What’s in My Water: Noblesville

Noblesville water comes from many sources, so it’s important to understand the area’s different water quality concerns. Various community groups and watershed alliances in Noblesville are actively working to protect the water sources, but we still have constant contamination risks. Unfortunately, when we face the facts, our drinking water in Hamilton County is probably not as clean as you’d think.

About Noblesville Water

In 2014, Indiana American Water invested over $2.2 million in the Noblesville Water System. The goal was to make our water safer, but these efforts take time. We’ve been noticing serious water quality risks for years already. Healthy watersheds are influenced land use, wetlands, soil type, plants, animals, and humans, and any environmental imbalance. Too much agricultural runoff or an increase in soil erosion can wreak havoc on our underground water supply. The water in Noblesville has ties to the Upper White River Watershed, the Stony Creek-White River Watershed, Morse Reservoir, and the Cicero Creek Watershed; and public meetings in 2009 identified specific pollution concerns for these last two areas. Residents had questions about their water supply. In addition to just odd smells and tastes in drinking water, they wondered how water clarity, runoff, the presence of E. coli, failing septic systems, and blue-green algae were impacting the watershed. Lo and behold, subsequent findings in the 2011 Morse Reservoir/Cicero Creek Watershed Management Plan (you can check it out here) showed that the Noblesville area water repeatedly tested high for Nitrates and Nitrites. And worse, E. coli levels regularly exceeded safety standards.

Key Water Contaminants

Let’s start with the area’s Nitrate and Nitrite levels. Nitrates usually appear in watersheds from agricultural runoff. Nitrites tend to be present because of the ammonia levels produced by bacteria decomposing plants and animals. The Morse Reservoir/Cicero Creek Watershed had a mean value of 6.1 mg/L (see page 85). Although the Indiana Administrative Code allows these measurements to reach as high as 10 mg/L for drinking water sources (don’t ask us why), the US Environmental Protection Agency deems 1.6 mg/L as the max concentration for this type of eco-region. This watershed measured nearly 4 times higher for Nitrates and Nitrites than its water quality target! The presence of E. coli indicates fecal contamination in our water supply. Failing septic tanks and wildlife contribute cause major problems for our water source. The Morse Reservoir/Cicero Creek Watershed had a mean value of 1030 CFU/100mL for the bacteria, but the water quality target for E. coli is much, much lower: 235 CFU/100mL. (Again, you can read about it on page 85 of the Management Plan Report.) When the sub-watershed source samplings average well over 400% of the “target” levels, that raises some serious water quality concerns. In addition to the high measurements of nitrogen forms and E. coli in our watershed, Noblesville is also affected with extreme water hardness levels. In their 2014 report, Indiana American Water noted that Noblesville water hardness measured at a staggering 400 ppm. Dissolved minerals in our municipal drinking water are, as the report says, “naturally occurring.” But a 400 ppm water hardness level is so extreme it’s off the charts. By essentially all water hardness scales, anything over 180 ppm is considered “Very Hard.” So…nearly double that? You’re looking at some serious hard water damage around your home.

Indy Soft Water in Noblesville

The best way to combat Noblesville water issues—Nitrates/Nitrites, E. coli, and hardness—is to treat your water in your own home. While our municipal water treatment plants work to make our water “safe” by their standards, you can make your family’s water safer with in-home systems. A home water softener, drinking water filtration system, or a combination of the two can greatly increase your water quality. A reverse osmosis system is a one way to combat these water concerns. Another great solution is to consider a microbiological drinking water purifier. With so many water contamination risks present in our watershed, it’s always worth considering a fresh way to get a healthier, cleaner water supply—by your standards.