operate efficiently.

Remember, these steps are a simplification of water treatment. When considering home water treatment, consult with water treatment professionals at a reputable and certified dealership to determine the best treatment approach for your problem.


In-Home Water Treatment Steps In Suggested Sequence

Sand, Silt, Clay Turbidity

Bacterial Contamination

Hydrogen Sulfide / Undesirable Odor

Insoluble Iron, Manganese Particles

Dissolved Iron and Manganese

Hardness

Acidity (excess)

Volatile Organic Chemicals, Trihalmethanes, Pesticides, Radon

Inorganics, Minerals and Heavy Metals

Lead, Mercury, Arsenic, Cadmium, Barium, Fluoride

Nitrates

Corrosive Water

Excessive Salts

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USDA / NIFA

This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.