About Your Water
Where does my drinking water come from?
Approximately 85% percent of the water that NPWA delivers to its customers is treated surface water from the Forest Park Water Treatment Plant located in Chalfont.
Forest Park is a state of the art water treatment facility that combines conventional treatment processes with advanced techniques, including ozone disinfection and membrane filtration technology. This combination of traditional and innovative water treatment allows Forest Park to produce the safest, highest quality water possible.
The source of water that is treated at Forest Park Water, which is jointly owned by North Penn and North Wales Water Authorities, is the North Branch Neshaminy Creek. The North Branch Neshaminy Creek originates as a small stream near Route 413 in Central Bucks County. The creek then flows into Lake Galena, which is the reservoir for Forest Park Water. Water released from Lake Galena flows down the Neshaminy Creek to where it is drawn into the Forest Park Water Treatment Plant, in Chalfont, Pennsylvania. In the summer months and times of low flow, water is pumped from the Delaware River at Point Pleasant and diverted into the North Branch Neshaminy Creek near Gardenville, Pennsylvania. This diversion controls the level of Lake Galena for recreational purposes, ensures a sufficient drinking water supply, and maintains baseflow in the stream.
NPWA also operates 17 groundwater wells located throughout our service territory, in Bucks and Montgomery Counties. All of the water that is delivered to our customers in our East Rockhill Satellite System comes from two groundwater supply wells. The water from these wells is chlorinated before it is pumped into customers’ homes. The East Rockhill Satellite System is physically separated from the NPWA main system.
To ensure the safety and quality of its drinking water, NPWA owns and operates a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection certified water quality laboratory. At this laboratory, a professional staff of environmental scientists monitors water quality for bacteria, organic and inorganic chemicals. Water quality is monitored in NPWA’s source waters, at various stages of treatment at the Forest Park Water Treatment Plant, as well as points throughout the NPWA distribution system. If you have any questions or concerns about your water quality, please contact the Authority office at 215-855-3617.
What is NPWA doing to protect my drinking water?
The Authority has continued to work proactively to protect its sources of water. In 2011, NPWA became the first water utility in Pennsylvania to join American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) Distribution System Optimization Program. This program is part of AWWA’s Partnership for Safe Water whose objective is to identify opportunities for improvement in system operations and to empower system operators with knowledge to recognize and apply procedures that result in water quality and system reliability improvements. NPWA’s participation in this voluntary program demonstrates our commitment to providing the best quality water to our customers.
To enhance water quality, NPWA performs an annual hydrant flushing program which takes place in the spring of each year. This flushing program helps improve water quality by removing any possible build-up of mineral deposits from the inside of water distribution pipes. NPWA also has an aggressive water main replacement program to improve the quality of water that we deliver to our customers. Old unlined cast iron mains, that can affect water quality and restrict flow, are replaced on a regular basis. These projects are scheduled when Penn DOT or our member municipalities are doing work on the roads to reduce inconvenience to the community.
In 2009, NPWA’s Wellhead Protection (WHP) Program was approved by the PA DEP. The Authority’s WHP Program meets the requirements for a local WHP in accordance with the Pennsylvania Safe Drinking Water Regulations. The WHP provides valuable information to the Authority such as: identifying the protection zone around each well, identifying potential sources of contamination for each well, identifying the land areas around our wells, and the underground geologic layers, that are within the pumping zones of influence. This information will greatly assist the Authority in dealing with emergency response in case of a hazardous spill event that could threaten the well, so that remedial measures could be put in place. Also, implementation of contingency planning could involve revisions to local land use practices, if necessary, to protect the integrity of the groundwater supply.
How can I protect the source of my drinking water?
The North Branch Watershed Association (NBWA) provides educational speakers at meetings, performs riparian buffer plantings, stream cleanups and supports township and county endeavors to mark stream input locations on roadways and private areas. NBWA is dedicated to protecting the North Branch of the Neshaminy Creek, which provides approximately 85% of North Penn Water Authority’s source water. Any individuals wishing to become involved in the North Branch Watershed Association should contact Marianne Morgan at the Authority at 215-855-3617 or Meghan Rogalus, Watershed Specialist at Bucks County Conservation District at 215-345-7577, ext. 107.
Is NPWA water fluoridated?
No. North Penn Water does not add fluoride to either its groundwater or surface water supplies. It is a drinking water additive and not everyone who drinks water wants or needs fluoride in every glass. Fluoride levels are checked at each of our wells on a regular basis and occasionally naturally occurring fluoride is detected at low levels. Since over 95% of the water used is not consumed, the majority of fluoride goes right down the drain. The lack of fluoridation does not make the water any less safe, just as the addition of fluoride does not make the water supply safer. Please consult your health care provider to determine if family members need to take fluoride supplements. We have covered this topic in more detail in our Water Currents quarterly newsletter. To review that article, click here and scroll down to the Water News section.
How hard is my water?
Water hardness is a measure of calcium and magnesium present in the water. These naturally occurring minerals pose no health risk but in substantial amounts make the water hard. This can sometimes cause a buildup on fixtures or interfere with soap and detergent lathering. A water softener, which operates on the ion exchange process, replaces the calcium and magnesium with sodium or potassium, thereby solving this aesthetic concern.
NPWA customers receive approximately 85% of their water from surface water treated at the Forest Park Water Treatment Plant located in Chalfont. Surface water is generally softer than groundwater. The remaining 15% is derived from wells, which provide harder water, throughout the distribution system. This conjunctive use, combining ground water and surface water, effectively increases the overall water supply. As a result of this blending, water in the NPWA system ranges from 3 to 18+ grains of hardness per gallon.
Since the water is softer now than in years past due to a greater use of the Forest Park supply, some customers may no longer need to purchase salt to soften their water. While determining the water hardness that you prefer is an individual matter, knowing the hardness of the water in your area may help you to make the right choice.
Since a water softener removes nearly all the calcium and magnesium from the water, no scale buildup occurs. Over softening of your water, in addition to wasting salt, may cause your metal plumbing to become more susceptible to the dissolving action of the water passing through it. Determining the total hardness in your area, amount of water use in your household along with estimating softener size and regeneration cycles will allow you to make the best choice should you decide to purchase a water softener. For information about the hardness level in your area, please contact the Authority office at 215-855-3617.
Why does my tap water taste like chlorine?
Chlorine is used for disinfection at all of the NPWA wells and as a final step in the Forest Park Water treatment plant to kill any remaining potential disease-causing organisms. Chlorination is one of the most important processes used in the production of safe drinking water in the United States. Water-borne diseases, including cholera, dysentery and typhoid fever, are no longer a problem in public water supplies in the U.S. mainly because of chlorination and proper treatment practices. State and federal laws mandate that water utilities maintain a disinfectant residual throughout their entire distribution system. Because of that, customers who are located near the point of chlorination may notice an odor while those customers at “the end of the line” may not notice any odor.
For customers who find the taste or odor of chlorine unpleasant, fill a pitcher with cold water and leave it sit on the counter uncovered for several hours before covering it and placing the pitcher in the refrigerator. This will allow the chlorine to dissipate, removing the chlorine from the water.
Why is my water discolored?
The presence of certain metals in the water can cause the water to become discolored. Two of the more commonly found metals in the North Penn area are iron and manganese. Neither iron nor manganese is considered a toxic metal. However, when the metal concentration gets above a certain level, the water becomes discolored. Iron turns the water brown and manganese turns the water black.
Some of the discoloration may be as a result of our annual flushing program which usually occurs in the Spring. NPWA annually inspects and flushes all of its over 3,500 fire hydrants in our distribution system to ensure that the hydrants will function properly when necessary. Flushing of hydrants also improves water quality.
It also may be a result of a water main break or when a valve is operated or water flow is changed. Discolored water is typically caused by iron and manganese that is dislodged from the interior walls of the water transmission pipes.
If you experience discolored water, run the cold water for a few minutes. If the water does not clear up, turn off the cold water for 10 to 20 minutes and try the procedure again. Persistent discoloration or low pressure problems should be reported to the Authority.
Is bottled water safer than NPWA water?
No. Bottled water is not necessarily safer than your tap water. North Penn Water Authority’s drinking water along with drinking water in the United States is among the most regulated and safest in the world. The primary legislation governing your drinking water quality is the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) which was passed by Congress in 1974, amended in 1986 and further strengthened in 1996.
To ensure the highest quality, the SDWA requires each public water utility to implement a regular program of sample collection and laboratory analysis. By law, each state must meet the federal standards. Some states have augmented the federal requirements with standards of their own. NPWA along with other local water utilities must meet all the requirements for the state in which they operate. Testing and monitoring results are reported regularly to the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and are available to the public. Strict adherence to monitoring and testing are the best guarantees for safe drinking water. The state and EPA work together to see that all requirements are followed.
In the U.S., tap water and bottled water are regulated by two different agencies. The U.S. EPA regulates tap water. Bottled water is regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) as a food product. Bottled water companies must also adhere to the FDA’s Quality Standards, Standards of Identity (Labeling Regulations) and Good Manufacturing Practices and requires companies to label their waters to define where the water comes from and if it has been purified or carbonated. Read the label on your bottled water. Approximately 25 percent of the bottled water consumed in the U.S. comes from municipal water supplies; just tap water in a bottle, sometimes further treated, sometimes not.
Bottled water may cost up to 1,000 times more than tap water. The average NPWA residential customer (an entire household) spends about 91 cents per day for water. That translates into a cost of one cent for 2.4 gallons.
Will using a home water treatment device make my water safer or healthier?
Not necessarily. Some people use home water filters to improve the taste, smell and/or appearance of their tap water, but it may not make the water safer or healthier to drink. Since the water you are receiving from NPWA meets federal and state drinking water standards, it is not necessary to use a home water treatment device. However, the decision to install a home water treatment device is a personal one. Since there are numerous home water treatment devices available, make sure the device you are thinking of purchasing is the most cost-effective means of solving your particular problem.
When choosing a home water treatment device, keep in mind that NPWA is not responsible for the water quality produced by that treatment device. All home water treatment devices require regular maintenance to ensure proper performance; otherwise, water quality problems can result.
What are those white or gray particles in my faucet’s aerator?
Those particles, which can cause reduced or low water pressure at your taps, could be coming from your hot water heater. You may have a defective dip tube in your hot water heater. A dip tube is often made of polypropylene, a nontoxic plastic material. This material can break down inside the tank and disintegrate into tiny chips of plastic which then flow with the water into the plumbing. These particles then collect in your faucet’s aerator. If the particles cannot be dissolved in vinegar, you may need to have the dip tube replaced, your hot water tank drained and all screens, and aerators connected to your hot water plumbing cleaned. If the particles dissolve, you could have mineral deposits such as calcium and magnesium. Check the “How hard is my water” section for more information.
Should you use hot tap water for cooking and/or preparing baby formula?
No. Hot water may contain impurities that come from your household plumbing and water heater. Use cold water for cooking and/or preparing baby formula. If the cold water has not been used for a while, such as overnight, several hours, or all day, let the cold water run for a couple of minutes before using it.
Can I drink from my garden hose when I’m working outside?
No, because a standard vinyl garden hose has substances in it to keep the hose flexible. These chemicals, which get into the water as it goes through the hose, are not good for you or your pets. In addition, the hose and/or faucet may be contaminated with pesticides, fertilizers or other chemicals you may have used previously in your yard or garden.
Why does my water appear milky in the winter time?
That milky color is really air bubbles, which are not harmful and will quickly dissipate. When the outside temperature drops, the pipes get cold and so does your drinking water. The temperature of surface water varies with the seasons, unlike ground water which stays at a constant temperature of about 55°F, (13° C) because of the insulation that the ground provides. When you bring that cold water into a warm home, the water warms up and oxygen gas is released into the water in the form of tiny bubbles. If you place the glass of water on your counter, you will see that the air bubbles will rise and the water clears from the bottom of the glass upward.
This phenomenon can also make your ice cubes cloudy because air bubbles are trapped inside the ice cubes causing them to have that ‘milky appearance’. Unlike your household ice, commercially made ice is stirred as it is being frozen, removing any trapped air.