How much water is there on earth and how much is drinkable?
Between 70 per cent and 80 per cent of the earth is covered with water. Of the water on earth, 97 per cent is in the oceans and 2 per cent is frozen in ice caps and glaciers. Less than 1 per cent of all the water on earth's surface is available to meet the drinking-water needs of all the people, plants, and animals on this planet.
Where does my drinking water come from?
There are two major sources of drinking water: surface water and groundwater. Surface water comes from lakes, reservoirs, and rivers. Groundwater comes from wells that the water supplier drills into aquifers. An aquifer is an underground geologic formation through which water flows slowly. Most large cities in the United States use surface water, and most small towns use groundwater. Some water suppliers buy treated water from others (wholesalers) and then provide water to their customers, often without further treatment.
How do chemicals get into my water?
Many of them, such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and others, occur naturally in water, and most of these natural chemicals are not harmful to your health. However, surface runoff, from agricultural lands, that later seeps into groundwater may eventually carry unwanted chemicals into underground sources, or surface runoff may pollute streams and rivers. People are also responsible for a lot of the problem. For instance, if you paint your house with an oil-based paint, clean your brushes with paint thinner, and then dump the paint thinner in the backyard, you can contaminate an aquifer that may be your own or someone else’s water supply.
Should I buy bottled water?
Buying bottled water is a personal choice. You don't need to buy bottled water for health reasons if your drinking water meets all of the federal and provincial drinking water standards. If you want a drink with a different taste, you can buy bottled water, but it costs up to 1,000 times more than municipal drinking water. Of course, in emergencies, bottled water can be a vital source of drinking water for people without water.
Sometimes my water looks cloudy when it first comes out of the faucet. How come?
The cloudy water is caused by tiny air bubbles in the water similar to the gas bubbles in carbonated soft drinks. After a while, the bubbles rise to the top and are gone. This type of cloudiness occurs most often in the winter, when the drinking water is cold.
Why does my water sometimes appear dirty and discoloured?
Iron and manganese are often found in a dissolved state in groundwater. Generally, the water appears clear when first drawn. Upon exposure to air, or after the addition of oxidants (such as chlorine bleach or ozone), this ferrous iron is oxidized ("rusted") to the ferric state to form insoluble particles. The water then looks orange or yellow, or in the case with manganese, brown or black. This can happen in toilet flush tanks and in the washing machine or dishwasher.
How often is the water tested and what is it tested for?
Fraser Valley Regional District Engineering and Environmental Services complies with the BC Safe Drinking Water Regulations (2003), as do other municipal and private water systems in the province. The regulation has sections dealing with water potability and the collection of samples and sets criteria that sample tests must meet.
Sometimes my water smells funny. Why is that?
There are four common reasons for bad-tasting or funny-smelling water.
- A noticeable taste can come from the chlorine that is added to the water to kill germs. Heavily-chlorinated water may also contain reaction products.
- A rotten-egg odour in some groundwater is caused by a non-toxic (in small amounts), smelly chemical (hydrogen sulphide) dissolved in the water.
- As some algae, bacteria, and tiny fungi grow in surface water sources, they give off non-toxic, smelly chemicals that can cause unpleasant tastes in drinking water. Different algae cause different tastes and odours - grassy, swampy, and pigpen, as examples - and the little fungi can cause an earthy-musty taste.
- Metallic tastes can come from copper that has dissolved from copper pipe, and from rusted iron pipes. Copper can cause short-term health problems, like diarrhea and cramping. Iron has no effect on health.
What is a boil water advisory?
A boil water advisory is issued by public health officials when there is a concern that a disaster or other event has the potential to contaminate the water supply, or when a test indicates that there is bacteriological contamination in the water. Boiling your water is an effective way to ensure that your water is safe to drink. When a boil water advisory is issued, you should make sure that any water used for drinking is maintained at boiling for at least three minutes to ensure it is safe. If you still have power, refrigerate the water after boiling.