For over 40 years, the American Water Works Association and its members have celebrated Drinking Water Week by bringing together communities and industry professionals to recognize water’s vital role in our daily lives. As citizens of the richest nation in the world, it is all too easy to take for granted how critical clean drinking water is to foster healthy living and sustainable communities, but we can take the opportunity to consider the role of water and how we can contribute to maintaining safe water systems in our communities. In conjunction with Drinking Water Week, the AWWA is sharing three ways you can actively ensure the quality of your drinking water at home.
- Get the Lead Out: Lead exposure can cause health issues for people of all ages, but specifically in young children, even low levels of exposure have been linked to behavior and learning problems, lower IQ and slowed growth. The Chicago Department of Public Health works to detect and address exposures to lead hazards. Use of lead pipes was banned in 1986, but some lead can be found in older homes water pipes, fixtures and solder. All Chicago residents can call 311 and request a free water quality test from the City of Chicago Department of Water Management. To reduce exposure to lead in your home make sure to: 1) Flush your pipes before drinking 2) Only use cold water for eating and drinking 3) Use water filters or treatment devices
- Check and Fix: One of the easiest and most efficient ways to responsibly conserve water is to proactively check for and fix leaks in your home. AWWA recommends shutting off everything connected to your water source and inspecting the flow indicator on the water meter. If your indicator is still moving while everything is off, you should suspect you have a leak. Once a possible leak is detected, be sure you move as quickly as possible to identify the source and perform repairs. You can learn more about household leaks at DrinkTap.org.
- Caring For Pipes: Proactive and thorough care of a home’s plumbing system is one of the most valuable ways to avoid future issues. Clogged pipes are not only an annoyance, but can cause environmental harm as well when backflow occurs. Make sure to avoid flushing certain items down the toilet, specifically facial tissue, paper towels and medications. Also avoid letting fats, oil and grease, go down the kitchen drain. These actions can help residents play an active role in not clogging up our water and wastewater systems.
One of Chicago’s greatest assets as a city is our access to vast water resources; but our lake is not just for recreation. It provides a vital source of freshwater to the city and surrounding areas. Collectively, the Great Lakes are the largest surface freshwater system on Earth and represent about 21% of the world’s supply of surface fresh water. As the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan has showcased, access to clean drinking water is crucially important to creating sustainable communities. Here in Chicago we are fortunate to have easy access to clean water and we often take our resources for granted. Over the course of Drinking Water Week, take a moment to appreciate the value of clean, accessible drinking water and how you can play your part in ensuring continued clean water in the community.