No need to travel to the Rocky Mountains this summer. You’re already drinking them.
Thanks to the sediment-laden Colorado River, Las Vegas has some of the hardest drinking water in the nation.
And you’ll never guess who wants you to know that: a company that sells water softeners.
Two valley television news outlets recently picked up on a report from HomeWater 101 that ranked Las Vegas’ drinking water as the second hardest in the nation behind Indianapolis. Minneapolis was third, followed by Phoenix, San Antonio, Texas, and Tampa, Florida, according to the online report that did not include the source of its findings.
And what is exactly is HomeWater 101? It’s a website produced by Marmon Water, a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary that makes treatment systems including water softeners.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean their rankings are wrong.
According to Southern Nevada Water Authority spokesman Corey Enus, the valley’s drinking water does contain a comparatively high concentration of calcium and magnesium, thanks to its source. The community gets about 90 percent of its water from the Colorado River by way of Lake Mead, and the river gets about 90 percent of its water from snow that falls and melts in the high country of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico, carrying bits of the mountains with it.
So, yes, our water is hard enough to taste, and it tends to produce a build-up of mineral “scales” in our pipes, among other unwelcome byproducts. “But that hardness has no effect on the safety of that water,” Enus said.
He added that the authority offers “unbiased information” on its website about the pluses and minuses of water softeners.
The authority’s member utilities just released their water quality reports for 2019 showing that local supplies continue to meet or surpass federal safety standards.
Enus said those reports are based on almost 300,000 separate tests on some 55,000 water samples collected as part of the real-time monitoring that goes on every minute of every day. “There’s no days off when it comes to water quality,” he said.
As part of this year’s mandatory Safe Drinking Water Act reporting, the authority is touting some recent honors for its two treatment plants. The River Mountains and Alfred Merritt Smith Water Treatment Facilities have each earned the Partnership for Safe Water’s Excellence in Water Treatment awards.
Out of roughly 150,000 water treatment plants nationwide, just 16 have won that recognition, including the two serving the Las Vegas Valley, Enus said.
On the web
The federal Safe Drinking Water Act requires all water agencies to produce and distribute a water quality report every year, including a comparison of test results to federal standards, information about municipal water sources and an overview of treatment processes.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority has links on its website to the 2019 water quality reports for each of its member utilities.