Water, Purified — To Filter or Not to Filter

Having always been a straight-up tap water kind of girl, I’m not sure how I feel about this few addition to our kitchen:

Unfortunately, standard water treatment doesn’t address many not-so-pleasant contaminants that have been found in water supplies across the country, including pharmaceuticals and agriculture-based pollutants. *

Given that reality, we’ve considered a water filter for years, but I’ve been too ambivalent to take action.  The fact that the City of St. Louis apparently has relatively safe water (in the top 10 for large U.S. cities according to this 2009 report), not to mention consistently ranking as some of the best tasting tap water (though taste does not necessarily represent quality) in the country, did little to motivate me to make any changes.

While much less wasteful than bottled water, water filters still involve some waste — most need replacement filters every few weeks, or months, depending on the brand, and then there’s the plastic pitcher or the plastic housing of a sink-attached filtration system.

When Matthew came home from Home Eco with this filtration system a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t fight it too much.  I relegated it to the corner of the kitchen for about a week while we considered it and offered no resistance when he installed it after the mandatory waiting period.

The filter is supposed to last through 1500 GALLONS of water, which we estimate means at least 2 years before we even have to think about replacing the filter.

My main complaint is the mandatory (though small) water wastage that occurs because you have to have water running before you pull out the pin that switches over to the filter.  To minimize waste, I try to let the water run onto/into a dish that needs to be rinsed anyway, and fill a large jar with filtered water as long as it is running, instead of just one cup at a time.

I don’t notice a taste improvement in the water.  It tastes different — flatter — because it is dechlorinated in the process, but I adjusted to that pretty quickly.  It’s hard to be a complete convert when I just have to trust that there are bad things in the water that the filter is removing, but I guess I’m willing to give it a shot.

What are your thoughts?  Do you  filter your water?

*Don’t you dare run out and buy bottled water!  Almost all bottled water comes from the tap in one city or another, so you aren’t escaping anything — it’s just a huge scam!  In fact, you may be exposing yourself to more unknown danger from whatever chemicals leach from the plastic bottles into the water.

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2 Responses to Water, Purified — To Filter or Not to Filter

  1. EcoCatLady says:

    Well, I used to be ambivalent about filtered water until a few years ago… One day I was brushing my teeth, and I lifted a glass of water to take a swig to rinse, when I was overcome with the most horrendous smell. It was difficult to describe, but somewhere between rotten eggs and toxic waste. At first I thought I just hadn’t washed the bathroom cup in forever, but no… it was the water.

    I waited a week or so, and it just got so bad that I couldn’t take it any more, so I called the water department. They shuffled me around a bit and finally I had the most interesting phone conversation with a young fellow over at the water quality testing facility. It turned out that one of their filtering plants was on the fritz, so our neighborhood was getting water from a different plant, and they had just upped the amount of “disinfectant” in the water.

    Disinfectant…. hmmm…. I asked if he meant chlorine, and he said that they actually use a combination of chlorine and ammonia. “Isn’t that a toxic combination?” I asked. “Well, it is, but only if you do it at home” was his reply. I was not comforted.

    I told him that the smell went away if I filtered the water and he then proceeded to give me the most bizarre lecture on the dangers of drinking filtered water. I was too busy picking my jaw up off of the ground to remember it verbatim, but the long and the short of it was that drinking filtered water is dangerous because the disinfectant has been removed.

    There was a very strange part where he compared a glass of filtered water to an open can of peaches. He said that if you leave a glass of filtered water out on a counter for more than a few hours all sorts of horrible bacteria and food poisoning would grow in it because it lacked disinfectant. I tried to explain that if the bacteria had all been killed off by by said disinfectant, there was nothing to grow… nor was there anything for the bacteria to feed on… and I didn’t see any need to actually drink the disinfectant. Nonetheless, he was quite insistant on his nonsensical point of view.

    I finally decided it was fruitless, so I thanked him for his time and made a firm decision to filter all of my water from then on! I think it’s a great example about the confusion we in this country seem to have between “clean” and “toxic”.

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