Go take a drink from your faucet.
Okay, you don’t really have to do that for the sake of this article. But you should pay attention to how you felt when we made the request for you to get a drink.
In many places, getting water from the faucet would be synonymous with having a sort of masochistic streak – precisely because those places don’t clean their water like they should.
If you’re perfectly fine with the idea of getting water from your faucet, then clearly someone is responsible for the general cleanliness of the water that springs eternal from your house’s plumbing system. If you’ve ever wondered what’s going on behind the scenes, wonder no more: you’re about to learn it.
Start at the Beginning: the Source
No matter how clear the lakes, rivers, and streams may look in your area, there’s a good chance that your water’s source is not quite as high-quality as you think it is. Just because water looks clear in nature doesn’t mean it’s ready for human consumption; in many cases, it may be even more contaminated than murky water that simply needs a filter.
Speaking of filters, this is where the water purification process begins. You can’t very well expect to treat water that has rocks, sticks, and other debris in it. So most water purification plants will start with large filters – and they’ll keep on filtering until they’re done. In many cases, this process is much more involved than simply running water through one filter. These filters will get finer and finer in order to sift out smaller and smaller levels of muck.
Once the water has been properly filtered, it’s ready for actual treatment.
Water Treatment: The Chemical Cleansing
Water can often be boiled in order to ensure that it’s clean; however, the energy involved in heating large amounts of water to a boil essentially make this process prohibitive. City treatment plants, after all, are cleaning water for an entire population; expecting them to have machines that boil this volume of water and do it without sucking too much juice out of the energy’s power grid is simply asking too much out of the world of physics.
That’s why water treatment plants turn to the world of chemistry in order to purify water. Typically water is treated with chemicals like chlorine – in safe-to-drink amounts, of course – to kill off any remaining microbes that might have remained in the water after the filtration process. Fluoride is often added in order to strengthen your teeth, although there is debate on whether this is helpful.
The water must then be sent through a clean system of plumbing in order to be received on your end in the pristine condition that you expect from your faucet.
It’s a costly, time-exhaustive process that cleans freshwater for popular consumption, but the result is very profound: clean, easily-accessible water allows us to enjoy all the comforts of civilization we enjoy: cooking, cleaning, showers, baths, and – of course – drinking clean water.
Sample Valves and Equipment makes sanitary sampling valves which assist in testing beverages and other liquids for impurities.