Recent water quality issues such as the Flint, Michigan water contamination and the ongoing lead in Baltimore City School’s drinking water have caused many of us to think twice before we drink what comes out of our faucets. Such stories and others like it should leave us pondering whether we have an adequate answer to the question: is tap water in Maryland safe to drink? Thankfully there are precautions that we can take to determine and even ensure the safety of our drinking water.
Is Tap Water In Maryland Safe To Drink? How to Know!
If you live in Montgomery or Prince George’s County, your public water is treated and distributed by WSSC, a public utility. As a public utility, WSSC must regularly test the water they process under EPA guidelines. The EPA’s guidelines set limits on over 90 different chemical and microbial contaminants such as arsenic, lead, copper, and coliform (see here). The good news is that as of the writing of this article, WSSC and the water in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County have consistently hit the EPA standards. Therefore, in a general sense, your water is safe to drink. You should not expect to get dysentery or another immediate illness from the water.
However, many consider the EPA standards to be merely the bare minimum. The EPA has been slower to develop updated standards to keep up with the latest research on pollution and chemical contaminants. It has been noted that preliminary research indicates chemicals in our water from outdated pipes, old plumbing fixtures, agricultural runoff, and industrial pollution can create risks such as cancer, hormone disruptions, and fertility difficulty if there is long-term exposure. You can check out EWG’s Tap Water Database to see what’s in your city’s water.
If you are concerned about drinking from your tap water, you can choose from three different types of home water treatment systems.
How Activated Carbon Filters Water
The first and simplest type of filtration you can use is activated carbon. Activated carbon is a highly porous material that adheres to contaminants like chlorine to remove it from the water. Activated carbon filters can be easy as having a pitcher filter (think Brita or Pur) or you can have one to filter the water for the entire house (called a Whole House Filter). Activated carbon, unfortunately, fails to remove inorganic pollutants such as arsenic, fluoride, hexavalent chromium, nitrate, and perchlorate. For those contaminants, you will need a reverse osmosis system.
How Does A Reverse Osmosis System Work?
A reverse osmosis water filtration system is the most effective because it works by only allowing molecules the size of water or smaller to pass through a semipermeable membrane. Reverse osmosis systems often combine a sediment filter with an activated charcoal filter. The downside to a reverse osmosis system is that it discharges a lot of water. As a result, most homeowners choose to install a reverse osmosis system under the kitchen sink instead of the whole house.
Do I Need A Water Softener?
The last type of water treatment system is a water softener often in the form of an ion exchanger. A water softener will remove calcium and magnesium along with barium and radium by exchanging those elements with sodium (aka salt). Although calcium and magnesium do not typically result in health issues, they most certainly result in plumbing issues.
If you have a high amount of calcium and magnesium in your water, you have “hard water”. Hard water will leave mineral deposits on any surface that the water touches. Do you have water spots after washing the dishes? Do you have a frosty residue on the glass door of your shower? This is caused by water hardness. Homeowners who live in the western half of Montgomery County in areas like Rockville, Silver Spring, Potomac, Chevy Chase, Bethesda, and Gaithersburg have hard water. Over time, the mineral buildup can cause issues in your pipes and fixtures. A water softener can take care of your water hardness problem.
In conclusion, although Maryland tap water is safe to drink, home water treatment systems can almost always offer you another layer of protection. Activated carbon filters, reverse osmosis systems, and water softeners can ensure you are consistently benefitting from high-quality water, not simply water that meets the bare minimum requirements. If you still have questions, call an expert.
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Is Maryland tap water safe to drink? ›
Our Environmental Laboratory tests our drinking water more than 12,000 times every year, ensuring water quality and safety, and protecting public health. Our drinking water consistently meets and exceeds state and federal drinking water quality standards.How can tap water be safe for drinking? ›
Boiling your water for at least 1 minute at a rolling boil will kill all harmful bacteria, parasites, and viruses from drinking water. You can also treat small volumes of drinking water by using a chemical disinfectant, such as unscented household chlorine bleach or by using a water filter.What are the pros and cons of tap water? ›
Overall, both tap and bottled water are considered good ways to hydrate. However, tap water is generally a better option, as it's just as safe as bottled water but costs considerably less and has a much lower environmental impact. Plus, with a reusable water bottle, tap water can be just as convenient as bottled.Is tap water good for you to drink? ›
The water that comes out of your faucet is filtered, disinfected and often contains added fluoride to prevent tooth decay. Safety standards are set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and enforced by the town, city or state where you live. So, in general, tap water is good, cheap and safe to drink.How is the tap water in Maryland? ›
The City of Rockville's drinking water is safe, as set forth in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations and adopted and enforced by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). For the 2021 calendar year, the city's water met or exceeded all water quality requirements.What state has the safest tap water? ›
- New Hampshire.
Does tap water go bad? Tap water can be stored and consumed for up to 6 months with minimal risk of adverse side effects as long as it has been stored properly ( 1 , 2, 3). However, tap water that has been carbonated can become flat as the gas slowly escapes from the liquid, resulting in changes in flavor.Can I drink bathroom tap water? ›
Drinking water straight from bathroom taps poses a health risk. Despite advances in sanitation worldwide, there are more than 180 countries where tap water is considered unsafe for tourists. In these countries, it would be doubly unsafe to drink water from bathroom taps.Can you drink bathroom sink water? ›
So, is it safe to drink tap water from the bathroom? Probably not. It's unlikely to kill you but the clean water from the cold tap in your kitchen is a far better option. If you're prone to needing a drink in the night then maybe keep a fresh glass of kitchen tap water on your nightstand.What are two benefits of drinking tap water? ›
Water is the best healthy beverage choice. And tap water is safe, better for the environment, less expensive and offers health benefits such as fluoride that may be lacking in many bottled water products.
Is tap water healthier than fridge water? ›
At the end of the day, neither type of filter is a hands-down better choice than the other. Both are effective, convenient, and affordable. Which is best for you mostly boils down to whether you prefer to get your filtered water straight from the tap or would rather access it cold and ready to go from your fridge.What is one advantage of tap water? ›
It is convenient, free or inexpensive, and has much less of an environmental impact than bottled water. Tap water is also just as safe as bottled water, and most people will not be able to tell the difference in taste.Is tap water healthier than soda? ›
It's no secret that water is the healthiest beverage option out there—no calories, no sugar, just hydration. But while water only has positive benefits for you, soda has nothing for you.What's the healthiest water to drink? ›
Mineral, structured, and pure spring water are some of the healthiest water you can drink because they're clean and contain all the essential minerals your body needs. Filtered water removes contaminants but might also remove essential minerals.Does boiling tap water purify it? ›
Boil. If you don't have safe bottled water, you should boil your water to make it safe to drink. Boiling is the surest method to kill disease-causing germs, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites.Where does Maryland tap water come from? ›
The clean, safe drinking water we provide comes from one of two rivers: the Potomac or the Patuxent.Which city has the safest tap water? ›
- Silverdale, Washington. Silverdale's water comes from an aquifer in Green Mountain.
- Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City's Water comes from man-made lakes. ...
- Louisville, Kentucky. ...
- Macon, Georgia. ...
- Memphis, Tennessee.
Though Baltimore's drinking water meets federal safety standards, the water coming out of her tap is sometimes brown — a sign iron may be leaching from aging pipes, whether in her building or under the street.Is Maryland tap water fluoridated? ›
Approximately 93% of Maryland residents on public water supplies receive optimally fluoridated water, either naturally or by supplementation.