Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink

Water is everywhere around us, but honestly not many of us know much about it. How does it get to our homes? What is the process of cleaning it? How do I know if the water is safe to drink? Whats going on in Flint, MI? Whats so different about fancy commercial waters? These are all good questions with varying importance and chemistry can help answer all of them.

 

The process in purifying water provided to peoples homes is a long but important one. The water is initially collected from mostly groundwater, reservoirs or rivers. Then the water is passed through a system of grilles to remove the large pieces of debris. However there is still much purifying left to be done. To remove the organic matter we add coagulants to the water, to neutralize the organic matter and makes them clump together so that they can be removed. These coagulants are typically aluminum sulfate. The water is then filtrated. This stage consist of moving the water through beds of carbon, sand and gravel to get ride of unwanted compounds. Often times the water at this point can have too high (0r less commonly too low) acidity. To decrease the acidity the water can be sent through limestone. It can be important to add anti-corrosives to the water to protect the pipes they travel through. This has proven to be critical recently in Flint, Michigan. Chlorine is then added too kill any bacteria or viruses left in the water.

 

The-Water-Treatment-Process-768x543
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The Chemistry Behind Your Home’s Water Supply

A huge problem that has gained much attention in the media recently is the poor quality of water in Flint, Michigan. Many people know that the lead levels are too high but not many know the reasons behind why. Flint decided to switch from getting its water from the Detroit River to the Flint River. However, the Flint River has a much higher level of chloride ions due to street salt runoff. This causes a problem because these ions can dissolve the pipes that transport the water and thus create far too high lead levels for human consumption. This problem was then magnified when E. Coli was found in the water and more chlorine had to be added to fight this bacteria. This added amount of chlorine lead to higher levels of trihalomethanes. To attempt to lower the levels of trihalomethanes ferric chloride was added. These added chemicals raised the corrossive levels of the Flint River water to be more than 8 times that of the Detroit River. This clearly causes a huge problem as a whole city of people are without water that is safe for them to drink.

 

Flint-Water-Crisis
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Lead in the Water – The Flint Water Crisis

Learning about the chemistry of the water purification process is both interesting and important. It gives one a deeper sense of appreciation understanding the long and chemistry filled process it takes to deliver water to our taps. It also is important so that once problems like those in Flint Michigan arise we know what is really going on and hopefully how to fix it.

 

We have learned about tap water, but what about more commercial brands of water?  Smart water for example, what makes it so much different that people will pay nearly five dollars a gallon for it? Well according to sidehustlenation.com , honestly not much is different. The purification process for Smart water is more or less the same as what we have just learned about. The only significant difference is that Smart water has added electrolytes to help the taste. So being more education on the process of cleaning water, and how it can go wrong, and having a very basic understanding of commercial water one can now make better decisions in what they choose to drink. Are you willing to pay more for water that is basically just as healthy for you but taste a little better?  Some would say yes! For me, I’ll keep Smart Water only for special occasions.

 

Sources:

What Makes SmartWater Smart?

The Chemistry Behind Your Home’s Water Supply

Lead in the Water – The Flint Water Crisis

 

 

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Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink

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