What’s In My Water? Indiana Water Quality – Part 1
We have seen it in the media- high lead levels in the water in Flint, Michigan; carcinogens in the water in Vermont, New York and New Hampshire and a drought out west. Heck! Greentown, Indiana was even in the news for high lead levels. But what can you do? Godby HPE will be sharing a series of blog posts all about water and how you can help keep your water safe.
Almost everybody can recognize H2O as the scientific formula for water. Try to see past your memories of Chemistry Class. Look past the pocket protectors, periodic table and the teacher’s monotone voice and watch this for some basic facts. The bottom line is water is essential. We use it every day and we need it to survive. So how informed are you about the water that you drink, bathe in and cook with every day?
Let’s look at some basic things we know about the water in Indiana and some of the properties of water that can be tested.
Water in Indiana is hard. Indiana sits in the region of the United States where the water is considered “extremely hard” or over 14 gpg (grain per gallon). This unit of measurement is defined as 1 grain of calcium carbonate dissolved in one US gallon of water. In Indiana, Citizens Energy Group says that our water can range from 12-20 gpg. To be considered hard water, it has to measure over 3.5 gpg, so our water in Indiana is 4-6 times that! Wow!
Hard water is tough on your household. Have you ever seen scale build-up on your bathroom fixtures or a soap scum that won’t wash off your shower door? That is due to water hardness. Not only is hard water damaging where you can see it, but it is slowly destroying your plumbing.
Did you know that even if you are on city water your water is hard? Because there is no health risk to hard water, the city does not soften your water. You are responsible for softening our own water.
Last time you heard someone talk about pH balance was probably during a shampoo commercial. You know, your scalp is flaky and you need a certain shampoo to get rid of dandruff. Not what we are talking about. Anyway…
What the heck is a pH level and how does it affect you and your water? The pH level of your water reflects how acidic it is. pH stands for “potential of hydrogen,” referring to the amount of hydrogen found in a substance, like water. pH is measured on a scale. The scale runs from 0 to 14- seven being neutral, meaning there is a balance between acid and alkalinity. A measurement below 7 means acid is present and a measurement above 7 is basic (or alkaline).
If the pH level of your water is too low (<7) , it is considered to be acidic, soft and corrosive. What this means to you and anyone using your water is that metals such as manganese, copper, lead and zinc can be leaching into your water. It is not just leaching into your water, but it is also leaching into you, your family, friends and pets who are using your water. These metals could be coming from the water source, your pipes or fixtures. It can also cause a sour and/or metallic taste. That bluish-green stain by the tub drain is also caused by the low pH level. Unfortunately, this also means that your plumbing pipes and fixtures are getting damaged, causing more problems for you and your pocketbook.
A pH balance that is high (>8.5) means there is a high presence of alkalinity minerals present in your water. There is not a health risk you are just destroying your plumbing little by little with calcium scale build-up and your water may taste funny. Know why your coffee tastes bitter? Could be your hard water and high pH balance.
Beyond the Scale
What can you test your water for beyond hardness and pH level? We can start with bad bacteria, pesticides, lead, nitrate, manure and septic waste. Yuck! If you have a well, you should test your water at least once a year. You should also test your well water if there is a change in the taste, odor, or appearance of your water. If you are on public water it is tested on a regular basis and must be up to certain government standards, but these standards can have a gray area. You can purchase a water testing kit online. The price usually depends on how many things the lab will be testing for.
Godby HPE can come out and test your water for hardness and pH. A trained plumber will take untreated water, from your tap or wherever else in your house it is available and test it right in front of you. You’ll have your results in minutes! The technician will discuss your results and help you find the best solution for your water.
Look for more posts on water to come. We will have more in-depth information and solutions for your water and plumbing issues.