Have you ever stopped to consider where your water comes from and how it gets to you? If you’re like most homeowners, utilities are a little bit mysterious. You flip a switch and Voila! the lights go on or the house gets warmer or cooler. You turn the faucet and Poof! water flows. Just like that, you can take a shower, bathe the kids, have a drink, wash dishes or clothes, enjoy a swim, and more. Of course, there’s nothing magical about plumbing. You’re experiencing centuries of engineering put to practical use. Let’s follow your water as it journeys to and from your home.
How Much Water Do We Use?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the average American uses 156 gallons of water per day. In Fort Worth, recent studies estimate daily water use at close to that national average. Households in Dallas use more. NPR reports that, at 213 gallons per person per day, residents of Dallas use more water than people anywhere else in the state. European usage figures are less than half of the U.S. average, and consumption in some underdeveloped countries is below 10 gallons per person per day.
All of your household water begins as rain or snow that falls from the sky and is collected by the Earth. Two-thirds of America’s drinking water comes from streams and rivers. Along with reservoirs and lakes, this is called surface water. Ground water comes from aquifers located beneath the planet’s surface. Recycled water or reused water is created when waste water is treated in a municipal plant and returned to levels of purity that have been deemed safe for general use and even for drinking.
In Dallas, water comes from six reservoirs, also referred to as lakes: Grapevine, Lewisville, Ray Roberts, Ray Hubbard, Fork, and Tawakoni, as well as from the Trinity River. There is an aquifer below the city, but Dallas has not survived on well water for many years as a result of the poor quality of that aquifer water. The water supply in the city of Fort Worth comes from Lake Bridgeport, Eagle Mountain Lake, Lake Worth, Cedar Creek, Richland-Chambers Lake, and Benbrook Lake.
How Does Water Get to Your Home?
There was a time when people had to journey to water sources and carry the water to their homes. While that process may have worked for early humans who lived in small villages, devising a system of water delivery was essential for the development of urban centers and the rise of industrialization. For centuries, communities have tasked their best scientists with finding ways to bring unlimited clean water to the places where people live and work. Archaeologists have discovered pipes in India that they believe date back to 4000 BC. By the first century AD, Romans benefited from over 200 miles of aqueducts and pipes that delivered water to private homes and public baths and wells.
Although modern water treatment has come a long way, delivery methods are still based on those ancient systems. Water is collected and transported to a treatment plant through pipes. It is then filtered, cleaned, treated with chemicals, and placed in storage tanks. Fluoride is added to prevent tooth decay.
From the treatment plant, the water is sent to a pump station which pressurizes it and sends it through the city’s water mains. That pressurization is sufficient for the water to flow against gravity and into your home. If you live far from the main, you might experience low water pressure on a regular basis. A plumbing expert can install a pump to improve the situation.
Your home has its own water main, a large pipe that taps into the city’s system. From there, the water enters an underground supply pipe that leads to your home. Once inside, the supply line splits. One side goes to your hot water tank or tankless hot water heater; the other side branches out and delivers cold water throughout the dwelling. Every time you turn a faucet, you open a valve which allows water to flow all the way from the water treatment plant to your sink, tub, garden, or glass.
Water leaves your home through a drain and is collected in a P-trap, a U-shaped bend in your plumbing line before its final exit. The P-trap always contains some measure of water. That water serves as a barrier between your home and the plumbing line, keeping unpleasant sewer gases from coming inside. When water passes the P-trap, it flows back to the city’s system and to another plant, where it is treated once more before returning to the reservoir.
Is Public Water Safe to Drink?
Now that you know that some of the water that flows into your home was once waste water, you might be wondering if our public water is safe to drink. There’s no need to worry. The State of Texas has designated Dallas a “Superior Public Water System,” its highest rating. The City of Dallas Office of Environmental Quality and Sustainability says that Dallas has, “exceptionally high quality, safe drinking water” that “meets or exceeds all standards set by the state and federal governments.” The water is tested 40,000 to 50,000 times every month to ensure quality.
If you live in the Fort Worth area, you should know that, in the city’s most recent Water Quality Report, Chris Harder, Director of Fort Worth Water says, “Fort Worth places water quality as its highest priority. Utility staff is dedicated to ensuring that the water you drink is of the highest quality, from treatment, through storage and distribution, to your home or place of business.” The report goes on to discuss the way the utility addressed a 2021 drinking water violation that affected some residents and to assure the community that their drinking water is safe.
At Horizon Plumbing, we’re plumbing specialists who can help make sure that water is entering and exiting your home in the safest, most efficient ways. Schedule a free consultation with us today.