Whether or not transferring to Florida or planning your dream trip to the Sunshine State, it provides one thing particular for everybody. However like many residents and vacationers, you might be involved concerning the security of its faucet water, given the water high quality points after Hurricane Ian.
Whereas Florida has an enviable fame for heat climate, stunning seashores, and scrumptious seafood, additionally it is infamous for poor-quality faucet water, rating among the many worst nationwide. The state’s waters have lengthy been fouled by polluted stormwater and dangerous algal blooms brought on by fertilizer runoff, typically exposing residents to probably harmful contaminants.
So, earlier than you pack your luggage for the Sunshine State, you may need to stick round as we clarify the whole lot you’ll want to know concerning the state’s faucet water, together with the place it comes from, why it’s liable to contamination, and if it’s secure to drink. And since we wish you to hydrate all day throughout your keep, we’ll additionally define methods to find out in case your water provide is contaminated and get rid of or scale back any pollution detected.
The place Does Florida’s Faucet Water Come From?
Greater than 90 % of the potable water in Florida comes from underground aquifers – big, underground rocks manufactured from porous limestone that include a considerable amount of recent water. The remaining proportion comes from floor water sources, reminiscent of lakes and rivers, and is handled at water remedy services earlier than reaching properties and companies.
Florida’s aquifers provide greater than 8 billion gallons of water every day and are among the many best worldwide. In 2015, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimated the state-wide groundwater use to be roughly 3.8 billion gallons per day. In 2021, the South Florida Water Administration District (SFWMD) estimated its groundwater use to be round 1.65 billion gallons per day (60% of the overall water used), with roughly 70% used for home functions and a lot of the the rest used for agriculture and panorama irrigation.
Why is Faucet Water in Florida So Vulnerable to Contamination?
In the event you search the phrase “faucet water contamination in Florida,” you’ll be greeted with quite a few experiences of points throughout the state. However why is Florida’s faucet water so vulnerable to contamination points?
As talked about earlier, Florida will get most of its potable water from underground aquifers. Primarily, water sourced from aquifers is contaminant-free and has no bodily impurities (because of the pure filtration course of it undergoes whereas touring via the bottom). However regardless of being naturally filtered, groundwater is well contaminated with dangerous pure and human-induced chemical substances and pollution.
The excessive danger of groundwater contamination in Florida is normally the results of a skinny soil layer, excessive water desk, fast improve in inhabitants, porous limestone, and heavy rainfall from hurricanes and storms. The danger is even larger since lots of the state’s aquifers are shallow.
Excessive Inhabitants Density
Florida’s excessive inhabitants density and fast improvement additionally contribute to the state’s rising water woes. Beneath Florida is an 80,000-mile, multi-state aquifer with billions of water. Replenishing this huge aquifer was hardly ever a difficulty within the nation’s fifth rainiest state so long as the climate and demographics remained secure.
However inhabitants progress of 300,000-plus yearly is taking a toll on the water provide. Drought has had an impression, however the over-extraction is in charge for the draining aquifers and pure springs that serve many public water methods.
Florida is going through a water disaster with the destruction of wetlands for extra housing and air pollution via pollution discharged from industrial operations and concrete runoff.
Industrial and Home Discharges
As groundwater flows underground, metals reminiscent of iron and manganese in rock and soil are dissolved and should later be present in excessive concentrations within the water. Industrial discharges, city actions, groundwater pumpage, agriculture, and improper disposal of poisonous waste may also have an effect on groundwater high quality.
Chemical substances have gotten into the state’s groundwater due to leaking gasoline storage tanks, chemical spills, landfills, improper disposal of poisonous wastes, and ignorance or disregard for our water sources.
One other supply of runoff air pollution is agriculture. The spreading of extra fertilizer and manure results in nitrogen and phosphorus being washed into streams and rivers, feeding algal blooms and releasing harmful chemical substances into the water. On high of that, micro organism can get into ingesting water via poorly maintained septic methods, livestock areas, or poorly constructed wells.
Excessive Variety of Non-public Wells
Florida’s water contamination difficulty additionally has a lot to do with many Florida residents getting water from non-public wells. In response to Florida Well being, about 80% of residents are served by public water methods coated by the Federal Protected Ingesting Water Act (SDWA). The opposite 20% obtain their water from the smaller, extra limited-use public or non-public water methods.
Sometimes, non-public nicely homeowners are solely accountable for the security of their water, because the U.S. Environmental Safety Company (EPA) and different federal our bodies don’t regulate non-public wells. Consequently, non-public wells is probably not examined as usually as public water methods, and individuals who personal non-public nicely might not have the monetary sources to check and deal with their water provide, rising the danger of contamination.
In response to the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC), “Florida’s heat local weather can present circumstances that permit dangerous algal blooms (HABs) to develop within the water. This contains “pink tide” in salt water and cyanobacteria in freshwater. When these blooms develop too huge, they’ll make folks and animals sick and hurt the atmosphere, tourism, and the financial system.”
Elevated nutrient ranges and algal blooms may also trigger ingesting water issues in close by communities and upstream from lifeless zones. Dangerous algal blooms launch toxins that contaminate ingesting water, inflicting diseases in animals and people
So, Is Florida’s Faucet Water Protected to Drink?
The EPA regulates contaminants in public water provides beneath the SDWA. And from their evaluation, Florida’s faucet water is secure to drink as a result of it meets federal ingesting water requirements.
Nonetheless, water high quality watchdogs just like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) disagree (see their findings). The EWG believes authorized doesn’t essentially imply secure as a result of contaminant limits haven’t been up to date to mirror well being pointers in additional than twenty years.
The EPA doesn’t completely disagree. It’s created enforceable limits and non-enforceable pointers for some substances to provide communities extra time to deal with crucial infrastructure points. However lack of funding for clear water initiatives stays an ever-present barrier. Meaning, regardless of efforts by group and public water methods in Florida to offer extra sanitary, more healthy water, some contaminants are nonetheless present in most water utilities throughout the state.
In response to the EWG, a ingesting water high quality report for Florida supplied by the Florida Division of Environmental Safety (FDEP) exhibits that Florida residents have been uncovered to unhealthy concentrations of the next contaminants:
Complete trihalomethanes (TTHMs)
Complete Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) are a gaggle of cancer-causing chemical substances fashioned when chlorine reacts with different disinfectants or naturally occurring dissolved natural matter in water. Lifelong publicity to TTHMs is related to bladder and pores and skin most cancers, stillbirths, congenital disabilities, and an elevated danger of kidney and liver most cancers. It might probably additionally hurt fetal progress and improvement.
The EPA’s most contaminant degree (MCL) for TTHMs in ingesting water is 80 ppb, far more than the 0.15 ppb the EWG recommends. Maybe much more stunning, an EWG report exhibits that beneath 1500 Florida water methods serving round 20 million residents contained TTHMs ranges larger than the 0.15 ppb well being guideline.
Haloacetic acids (HAA5)
Like trihalomethanes, haloacetic acids (HAA5) are a gaggle of disinfection byproducts produced when chlorine reacts with naturally occurring supplies in water. When folks devour haloacetic acids at excessive ranges over a few years, they improve their danger of growing bladder most cancers.
Different well being results of haloacetic acids embody rectal and colon most cancers and antagonistic developmental and reproductive results throughout being pregnant. They’ve been studied with combined outcomes; nevertheless, the burden of proof of the well being results information suggests a possible affiliation. HAA5 might also trigger pores and skin loss and irritation and harm to the structural protein collagen within the pores and skin’s connective tissues.
Hexavalent Chromium (Chromium-6)
Hexavalent chromium, aka chromium-6, is primarily an industrial pollutant utilized in wooden preservation and anti-corrosion metallic coatings but additionally happens naturally within the atmosphere, particularly in rocks, vegetation, soil, and so forth. Air pollution can come up when industrial websites improperly eliminate waste supplies, inflicting the chemical to seep into groundwater and floor water.
Even in small quantities, chromium-6 could cause varied well being problems. In 2008, the Nationwide Toxicology Program, or NTP, discovered a big improve in abdomen and intestinal tumors in rats and mice uncovered to chromium-6.
In 2015, California scientists reported an elevated danger of abdomen most cancers in staff uncovered to chromium-6. A toxicological evaluation by the EPA concluded that ingesting chromium-6 may result in oral ulcers, diarrhea, belly ache, indigestion, vomiting, leukocytosis, and the presence of immature neutrophils.
Power publicity to chromium-6 in ingesting water may also harm the liver and reproductive methods, decrease physique weight, and delay the skeletal improvement of lab animals’ offspring uncovered to the chemical.
EPA has a ingesting water normal of 0.1 milligrams per liter (mg/l) or 100 components per billion (ppb) for complete chromium, together with all chromium varieties, together with chromium-6. Nonetheless, not less than 300 Florida water methods don’t make the grade, exposing over 15 million Floridians to harmful concentrations.
Arsenic is a extremely poisonous chemical that naturally happens in rocks and soil. It’s a byproduct of coal burning, copper smelting, and mining. In response to the EPA, arsenic could make its method into water provides from the pure erosion of rocks.
Excessive ranges of arsenic in non-public wells might come from arsenic-containing fertilizers used up to now or on account of industrial waste. So, since most of Florida’s faucet water comes from groundwater, arsenic from the encompassing rocks could make its method into the water.
The well being results of arsenic embody nausea, diarrhea, neurological impairments, coronary heart dysrhythmias, muscle weak point, anemia, and extra. The EPA’s MCL for arsenic is ten ppb, however the newest analysis exhibits that no degree is secure to drink. No less than 10 million Florida residents have ingested higher-than-recommended concentrations from greater than 600 water methods.
Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS)
Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, or PFOS for brief, is a water and stain-resistant artificial compound extensively used to make carpets, fire-fighting foams, paper packaging for meals, and different supplies proof against water, grease, or stains.
PFOS chemical substances are troublesome to interrupt down, to allow them to live on within the atmosphere and ingesting water sources for many years. Publicity to PFOS over sure ranges can lead to antagonistic well being results, together with congenital disabilities, cancers, liver results, and extra.
PFOS in ingesting water is a nationwide drawback, affecting not less than 97% of People. Whereas cleanup is underway, it’s transferring at snail’s velocity. Increased-than-average ranges of PFOS/PFOA had been discovered in additional than 20 of Florida’s public water methods.
Like arsenic, excessive nitrate ranges in ingesting water will be harmful to well being, particularly for infants and pregnant girls. The chemical happens naturally in soil and air however can also be discovered in lots of fertilizers used on yards, golf programs, and in agricultural manufacturing. Due to its widescale use in farming, the chemical is wreaking havoc on the ingesting water high quality in lots of components of America, primarily in agricultural areas.
Nitrate primarily enters the water provide via agricultural and concrete runoff, discharges from wastewater remedy plans, and septic methods. Roughly half of all utilized nitrogen drains from farms contaminate floor water and groundwater. Therefore, nitrate concentrations in our water methods have additionally elevated considerably and are anticipated to proceed.
Excessive nitrate ranges in ingesting water have been linked to colon, kidney, ovarian, and bladder cancers. Researchers from the EWG say the chemical is accountable for 12,600 most cancers instances a 12 months. In fact, the danger varies from area to area, however many small farming communities have the very best nitrate ranges within the water, thus the very best danger.
The EPA suggests a nitrate restrict in ingesting water at 10 mg/L. Nonetheless, the EWG has outlined well being steerage for the chemical at 5 mg/L primarily based on research by scientists on the Nationwide Most cancers Institute and different impartial researchers. These well being pointers are believed to guard in opposition to most cancers and different well being hazards. But, over 7 million Floridians acquired faucet water with nitrate ranges above well being pointers.
Why Does Florida’s Faucet Water Normally Style and Scent Humorous?
Like most main cities, public water provides within the metropolitan areas of Florida can look, style, and odor otherwise on account of varied components. It’s typically not the damaging toxins that trigger the style and odor complaints however moderately the water supply, the state’s geology, exhausting water, chlorine, natural matter, and so forth.
- Water Supply: Florida will get its water from underground aquifers, lakes, and rivers, and the mineral content material in these sources can differ. Groundwater can style otherwise on account of varied components, such because the minerals from the soil and rock because the water strikes via the bottom, micro organism or different microorganisms, and dissolved gases like sulfur. Some Floridians report a slight sulfur or earthy style on account of naturally occurring sulfur compounds in a few of Florida’s underground water sources.
- Geology: Florida is flat, with only a few peaks and valleys appearing as bodily limitations in opposition to contaminants. Its water sources are normally interconnected, so what impacts one impacts all of them. Sometimes, wells and floor water sources are low in elevation, making them extra liable to seawater intrusions that give ingesting water a salty style. Moreover, tannins produced by decaying vegetation in swampy areas flip southern Florida faucet water yellow. Protected to drink, maybe, however excessive concentrations of tannins and different components are sufficient to trigger a musty odor and an “off” taste. (Be taught extra: Tannins in Florida Waterways and How one can Take away Them from Your Ingesting Water)
- Laborious water: Florida’s faucet water can include excessive ranges of minerals reminiscent of calcium and magnesium, which may trigger it to have a particular style and may depart behind mineral buildup on fixtures and home equipment. Whereas exhausting water will not be a well being danger and is secure to drink, the mineral buildup and the style of the water could be a nuisance. Take into account putting in a water softener in your house to take away the “hardness” minerals from the water, making it “comfortable.”
- Chlorine: Florida’s water remedy services chlorinate the water provide to kill micro organism and different dangerous microorganisms. Nonetheless, chlorine may give the water a definite chemical-like style and odor. (Be taught extra: Chlorine in Ingesting Water: The Good, the Unhealthy, and the Ugly)
- Algae and different natural matter: Florida’s heat local weather and lots of our bodies of water can result in an overgrowth of algae, giving the water a musty or earthy style and odor. Moreover, Florida’s water is sourced from underground aquifers, containing dissolved natural matter that may trigger the water to have a humorous taste and odor.
Faucet Water High quality by Area in Florida
The FDEP is accountable for managing the standard and amount of the state’s water with the assistance of 5 water administration districts. Nonetheless, the ingesting water high quality in 4 areas throughout the state displays what you may anticipate as a visitor or long-term resident (See EWG database).
The Miami-Dade Water Authority offers water for greater than 2.3 million folks and is among the many nation’s largest water utility corporations. But, testing revealed that eight of the 24 contaminants detected in its water provide are above wholesome limits:
- PFOS / PFOA
- Haloacetic acids (2 of 5)
- Complete Trihalomethanes
Effectively water within the Miami space comes from porous limestone. Meaning it possible comprises a considerable amount of sulfur and tannins. Whereas thought of secure to drink, Miami’s faucet water might have a yellow tinge and a rotten egg odor.
Be taught extra: Why Does My Water Have A Sulfur Scent?
The Palm Seaside County Water Authority treats water for almost 600,000 residents. Testing remoted 24 contaminants, however solely 5 exceeded EWG pointers:
- Haloacetic acids (2 of 5)
- Complete trihalomethanes
The Palm Seaside space additionally has exhausting water — among the many state’s worst at 19 grains per gallon. Whereas not poisonous, water with excessive mineral content material typically tastes metallic or bitter. It might probably additionally trigger limescale buildup in your plumbing system, damaging pipes and decreasing equipment effectivity.
Be taught extra: How Laborious Water Damages Your Plumbing and Home equipment
Tampa Bay Water (TBW), Tampa’s native water provide firm, serves three million residents, together with these within the Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas counties. Tampa’s ingesting water comes from varied sources, together with the Hillsborough River, the Tampa Bypass Canal, and wells within the Floridan Aquifer.
Testing recognized 18 contaminants. Nonetheless, water testers found solely six in concentrations above EWG suggestions:
- Complete Trihalomethanes
- Haloacetic acids (2 of 5)
Tampa’s faucet water is secure to drink by EPA requirements. However arsenic ranges are considerably larger than within the Jacksonville space and require filtration, particularly if you’re pregnant or have youngsters.
Be taught extra: Results of Arsenic in Ingesting Water Throughout Being pregnant
Jacksonville is served by the native water utility firm JEA. In response to JEA’s web site, they take a look at their water provide usually and adjust to all state and federal rules for secure ingesting water. The water is sourced from the Floridan Aquifer, a wide-ranging underground water provide stretching throughout Florida and different southeastern states.
Samples examined in 2021 complied with federal water high quality requirements, however ranges of 5 contaminants had been above the EWG’s well being pointers:
- Haloacetic acids (2 of 5)
- Complete Trihalomethanes
Arsenic concentrations had been nicely under the nationwide common however above the 0.004 ppb well being normal adopted by California.
Is My Faucet Water Protected to Drink?
Irrespective of the place you reside – whether or not in Florida or one other state – there’s an opportunity that your faucet water comprises dangerous impurities and contaminants, making it unsafe to ingest. There are a couple of methods to find out if faucet water is contaminated:
- Examine the EWG’s Faucet Water Database: The Environmental Working Group maintains a database of details about public water methods, together with take a look at outcomes for contaminants. You possibly can seek for water methods by identify or zip code to search out details about your faucet water. Whereas the EWG does an unimaginable job at testing and offering very important regional water high quality data, it solely provides an summary, not the findings in particular communities.
- Examine along with your native water utility: Most water utilities should present clients with an annual water high quality report containing details about the water’s supply, remedy, and any contaminants discovered throughout testing. In the event you drink metropolis water, contact your native water utility to request a replica of their newest CCR or to search out out the place you may entry it. Is it sufficient? Most likely not. Testing solely measures the contaminant ranges earlier than the water leaves the remedy plant, not when it reaches your faucet. Finally, the one method to know whether or not faucet water is secure is to check it. The method is fast and straightforward.
- Check your water: You probably have issues concerning the security of your faucet water, you may have it examined by an authorized lab. A number of house water take a look at kits can be found for buy, or you may contact an expert water testing service. We like water take a look at kits from ETR Laboratories as a result of they’re easy to make use of, budget-friendly, and correct. You may as well select from single assessments or panels curated for nicely or metropolis water. (Be taught extra: 10 Widespread Issues a Water Check Can Detect in Faucet Water)
Cleaner, Higher-Tasting Faucet Water with Springwell
Filtering your water is important in making certain it’s clear and secure to drink. Though federally regulated, public water sources might include probably harmful contaminants, reminiscent of micro organism, viruses, and chemical substances. By filtering your water, you may preserve these and different pollution at bay and higher shield your well being.
We at Springwell perceive the significance of offering your loved ones with clear, secure ingesting water. That’s why we’ve developed a line of superior water filtration methods designed to take away impurities and contaminants out of your faucet water.
For instance, our entire home water filters use a multi-stage filtration course of to successfully take away and scale back as much as 99% of contaminants, together with chemical substances, heavy metals, and different contaminants and impurities. Our premium-quality water filters additionally assist enhance the style and odor of your faucet water. Consequently, you’ll possible drink extra water, which is crucial for sustaining good well being and hydration.
You’ll additionally respect the convenience of set up and upkeep our water methods present. They’re suitable with most traditional taps, and the filter cartridges are easy to exchange, making it simple to keep up the filtration system. Our water filters are additionally environmentally pleasant, decreasing the necessity for single-use plastic bottles and serving to to preserve our pure sources.
Put money into certainly one of our high-quality water filtration methods at present. Discuss to certainly one of our pleasant specialists if you wish to study extra about our merchandise or have any questions or issues.
In the event you’re planning a visit to Florida or making it your endlessly house, you is perhaps involved concerning the security of the water that shall be flowing via your pipes and taps. The excellent news is that whereas Florida ranks amongst states with the worst water high quality, faucet water within the Sunshine State is taken into account secure to drink.
The EPA and FDEP regulate the state’s water provide to make sure it meets federal and state requirements for secure ingesting water. These businesses usually monitor and take a look at public water methods to make sure that the water meets these requirements.
Nonetheless, as with every massive state, native points in sure areas might have an effect on water high quality. For instance, some areas of Florida might have larger ranges of naturally occurring contaminants, reminiscent of arsenic and haloacetic acids, to call a couple of. In some areas, heavy rains and floods might trigger water remedy vegetation to launch untreated or partially handled water into the system.
It’s essential to remain knowledgeable concerning the water high quality in your native space and make contact with your water utility or the FDEP if in case you have any issues concerning the security of your faucet water. However most significantly, it’s all the time finest to check your ingesting water and put money into a water filtration system to make sure that water out of your metropolis’s remedy plant doesn’t expose you and your loved ones to dangerous pollution picked up because it travels to your house.