Get to Know Your Drinking Water

Each day, we turn on our water faucets and wait for that precious liquid to flow. We may be using it to drink, brush our teeth or cook a meal. There are many different ways we use water each day. Some uses involve actually consuming this precious liquid, while others are for our hygiene and sanitation. When you turn on the tap to run a glass of water to drink, how much do you really know about what comes out? There are a variety of ways you can learn more about your drinking water supply.

More than 85% of Kentuckians receive drinking water from a public water system. If you are one of these, there are many sources of information about your water supply. Each year, your public water system must prepare and distribute a water quality report, also known as a consumer confidence report. These reports will tell you about the source of your drinking water and the quality of your water. Water systems are required to test for a variety of contaminants, and the report will let you know if any of these were found. It will also provide information about any contaminants detected above the set health standards, and actions taken to reduce these levels.

If your water system serves 10,000 customers or more, you should receive a copy of this report by mail each year before July 1st. For water systems that serve between 500 and 10,000 customers, they can choose to either publish the report in a local newspaper or mail the report to their customers. If your water system is small and serves less than 500 customers, you will be notified by some means when the report is available.

To be an informed consumer, watch for your consumer confidence report each year. When you receive the report, take the time to read it. If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact your local water company. If you do not receive a report by July 1st, contact your water company to request a copy.

Public water system customers also have access to information through other sources. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maintains a web site with drinking water information available by county. That site is accessible at http://www.epa.gov/ogwdw/dwinfo/ky.htm. The Kentucky Division of Water, Drinking Water Branch also provides a great deal of information about drinking water systems and programs via the internet. Their site is accessible at http://water.nr.state.ky.us/dw/.

If your household water is derived from a private supply like a well, spring or cistern, it's up to you to learn more about it. Having your water tested once per year can provide valuable information about quality, and can allow you to track changes over time. It is also wise to keep a log of any maintenance or repairs to your private water system. Private water supplies can be a good source of high quality drinking water if properly maintained or managed.

Regardless of your drinking water source, it is always wise to learn as much about it as you can. Be an informed consumer, and help protect your health, your family and our water supplies. For more information about drinking water and water quality issues, contact the __________ County Cooperative Extension Service.

NOTE TO AGENTS: A variety of fact sheets and publications are available which support the content of this exclusive. These include a fact sheet on consumer confidence reports, fact sheet series related to wells and cisterns, and publications related to water testing and standards. For a listing of publications, visit the Environmental and Natural Resource Issues Task Force web site at: http://www.ca.uky.edu/enri.

Prepared by Kimberly B. Henken, Extension Associate for Environmental and Natural Resource Issues
2002 Kentucky Water Awareness Month Packet
December 2001