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What’s in My Water?

To understand what’s in our water, we first have to know where it’s coming from. The Indianapolis area spans eight counties (Marion, Johnson, Morgan, Hendricks, Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, and Shelby) and relies on several water sources. Surface water comes from creeks, streams, rivers, and reservoirs. Groundwater comes from rain and snow that seeps into the ground and collects in pockets called aquifers. Citizens Energy Group treats both surface water and groundwater for Indy, but our primary water sources are the White River, the Indiana Central Canal, and Geist, Morse, and Eagle Creek Reservoirs.

Our tap water—that is, our drinking water—comes from these surface water and groundwater sources. These supplies, however, are often severely contaminated. The source water must be rigorously treated in order to remove the viruses and bacteria from wildlife waste, salts and metals from industrial discharges, and pesticides and herbicides from residential and agricultural uses. Citizens has strict practices in place to monitor both source water and treated water in our public water systems. But even though our water is “safe,” the overall water quality in Indianapolis needs improving.

Indiana Water Hardness

Probably the most obvious issue with our water is its “hardness.” Indianapolis water is considered “hard” because it contains dissolved calcium, magnesium, and iron salts. According to Citizens, our water hardness can range from 200-350 milligrams per liter. Without a home water softener system, these minerals stay in our water.

Hard water makes our skin feel dry and even interferes with our home appliances. Our dishwashers and laundry machines don’t run properly with hard water because calcium, magnesium, and iron salts react with soap in a way that actually destroys soap’s ability to clean. Hard water can also shorten the lifespan of water heaters because the minerals causes boiler scale build-up.

Chlorine in Drinking Water

The other major concern with our water are its chlorine levels. Chlorine (with small amounts of ammonia) is added to the source water at our water treatment plants because it destroys bacteria and acts as a disinfectant in the water as it travels through the pipelines. Although chlorine is originally introduced into our water to clean it, our drinking water is far cleaner when an in-home filtration system removes chlorine.

This proves to be especially true when our water is treated with “free chlorine,” or chlorine without ammonia. It’s a standard practice for water treatment plants to use “free chlorine” during cooler temperatures. Unfortunately, “free chlorine” is a more active form of chlorine, and it also has a stronger chlorine smell.

While our source water is carefully treated at plants, it’s important to note the ways we can enhance the quality of our water. For truly clean and healthy water, the hardness and chlorine levels of our water need to be addressed at home. View our favorite products for more information on why an energy efficient softener or filtration system improves water quality.
 

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