The Aqua Customer Guide to Water Quality

It’s no secret that drinking water is important for maintaining good health. Staying hydrated is essential for regulating your body temperature, lubricating joints, and even protecting your spinal cord. But do you know everything that goes into delivering safe drinking water to your home?

We spoke to two Aqua experts — Water Quality Director Chuck Hertz and Technical Services Chief Ann Dreyer — to get the answers to commonly asked questions about water quality, like how both government agencies and Aqua ensure the quality of your drinking water.

Where does my drinking water come from?

The United States has one of the safest and most reliable drinking water systems in the world. Every year, millions of people living in the United States get their tap water from a public community water system.

The drinking water that is supplied to homes comes from either a surface water or ground water source. Surface water collects in streams, rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Ground water is water located below the ground where it collects in pores and spaces within rocks and in underground aquifers. We get ground water by drilling wells and pumping it to the surface.

After treatment, water travels to your tap from a surface water or ground water source through a network of pipes known as water mains.

How is my drinking water regulated?

All public water systems in the United States, like those owned/operated by Aqua, are required to follow the standards and regulations set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and each state’s environmental protection agency (e.g. PADEP).

What type of health issues can be related to water quality?

Some contaminants in water at unsafe levels has the potential to lead to health issues, including gastrointestinal illness, cancer, reproductive problems, and neurological disorders. Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems may be at increased risk for becoming sick after drinking contaminated water. For example, elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. Federal law requires that public water systems reduce certain contaminants to set levels in order to protect human health.

How do I know that the water in my home is safe to drink?

Aqua conducts extensive monitoring of the water to ensure safety. This includes continuous monitoring for indicators at our treatment facilities. Each of our treatment plants has a laboratory that conducts process control analyses throughout each day. Aqua also has a certified laboratory that conducts compliance testing of the drinking water.  

The EPA is responsible for making sure that public water supplies within the United States are safe. In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act. This law sought to further protect the nation’s public drinking water supply by giving the EPA authority to set the standard for drinking water quality and oversee the states, localities, and water suppliers who implement those standards. In 1986 and 1996, the law was amended to protect drinking water and its sources, which include rivers, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and ground water wells.

How do germs and chemicals get into my drinking water?

There can be many sources of contamination of water systems. The most common sources of contaminants include:

  • Naturally occurring chemicals and minerals (e.g., arsenic, radon, uranium)
  • Local land use practices (e.g., fertilizers, pesticides, livestock, concentrated animal feeding operations)
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Sewer overflows
  • Malfunctioning wastewater treatment systems (e.g., nearby septic systems)

The EPA regulates many contaminants that pose known human health risks. The EPA makes sure that water meets certain standards, so you can be sure that high levels of contaminants are not in your water.

How do I treat water at my home if I am concerned about water quality?

Different types of treatment, e.g. water filters have different functions. Some can make your water taste better, while others can remove chemicals or germs. Visit CDC’s filter page to learn more about home water filters.

How can I find out if there has been a violation in our public water standard?

When water quality standards have not been met, public water systems must notify customers if there is a risk to their health. If there is a short-term risk, the water system will send out an alert. Your annual Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) is another way to find out about the water quality in your area, and find information regarding contaminants, possible health effects, and the water’s source.

Who do I need to contact to find out more information about water quality in my area?

Information can be found online at Water quality reports are available for each drinking water system. In addition, you can contact Aqua at 877.987.2782 to inquire about water quality.

Aqua is dedicated to providing safe, reliable drinking water to our customers across the states we serve. For up-to-date information about potential water quality issues or service outages that may impact Aqua customers, sign up for our WaterSmart Alerts.