What is town water?
Town water is any
drinking water supplied to people of a town by a water department or
authority. This kind of water is piped into homes using underground
pipes that run along the town streets.
Where does town water come from?
Towns use surface
water and groundwater, or they might buy some from a larger water
authority. Surface water is found in rivers, streams, and held
in reservoirs. Groundwater is taken from
aquifers and underground springs using a well
and pump. Water authorities are larger water companies that have a
huge amount of water and sell it to towns that need it.
What do town water departments do?
went to visit two town water departments and found out that they
handle water pretty much the same way and have the same problems.
Each was worried about water supply and contamination. 9/11 has made
everyone very interested in security. Each water department, no
matter how small, has made plans in case of emergency. Emergency
sources of water have been found or made. It was nice to see that
things were being done to protect water supply.
Towns use surface water, groundwater, purchased water or
a combination of these sources. We visited one where they used
surface water held in reservoirs and they had a couple of wells,
too. We were told at one water department that they were
thinking about using only wells because groundwater goes through its own
filtration by seeping through the earth. Surface water in reservoirs
has things in it like animal droppings, dirt, twigs, logs, and any trash
that might be thrown in it. More filters need to be used to
get rid of those things than need to be used for well water. Well
water would cost less money to make drinkable.
When the water gets to the water department, it is filtered a couple of
times. The first time will take out the larger things like logs,
tree limbs, and large fish. The second filter will take out the
smaller things that are left--including small fish that made it through
the first filtration. The picture on the left shows the first
filter. When this is done, sludge settles to the bottom and is
pumped to a place that will clean it up and put it back into the
river. Check out our filter experiment by clicking
When it is done being filtered, it is checked and
tested. There are special rooms for testing. Click
here to see one. This is done often and is sent to the E.P.A.
[Environmental Protection Agency], too. Testers are looking for
things that don't belong in the water so that they can take them
out. Other things like lead, THMs [chloroform], nitrates, radon, and
pesticides might be in the water. A really interesting thing that we
found out is that iron comes into the water supply as a liquid.
Since filters can't take a liquid out of a liquid, they run the water
through a device that rusts iron. Rust CAN be removed from
Even though groundwater is easier to make drinkable,
all water must be treated in some way. When the tests show that
something bad is in the water, it will be treated to take it out or lessen
it in some way. Most of the time, towns will add chlorine to the
water because it kills bacteria. Water goes
through another filter of sand before it is sent out to the town.
Even though towns handle water testing and need to
follow strict rules by the E.P.A., people can ask their water company or
water department for a municipal supply analysis. This will tell you
the amounts of different things that are in your water. There are
kits that you can buy to test your water, too.
The water is treated and sent through pipes to the
home. What happens then?
For a demonstration of how water gets to your home, click
here! On the right is a close up picture of a water
meter. Water companies use this to figure out how much water you use
so that they can send you a bill.
What are water towers?
wondered about this ourselves. When we went to a small town water
facility, we were told that their water tower held about a day's water for
their town. It is like a reservoir. They would use this in
case of an emergency or if their well needed to be shut down.
Water in the Home
Conservation in the Home