Ever wonder why the Taylor water tastes a little funny, leaves a white residue when it evaporates, or creates a buildup on faucets, fountains, and shower heads?
The answer may be less alarming than you might think.
According to the Town of Upland Drinking Water Quality 2022 Annual Report, “Upland ’s water supply comes from three 150-foot-deep wells that draw from sand and gravel aquifers. These wells are located on property owned by the Town of Upland. After pumping the groundwater from the aquifer source, the Town of Upland treats the water by filtration and chlorination to remove or reduce undesirable substances.”
We tested some samples of water to see what we were consuming and showering with.
The water was tested via electrolysis. Electrolysis is a process that uses direct electric current to separate out elements from a compound.
When electrolysis was applied to the water in Samuel Morris Hall a black sediment was formed. This sediment was able to be moved around by a magnet being held up to the glass.
Dan King, professor of chemistry said, “I wouldn’t know for sure until I tested it, but what you’re likely looking at there is calcium and iron.”
Calcium carbonate is very common in water that is considered to be “hard.”
In the 2022 annual water report, the water was given a designation of “very hard.”
This designation refers to the amount of calcium carbonate in the water. This is measured by looking at the parts per million (ppm) of calcium carbonate in water. The water was measured at 338 ppm calcium carbonate. The EPAs total dissolved solids (TDS) maximum is 500 ppm. Faucets and fountains developing residue is an effect of this.
One way to demonstrate this is to take some water and pour it on a table. If you allow it to dry without wiping it up a white residue will be left behind.
James Sublett, environmental science major, said, “the rocks in the geothermal stream are red due to the high mineral concentration. Red is often a sign of iron being present.”
The geothermal stream runs from the Euler Science Complex down to Taylor Lake. The redness is most notable at the start of the stream.
Sublett said this is because the iron deposits there early rather than being transported further downstream.
Higher concentrations of iron usually means relatively higher concentrations of other minerals which is an indication of water having a higher level of hardness, according to Sublett
King said the presence of calcium and iron in the water are aesthetic factors (factors that impact odor, taste, color), and that they’re not viewed as harmful or dangerous to consume within certain limits.
As far as lethal contaminants go, lead was undetected in nearly all samples from the area (private and public) and for the ones where it was, they were within the allowable limit. Copper was also well within the allowable limit and testing for bacteria in the water occurs four times every month.
The water report states, “When your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your tap for 30-120 seconds before using for drinking or cooking.”
Next time you go to shower or fill up a bottle of water keep in mind that although it may not always taste the best, it should be perfectly fine to consume on a regular basis..
If the flavor is big enough of a concern to avoid drinking it, the fresca or infused water at the Hodson Dining Commons is a good alternative to get some hydration that tastes good too.