We know many Chicagoans who love the fall and winter season. (OK, the winter maybe not as much.) Both seasons in Illinois can be quite beautiful with the tree-lined streets and fall foliage changing color in autumn and the glow of pure white snow starting to blanket the ground as we enter December onward. But the beauty of the two seasons can mask some undetected changes that are also happening in your water supply. In particular, additional contaminants can inevitably end up in your drinking water / tap water. Here are a few ways that fall and winter can negatively impact what’s in your water.
- Falling Leaves Can Cause Excess Phosphorus and Nitrogen in Water
While it may look pretty as it falls on the ground and can be fun for kids to jump into when you pile them up in your street or yard, autumn leaves can add additional elements to your water if such leaves aren’t removed, particularly off of streets, before rainstorms. Indeed, leaf litter contributes a significant amount of phosphorus to urban stormwater, which then runs off into waterways and lakes such as Lake Michigan. The problem is that excessive amounts of nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen can cause eutrophication, or the depletion of oxygen in water, resulting in death of aquatic animals like fish. Too much nitrogen and phosphorus in the water can also cause algae to grow faster than ecosystems can handle. Some of these “algal blooms” can be harmful to humans because they produce elevated toxins and bacterial growth that can make people sick.
Meanwhile, the same nutrient pollution in ground water – which many Illinois residents use as their drinking water source – can be harmful too, even at low levels. Infants, for example, can be particularly vulnerable to a nitrogen-based compound called nitrates in drinking water. The nitrates can keep infants red blood cells from doing their job carrying oxygen to different parts of the body.
The solution? Get your water tested with us at Restore Water Solutions. We’ll look for excess contaminants such nitrogen and phosphorus and recommend the right solution for you, which will rid your water of this form of nutrient pollution and more.
- Road Salt Adds Excess Chloride When It Runs Off in Rivers and Lakes
No one wants your car to slide off a slick, icy road or have your elderly neighbor slip on a sidewalk in the winter time. So many municipalities add salt (sodium chloride) to their roads, which melts the ice at temperatures below freezing. The problem, however, is that road salt (like leaf nutrients) runs off into storm drains and eventually ends up in nearby rivers and lakes (Lake Michigan, in particular).
The damaging ingredient here is chloride, which makes up about 60 percent of road salt. In excess quantities, it can be toxic to fish, aquatic plants, aquatic insects, amphibians, and algae. If road salt concentrations reach sustained and elevated levels, many freshwater organisms will be unable to survive.
Meanwhile, water polluted by road salt is denser than freshwater. As a result, the salt contaminated water will settle to the deepest part of the lake – something known as “chemical stratification,” or the development of layers of water due to density differences, can prevent the natural mixing of lakes, which in turn can lead to a near permanent layer in the lake’s bottom waters. That chloride-filled water is hard for most municipalities to remove, which means it ends up in your tap. For human beings, excess chloride in water can be a serious concern for those with high blood pressure, certain heart diseases, or kidney or liver diseases.
The solution? At Restore Water Solutions, our reverse osmosis filtration systems can rid your water of excess chloride or other contaminants caused by water runoff. Get a free water quality analysis with us today and we’ll test your water immediately.
- Excess Snow Also Runs Off into Rivers and Lakes, Bringing All Sorts of Contaminants with It
In the Chicagoland area, we’re used to getting snow dumped on us, often with blizzards blanketing our area in the wintertime. The problem comes when the heavy snow, in particular, melts and runs off into rivers, lakes and streams. In addition to the road salt/chloride above, snow also picks up the leaking fluids such as oil and gas from cars and trucks, rubber from tires, and soot from exhausts, which pours into storm drains as the ice melts. These contaminants in the snow, along with salt, end up in Lake Michigan and the surrounding rivers and streams.
Regulators call this “nonpoint-source pollution” because it doesn’t come from an industrial pipe or other plant discharge. But as noted above, this can be even a bigger problem than industrial pollution because of the amounts of contaminants that run off directly into waterways.
The solution? Like the above examples, Restore Water Solutions has water filtration systems that can remove snow/storm-drain contaminants from your water supply. The result: Clean, great-tasting and healthy drink water. What could be better? Get started today with a free water-quality analysis.