For many of us, the act of going to the kitchen tap to fill a glass of water isn’t something we think twice about because we have water softeners and filtration systems in our homes. While it may be convenient, it doesn’t exactly seem like a luxury compared to most things in life.
The truth is, however, that access to clean drinking water is a relatively new development in the scope of human history. In fact, a 2017 study from the World Health Organization found that 2.2 billion people—29% of the world’s population at the time—lacked access to safe drinking water.1
While Phoenix tap water meets EPA quality standards for federally-regulated contaminants, the threat of groundwater shortages and risks to surface water sources present unique risks to the safety of drinking water in Arizona’s largest city.
Despite having some of the safest water supplies in the world, the United States still fails to guarantee clean drinking water to all Americans and faces compounding crises of aging infrastructure, an underfunded Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and nearly 32 million cases of waterborne diseases each year.2
In compliance with EPA regulations, the city of Phoenix monitors its drinking water supply for a number of federally-regulated contaminants. These substances, which can affect the Phoenix water quality, are derived from a number of sources. The EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Act defines “contaminant” as anything other than water molecules.3
While some contaminants occur naturally, others can enter drinking water through human and animal waste, agricultural and industrial runoff, and corrosion of household plumbing systems.
In its 2020 Water Quality Report, the Phoenix Water Services Department found safe levels of the following regulated substances in the city’s drinking water:4
In addition to the above federally-regulated contaminants, Phoenix monitors its drinking water supply for several unregulated contaminants that may pose a risk to human health at excessive levels. These substances include:
While Phoenix’s drinking water meets all EPA standards for regulated contaminant levels, both the presence of unregulated chemicals and the possibility of contamination from environmental and industrial factors could be cause for concern in the city’s water supply.
To get a better idea of these risks, it is important to understand the sources of Phoenix’s municipal water supply.
Located in the Sonoran Desert, Phoenix is one of the hottest and driest cities in the United States. Despite receiving just 8.03 inches of rain per year, the city manages to provide clean, fresh drinking water to its population of 1.6 million and counting through a blend of water resources including surface water and groundwater.7 These water sources are highly dependant on a city’s environment and climate:
According to the city’s Water Services Department, Phoenix received 97-99% of its 2020 drinking water supply from surface water that began as snowpack, while just 2% of drinking water was provided by the city’s 20 groundwater wells.
Despite meeting the EPA’s standards for federally-regulated contaminants, the city still faces a number of environmental and anthropogenic threats to its drinking water supply. In accordance with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s 2005 source water assessment, Phoenix’s Water Services Department lists the following potential risks to its drinking water:
To counteract these risks, the city continuously monitors its surface and groundwater sources for possible contaminants. If it measures a contaminant at or near the EPA’s maximum contaminant limit, the city’s Water Services Department either treats the source or removes it from service until quality can be guaranteed.
Phoenix’s drinking water also faces threats associated with climate change. A 22-year megadrought has led to the first federally mandated limit to water supply in United States history.9 In 2022, this will mean a 20% loss in water supply from the Colorado River.
While this cut will mostly affect the state’s farmers, it could have implications for drinking water as growing demand for groundwater and an overburdened CAP aqueduct lead to further shortages in the future.
With so many factors to keep in mind, it can be easy to feel helpless when it comes to preserving the quality of your tap water. As a homeowner and as a citizen, however, you have several ways of exerting control over your drinking water and, in turn, your own peace of mind.
If you have concerns about the risk of contaminants and the impending effects of federally mandated cuts to Arizona’s water supply, it’s important to educate yourself about these issues. Reach out to your representatives about and ask how they plan to keep Phoenix’s drinking water both clean and available for the foreseeable future. You can even ask about other water factors including, “What are Phoenix’s Water Hardness Levels?”
Additionally, you can invest in a water filtration system to provide you and your family with added security while avoiding overdependence on environmentally-hazardous plastic water bottles. These systems, including water softeners, salt-free systems, and reverse osmosis systems, can filter out harmful contaminants and reduce water hardness to ensure your water remains healthy and tastes good to drink.
If you live in Phoenix, Arizona, you should count yourself lucky. The city provides clean drinking water to its growing population despite facing some seriously harsh environmental conditions.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be aware of the risks of potential contaminants. Luckily, Rayne Water provides drinking water filtration systems and residential water softeners so you can ensure your drinking water is top quality.
Treat yourself to the best drinking water; get a Phoenix water softener and treatment systems with Rayne Water.