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Streams to Sinks: Understanding Where Tap Water Comes From

We think a lot about the foods and nutrients we put into our bodies, selecting certain foods and devising special diets to meet our individual needs. However, many of us don’t give water a second thought. Knowing where our water comes from is just as important as knowing where and how our fruits and vegetables are grown. Keep your body healthy, happy, and—most importantly—hydrated with our guide to where tap water comes from.

Straight from the source

Depending on where you live, there are a few different possibilities for where your tap water comes from. Though most drinking water comes from municipal water supply systems, these systems can source their water from a few different locations. Some cities source their water from natural water supplies. Chicago, for instance, gets its water supply from Lake Michigan, and Washington D.C. sources its water from the nearby Potomac River. Smaller or landlocked cities, however, are often unable to source their water from natural supplies. Instead, they must get their water from groundwater or spring water sources. Other cities might source their water from large local wells or reservoirs.

Treating the water

Before the water reaches your house, it must first undergo treatment for safety reasons. At a municipal water treatment plant, water first undergoes the coagulation and flocculation processes. During these steps, chemicals are added to the water in an effort to coagulate any small particles that may remain in the water. Once the particles have grouped together, they can be filtered out more easily. Additional chemicals are then added to the water to further disinfect it and prevent the possibility of waterborne infections and diseases. Once the water has undergone the full treatment, it’s stored in industrial water tanks. To prevent contamination after the treatment process, many industrial water tanks utilize industrial water tank liners. These liners prevent corrosion of the tank, which could potentially leach harmful elements into the water.

Transporting the water

Following treatment and storage at the water treatment plant, the water is then distributed via a series of pipes. These pipes transport the water to your faucets, showers, sinks, and toilets. During this process, the water may accumulate trace amounts of certain chemicals, including iron and lead. This often results from the water traveling through old lead pipes that have corroded with age. Once you have used the water at your home and washed it down the sink or flushed it down the toilet, it is sent back to the water treatment facility to begin the process once again.

Written by Logan Voss

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