Flotsam & jetsam in the pool

Dear Editor:
 Did I miss it? I read “Maintaining Your Swimming Pool Water” (WC&P, May 2001) closely but I didn’t see an advertorial flag anywhere. WC&P once had a rigorous standard in place to prevent such confusion; I hope to see it employed again.
Patricia A. Fitzgerald,
Vice President, Marketing
Taylor Technologies, Inc.
Sparks, Md.
Editor’s note: We just reread it and can understand your concern. In hindsight, we could have eliminated a few phrases—”revolutionary technology,” “cutting edge solution,” “unparalleled accuracy,” “state of the art technology”—and asked them to explain better what the sanitizer was composed of and the mechanisms with which it functions. We’ll try to do better. Thank you for your input.

‘How do we know what’s in our water?’

Dear Editor:
As a part of your answer to someone in Israel who was considering a four-part filtration system (“Ask the Expert: Basic Home Water Treatment—Filtration, etc., in Israel,” WC&P, September 2000), you responded:
“Without more information, it’s impossible to know what’s meant by a ‘4-stage’ filter, but as a guess this probably refers to a series of filter housings that probably contain various media used to remove various contaminants. The number of ‘stages’ should be defined by the types of contaminants that need to be removed. Most drinking water supplies are pretty good quality, and it’s a waste of money to treat for contaminants that aren’t actually present.”
My only comment on that response, is how do we know what’s in our water? …and I am thinking specifically of the recent case in Walkerton, Ontario (Canada)—where people died from drinking their ordinary household water (contamination by E. coli).

My personal opinion is that I would rather be safe than very, very sorry.

Donna Starkey
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Editor’s note: We cannot speak for Canada. However, generally, most municipal water supplies in the United States are safe as they are highly regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Keep in mind that most major outbreaks have occurred on municipal systems where the water was treated in one fashion or another. Since the notorious 1993 Cryptosporidium outbreak, Milwaukee has even added ozone to its regimen as an added assurance of disinfection. Discrepancies may occur, documented largely among small systems (those serving less than 10,000 connections). And there are cases where a system malfunction or natural disaster or other unique event creates a problem. In most such instances, a “boil water” alert is issued to the community where its citizens are asked to boil their water for a minimum of three minutes before consuming, or drink bottled water only. In the United States—as of October 1999—virtually all community water systems are required to inform their customers of the quality of their water with a “consumer confidence report” that also may be referred to as a “water quality report.” This gives you a detailed indication of the hardness, pH, sodium and total dissolved solids as well as any deviations of regulated contaminants in your water. Some communities publish them more frequently, but at least one summary report is required annually. You may also find more current information online at the provider’s website. In some cases, you can also request your local county health officials do a lab analysis on your water (sometimes for a fee) or submit it to an authorized independent lab for such information, which might be required if you live in a rural area served predominantly by private wells or aren’t otherwise on a municipal system. You may likely be faced with similar options, I imagine. There are test strips, which have been improved and expanded in terms of the contaminants they cover in recent years, as well as other more immediate ways of getting some indication of your water quality. Check with a local water treatment professional or hardware/plumbing supply store. For that added sense of assurance that you mention, many people choose to have bottled water delivered to their homes or have in-home water treatment devices installed. There are several water treatment dealers in Canada listed as members of the international Water Quality Association, which has a member locator function at its website: www.wqa.org


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