A look at the source#039; of quality water

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 22, 2000

When we count our blessings, up near the top of the list should be clean water.

It's hard for us to imagine what life would be like without ready access to clean water, but many of the people of the world know very well.

Clean water is essential for public health, sanitation, energy, industrial growth, agricultural production and recreation.

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The United States uses about 400 billion gallons of water a day.

A family of 4 uses about 255 gallons a day, most of it for toilet flushing.

We have as much water on earth as we have always had; in fact, it's the same water.

The problem is that we are contaminating it faster than we can clean it up.

Fifty percent of the U.S.

population gets its drinking water from ground water.

Ground water is held underground in aquifers.

These are not underground lakes; rather, the water is held in rock formations.

We used to assume that if a chemical or some other pollutant got spilled on the ground that it would be filtered out by the soil and rock before it got into the ground water.

Now we know that is not always the case.

We need to be careful with household chemicals and not dispose of them by pouring on the ground or down a storm sewer.

We should buy only as much as we need.

Don't over fertilize or spray more pesticide than needed to do the job.

If you have extra household cleaners or leftover paint, try to find someone who could use them up.

Sewage can contaminate water and not every one is careful to install a proper septic system in rural areas.

There are cases in this county of raw sewage being run away from the house in a pipe and dumped on the ground.

This is a very unsanitary situation.

Most often, the offender is living in a mobile home.

The county health department will be glad to help with designing a proper septic system, and most mobile home loans include money for such installation.

The quality of water in public water systems is checked regularly.

With private wells, it's the owner's responsibility to have the water checked.

The health department will check it for bacteria, only.

Tuskegee University has a water testing program that can check for nitrate and lead.

We can put you in touch with the proper department there.

A word about lead: Although lead piping is no longer used in home construction,

some homes may have lead solder used on copper piping, and brass faucets give off some lead.

As a precaution, it is best to use cold water for cooking and for mixing baby formula even if you have no reason to suspect that there is lead in your water supply.

If a particular faucet has not been used for 6 hours or more let the water run until it gets as cold as it will get before using that water for cooking or drinking.