If you're one of the millions of customers who are supplied with water by the city of Atlanta or other metro Atlanta county water systems, you probably have wondered ‘is it safe?’
From drinking to bathing to cooking, we count on turning on the faucet and getting clean, safe water for our daily needs. With intermittent boil advisories placed on Atlanta’s water customers and the national concerns about the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, there is increased interest in the measures taken to ensure the water we all depend upon is sound.
Below, local and national experts offer details on Atlanta’s water security and how to keep tabs on your tap water wherever you live:
Is Atlanta’s water safe?
Short answer: yes.
The city of Atlanta's drinking water is safe and its water treatment plants are in compliance with standards mandated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, Atlanta's water department said in a recent statement. Water that's treated at the city's facilities is monitored through continuous, 24-hour testing, the department added.
The U.S. has one of the safest supplies of drinking water in the world, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It's regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which sets standards for the presence and levels of more than 90 contaminants, including lead and E. coli.
Even if it's safe, is it OK for everyone?
Not necessarily. All water contains contaminants. Some people can be more vulnerable to contaminants than others, even at levels that the EPA generally considers safe. This includes the elderly, infants and people who have compromised immune systems (such as people with HIV/AIDS or cancer patients receiving chemotherapy).
But what about boil water advisories?
Occasionally, the quality of your water may be temporarily compromised due to power outages or other unexpected events, and your water supplier may issue a boil water advisory.
This means you should take the following precautions until the advisory is lifted:
- Drink bottled water if possible
- Bring water to a rolling boil for one minute if you're using it for cooking, drinking or making ice
- Wash fruits or vegetables in water that's been boiled
- Use bottled or boiled water when mixing baby formula
- While toilets can be flushed as usual and laundry can be washed, dishwashers should only be used on the hot setting
Should you use a water filter?
Different water filters accomplish different things, according to the CDC. Some can improve the taste of your water, while others help filter out contaminants. However, no filter can keep every contaminant out of your drinking water, and in some cases, you may be filtering out beneficial substances, such as fluoride and chlorine.
The CDC recommends checking with your local health department's environmental health group before making a decision about whether to filter your water.
How can you get more information about your water?
Public water suppliers must mail their customers a drinking water quality report by July 1 of each year. You can request a a copy of the report from your public water system or simply access the reports online at government websites:
Once you access your supplier's report, check out the CDC's guide to understanding it.
You can also call the EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791 to get information and ask questions. Testing your water will give you very specific information about your own tap water.
If you have an older home with lead pipes, for example, it can affect the amount of lead present in your water. The EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline can suggest some names of water testing agencies in your area.
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