What's in Your Water?: A Closer Look at Our Water Fountains
Updated: Oct 9, 2019
Water, brought to you, the fine people of Eagle Rock High, by the Los Angeles Water Department flows through the old pipes of our school. This water is shared freely and a secure awareness of what lurks in the pipes of this high school is the reason why I conducted this investigation. The study looked for the average quality of the water we drink and use to wash our hands on this campus. More important for me was letting people know whether the water fountains are safe to drink and that our pipes are not filled lead or other dangerous compounds. Water quality is an important subject for both the people who run the educational facility and the people who have the legal right to drink water that meets EPA standards on water quality in the facility.
Knowledge of water testing was never my forte, so I reached out to the people who conduct the types of tests with low detection, high detection, tests for bacteria, and a myriad of variables on how the simple liquid can be put under a microscope. My first approach was to look for companies that could test the water for free or at a very low cost. The EPA is a good source of information for people that want to look more into it and on their website.
I found specific resources on home the subject which expanded my horizons on water testing and let me understand that there are two main types of water testing. One is the previously mentioned low/high detection. Low detection is the concept of looking for particles with a relatively low amount of precision while keeping a cheaper cost thus being a viable solution for testing the dozens of water sources on campus. High detection is for bulky amounts of water found in more industrial/private environments such as greywater or toxic waste, something that was not available for my local purpose. I began to make calls, racked up the phone bill for a couple companies and, on multiple calls for companies I was referred to another, making a trail of hopeful breadcrumbs that I might follow to be able to test the water accurately. One lab offered me a quote to test the water at $ 75 minimum with $15 tests; however, the company never got back to me and I was left back to my original devices.
My obvious plan was to use the aforementioned low detection test, which was turning out to be extremely cheap, for accurate results for small water outlets. Another problem for poor old me was buying one that allowed a varied range of test, and not breaking my vastly limited bank account. The water test I used to record all the water fountains in the school was “Baldin Meadows 10-in-1 Drinking Water Test Kit”, I bought it and was on my way. So maybe you saw a kid running around going to water fountains but not actually drinking from them but rather weirdly putting paper under the faucet. Uh yeah, that was me. I tested the North gym, south gym weight room, track/field area, Admin building, Liberal Arts building, Balcony, and all three floors of those buildings for the quality of my school's water.
At the conclusion of my research of the school’s water supply, I had examined 21 total water sources, coming across either sinks or water fountains on the campus. Along my way, I found teachers who were just as curious as I about the drinking water.
Here’s what I found: Taste and odor do not affect the quality of the water, but is rather a sign of how the quality of water is. My average finds are listed below with an average Ph of 6.4 which is slightly lower than normal service water.
How to read the table: The minerals are the names of small particles looked at with the 10 different tests I conducted. (PPM), this means that for every 1 liter of water there is a number millionth of a mineral measured in milligrams mg/L. Now our most important part is understanding that anything above the level of contaminant stated by the EPA is prohibited from drinking or use due to lack of confidence that it is okay for all diets or the well being of a body. An example would be 9.5ph water which is high for most people's diets and a body with high ph blood can lead to several crippling symptoms such as muscle spasms or vomiting, this is called alkalosis.
The same can be said for low ph in the blood, an effect called acidosis. Reading Alkalinity is the same, the bodies of humans are constantly in balance and cleaning water completely of its minerals is called distilled water, we don’t drink that. However, it is advised to remove heavy metals and elements from water for the reason people can attain all of them from eating on a daily basis and they are not needed at all.
My conclusion based on all the tests I did pointed to the water at ERHS qualifying to EPA standards which means it’s not detrimental to anybody that drinks the water connected to this school. The ph levels show the water is still drinkable. I can argue that a more precise measurement can be made if more data points were included. An unsurprising fact is the non-existent presence of lead in our pipes. Notable water fountains were the ones coming in pairs which I individually tested to see if there was a difference. 90% of the time the water fountains are exactly the same. I am not a licensed professional and cannot legally say that the sinks are ok to fill bottles from. On top of that fact are the things I could not test such as arsenic, e coli, or blood in any faucet; however, from simple observation and testing, I can report that no one is feeling ill from drinking the water at our school. Be aware of these facts, take note of the experiment I did in order to find the thankful truth that our water is clean and that the men and women of the district who serve us are doing an outstanding job of giving you the ability to drink healthy tap water.