If a tall glass of water containing dirt, metals, and bacteria doesn't sound refreshing to you, you're not alone. Though the Environmental Protection Agency and water suppliers regulate drinking water contaminant levels, tap water can contain traces of everything from lead and arsenic to waterborne parasites such as cryptosporidium. Small wonder then that bottled water consumption continues to rise, with total bottled water volume exceeding 7.5 billion gallons in 2005, according to the Beverage Marketing Corp., which provides consulting services to the beverage industry. Recognizing that people are looking for water that is clean and effectively tasteless, the market for home water-filtration appliances is growing. “With recent stories of what we're finding in the water, pipes breaking, and boil-water notices, people are becoming more proactive about what they drink and cook with,” says Lorene Salcido, director of marketing for Sylvan Source.
Eleni Yianas agrees. “In addition to having healthier water available to you, home filtration appliances add convenience and can help homeowners save money by not having to regularly purchase bottled water,” says the director of residential marketing for Everpure.
Though both offer the measurable result of clean, fresh water, the Everpure and Sylvan Source appliances work differently. Yianas explains that Everpure's popular H-300 model combines a series of filtration media for both particulate and chemical reduction. The filter captures particulates down to ½ micron in size, including cryptosporidium. On the chemical side, carbon absorbs chlorine and harmful VOCs to improve taste and eliminate odor. The unit itself costs less than $500 and the $150 filter only needs to be replaced annually. Alternatively, the Sylvan Source M-600 appliance works on principles of degassing, distillation, demisting, and condensing. Through a series of tanks, the system heats incoming water to boiling, creating steam and leaving behind heavy metals, salts, and other contaminants. Ultimately, the purified steam condenses into clean water. More expensive at the outset, the M-600 costs about $3,600 depending on the distributor, but has no filters, which means no maintenance.
With the variety of systems available, Kurt Gruett, vice president of Water-Right, a manufacturer of residential and commercial water treatment systems, reminds that great water comes from good water. “You can't just put a drinking water system in the home without getting good water to that appliance,” he says. “If the water you're bringing in needs to be cleaned in the first place, those appliances will end up doing more work than necessary and requiring more maintenance.”
Water-Right manufactures the Sanitizer water system, geared toward cleaning well water, which is used in 23 million American homes. Combining a proprietary filtration medium and the tried-and-true step of adding salt to water, the Sanitizer helps filter out iron and manganese, raise low pH, and soften water. By managing these tasks at the point of entry, the system helps eliminate odors and algae associated with well water, providing a cleaner product at the point of use. Now, there's something you can drink to.