• Medford water's OK; no need for Brita pitchers

  • A lot of people these days are using Brita pitchers to purify their water. Is that really necessary with our city water or even recommended?
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  • A lot of people these days are using Brita pitchers to purify their water. Is that really necessary with our city water or even recommended?
    — Rebecca M., Medford
    Rebecca, a filter probably isn't necessary healthwise, but if the trace amounts of chlorine in the water bother you, a filter will eliminate that flavor and odor.
    Medford's water "more than meets" the health and secondary, or advised, standards of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said Laura Hodnett, Medford Water Commission public-information coordinator.
    "We don't detect the vast majority of things we test for, and the ones we do find are well below health-based standards," Hodnett said. "But some people still feel they want to take the extra measure or don't like the taste of chlorine."
    If the chlorine is an issue, just fill an everyday pitcher with water, put it in the fridge and the chlorine will dissipate, Hodnett said.
    Plus, if you were considering a Brita, you'll save yourself at least $11.99 and then another $7.99 every two months for replacement filters.
    According to its website, Brita promises better-tasting water with fewer impurities, and copper, cadmium, mercury and zinc are listed as examples of these impurities.
    The EPA maximum standard for zinc is 5 parts per million, but "on the Rogue (River, one of MWC's sources), we find only 0.00735 part per million," Hodnett said.
    "For mercury, the health-based standard is 2 parts per billion, and we test down to 0.2 and find a 'nondetect,' which means we don't detect it all," she said.
    Rebecca, if you're curious or concerned about what else is in your water, check out MWC's annual water quality report or analysis available at www.medfordwater.org.
    If you do have a water purifier, remember to change the filter regularly. Old filters store bacteria and actually can impair the water, Hodnett said.
    If you're on a well, you should have your water tested for coliform bacteria every six months and get a chemistry analysis every five years, said Kim Ramsay, vice-president of Neilson Research Corp.
    "From there, some people need treatments like ultraviolet light or a chlorinator to remove bacteria, and then there's treatments such as a water softener for hard water and reverse osmosis units to remove heavy metals," Ramsay said.
    "For well water, we don't recommend it (a Brita or other water purifier), because they don't remove bacteria."
    Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.
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