If you are buying / own a rural or waterfront property, chances are that you likely obtain your drinking water supply from a well, cistern or lake / river. Generally, none of these will continuously pass potable water testing nor should they be relied upon for such. As a result, homeowners look to other ways to make the water safe to drink. Most commonly, this is accomplished with a UV (ultraviolet) light and particle filter at a minimum. Some choose to chlorinate their water instead of using a UV light. While this typically makes the water safe to drink, other steps can be taken to improve odour, remove minerals and soften the water if need be. At this point, you might say your water is city water quality like. So why use an RO system in addition to this whether you like in an urban or rural location?
For years, large high pressure RO systems have been used to convert seawater into drinking water. In a home however, the RO system might be thought of as polishing your potable water supply. It reduces the total dissolved inorganic solids and impurities from the water by pushing your potable water supply through a membrane. The membrane catches impurities / contaminates so they can be flushed down the drain. Generally, the RO membrane removes impurities and particles larger than .001 microns. They can include lead, chloride, nickel, arsenic, zinc, mercury, iron, calcium, cyanide and fluoride. It does not remove all impurities or all impurities completely however.
Most home RO systems used in homes today are located close to the kitchen sink so it can be used for cooking and to drink. Whole-house RO systems cost more to purchase and operate. The home RO systems usually have pre & post treatment filters, RO membrane, flow regulator, pressure / storage container for treated water and a faucet. A booster pump may be needed in addition to water supply pumps used with rural / lakefront properties. If you need to soften or chlorinate your water, systems such as these are used before the RO system.
RO water does not come without its concerns however:
- the RO finished water has lower pH and can be corrosive on copper pipes, fittings and fixtures, permitting lead to leach into the drinking water from brass components.
- RO systems use larger quantities of water to produce a relatively small amount of treated water i.e. it creates waste water (which also adds to the load on a septic system).
- Water pressure is an important factor in the efficiency of the RO system.
- RO systems may remove desirable minerals from the water.
- RO systems must be well maintained to optimize performance by routinely replacing a series of filters.
If you’re thinking about improving your drinking water, a reverse osmosis (RO) system may be for you. Do your research and consult a professional before making any final decisions.