Potable water is the water that flows through your plumbing pipes to your taps, showers, sinks and other water-using appliances. This water has been treated and filtered for harmful contaminants by the city of Chicago’s water treatment plants and has been deemed safe to drink. Below are a few common questions about potable water.

1. What is potable water?

Potable water is water that has been treated and filtered to remove contaminants, like lead, copper, viruses, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and waste. Once the water has been treated, it is considered safe to drink and use for cooking and cleaning.

2. What is non-potable water?

Non-potable water is not safe for human consumption and cannot be used for cooking or drinking because it has not been treated for contaminants. Examples of non-potable water include water that has been recycled from other sources, like collected washing machine water and rainwater. Non-potable water can still be used for watering plants and washing clothes, but consuming it or cooking with it may lead to illness.

3. What is safe water?

Safe water meets all of the EPAs guidelines and regulations regarding drinking water. It has low or non-existent levels of lead, copper, bacteria, viruses and parasites, and it has been treated with certain additives, like chlorine, in order to ensure it will not cause illness in humans when consumed.

4. What are the safe water standards?

The EPA regulates the standards for safe drinking water. The goal of these standards is to protect water sources, like reservoirs, rivers and wells, ensure adequate water pressure is maintained in municipal water systems and make sure there are public water reports available to residents. The EPA has set forth two standards, the primary drinking water standards and secondary drinking water standards. The primary standards are legally enforceable and pertain to containments that are known to cause harm to human health, like lead, bacteria, viruses and chemicals. The secondary standards are not enforceable and pertain to the aesthetic value of the water, including odor, taste, smell and color.

5. Why is potable water important?

Potable water is important because it is essential for human health and safety. According to Koshland Science Museum, each person needs between 5 and 13 gallons of water each day, which is needed for drinking, cooking and cleaning. When clean water is not available, it leads to severe bacterial, viral and parasitic infections.

6. What are the characteristics of potable water?

Potable water should be free of harmful containments, like medication residue, lead, copper, bacteria, viruses and parasites. The water should not contain excessive levels of minerals, like lime, manganese, copper and calcium, and it should be clear with no odor or taste with a pH between 6 and 8.5.

7. How do I protect my potable water?

The municipal water system is responsible for treating and supplying safe water to the residents of Chicago. This includes making sure the system is properly pressurized, the water pipes are in good condition and that the water has been treated for contaminants. If you are concerned about the contents of your water, Chicago provides water reports that are easily accessible.

If you are concerned that the water pipes in your building are contributing to water contamination due to leaching and corrosion, you can test your water at the taps to determine its composition. If the potable water pipes inside your building are contributing to water contamination, you may want to consider lining your potable water pipes with an epoxy coating. Epoxy coatings completely cover the material of your potable water pipes, preventing leaching and further corrosion the original pipes. These coatings also fill and seal small water leaks, which extends your pipes’ useful lives.

To have your water pipes evaluated to see if your building would benefit from epoxy pipe lining, call us at 815-790-9000.

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