Local Insights

Published on June 1st, 2019 | by Maria Karameros


Avoiding Lead and Other Contaminants in Tap Water

by Maria Karameros

Carcinogenic chemicals and harmful bacteria should not be present in drinking water, but those and other contaminants have recently been found in alarming levels in New Jersey. While most of the tainted supply is outside of Bergen County, water utility companies serving Elmwood Park, Park Ridge, Fair Lawn and Garfield have been cited for unsafe levels of pollutants, including tetrachloroethylene, a dry-cleaning chemical, and trihalomethane (TTM), a byproduct of chlorinating water to disinfect it of bacteria. Many violations were for unsafe levels of both coliform and TTM.

This development, along with growing evidence of lead in drinking water, means that it is time for a safer alternative. In January 2019, officials of Suez North America issued a statement that thousands of homes in Bergen and Hudson counties may be at risk of having elevated levels of lead in their drinking water. The company, which serves 800,000 customers in northern New Jersey, detected unsafe levels of lead in 16 of 108 homes tested this summer, according to officials at a press conference at their Haworth Water Treatment plant.

The findings are the latest sign that the state’s aging water infrastructure, particularly decades-old lead service lines to customers’ homes, pose significant health issues to the public. As in other cases where elevated lead levels in tap water have been found, the problem is believed to be linked to lead service lines connecting customers with water mains in the street.

Options like bottled water are expensive, taxing on the environment and not necessarily pure. Filtered water is better, but many contaminants are still not removed (a sample of filtered local water yielded 156 parts per million (ppm) of total dissolved solids (TDS). The purest option is distilled water, and one way to get such pure water conveniently and affordably is to adapt the tap at home.

One local company which does exactly that is H2Only. After learning about the unparalleled detoxifying ability of distilled water and researching how to make the purest water, owner Phil Festa used his experience as a master plumber to create a unique distillation system. Samples of his company’s water have a TDS rating of just 0.01 ppm.

Over the last decade, H2Only has installed distillation units throughout northern New Jersey in private homes, municipal buildings and newly built high-rises. Customers include The Hackensack Justice Center, Edgewater’s Municipal Building and luxury apartment buildings such as The Alexander, in Edgewater, and The Duchess, in North Bergen.

H2Only home systems store 12 gallons and can be connected to a refrigerator. They only require a simple cleaning twice a year and are covered by a 15-year warranty. A unit can be added to a typical home for around $3,000. By making purchasing bottled water unnecessary, an H20 distillation system is not only cost-effective, but environmentally friendly.

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