Local agencies work to keep drinking water healthy and safe

MountainXpress Posted on

At Greenlife Grocery on Asheville’s busy Merrimon Avenue, filtered water from the store’s FreshPure water dispensing machine is in high demand. Shoppers sometimes line up to fill multiple jars and jugs. According to store manager Lou Phillips, prices range from 39 cents a gallon for reverse osmosis-filtered or deionized water to 99 cents a gallon for high-alkalinity water.

But is filtering or purchasing drinking water really necessary — or better for you than what comes from the faucet? The answer, says Katie Hicks of the nonprofit water advocacy organization Clean Water for North Carolina, depends on the source of your drinking water and how you assess the risk of possible chemical or biological contamination. On the whole, though, Hicks says, “People are usually surprised to learn just how little guarantee there is that water coming out of the tap will be perfectly clean and safe.”

Water users, Hicks continues, should check with their water supplier for data about water quality and safety, since that information can vary widely from one municipality or water system to the next. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires public water systems to provide an annual report to their customers.

At her own home, Hicks is hooked up to Asheville’s municipal water supply. Asked whether she uses any sort of filtration system or bottled water herself, Hicks responds, “No. I drink it straight from the tap.”

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