Ohio is uniquely positioned to have some of the worst tap water in the US because of its large industrial centers, agricultural land, and outdated infrastructure and old pipes.
A Natural Resources Defense Council report discovered that the US water supply, serving millions of Americans through thousands of different municipalities, racked up 80,000 violations across the 50 states in 2015 alone. Ohio was one of the worst offenders, landing within the top 10 as the 7th worst violator in the country. 1.2 million Ohioans were supplied water from municipalities that violated standards in regard to nitrates and more than 100,000 Ohio water systems violated rules in regard to copper and lead. Nitrates, copper and lead are all, of course, things that we humans don’t normally, and shouldn’t normally ingest - and if we ingest these contaminants unwittingly and later find out about it, we have a right to be annoyed. The problem is, it’s hard to hold anyone accountable for these violations. In some cases, police officer’s hands are tied when it comes to enforcing these laws - there simply isn’t enough time or money to take municipalities to account for their dirty tap water. And so, the problem continues on and on, spreading to all areas of the state.
Many cities in Ohio have water quality issues. From Akron to Cincinnati to Dayton and Springfield, even small cities like Elyria, Westerville and Youngstown were found to violate water standards in some way.
In an even more egregious example of Ohio’s bad water supply, contaminated water is making its way into Ohio’s schools. It’s estimated that thousands of Ohio school buildings and businesses are getting water from pipes that likely contain lead.
There are even more examples of Ohio’s terrible tap water in rural areas and the state’s backcountry where residents hike and enjoy nature; there, the water supply is believed to contain unsafe levels of E. Coli. In parts of the state that rely on agriculture and farming, the trend is possibly even worse - PFAS have been found in the drinking water. PFAS are a dangerous chemical compound, known as a “forever chemical”. These chemical contaminants build up within our bodies and don’t break down. Pretty scary, right? Tap water in the state also contains unsafe levels of the contaminant bromodichloromethane.
What should Ohioans do? Ohio’s tap water safety issue affects the entire state rather than one particular zone, making it an incredibly dangerous scenario for residents. In this case, Ohioans should take water supply safety into their own hands. Don’t count on municipalities that drop the ball and let environmental infractions slide - use an at-home filter and have more control of the health and safety of your family’s water supply. We’ll delve into at-home water filtration as a solution further down, but first, how did Ohio’s water supply become one of the worst in the US?
How did this happen?
There are a few different factors that combine to create the perfect storm that makes a state’s water quality substandard.
- Deteriorating infrastructure - The first reason deals with the infrastructure of the municipality supplying the water. In a perfect situation, public water pipes would remain in tip-top condition but in the real world, they don’t. Here’s a common example seen in deteriorating pipes: If a water pipe becomes old and starts to leak it can create a vacuum-like situation pulling untreated water in with treated water. When you turn on your faucet, your water would be both treated and untreated.
- Deteriorating infrastructure (part 2) - Another problem with old pipes is that they can seep copper, lead and additional heavy metal impurities - inviting a dangerous and unhealthy cocktail of contaminants into your drinking cup.
- Hazardous runoff - Hazardous tap water is also caused by runoff from farms and manufacturing plants, like car-making plants and coal mining plants. Runoff seeps into our water bodies and then gets into our water supply.
- Adding chlorine - Municipalities often add chlorine to the water supply in order to improve the taste or smell of the water; but it’s not safe.
How can I find out if my home has bad tap water in Ohio?
Ask your provider.
The first thing you should do is call or email your local water provider and ask them to give you a copy of the most up-to-date water quality report they have. This report will detail the exact tests done to the water in your area with the dates the tests were performed and the results of the tests. The test results will give you insight into what contaminants may have been detected in your water. After that you can decide to have further testing done or you could move forward satisfied with what the report says - either way now you have information about the likely contaminants in your water.
Send samples for testing.
The most thorough testing will occur when you send out a sample of your tap water - this will also give you the most accurate results. You should always send your sample to a certified water-testing lab because they hire experts who will know what to look for. As an example: some chemical contaminants are hard-to-detect and can be overlooked by novice testers. Professional water labs will check for bacteria, chlorine, lead and pesticides as well as any specific contaminants you request.
Test your water at home.
You can also do it yourself and if that’s something you enjoy, there are water testing kits that can be purchased to make that happen. Professional lab testing is the most accurate and thorough way to test water - but with that said, at-home water testing kits can provide you with crucial information on your drinking water.
You can buy a kit online or in your local hardware store. The test strip kit will give you instructions on how to perform a test at home. Here’s an important tip: when testing your water at home, yourself, do it twice. Testing your water two times will ensure that your results are accurate. If you find that impurities are present, consider investing in a good water filtration device. A good water filtration system will help you to eliminate many contaminants and bring your drinking water to its most healthy and pure state. Finding a good, reliable water filtration system may be a daunting task - so let’s talk about the best system available to you.
Invest in The Water Machine.
The Water Machine is the world's first all-glass, gravity-fed countertop water filter. It's design is both functional and stylish, making The Water Machine an eye-pleasing focal point in your kitchen - or wherever you decide to put it. The Water Machine features a sleek hammered-glass design and can filter up to 6,000 gallons of water over a 10-year span (if you consume a gallon-and-a-half of water a day). Water filtered through The Water Machine is crisp and clean without a metallic or plastic aftertaste; it is some of the most delicious and refreshing water you'll ever enjoy. Plus our all-glass design helps reduce plastic waste in the environment. In fact, The Water Machine is committed to environmental causes, with a portion of all of our sales going toward clean water organizations including Water.org, who has given 36-million people worldwide access to clean, uncontaminated water; and Charitywater.org, whose goal is to bring clean drinking water to everyone on the planet. Please visit their websites to see more of the amazing work these organizations do.
The Water Machine eliminates the following contaminants: Bacteria like E. coli, Chlorine, Viruses, Chloramines, Parasites, Fluoride, Heavy Metals, Trihalomethane (THMs), Pharmaceuticals, Petroleum Contaminants, Bisphenol-A (BPA), Radiologicals, Perfluorochemicals (PFOAS), and Herbicides & Pesticides.