– Deborah Nelson / Reporter –
Does your water ever taste strange? There is a possibility that it could be contaminated. Despite all the purification processes that water is put through, some contaminants may still be present. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), contaminants in drinking water are allowed at safe levels. Samples are taken and tested for harmful substances such as nitrates, sodium, lead and man-made materials such as bleach. If a sample is shown to be within the range of safety for various contaminants, the source of the sample is deemed clean and drinkable. Dyersburg’s Annual Water Quality Report for 2016 shows that, city-wide, water is safe for consumption.
“I don’t fear that the school’s water is contaminated because if it were, we would’ve gotten sick by now,” freshman Grace Atwater said.
According to the report, Dyersburg has two water treatment plants, the Roger Hawkins Treatment Plant and the South Main Treatment Plant. Treated water then travels through pipe systems, and eventually into homes and other buildings.
The main issue is that water is usually contaminated after the treatment process. Because water travels through underground pipes, anything in these pipes could get into the water. Two major contaminants found in pipes are bacteria and lead.
The most common bacteria found in water is Legionella, which, when ingested, causes Legionnaires’ disease, a rare form of pneumonia. Other bacteria in pipes include Salmonella enterica and Escherichia coli, both of which can also cause serious illness.
Lead is a soft metal that is harmful to humans if allowed into the bloodstream. It was used in pipes because of its durability, but it was later discovered that lead could leach into tap water, and many lead pipes were replaced with those made of other metals. However, many homes still have pipes containing lead.
There is no way to detect most contaminants in water, but the senses can help. Water that tastes, smells or looks unusual is likely unsafe for drinking. The high school’s water meets the EPA’s purity standards, but residences around Tennessee may not. Water purifiers, filters and boiling may work, but if contamination is suspected, the best thing to do is contact the Dyersburg Water Department.