Given the fact that we can simply lift a handle and have access to water, it can be easy to forget that all tap water originates somewhere out in the environment. And as it turns out, the conditions of source water in lakes and rivers can have major effects on the quality of our water at home, even after it’s treated by a water treatment plant. One such example of this is algae. Today we’re going to talk about how algae levels in source water affect the quality of our drinking water at home!
What are algae?
Algae are a collection of various different plants that grow in water. They include tiny microscopic plants as well as larger plants such as kelp. Algae are often found in lakes and rivers, and their populations swell and shrink from week-to-week and month-to-month throughout the year.
How does algae get into drinking water?
Although large algae are removed by sediment filters at water treatment plants, tinier algae plants can make it past those filters as well as the subsequent filtration phases. The amount of algae that actually makes its way to our homes depends on how big the algae populations are in source water at any given time. When populations are small, a negligible amount of algae are present in tap water. When populations are large, a significant amount of algae can get into the water in our homes.
Algae blooms occur most often in the spring and summer months, because algae grows best in warm and sunny conditions. In addition, scientists have linked an increase in algae growth in recent years with certain aspects of climate change like warmer temperatures and increased precipitation.
One final factor that can increase algae populations is agricultural runoff, which can provide nutrients for algae to grow when it enters source water nearby.
What are the effects of algae on our water at home?
- Algae effects on the taste of water. When tap water contains high levels of algae, its taste is often described as earthy or musty, as if there were grass or dirt residue in the water.
- Algae effects on the smell of water. Tap water with high levels of algae often smells grassy, earthy or fish, which can make it unappealing to consume.
- Algae effects on the quality of water. Algae gives off a category of toxins known as microcystins. When microcystins are found in high concentrations in water, drinking or showering in that water can lead to health effects like nausea, vomiting and dizziness.
How can you remove algae from your water at home?
Because algae is not effectively removed by water treatment plants, the best way to eliminate it from your water is to install a whole house filtration system. One of the best options is a system that uses a carbon filter, which can remove even the tiniest traces of algae from the water that’s delivered to every tap in your home.
If you have any questions about algae in drinking water, or if you’d like a water system serviced or installed in your home, contact EPA Water Consultants, your water softener and water filtration system dealer in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We provide service all over Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including towns like Quakertown, Allentown and Newtown, PA.
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