What is Potable Water – Definition and tap water safety

potable waterWhat is potable water? Potable water is water which is safe to drink. Potable water may be cleaned, treated or filtered to meet the local drinking water standards. Or, it is natural water which is considered free of harmful contaminants and safe to drink and use in baking and cooking. High quality tap water could be potable water, and other water (like distilled water, RO water purified by reverse osmosis system, UV filtered water) would be potable water, too.

Non-potable water is water that cannot meet the local water drinking standards and is untreated raw water, including water from ground water, lakes, rivers, ground wells and natural springs. Such water is not considered safe to drink unless it meets portable water drinking standards through stringent testing. Without water testing, we don’t know whether the water contains contaminants which may influence our health. Some bacteria and contaminants are harmful to our body and if water contains these types of pollutants, it is deemed to be not potable. Even if the raw water tastes fresh, it doesn’t mean it is potable.

And treated potable water also doesn’t mean potable, because it may be contaminated again due to dirty containers, old water pipes, or pasting their expiration date. Therefore, tap water is also suspicious. Although it is treated, before running water from your faucets, it has passed through long water pipes to reach your house. For example, you can test your tap water and you will find it doesn’t seem pure as it should be. If the results show there are many contaminants, it is highly recommended to install a water filtration system to purify it before drinking. At least, you should boil the water for at least 20 minutes and test the boiled water again. If the results are also not good, a water filtration system is essential. There are plenty of water filtration systems, like water distillers, carbon water filters, reverse osmosis systems, etc.

Another question about potable water is that “is bottled water safe to drink”? To regulate the quality of bottled water, there are many regulatory standards. However, not all bottled water meets these regulations and standards. And it is also difficult to monitor every bottle of water during the producing process. Some bottled water may be only tap water only purified by active carbon filters. However, some manufacturers claim that their bottled water is the water that has been purified through a water distillation, a reverse osmosis or a UV filtration process and all the bacteria have been got rid of. However, risks are not avoided regarding bottled water. This is because safety standards and effective monitoring have not kept in pace with the increasing supply of bottled water in some areas. Even consumers are eager to drink high quality bottled water, there is no effective monitoring. Therefore, if you don’t trust bottled water, there are other sources of water which is considered safe to consume.

In a word, we should pay much attention to our water and make sure the water is good enough and potable. All the water should be from a realizable source. Generally, if your tap water from a municipal treatment plant which is strictly regulated and always meet the standards, the tap water can be considered to be potable. If any evidence of non-potable factors were found, you need to find other ways to deal with tap water.

For those who live in rural areas, if tap water is not accessible and there are various water sources, consumers have responsibilities to monitor the water quality themselves and make sure their water is safe to use. You can do some water testing or ask for help from a water technician who can test the water and tell you which water treatment method is effective to purify water.

On the market, there are plenty of different water filtration systems and products that can help you purify your water. Choose which one depends on what contaminants are in your current water. Sometimes, even tap water may contain a high level of pollutants (e.g. heavy metals, salt, etc.) and you can install a RO system to solve the problem. Compared with buying bottled water, such a RO system will cost much first but the total cost is very low in the long run. What’s important, it can ensure you have safe water to consume.

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