What’s In South Africa’s Water?
Water; two hydrogen atoms, one oxygen atom. It’s simple enough, right? Not at all!
Most water being marketed as “pure” is entirely subjective, considering that water will contain either some or all of the below, immediately rendering the “pure” title nullified for scientific reasons. See, most water contains things such as micro-organisms, minerals and microscopic impurities.
While the above mentioned substances are in no way a serious health threat – due in part to the insignificant quantities in which they are present – they do actually (in some cases) have benefits.
Think of minerals for example; without minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium present in your water – you’d be left with a very bland tasting drink.
“Pure” water has such little taste that some actually find it off-putting, the reason why most bottled water manufacturers add their own special mix of minerals and flavourants.
Municipal water on the other hand has added ingredients that can, in fact, be harmful; the reason for this is the necessity to add regulated substances, such as fluoride, chlorine and other flavour-enhancing chemicals to be able to supply potable water to the majority of households. Municipalities focus mainly on quantity over quality.
Also consider your municipal water undergoes quite a lengthy route to reach your taps from the reservoirs and aquifers. Acid rain can soak into the soil, and eventually into the water supply itself and cause contamination. Outdated storm and sewer systems may sometimes leach lead or other unsavoury items when the systems are under pressure after heavy rainfall, and groundwater may be contaminated by chemicals leached into the soil from landfills, septic systems as well as unregulated agricultural overflow.
But what can you do about it? A good starting point is to do a quick home-test on your tap water. Start by simply inspecting your water with your eyes! High-quality water is clear. Plain and simple.
Presence of the colours red, orange or a murky-brown are definite indicators of the presence of manganese or iron.
A greenish-bluish tint indicates the presence of copper – possibly stemming from outdated plumbing on your property. Once you’ve done these simple tests, you can eliminate the non-possible causes and save yourself some time.
If you have found cloudy water, allow it to settle before panicking; this is simply and indication of water pressure fluctuations – as murkiness is simply air bubbles in the water.
Microbial contaminants are going to be more tricky to spot – so those will require an actual water testing kit – normally available at hardware or DIY stores.
They are not too costly in any case – so running a test on your water is always a good idea – especially if you have noticed a sudden change from clear to discoloured, foul-smelling or bad tasting water.
While there are stringent measures already in place – municipalities do not concern themselves with “after-the-fact” issues – such as corroded home plumbing or contamination that occurs after the water has left the aquifer.
Installing a home water purification system directly to your tap is an excellent way to ensure a higher-quality water than you are currently using.
The best choice for drinking water however is always going to be a bottled solution – as bottled water manufacturers have exponentially higher standards than municipalities.
We’d love to know if you’ve found any interesting results from testing your municipal water – let us know below!