I just received the 2017 Annual Drinking Water Quality Report from the City of Deerfield Beach. The city has a longstanding reputation for providing high-quality drinking water. Their monitoring program tests over 90 regulated and unregulated compounds, with some tested regularly, following the standards required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Florida Department of Health in Broward County.
The source of water for the City of Deerfield Beach is ground water pumped from two aquifers: the Biscayne and the Floridian aquifers. The Biscayne aquifer is an underground geologic formation made up of highly permeable limestone and less permeable sandstone located under a portion of South Florida. The Biscayne is the shallower of the two aquifers, extending to depths of approximately 240 feet along the coast of South Florida and is the major source of ground water for Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. The Florida aquifer is deeper than the Biscayne and extends to depths of about 3,000 feet and has much higher mineral content, thus making the treatment process considerably more expensive. The raw water pumped from these aquifers is treated by three distinct processes: Lime Softening, Nanofiltration, and Reverse Osmosis.
Lime softening reduces the hardness of water from the Biscayne aquifer with quicklime. Then the water passes through high rate granular media filters to reduce turbidity. Disinfection is then achieved by choramination, combining chlorine and ammonia. Low levels of fluoride are also added to help with the prevention of tooth decay.
Nanofiltration of water, also from the Biscayne aquifer runs in a parallel path to lime softening and is then mixed with the softened water prior to disinfection.
Reverse osmosis is reserved for the deeper Florida aquifer water. The source water is treated under high pressures and sent through semipermeable membranes to remove salt and other inorganic minerals to produce drinking water. Again, the waters are blended with those produced from Lime Softening and Nanofiltration prior to disinfection.
The water quality test results include microbiological contaminants like E. coli from human and animal fecal waste. Radium, from erosion of natural deposits is the most common radioactive contaminant measured. Several inorganic contaminates are also monitored. A few examples are: Antimony from petroleum refineries, fire retardants, ceramics, electronics and solder. Arsenic runoff from orchards. Barium from drilling waste water. Fluoride discharged from fertilizer and aluminum factories and as a water additive. Copper and lead come from the corrosion of household plumbing systems and leaching from wood preservatives.
Of the contaminants measured, the haloacetic acids and total trihalomethanes are probably the most significant. They are carcinogens that are a by-product of the disinfection process with choline and ammonia. Unfortunately, the acceptable range for these and other contaminants was established by the federal government in the 1970’s. Although the water in Deerfield Beach meets all federal, state and local standards, it fails to meet California standards for several contaminants. Additionally, the EPA has listed and additional 167 contaminants in our drinking water that are not monitored or regulated.
The Bottom Line:
I use the Deerfield Beach drinking water for everything but drinking. We wash our clothes, shower, fill the pool and water the lawn with it. For drinking, I take that water and distill it. Small distillers are now under $100 on Amazon and will produce a gallon of clean water in about three hours. Recently, I also purchased a small icemaker than I fill with distilled water. It produces a set of cubes every eight minutes.