Where Does Your Tap Water Come From?
Water plays a huge part in our everyday lives and we probably don’t give it much thought. We can last a month without food, but a week without water; we just wouldn’t survive.
The water we drink doesn’t just come from the ground and through our kitchen tap. Water that comes straight from the ground is usually full of pollutants, which means in order to have safe and clean water in our homes, it must go through a rigorous cleaning process.
Depending on where you live in the world, the region and even county can have a huge difference on where your water comes from and how it is regulated. The rules and procedures around the supply of water have seen huge improvements since the ’90s. For example, 40% of water leaks have reduced, people are using 15% less water since the rise of water meters and there are water back up supplies.
Tap water originates from the ground, streams, rivers and reservoirs (also known as surface water).
This means that the Autumn and Winter seasons are crucial for water resources for the year and filling back up supplies, ensuring that wildlife and reserves have enough water, too. For any reason of a shortage, the way the water supplies are linked, water can be transferred to different areas in need or going through dry periods.
Depending on where you live in the UK (or the world) your water will come from different suppliers, who will get their water from different areas and sources.
90% of Southern Water’s supply comes from surface water sources such as rivers. 10% of their water supply comes from ground water sources such as springs and wells in Devon.
75% of Wessex Water’s sources comes from groundwater.
Scottish Water supply comes from a combination of groundwater sources and surface water.
Why does water have to go through a treatment process?
Before water reaches our taps, it goes through a rigorous treatment process. Rain water may look clean and clear, but in its purest form it is full of pollutants that can really damage your health.
It’s not like your usual food poisoning symptoms. Drinking the purest of water acts like a sponge and will just strip your body back of its minerals.
Let’s put it this way – computer engineers use the ultra-pure water to clean microchips to get rid of the smallest spec of dirt or debris.
This is why Bear Grylls, survivalist, has many *interesting* ways to hydrate if you were ever lost and trying to survive in the jungle. We may laugh (or even be disgusted) by some of his methods, but he is right.
The key steps a water goes through
This is to ensure any dirt, leaves and debris are removed.
This is to remove any gases or odours that may be contaminating the water.
A chemical process is started in order to trap bacteria and remove suspended solids and solid particles, leaving behind clarified water.
The filtration process is then started to remove any remaining particles before the water is disinfected.
Chemicals are then added to water to disinfect it, ensuring it is safe to drink. The chemical used in this process is normally chlorine. Although chlorine is meant to be bad with bodily contact, let alone consumption, in the water treatment process it is used in controlled doses so it is harmless to humans, but is capable of killing off bacteria.
The level of acid and alkaline of water needs to be controlled to avoid the corrosion or build up of limescale on metal pipes.
The quality of water
After water has gone through the treatment process, more tests are made to ensure the quality is the highest standard against regulations set by the Government and European Union.
Depending on where your water has come from, will depend on how the water is treated to ensure it is safe to drink.
If you’re interested in the specific origin of your water and the process it has gone through, you can find the information on your water suppliers website. You can also check how hard your water is and whether you need further water treatment solutions to drink the best quality water.