As Americans, we are fortunate enough to have drinking water
that is fresh, and clean. Even so, city water supplies have been
known to experience trouble from time to time. People who are
concerned about the water they drink are turning more to alternative
sources for their water supply.
Residents of Milwaukee are all too familiar with drinking
water problems. In 1993 outbreak of cryptosporidium in the water
supply of Milwaukee, which was not visible in the water, killed
100 people. Last year, the EPA and the Centers for Disease Control
issued a directive advising people with compromised immune systems
to consider boiling their water or drinking water filtered through
a reverse osmosis filtration system. The directive, which applies
not only to AIDS patients but also to some of the elderly and
many cancer patients, could affect 10 percent of the population,
or about 25 million people.
Cholera, dysentery and polio outbreaks are rare in the United
States, while they are still common in developing countries.
Modern methods for water treatment and testing insure that our
municipal water is free from the contaminants that cause those
outbreaks. Our standards for municipal water make it one of the
safest sources for drinking water in the world. Experts do caution
that new dangers have presented themselves. Quantities of contaminants
that could not be measured when the Clean Water Act was passed
in 1972 are now of concern ;like trihalomethanes, a by-product
of chlorine; lead; arsenic; agricultural
and industrial chemicals; and biological organisms.
Despite these new threats, chlorination has been the primary
method used by municipalities since 1908 to ensure the safety
of our drinking water. Chlorine is a very good disinfecting agent
for our water, eliminating bacteria. However, other filtration
methods, like reverse osmosis , which are much more effective
at removing contaminants are too expensive for use at the municipal