What’s Really in Charleston’s Water?


In another search for knowledge, this week I’ve been inspired by my mom to research what’s really in our tap water in Charleston. My mom last year spent an absorbent amount of money on this ridiculous water filter because she swears up and down that tap water causes cancer. Now, I have an inkling this isn’t the case, but still she’s not the only person I’ve heard say this. Some of my friends refuse to drink tap water; my sister swears it hurts her stomach, and my brother says it tastes like trash. So what’s the truth about our tap water in Charleston.

The three categories of additives that could be in our water include man-made contaminates, plant matter, and minerals.

Biological compounds like virus’ and bacteria can be present as well as inorganic compounds like salt and metal, pesticides, organic compounds like the by-products of petroleum oil and lastly radioactive compounds, either naturally occurring or man made. Now of course these are present prior to the water filtering process’ but what’s important is to ensure that these products are REMOVED. A Charleston Water Quality Report in 2010 said that “the compounds found in our water were all at safe levels, meaning they were below the limits set by the US EPA, which regulates public water systems”. So this is a really good sign as many places are not as lucky such as Pittsburhg,   Milwaukee,Washington D.C., FlintMichigan and many others. These areas have consistently tested positive beyond the safe limit for contaminants such as lead. In fact lead seems to be the most dangerous culprit. And because of lack of funding and service workers these issues tend to go unresolved for very extended periods of time. Overexposure to lead in water can cause lead poisoning that includes symptoms like Behavioral problems, Headaches, Loss of appetite, Fatigue, Abdominal pain, Nausea or vomiting, Constipation, Pale skin, and a Metallic taste in the mouth. Our water in Charleston again did not test positive over the limit for contaminants; however, still the report recommends “when your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your tap for 30 seconds to two minutes before using water for drinking or cooking.”

Water that is not properly filtered can be dangerous. However, here in Charleston, we are generally lucky to have water which meets the legal requirements for safe consumption. Even with this being said though, there are still many additives in our water that aren’t at high enough levels to be reported, so its a good idea to get drinking water from a filtered source rather than straight from the tap.