Column by Barbara Hirsch
My journey to find drinking water that I can really enjoy:
If it isn’t obvious, I cannot buy water in plastic bottles unless forced to, not liking plastic or BPA or the business of it. I do not like the taste of Santa Barbara tap water, nor do I like its chlorine. I admit to buying water from the corner market water dispensers in my 3 gallon glass bottles. But I live in droughtland and have learned a few things, way too late, about that water. Having had some good tasting filtered tap water at a super eco friend’s place, I decided to make the change, but how best? The research began.
Concerns in water are these: mineral content, pH, pathogens, chlorine, fluoride, pesticides, arsenic, lead, mercury, chemicals and more.
Municipal water systems generally produce safe drinking water, usually with the help of chlorine, as does ours here in SB. But we don’t have heavy industry and crop spraying affecting our rain, lake and groundwater as some areas do.
Reverse osmosis (RO) water is what you get from those big dispensers where zillions fill their 1 or 5 gallon bottles. Also those under the counter home systems that have two to four cartridges which are not recyclable and need regular replacing. These systems waste from 1 to 10 gallons for every gallon we drink !!!. They do remove most contaminants, but the good things in tap water – minerals – are also removed, and the water becomes more acidic. Demineralized acidic water is unhealthful. If we’re to drink many glasses of it daily, that is just silly.
The simpler carbon filter systems – faucet or pitcher, like Brita – improve the water, but the filters must be replaced frequently and unless you want to send them in for recycling, think about the number of them in the landfill!
I recently decided that I had to go the filtered tap route – without RO. I’ve purchased a Berkey gravity fed system that is so effective at purification, it can actually purify pond water, but leaves the minerals in. The filters can be used for thousands of gallons of water. So if our city water system gives out for some catastrophic reason or other, you can all come on over, just bring your pond.