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Tap Water Test

We’ve always drunk the tap water here in New Orleans, much to the dismay of some of our friends. Our water supply comes from the Mississippi, which is kind of like the nation’s toilet, they’re fond of pointing out. The implication is that we are drinking from the toilet.

The Sewerage & Water Board regularly issues glowing “reports” on the pristine safety of our drinking water, but who can trust an organization reporting on itself? Even if those reports are reliable, they’re not testing the water that comes out of our tap, and there’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip, or something like that.

Furthermore, I’ve got a friend who works for S&WB. I recently learned he doesn’t drink the tap water.

So I got a WaterSafe All-in-One Home Drinking Water Test Kit and used it to test the tap water in our kitchen.

According to the kit, our water is safe with regard to lead, chlorine, nitrates and nitrites, E. coli bacteria, and pesticides. The kit did report a high level of hardness in the water and a relatively high pH value. I’d give numbers, but I seem to have misplaced the paper where I wrote them down.

I feel somewhat reassured, but I’m sure someone will point out why I shouldn’t be. In the meanwhile I think I’ll have another glass of that goood New Orleans tap water — chilled and carbonated with our Soda Club seltzer maker.

PS: We do maintain a subscription to Kentwood Springs bottled water delivery service, but that’s mainly because we like the idea of having a stock of clean water on hand in case disaster strikes. We go through it very slowly.

Published inNew Orleans


  1. I can sing the praises of a 5-stage Reverse Osmosis system to really clean the water up. We used them for years, and at around $250, it’s more than worth it’s cost ($40/year for filter changes). It’ll also clean up contaminated tap water. (Many moons ago Betts was a water specialist)

    Ya’s have to install it yourself, but I can guide you through it.

    Next year we’ll put in a water reclamation system that will treat all of your gray water for use and consumption. It’s based on a system we used on submarines, and I know how clean they are. Talking $3K, but that is with 2 500 gallon tanks (one gray and one cleaned). Uses 500 watts to cleanse 100+ gallons.

    S&WB will not be happy with our bill getting tiny. (One can easily run rainwater through the system and do just fine)

    BTW- back in the late ’50s and early ’60s the tap water in the city reeked of sulfur. “Rotten eggs on tap”. It is much better now.

  2. Also, your seltzer maker is what I’ve been planning to get Betts for her B’Day. Damn good little machines.

  3. I grew up here and I’ve always drank the tap water [insert tired insanity joke here]. After the storm I started using a tap filter for drinking water (cause of the obvious warnings), but I still don’t filter the water I cook with. I laugh when my non-native friends, after 10 years, are still downing Evian like they’re in the Congo or some crap. My baby doesn’t even get spring water 😛

    You, my friend, have some hardcore local cred there 😉

  4. Garvey Garvey

    “Safe” is subjective. I mean, your test can reveal if your water passes or fails vs a govt standard of acceptable. For example, it can tell you if you have more than 15 ppb of lead. But what if you have 14? It’ll show the level as “safe.” I know you have to draw the line somewhere, but where is that line?

    I guess you could always get a filter if you were concerned about it but didn’t want to go the full Kentwood route. Regardless, you’d still be showering/bathing in the stuff (unless you had a whole house filter).

    All things considered, isn’t great to live in a country where you can flip a lever and (distinctly) potable water comes right out?

  5. Like pistolette, I have always drunk NOLA tap water. I have never had any concerns about it. They use the exact same process all of the bottled water companies use to filter the water.

    My father-in-law, as it turns out, runs a water plant for a multi-county region in another Southern state. He’s an engineer and expert on the subject with somewhere over 30 years in the business. Incidentally, they pull there water from a river with a local reputation similar to the Mississippi. He and his colleagues attended a convention here a few years back and he is quite familiar with the water quality in NOLA and had no concerns about it

    Of course there could be issues with the aging distribution system from the plant to our houses — especially post-K. But I feel most of these filtration systems that post-filter your tap (eg. Brita) and bottled water are pretty much a waste of money.

  6. We make half-assed attempts to keep up with the filter on our Brita pitcher, but I gave up about a year ago. I still go through the motions of filling up the pitcher, but that’s mostly just to have cold water handy. We essentially drink the tap water, too.

  7. Garvey Garvey

    “But I feel most of these filtration systems that post-filter your tap…are a waste of money.”

    Oh, you feel? Then case closed! Never mind the data.

  8. licia licia

    I drink tap water here in Portland, OR because it comes from the mountains (the bull run watershed). A lot of people won’t though- Hippies. (just kidding). When I go back to bloomington and drink the tap there,
    it tastes like pond scum. Wow. Did it always taste that bad? Now that’s a place where I would filter with the reverse osmosis!

  9. Serge A. Storms Serge A. Storms

    We live in NW Monroe County – you remember Bean Blossom Twp? Our tap water comes from the White River south of Indy. No way I’d drink it. I don’t care what the home filter system used is. The Wife drinks it straight though…probably explains her belief that Buddy Bolden is alive and living in Evansville.

  10. The biologics are what I’m concerned with.

  11. BF BF

    I drink NOLA tap water with great relish. I ascribe it to civic pride, but it is also in part because I can’t be bothered with all the rigamarole and expense some other water source would involve, and in part because it’s uncommonly good water.

    I’ve lived lots of places with differing water quality, and my palate tells me NOLA tap water is delicious. It’s non-fluoridated still, right? That’s probably why it tastes so damn good. Bottled or jugged water always tastes like plastic.

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