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Do you drink the water?

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Every now and then I get asked whether or not I drink the tap water in here in Loudoun and if I feel that it’s safe to drink. I also get asked if I have water filters in my home. To answer in order: I live in our service area, and yes, I do drink our tap water. Yes, I feel the water is safe. Our main supplier, Fairfax Water, is one of the top water suppliers in the nation (I’ll get back to this). No, I do not have filters on my faucets at home.

Because I was asked the same question twice in one week, it did make me stop and think about what they were really asking, and about water filters, bottled water, and other water-related items in general. Basically, how some people distrust water utility infrastructure, yet they will trust a retail filtering product that on average, costs less than $50. Not everyone likes the taste of tap water, and it’s really personal preference if someone uses a water filter or purchases bottled water. However, there seems to be a disconnect somewhere. How can we, as water utilities, ensure that proper information reaches our customers? Or at least, improve our ability to join the conversation?

I’m not going to attempt to answer those questions here. Blogs are meant to be short, not volumes long. It does open my eyes to the opportunity to improve how we reach (or try to reach) various groups here in Loudoun and in the region. What’s especially challenging is that we are bombarded with magazine and newspaper articles and television specials of reported hazards in the air, in the water, in the food we eat, our makeup, chemicals in household goods – you name it, there’s something being said about it. It's up to us as consumers to weed through all of the information. To borrow from School House Rock, "Knowledge is Power."

So getting back to whether our drinking water is safe. Loudoun Water’s Mission is to provide sustainable water services to protect health, the environment and quality of life. Our water suppliers regularly test the drinking water that we purchase, and we regularly test the drinking water in our distribution system to ensure that the water is safe and of high quality for our customers. The results from the past year of tests appear in our annual drinking water quality reports, officially called Consumer Confidence Reports (CCR). The CCR summarizes information regarding sources used (rivers, lakes, reservoirs, aquifers, etc.) any detected contaminants, compliance and educational information. It is mandatory for Loudoun Water to supply this information to you under the Safe Drinking Water Act. You’ll receive a copy of the water quality report in the mail by July 1. We deliver bulk reports to multi-use dwellings like apartments or condos and we also post the CCR online.

We hope you find the information in the water quality report useful. We’re always looking for feedback to improve our reports, so let us know what you think.

If you are shopping around for a water filter, please follow these three guidelines:

  1. Choose one designed for the specific filtration desired (chlorine, lead, Cryptosporidium, etc.).
  2. Make sure the filter is approved by the National Sanitation Foundation (www.nsf.org).
  3. Maintain the filter as directed.

Until next time,

Liza