Monday, January 4, 2010

The Water Issue

Mom has been obsessing about drinking water since the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve. I'm not sure why she's obsessing about but it's taking up a lot of time, time that should be spent with me.

Our water comes from Lake Michigan via the Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency (CLCJAWA). We receive a water quality from our village at the end of each year, in compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, and Mom is anxiously awaiting the 2009 report. Did you even know that there was a Safe Drinking Water Act? It is the main federal law that ensures the quality of Americans' drinking water. The EPA sets standards for drinking water quality and oversees the states and water suppliers who implement the standards.

I think Mom is obsessing about water because of the report that came out a couple of months ago that listed the quality of water in big cities around the country. Surprisingly, Chicago did not rate very high on the list (meaning Chicago's water isn't that great) and Austin, TX had the best water in the U.S. Since our water comes from the same source as Chicago, Mom got to thinking that maybe our water isn't all that great either. Enter the water quality report.

First some background info. Lake Michigan is a surface water source and is susceptible to all kinds of contaminants. Anyone could potentially dump anything they want into the lake, though dumping is illegal. There is no way to guard the shores of the lake from individuals' contaminating it. Businesses are subject to laws regarding what they can and cannot dump, and hopefully they abide by these regulations. Fines are stiff for breaking these laws, however some businesses are never caught.

Even though water is the most common substance found on Earth, only 1% is available as drinking water and of that 1%, 20% of it is located in the Great Lakes. We are very lucky to live close to such a great water source and we never take this for granted.

Our water is constantly monitored by our village, the Illinois EPA, the CLCJAWA lab, as well as independent labs throughout the county. It is even checked for water clarity every 10 seconds! The US EPA sets limits for contaminant levels in water and it is the job (and responsibility) of the agencies responsible for our water to make sure that contaminants levels are below the set limits. Contaminants come from everywhere - farms, acid rain, animals, and even medicine that is flushed down the toilet (this is a big no-no!).

The water purification process that CLCJAWA employs is pretty complex and unique, but for some reason Mom is still unsure about the safety of it. Mom has been drinking this water since she moved here 13 years ago and before that she drank good old Chicago water. She doesn't have any contaminants in her (that she's aware of) yet she insists we have our water tested to ensure it is the best it can be.

Mom is now on the hunt for a water testing kit. She is also (though prematurely) on the hunt for a water purification system. With all the buzz around Brita pitchers you'd think they would be a good choice but they're really not. They only remove chlorine and lead leaving all the other contaminants in the water and in you. Hmmm. The Brita faucet filter is a better choice but it doesn't remove everything. There are some water filters on the market that remove 99% of most contaminants but Mom worries about the filters themselves. Why you ask? Because only recently has Brita committed to a recycling program for their used filters and Mom wonders if other companies have similar programs (Brita filters are recycled via Preserve). Mom cannot imagine putting more unnecessary trash in landfills.

Reverse osmosis is another option but according to the research Mom has done thus far, this process only removes chemicals, not contaminants. People using this option over long periods of time have been shown to have chemical deficiencies, primarily calcium and magnesium. This process also doesn't ensure the purity of the water.

What's a pug to do with a crazy water obsessed mom? I see it this way. My only option at this point is to smile and support Mom as she goes about the water testing process. If she finds our water to be subpar (translation: not fit for pugs), I will stand by her as she spends hours upon hours researching the best water filtration process for our house. At least she can do her research in the comfort of home, on the sofa or bed with me by her side.


Tweedles -- that's me said...

Hi Stubby
Good for your mom for doing all the water research.
Those filter things always give moms headaches trying to screw it onto the faucet! But eventually it works.
Did you know our water comes from the root of a tree? Yup. Then it goes into a cemement cistern- and then it is pumped to the house.
It has LOTS of minerals in it- that can stain. But the people who lived here before were 100 years old and drinking it, so it musta been good.

dw said...

Hi Stubby! I obviously drink Chicago city water and think it tastes fine (you should taste the water in Florida -- or maybe you shouldn't!). My cousin in Florida has a brita pitcher that she fills and the water from that actually tastes quite good, so I know it's getting a lot of nasties out of the water. I know that taste isn't the only way to know if it's good water, but maybe your mom will find a good solution quickly so she can spend more time cuddling with you!!

Running Water said...

Dear Stubby,

Mom is doing a good job checking up on her water. Her concern must seem odd to you since I have often seen your cousins (but never you of course) lapping water from all sorts of odd places.

The water in your home should be most excellent and does not require further treatment. It is harvested and purified locally by people in our community, treated and tested better than most bottled water and creates no consumer waste.

If Mom has a "Water Issue" she could check out the water plant and lab herself. Only thing is, she will have to leave you at home. Sorry. If you want to set up a tour for her, e-mail Bill at

Melissa and Emmitt said...

hi stubby!
we look forward to hearing what your mom finds out about the water and if she finds a filter she likes. there are lots of options out there so i know she will find the best one for you and the whole family! :)

we are so excited about your possible vacation plans this spring. your sweet comment yesterday made our day!

m & e

Stubby said...

Hi Tweedles! That is so cool that your water comes from the root of a tree! I'm sure the water is okay to drink or your moms wouldn't let you drink it. And if the people that used to live there lived to 100, then it sounds good to me.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi dw! Chicago city water rocks. Mom drank it for many years and loved the taste of it.

Mom has tasted the water in Florida and she agrees that it's not that good. The need for a Brita means more waste in the world. This is not a good thing. Too bad taste isn't the only way to determine water quality but I guess that would just be way too easy!

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Running Water! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I can assure you that I would never drink water from an odd place but I'm sure my cousins do.

I told Mom that our water was just fine but she insisted on researching it. Mom would love a tour of the water plant and lab, and I'm going to have her e-mail you right away! Bummer that I can't come with but I'm sure Mom will take lots of pictures.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Melissa & Emmitt! I will definitely post the results of Mom's research when it's complete. Hopefully we won't need a filtration system so keep your fingers and paws crossed.

I'm so glad my comment yesterday made your day. I look forward to making my spring vacation plans soon and will be contacting you to check on possible dates. We are going to have a great time!

Stubby xoxo

Anonymous said...

Funny enough we don't drink straight tap water or give it to the dogs (in our last apartment, it had a metallic taste) we use bottled water from our local grocery store.

Stubby said...

Hi Lex! Have you ever considered a filter for your faucet or even a pitcher for your refrigerator? These will cut down on the cost (and energy) of buying bottled water.

Stubby xoxo