Good, clean water is essential for all of us, and we tend to assume that an uninterrupted supply of good water will be provided to our buildings without much thought or effort. Those in urban areas will be required to connect to municipal water systems, and those in rural or unserviced areas will expect that a productive well can be drilled on the property. Neither of these supplies is necessarily continuous nor healthy.
Municipal water systems are treated to meet approved health standards, but this does not mean that the water supply will meet your standards. The recent spate of lead issues in municipal water in the United States10 is only one indicator that even major health issues in water supplies are not always addressed; beyond these, the range of tests used for municipal water do not address the complete spectrum of contaminants common in water sources, and the levels of contamination that trigger concern may also be questionable. It is quite reasonable to consider additional filtration/ purification within your building.
Private wells are subject to very little testing and maintenance. Initial tests for viability typically require only a lack of major bacteria species, and do not test for other contaminants at all. In most jurisdictions, private residential
water sources are never required to undergo periodic testing.
Important questions to consider include:
What is the main source of water for my home?
Is municipal water hook-up required?
Are drilled wells viable in my location?
Is surface water (rivers, lakes) a viable option?
Is rainwater collection and treatment viable?
Do I want to consider having more than one source of water?
Is on-site water storage a viable option?
Is a secondary water source a possibility?
What degree of water treatment is being considered?
Is on-site filtration part of my water strategy?
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Whole-house or point-of-use filters?
Are there particular standards I want my water to meet?
Are there particular contaminants I want to protect against?
What type of testing regime might be considered?
Are particular water-efficiency targets being considered?
Is there a local restriction on water use?
Am I attempting to meet a particular efficiency standard (see next home design)?