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Municipal Water's Dirty Little Secret

Municipal water in the U.S. is not as pure or safe as you may think. Although municipal water treatment plants remove many particles and pathogens from the public water supply, they cannot do so completely. In addition, the chemicals that municipal water treatment plants add to the water may create more health issues. 

The municipal water treatment process

Most tap water in the U.S. comes from one of 52,000 municipal or community water systems. 

Municipal water systems generally treat water drawn from rivers, lakes, and aquifers using a combination of the following steps:

  1. Coagulation and Flocculation
    Positively charged chemicals are added to the water to neutralize the negative charge of dissolved particles. The chemicals and particles bind, resulting in larger particles.
  2. Sedimentation
    The weight of the larger particles causes them to settle at the bottom of the water supply and the water on top passes to the next stage. 
  3. Filtration
    Water passes through filters such as gravel and charcoal filters to remove dissolved particles.
  4. Disinfection
    A disinfectant, usually chlorine or chloramine, is added to the water to kill the parasites, bacteria, and viruses that are present in the water. 

Problems with the U.S. public water supply

Unfortunately, the municipal water treatment process does not always remove all pathogens and contaminants that can harm the health of your family and your home. 

Public water supplies regularly exceed limits for pathogenic substances in drinking water. Contaminants that may be found in tap water include Cryptosporidium, a parasite that causes diarrheal disease, Naegleria, which is often called the “brain-eating amoeba,” Legionella, a bacteria that can cause a pneumonia-type illness called Legionnaires’ disease, E. coli, Hepatitis A, and Giardia intestinalis, among other disease-causing pathogens.1 The municipal water supply can also contain pharmaceutical residue, endocrine disruptors including hormones and estrogen, microplastics, and pesticides. 

Why chlorine, chloramine, and UV treatment are not sufficient to disinfect water

They do not address turbidity

A major issue with the disinfectants used by municipal water treatment plants is that they do not work on turbid water. Turbidity means that fine suspended particles of clay, silt, organic and inorganic matter, and microscopic pathogens are present in the water. Often, the early stages of the water treatment process fail to remove all particles, leading to turbidity. 

When bacteria, viruses, and parasites attach themselves to the suspended particles in turbid water, they are shielded from both chemical and UV disinfectants, which allows pathogens to remain in the water even after municipal disinfection. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that UV disinfection is ineffective on turbid water.2

They are not always effective

Pathogens such as parasites and spores are often resistant to chlorine and chloramine disinfection. In addition, chlorine, chloramine, and UV treatment do nothing to clean water of microplastics, trace pharmaceuticals, endocrine disruptors, and pesticides.

They can lead to additional unwanted contaminants in your water 

Carcinogens called trihalomethanes (TMHs), which are a class of disinfection byproducts (DBPs), are created when chlorine reacts with organic matter present in water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “the human health effects from DBPs at low environmental exposures are unknown.”3

When the water in your home is contaminated with DBPs, drinking filtered water will not necessarily reduce your exposure. Research shows that, in addition to drinking water, skin contact with DBP contaminated water through showering or washing dishes also increases the concentration of TMHs in a person’s blood. 4

When municipal water treatment plants address the contaminants that remain in turbid water by treating the water with larger amounts of disinfectants, it can lead to even more carcinogenic DBPs in the water. If your water has a yellowish tint, that can be a sign that it contains a large amount of dissolved organic matter, meaning chlorine disinfection would lead to larger amounts of carcinogenic DBPs.

Also, if your municipal water comes from a river or lake, which is often turbid, your water will likely contain higher amounts of TMHs. 

According to a study published in Environmental Science & Technology, an unintended consequence of drinking water disinfection is the generation of disinfection byproducts (DBPs). The authors state, “Epidemiological studies have consistently observed an association between consumption of chlorinated drinking water with an increased risk of bladder cancer.” However, the exact DBPs that cause cancer are unknown, and only some of the more than 600 DBPs identified are regulated.5

Although chloramine may form lower levels of regulated DBPs, it can form other types of unregulated DBPs, as well as nitrate, in the distribution system. UV treatment does not form DBPs; however, it is also unable to continue disinfecting water throughout the distribution system, meaning chloramine or chlorine must also be added to the water supply.6

Lastly, water treatment systems that rely on chloramine disinfection must periodically switch to chlorine disinfection because chloramine causes biofilm in the water supply.7 

Suntuity Waterworks protects you when the municipal water supply falls short

Suntuity Waterworks’ advanced ultrafiltration process is a chemical-and byproduct-free complement to municipal water treatment.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency testing found that our ultrafiltration membrane removes up to 99.99999% of bacteria and parasites and up to 99.99% of viruses present in water, including parasites and spores that are resistant to chlorine, chloramine, and UV disinfection. Suntuity WaterWorks ultrafiltration also filters particles such as clay, silt, and organic and inorganic matter that can attract pathogens.

Unlike other methods of water disinfection, Suntuity’s ultrafiltration membrane is equally as effective on turbid water, and even reduces turbidity from your water supply. 

Urspring ultrafiltration addresses the cause of contamination, not only its effects

Another advantage of Suntuity WaterWorks ultrafiltration is that it does not leave dead or inactivated microorganisms in your water, but rather removes the vast majority of organisms, resulting in water that is truly clean and pure. Completely removing organisms reduces the risk of future contamination caused by the formation of biofilm. 

Plus, the Suntuity WaterWorks ultrafiltration membrane effectively sterilizes the water in your home without adding any additional byproducts or chemical residue. 


Suntuity Waterworks BioFilters provide even more protection 

The BioFilters used alongside the Urspring ultramembrane, hold various specialty high capacity filters for additional protection. The biofilters remove many contaminates and dissolved toxins, including residual pharmaceuticals, microplastics, pesticides, chlorine, and arsenic – all without the use of chemicals or radiation. Installed at the point of transfer from the municipal water supply to your home, the Suntuity Waterworks complete systems delivers pure water to every tap in your home. 

When you protect your home with BioFilters plus ultrafiltration, you no longer have to worry about the millions of pathogens and contaminants your municipal water treatment facility may be failing to remove from, or even adding to, your water supply. No matter where your water comes from, you know it’s pure and safe when it’s disinfected through a Suntuity Waterworks complete system.

Is my municipal water safe?

Search your zip code to see recent test data concerning the quality of the water from your local municipal water company. 

 

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Water Treatment: Community Water Treatment” https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/public/water_treatment.html (Jan. 20, 2015).
  2. Environmental Protection Agency “Wastewater Technology Fact Sheet: Ultraviolet Disinfection” https://www3.epa.gov/npdes/pubs/uv.pdf (Sep. 1999).
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Disinfection By-products (DBPs)” https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/pdf/THM-DBP_FactSheet.pdf (Nov. 2009). 

  4. Environmental Health Perspectives “Comparison of Trihalomethanes in Tap Water and Blood: A Case Study in the United States” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3346785/ (Jan. 26, 2012).
  5. Xing-Fang Li and William A. Mitch “Drinking Water Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) and Human Health Effects: Multidisciplinary Challenges and Opportunities” https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.est.7b05440 (Dec. 28, 2017). 

  6. Minnesota Department of Health “Disinfection and Disinfection Byproducts” https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/water/factsheet/ddbp.html

  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Water Disinfection with Chlorine and Chloramine” https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/public/water_disinfection.html (Nov. 17, 2020).