New Mexico Groundwater & Water Filtration
Source of 87% of New Mexico’s Water
Here in New Mexico water is an important topic. We live in the desert, where water is scarce. Most of the water we do have flowing from our taps and faucets is groundwater, extracted from aquifers deep underground. In fact, the EPA says 87% of New Mexico’s water comes from groundwater, more than any other state in America. Most areas of the state receive only 10-15 inches of rainfall a year. Our surface water comes mainly from snow melt in the high mountains of Northern New Mexico. You may wonder how and why this affects you. According to the USGS, there are still many possible contaminants that can be present in groundwater.
When you rely on groundwater for your drinking, cooking, and household uses, be aware that there could be lots of things in there that you may not realize. Since groundwater is largely rainfall and run-off, things like pesticides, nitrates, even chemicals and micro-beads used in personal care products, and prescription medication that’s been flushed down the toilet. Your local water authority may not be able to filter all of that out. Another thing to consider, especially here in the Albuquerque-Rio Rancho metro area, is that our aquifers don’t necessarily recharge or refill quickly, due to our low levels of rainfall. The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority is working on ways to recharge our aquifer. Check out this brochure on a water mapping project currently underway in NM, it’s very detailed.
Another consideration is sediment. As water is drawn out of the aquifer for use, the level drops, especially in NM where we often experience drought, and infrequent rain or snowfall. This can cause the sediment and minerals to become more concentrated in the remaining water. In the Albuquerque-Rio Rancho metro area, our groundwater tends to have a lot of calcite, dolomite, halite and gypsum, although the groundwater is considered “soft” in parts of NM that have a lot of clay minerals in the soil. The presence of these minerals, especially in areas with sulfite present as well, affects the taste and smell of the water. Sulfite in particular creates an odor and taste that most people find unpleasant.
What does all this mean to you? If you live in an urban area and rely on the local water authority for water, you may be getting more than you bargained for. You may be familiar with the tragic water situation in Flint, MI that began to develop in 2014, which experts feel could have been prevented. People were exposed to Legionnaire’s Disease, killing 12, and scores of others, including children, were exposed to lead, with disastrous results.
Many people in NM opt for a water filtration or softening system, which can filter and clarify water, removing much of the mineral sediment that contributes to taste and odor, and even many of the chemicals and pesticides that may also be present, and could potentially pose a health risk. But what’s the best system for you? What features are important?
There’s a difference between water conditioners, and water softeners. Let’s talk about water conditioners first. A water conditioner doesn’t remove minerals from the water, it uses carbon filtration or magnets to disrupt the calcium and magnesium ions, so they don’t stick together. This means less scale on your pipes and in your appliances. Carbon filtration is good for removing odor, particularly sulfur.
Water softeners actually eliminate the calcium and magnesium from the water, using different types of filtration. This keeps scale from forming, leaving appliances free from build-up, and making the water feel soft on the skin. There are also salt-free conditioners that use a special process that causes the minerals to form into crystals, with the same effect of not sticking together and forming scale.
Since most water softeners use salt, you will need a whole-home softening system, with a small reverse osmosis filtration system under your kitchen sink, for drinking and cooking water. This gives you a combination of soft water for showers, laundry and dishwasher use, while keeping your drinking water free from any excess sodium.
There are some additional considerations to think about, prior to making a decision and purchasing a system. Since most water softeners require salt, you’ll have to keep big bags of it on hand. Will you be able to change your own filters, or will this require a service call? Also, think about brand. Will it be difficult to obtain parts or even filters 5 years down the road? What if you need service?
Fortunately, MicroPure Water Systems in Albuquerque is an authorized distributor of Puronics water products, which have proven to be reliable and efficient systems over many years. We are able to offer multiple types of water filtration systems to suit your needs, and can service most other makes and models. Check out our reviews, see our customer commitment.