Keeping It Clean: Water Purification as an Amenity

By Lipshultz, Alfred J. | Journal of Property Management, May-June 1991 | Go to article overview

Keeping It Clean: Water Purification as an Amenity


Lipshultz, Alfred J., Journal of Property Management


It was only a few years ago that installing water purification systems in new construction was viewed as an admission of guilt. "It's like announcing that this area has bad water!," developers protested.

That line of thinking no longer holds water, due to the overwhelming evidence of the contaminants in water supplies around the country. In addition to health risks, impurities in the water supply are the invisible culprits responsible for the corrosion of plumbing lines and fixtures.

Builders and property owners who want to be one step ahead of the competition are installing purifiers during construction and promoting them as an amenity. Like central air conditioning, garbage disposals, and microwave ovens before them, water purifiers have crossed the threshold from luxury to necessity.

According to the Water Quality Association, a trade organization representing manufacturers of water purifiers, sales skyrocketed 35 percent per year in 1987 and 1988. Almost 2 million water purifiers were sold in 1988 alone, and 1989 also proved to be a banner year. Close to 15 million households and more than 250,000 commercial, institutional, and industrial customers nationwide now have water purifiers.

In several states, including Connecticut, Rhode Island, California, and Michigan, banks require water quality inspections for mortgage applications, in addition to termite and,roof inspections, where municipal water is unavailable.

While most municipal water systems are checked regularly to see that the water meets federal and state standards, minimum standards do not put to rest the concerns of an increasingly health-conscious population who realize how many toxic chemicals are released into the environment every day.

Source of concern

The concern over our drinking water stems from the realities of life in an industrialized society. Tap water can contain any of nearly 1,000 different contaminants, including heavy metals, petroleum products, pesticides, fertilizers, bacteria, and radioactivity.

Even water that is pure when it leaves the plant may be contaminated by the time it comes out the tap. Small breaks in underground waterlines can allow pesticides, fertilizers, or contamination from septic tanks to seep in. In older construction, lead-based solder in plumbing pipes can dissolve in the water. People who get their water from private wells have even more to worry about.

Water that is safe to drink goes far beyond smelling good, tasting good, or looking good, as many toxic chemicals and pollutants are odorless, tasteless, and colorless. The technology exists for municipalities to provide better drinking water, but the economics do not warrant using pure drinking water to wash cars, water lawns, and flush toilets. Even the chlorine municipalities add to water to kill organisms can react with other chemicals to produce cancer-causing substances.

Only by using an effective point-of-use water purifier can we be sure that the water from our tap is safe to drink.

Purifiers

Before selecting a system for a residential complex, it is best to have the water tested to determine which harmful chemicals and organisms are present. Tests are conducted by local health agencies as well as EPA-certified private labs, and range in price from about $25 to about $100 for a standard test for the most common- contaminants in the area.

A variety of water purifiers are available for residential and office use. There are systems for point-of-entry or point-of-use installation. Point-of-entry systems treat all water in the house, hot and cold, including bathtubs, toilets, washing machines, and dishwashers. Point-of-use purifiers treat water before it runs out of the tap and are installed primarily in kitchens and for other sources of drinking water.

Although the public is less familiar with brands of purifiers than they are with other appliances, the basic considerations that go into purchasing any appliance certainly apply. …

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