by Gabe Ergler
I Have City Water, Why Would I Need to Treat It?
April 6, 2017
Dirty city water

You don’t need to treat City Water right? You could be wrong.

Sure city water leaves the treatment plant safe for human consumption. Problems often arise in the distribution system as water travels to your home. It is a common mistake to believe that because your water comes from a city supply it is high quality and does not need further treatment at your home or business.

Common factors that cause city water to need treatment;

  • City water treatment facilities are only required to make your water safe from what is known as primary contaminants, things like arsenic and bacteria.
  • Cities are not required to fix what are known as secondary contaminants like iron or hardness.
  • Water quality is affected by the distribution system itself.

Generally city water is pretty safe as it leaves the treatment facility but there is very little control over what happens on its way to your home or business through the distribution system. Along the way to your home or business water travels through storage tanks, reservoirs and through pipes. During its journey it can change substantially for the worse. Your water may not be as clean as you think it is.

What does this mean for you?

It means you could be;

  • Working much harder and spending more money than need be keeping your home clean, clothes bright and white and appliances functioning properly.
  • Doing something more enjoyable than cleaning up the effects of poor quality water with your time.
  • Doing something more enjoyable than re-buying buying dishes, clothes and appliances with your hard earned money.
  • Enjoying high quality water throughout your home or business
  • Having more time and spending your hard earned money on something you enjoy and
  • Selling your home faster and for more money

Take a look at the picture below. These are Cascadian ICS-TPK filters, the one on the left is used and the one on the right is new. The customer installed the ICS-TP Water Treatment System to soften the hard water and remove the bad chlorine taste. The water that caused the used filter to look so bad come from the City of Mesa AZ. When the customer looked at his used filter he discovered there is much more in his City of Mesa water than he ever imagined. In addition to softening the water and removing the bad chlorine taste the filter removed iron and other particulate to clarify the water (See more of the customer’s story).

Used ICS-TP Testimony, Mesa, Az

What causes such nasty looking stuff in city water?

Well, as we learned earlier cities are not required to treat for secondary contaminants such as iron. When perfect when it left the treatment facility it can and does pick up contaminants in the distribution system.

1 Comment

  1. Gabe Ergler


    Thank you so much for your comment and questions “ANY water TREATED other then POINT OF USE is a rip off. Why treat “city water” for watering the lawns or flushing a toilet?”.

    You deserve answers and at the same time I am quite sure many others have the same or very similar questions. Thank you for the opportunity to provide answers that are unbiased and represent years of experience solving water quality problems.

    Please know that a thorough discussion and answers to your questions would require understanding the reason for your comment and questions. The discussion could easily take an entire chapter and perhaps entire water treatment book. This is not the place for a discussion to that degree of completeness but at the same time I want to reply adequately to your comment and questions. If I do somehow miss satisfactorily responding to your comment and answering your questions please reply to this comment or contact me directly.

    It is my belief the most common reasons customers purchase water treatment are to solve problems and improve their lives. The treatment they require depends upon the specific water quality problems they are having, their personal preferences and even the way their home or business is plumbed. This sounds simple but I think set the stage for my response.

    The broadest range of water quality problems customers have will be solved using one or both POE (Point Of Entry) and POU (Point of Use) water treatment systems, each has their place and they are NOT mutually exclusive. To provide the best treatment it is common to treat water for the entire home to one level and water used for cooking and drinking to another higher level. Think of it like this; use POE to soften, improve taste and odor, stop staining, stop soap scum, stop hard water spots on showers, dishes, fixtures and windows, remove sediment and particulate, keep laundry whiter and brighter, save time and effort spent cleaning, save money on cleaning supplies and premature appliance maintenance and replacement and so on.

    One common reason for a POE / POU treatment combo is because the POE treatment does the “heavy lifting” for the POU treatment which polishes the pre-treated water to a higher degree for cooking and consumption. Most customers require only POE treatment say for removing chlorine taste and odor and softening throughout the home or business. The option is always there for both POE and POU if problems or preferences require both. Let water quality, product specifications and customer preferences be your guide.

    In most city water cases it does not make sense to treat water used for lawns, gardens and plants. Water treated with a salt based softener may be harmful to plants and soil. Without salt based treatment treated water poses no problem. To avoid this salt problem all together it is common to treat only the water inside the home for domestic use. This is most often accomplished by separating water for outside uses before the POE treatment. As I said, in most cities it does not make sense to treat what I call outside water. With that in mind, not all cities provide water that does not stain sidewalks, buildings, cars etc. and in these cases treatment for water used outside may be preferred by the customer.

    In many if not all jurisdictions new homes are required to have a “treated water” loop where the outside water and parts of the inside water to the home are required to be separated from the treated water. In the home the treated water loop most often does not supply water to the kitchen. In this case, if water treatment is required a POU treatment system for cooking and drinking water and even to the dishwasher would be necessary. When building a treatment plan the customer’s plumbing arrangement needs to be considered.

    As to why treated city water would be used to flush a toilet. The most common toilet problems customers solve with untreated city water include rings, staining and sediment in the toilet bowl. POE treatment easily resolves each of these problems.

    I hope I’ve adequately explained why POU treatment ONLY s not always the best course of action and that POE treatment is not a “rip off”.

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