What Is Potable Water? Your Guide to Understanding Types of Water

Are you asking, “What is potable water?” and are trying to figure out more about water? Read this article for the important things to know about water.

The average American household spends, on average, 300 gallons of water every day. Around 70% of this consumption occurs indoors. Bathrooms and kitchen faucets take up the highest percentage of this usage.

Did you know that the water you use at home is one of the different types of water?  Waterfalls into varying categories depending on the quality and purpose of use.

Have you been wondering what potable or non-potable water means? The difference between the water you use at home and other types of water boils down to portability.

In this article, you’ll learn about potable water and everything else you would wish to know about the varying types of water.

What Are the Main Types of Water?

Water broadly falls into two main types, potable and non-potable water. The difference between potable and non-potable water is its suitability for human consumption.

According to the World Health Organization, the distinction in the potability of water premises on the extent of contamination is inherent. Before we delve into the two main types of water, here are some of the common water contaminants.

Organic Contaminants

These carbon-based chemicals may find their way into the water over time. The most common organic compounds include solvents and pesticides. Water acquires these pesticides from agricultural runoffs.

Your water may also end up with organic contaminants in case of industrial discharge right into the water source. If water develops organic pollutants, it’s not safe for drinking or other domestic use.

Radiological Threats

When testing water for portability, it’s essential to check for any radiological threats. Such threats include radon, cesium, or uranium. Safe water shouldn’t have the slightest trace of such radiological threats.

Water with traces of radiological threats may pose the risk of lung cancer following extended periods of consumption. The presence of radiological threats presents the most considerable risk to water potability.

Inorganic Pollutants

Water may have traces of inorganic pollutants such as toxic mineral acids. These pollutants might include metals, cyanides, or sulfates. In case of direct consumption of such water, you might end up experiencing skin lesions, cardiovascular diseases, or even cancer.

Inorganic pollutants often occur due to the instance of water contact with heavy metals. If in excess other elements such as phosphorus and nitrogen may pose a risk to your health.

Waterborne Pathogens

These are some of the most common water contaminants globally. The difference between potable and non-potable water often boils down to bacteria, viruses, or protozoa in such water. Direct contact with such contaminants may lead to diseases such as diarrhea, hepatitis, or dysentery.

If water has traces of such waterborne pathogens, then it might present a risk to public health. Most times, waterborne pathogens are a result of human actions such as defecating in water.

Now that we have an idea of the leading causes of contamination let’s review the main types of water. 

1- Non-Potable Water

Non-potable water refers to water that is used for all other functions apart from drinking or human consumption. This water may be useful for laundry, toilet flushing, and cooling. Most of the non-potable water is reclaimed or recycled from gray water.

Non-potable water requires extensive collection, treatment, and reuse procedures before usage. However, even after all these measures; it’s often not fit for direct human consumption or use in your kitchen.

2- Potable Water

Potable water is a fancy word for safe drinking water. According to the World Health Organization, 71% of the global population uses safely managed water.  This means that while this water might have underlying contaminants, they are well-treated to avoid public health risks.

Most of the potable water comes from the surface or ground sources. However, such water must undergo treatment to meet the set safety and quality standards. Freshwater must undergo continuous treatment against bacteria, toxic chemicals, and fecal matter to ensure it’s safe.

At the federal, state, and local levels, there are measures set in place that establish maximum contaminant levels. The most common sources of potable water include groundwater, local streams, and reservoirs. However, at the state and other local levels, independent water projects seek to supplement the insatiable demand for water.

Today, efforts to source water from non-traditional sources continue to gain ground. For instance, local governments have made steps in the treatment of wastewater to fit human needs. This approach refers to the indirect reuse of potable water after treatment.

Potable water may further fall into five different types. Here are some of the common types of clean water.

Tap Water

This is by far the most common source of potable water. This water comes directly from your faucets. However, not all water that comes from the tap fits the description of safe drinking water.

Tap water is fit for all domestic chores, including cleaning dishes, cooking, and drinking. Nevertheless, for tap water to qualify as potable, it must satisfy the set local and municipal guidelines. In the United States, more than 19% of the total daily water consumption comes from faucets.

Mineral Water

Mineral water also falls within the class of potable water. Most of the mineral water comes from underground sources. When in the right quantity, mineral water has calcium, magnesium, and manganese.

Such inherent minerals are helpful for the body when consumed in the right proportion.  However, the number of minerals in such water may vary from one brand to the next. Like with other types of potable water, mineral water must undergo safety standards to ensure quality.

Spring Water

Water that leaks from the underground due to accumulated rainwater often tends to form a spring. Most natural springs do not pass through community water systems. Given the source of spring water, it may require additional testing to ensure that it meets the intended safety standards.

Well Water

The EPA estimates that more than 13 million American households depend on private well water. These households use water to support various domestic needs. Well, water is often an accumulation of rainwater in the underground.

In the United States, the owners of such privately owned wells have the responsibility to ensure the highest safety standards. When handled properly, private wells offer a solution to the insatiable need for drinking water.

Purified Water

Purified water serves a considerable part of the American population. This type of water undergoes thorough purification in a treatment plant before distribution for use. Most of the water used in factories goes through a rigorous process of cleaning before use.

You can install a water purifier to recycle water to serve your various needs. Purified water presents one of the most sustainable solutions to the modern demand for water. This water must be free from all contaminants, such as bacteria, to qualify as safe for drinking.

Distilled Water

There’s an underlying difference between distilled water and mineral water. Distilled water refers to the subjection of mineral water through the removal of all the minerals and salts. Most distilled water companies use reverse osmosis and distillation to ensure purification.

The problem with distilled water is that it introduces notable deficiencies given the devoid extent of salts and minerals. While distilled water is common in the market today, it may present mineral deficiencies if consumed in the long term.

Sparkling Water

Sparkling water is common in restaurants. If you have had to choose between mineral water and sparkling water, you might wonder what difference exists between the two. Well, sparkling water refers to water that has undergone carbonation.

Sparkling water feels fizzy, just like soda due to the additive in it. While this type of potable water may be mineral, purified, or distilled, it’s more often a preferred option by most people for drinking.

How to Ensure the Safety of Potable Water

One of the best ways to ensure the safety of potable water is to focus on storage. Once the water undergoes purification or treatment, the storage approach must meet all the safety standards. If you fail to ensure proper storage of potable water after treatment, you might end up dealing with the same issue of contamination.

Are you looking for advanced potable water storage options near you? Tanks can present the most realistic and practical storage option for your portable water. You need to consider containers that are well coated to minimize the risk of contamination through corrosion.

Given the delicate nature of potable water, the exterior and the interior of clean water storage tanks must be designed to perfection.  The tanks should also have the best protection against instances of leakages to ensure an effective potable water supply.

Whether you are looking for potable water tanks for your treatment plant at the municipal level or in rural district settings, durability, and sturdiness are vital considerations. You can source potable water storage tanks that fit all the above standards here and discover safer ways to store potable water.

Potable Water Requires High Safety Storage Standards

Now that you understand the various types of water, the next challenge is to ensure high safety storage standards. Before water can end up in home faucets, there’s a need to ensure high safety standards to minimize re-contamination.

After treatment, handling potable water may require a focus on clean water storage tanks that adhere to high-quality standards. This ensures that the water in the public piping system is safe.

Check out our other articles for more informative content.

One Comment

  1. I like that you pointed out how surface or ground sources are where most of the potable water comes from. I was reading a book about water last night and I learned about the term potable water. Additionally, I also learned that there are potable water servicing companies now too.

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