Florida has a troubled past when it comes to this question.
Yes, the water in Florida is safe to drink because local governments follow strict federal and state laws on monitoring water contaminants.
In fact, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection requires that,
“...all chemicals added to drinking water and all system components that come in contact with drinking water be certified under ANSI/NSF Standards 60 and 61. These standards insure that there are no harmful chemicals inadvertently added to the drinking water supply.”
So, yes, under normal circumstances, Florida’s drinking water is safe...unless the water becomes contaminated. In which case, you’ll get a “water boil notice”.
So let’s look at why Florida’s water is particularly vulnerable to contamination and what you can do to keep your drinking water safe and healthy.
Why is Florida’s tap water prone to contamination?
About 90% of Florida’s drinking water is provided by aquifers.
Aquifers are basically huge, underground rocks made of porous limestone that contain a large amount of freshwater. That freshwater is pumped up to the surface and used for public consumption.
Photo source: Tampabaywater.org
But, unfortunately, aquifer water is easily contaminated.
According to the Southern Regional Water Program, Florida’s “unique hydrogeologic features of a thin soil layer, high water table, porous limestone and large quantities of rainfall coupled with rapid population growth, result in a groundwater resource extremely vulnerable to contamination.”
Basically, chemicals from various manufacturers and microbial contaminants can easily enter the state’s aquifer water.
The most common aquifer contaminants include:
- Dry cleaning solvents
- Leaking underground gasoline storage tanks
And the CDC states that not all groundwater systems treat the water after it’s drawn up from the source.
So it’s possible that contaminated aquifer water is drawn up, left untreated and delivered to your water supply.
If there’s a chance that the drinking water in a certain area becomes contaminated, the local government sends out "boil water notices”, where citizens are instructed to boil their drinking water for at least one minute before using it.
If there is a water boil notice, Florida counties will notify residents with door hangers (pictured above), TV/radio alerts or automated phone calls. Photo source: scgov.net
So, while Florida’s aquifers often can become contaminated, regular testing of the drinking water and “boil water notices” help keep you safe.
If my water isn’t contaminated, why does it taste funny?
Even when the water isn’t contaminated and there is no water boil notice, many people complain about Florida water tasting “funny”.
While it’s hard to diagnose the issue because taste is subjective, the most likely answer is a high amount of common contaminants that affect the taste of the drinking water.
These contaminants aren’t currently regulated by local governments because they aren’t harmful/toxic, they only affect taste.
All the same, these contaminants make the water taste gross to some people so we’ll go over some common taste complaints and the likely contaminant that’s causing it.
Common water taste complaints (and what’s causing them)
My water tastes salty/bitter: If your water tastes salty, it’s most likely due to the high amount of minerals in Florida’s water such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium cations and carbonate, hydrogen carbonate, sulfate, and nitrate anions.
My water tastes like bleach: If your water tastes like bleach it’s most likely the result of chloramine, which is used to clean water.
My water tastes metallic: The culprit of “metallic” taste is a high level of metals including:
If your water has a metallic taste, this is a sign that your house may need new plumbing.
If you want to learn more about what kinds of common contaminants might be in your water, check out our article, “Why Does Florida’s Water Taste So Bad?”
How can I protect myself against contamination and funny tasting water?
If you live in the Sarasota, FL area and want to improve the quality and taste of your drinking water, we suggest you start with a free water quality test from Plumbing Today.
We’ll be able to identify the contaminants in your water and offer the water quality product you need.
Your best option for cleaner water is a water filtration system that can filter out contaminants and minerals from your water.
Our Halo 5 whole-home water filtration system protects your family in 2 ways:
- It prevents the water from tasting bitter and eliminates the negative effects associated with Florida’s hard water.
- It uses 5 stages of filtration to catch and remove chlorine, chloramines, gases, dyes, fuels, heavy metals, man-made pollutants, disinfectants, pesticides, TTHM, sodium hypochlorite, undesirable odors, undesirable taste and volatile organic contaminants.
Want more water quality advice from a Sarasota Plumber?
Want to learn more about a whole-home water filtration system?
Just contact Plumbing Today’s professionals today to get all of your questions answered.
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