The two factors that define your water treatment options are:
- Your water source
- Your personal preferences
Your water source will determine the types of water quality issues that can arise, and is largely out of your control. However, the decision to have high quality, safe water from every tap is entirely up to you.
Urban Centre Water Issues
In major population centers of the developed world, the most familiar piece of water treatment equipment is usually a water softener, which works by employing the principle of ion exchange (exchange of calcium and magnesium dissolved ions with sodium or potassium ions). The removal of dissolved calcium and magnesium is not an economically viable proposition for municipalities. So, the all too familiar “hardness” which results in clogged shower heads, excessive detergent use and damaged water heaters becomes the homeowner’s problem.
Rural Area Water Issues
For those living off the grid, whose water source is typically a drilled well or a lake, there are a number of other issues which are not familiar to the city dweller, and require application of various POE options. Some of the issues (in addition to hardness), affecting these water supplies are:
- Turbidity: cloudy, visually unappealing water
- Iron and iron bacteria: bad taste, staining, and possible gelatinous growth
- Sulphur: “rotten egg” odor associated with sulphur reducing bacteria
- Microbial contamination: including fecal coliforms, E.coli and parasitic cysts
Water Treatment Systems
Point-of-entry (POE) is the term commonly used to define any water treatment system or combination of systems designed to alleviate water quality issues at the point where water enters a building, prior to distribution to the water heater, kitchen and washrooms. This is in contrast to Point-of-use (POU) systems, which are designed to be installed under the counter or even directly on to a drinking water faucet with limited treatment capabilities. The most applicable system is usually determined by a comprehensive water test, understanding consumer expectations and offering a range of appropriate options. Equipment used in POE systems can range from a simple hardware store-purchased sediment filter to a suite of products performing complementary tasks designed to provide aesthetically pleasing, palatable and safe drinking water.