You turn on the tap, and water comes out. Period. Safe, plentiful and affordable drinking water is one of our nation's most precious resources and something most of us take for granted.
But what if you turned the tap and nothing happened, or if the water you drank made you sick?
While pouring a glass of water may seem simple, before it arrives at your tap there is a complex process of collecting, storing, treating and distributing that helps ensure its availability and quality. In fact, water utilities implement comprehensive water management plans to ensure that adequate amounts of drinking water are available. These include conservation and reuse, reclamation and sourcing strategies.
Drinking water supplied by utilities is always treated to remove contaminants and harmful micro-organisms. That treatment process typically consists of clarification (to remove dirt and other particles), filtration (to remove even smaller particles) and disinfection (to kill bacteria and most viruses). The water is then delivered to residential and commercial customers via an extensive pipe network.
Drinking water utilities are committed to protecting public health and constantly monitoring and reassessing their methods for treating water to ensure its quality.
In part, this is due to changing government regulations, which periodically alter water quality standards. In addition, they may undertake other forms of treatment not expressly required to comply with regulations in order to ensure that drinking water meets and often exceeds the standards and needs of local communities.
For example, they may seek to remove trace compounds that are not currently regulated, and to enhance the aesthetic quality of the water.
Drinking water utilities carry out these services while also managing costs and minimizing environmental impacts of their processes; they are committed to keeping drinking water affordable. Water utilities and other stakeholders invest more than $12 million each year in the Water Research Foundation to sponsor research that enables water utilities, public health agencies and other professionals to provide safe and affordable drinking water to the public.