Keeping Our Water Supplies Safe

One of the things that we all take for granted is that we can just turn on a faucet and instantly have clean drinkable water. An apparently simple action, but one which would be greatly appreciated by much of the third world population.

Behind our clean water supply is an enormous environmental undertaking that keeps our water clean and bacteria free. This starts with our state water rivers and reservoirs and continues down the supply chain all the way to every consumer and business premises. In Texas, overall responsibility of the environment lies with the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and the rules and regulations concerning water are controlled by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Surface Water Quality Standards
The state defines specific targets for water quality standards. These standards are set to make sure the quality of surface waters (streams, rivers, lakes, and bays) is of a good level in Texas so that the water quality both supports public health and enjoyment and also protects aquatic life.
These water quality standards identify appropriate uses for the state’s surface waters, including aquatic life, recreation, and sources of public water supply (or drinking water). The criteria for evaluating support of those uses include dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, dissolved minerals, toxic substances, and bacteria. For more see: https://www.tceq.texas.gov/waterquality/standards/WQ_standards_intro.html

Water Supply BackFlow Protection
In the public water supply system, it is important to stop contamination from entering the public water system. So whenever there is a junction or cross-connect of water pipes at the entrance of a commercial building, a reduced pressure assembly backflow device must be installed to stop fertilizer, insect repellent, or any other chemicals being accidentally injected into a public water system.

The same applies to residential irrigation systems, because often homeowners will spray their yards with pesticides or lawn fertilizer, and if there is a problem in the irrigation system, back siphonage could happen, depositing harmful chemicals in the neighborhood water supply. Backflow protectors at their simplest are a one-way valve which allows water to flow in only one direction.

All commercial and many residential backflow assemblies must be tested annually in order to comply with regulations and to meet city and state codes. For more see: Accuracy Backflow Testing

Water Treatment
To make sure that the water than comes into homes, a surprisingly large number of water processing treatments are applied at water treatment plants. These include disinfection with Chloramines, Fluoridation, filtration, coagulation, sedimentation, PH adjustment and odor control with activated carbon, just to name a few!