Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sustainable options for clean healthy water

Years ago we lived in an apartment with old plumbing and really bad tasting water. We started buying distilled water because it had no taste and no smell. It was just water, clean and refreshing to drink. It made tea and coffee taste better too. I used it in soups and stews also, hoping it would improve my cooking (it took a lot more than just good water to make that happen).

The problem with distilled water is that we could not afford to continue buying it, and it takes a lot of energy to create it. It just was not a sustainable solution for us at the time. Making this decision coincided with the decision to move to a house in another neighborhood.

The water in the house tasted fine, and we forgot all about it.

Three years later we moved again, to a new house in a new neighborhood. Surprisingly, the water in our new house tasted horrible. The water smelled bad. It even had a rusty color. We were definitely not going to cook with it or drink it.

So we were back where we were before. We had to find a cost effective, reliable way to get clean, fresh water in the house. We debated buying distilled water again, but first we tried using Pur water filters for the kitchen tap. They screw into the actual faucet outlet. They were easy to use and the water was great.

The Pur filters worked great short term, but as much as we cook, we had to change the filters often. So again, due to the cost, it was not a long term solution that we could sustain. So we started looking for other options.

We researched whole-house reverse osmosis systems. There are some really nice systems available that will filter out all the impurities, not just in your kitchen tab, but also your shower and bathroom basins. However, those systems are expensive, and they are hard to retrofit into existing houses. So, again, not for us.

We settled on a GE SmartWater filter system that fits under the kitchen sink. It has dual-stage filters that removes lead, asbestos, cysts, and chlorine. The filters twist and lock in place, making it easy to change filters. The system has a separate water faucet for the filtered water, so we don't use filtered water for rinsing dishes or cleaning the counters. The filtered faucet has a sensor that indicates when it is time to change the filters. Most importantly, the water tastes great.

The filters cost us about sixty dollars a year. For us, for all the benefits, this is a solution that we can sustain.  We think the health of our family is worth the money and the effort.  Remember, determining what is sustainable for you is a personal choice made by weighing health benefits, effects on the environment, and commitments of time and money.