Most Montgomery County residents turn on the faucet. Water comes out. They take it for granted and fill up a cup. You can drink it right down, and not worry about what you are ingesting.
For you to enjoy that luxury, many others work behind the scenes to keep it so simple for residents.
National Drinking Water Week is May 5 to May 11. The month is designed to "raise public awareness and understanding of drinking water in both public and private supplies, thus bringing attention to this precious resource," according to a recent release from Montgomery County's Office of Communications.
The office's Jessica Willingham said that the county wants to focus on the cleanliness of water so you don't have to.
"Everyone is familiar with the basic needs for water, such as drinking and washing dishes, but there are a variety of essential uses residents frequently overlook," she said. "These include bathing, washing clothes, flushing toilets, watering lawns, and washing cars. Here is an interesting fact: to produce one gallon of milk, a dairy cow must drink four gallons of water."
While the county can assist the thousands of homes served by public water companies, others are not so lucky. If your home has a private well, Willingham suggests using this time to have it checked, as well.
"For the millions of households served by water from private wells, there are no federal regulations for overseeing their water quality," said Willingham. "It is the responsibility of homeowners to test and treat these wells themselves. At a minimum, private wells should be tested annually for microbiological contaminants."
The yearly reminder is not the only time well owners should use caution.
"Wells should also be tested for bacteria when any work is done in or around the well and after heavy rains where surface water infiltration may occur," said Willingham. "Wells should also be checked for various other contaminants when there is any change in taste, odor, or appearance."
The look of the water at your tap is not the only "test" that should be done.
"Some residents mistakenly believe if water is clear, then it must be clean," said Willingham in a release. "In fact, some of the potential chemical or organic contaminants are odorless, tasteless, and colorless."
Thanks to modern technology and the focuses of cleanliness such as the designated week, Montgomery County, along with the rest of the nation, has made large strides.
"Historically, throughout the United States and the world, it was very common for people to become sick from diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and dysentery," said Willingham. "University of Ottawa professor John Last, MD, DPh, has been quoted as saying that 'modernized sanitation methods and access to potable water have increased the lifespan and improved the general health of Americans more than any other advancement in the field of medicine.'"
The county said that Drinking Water Week is dedicated to educating residents about the importance of their water. Residents should strive to remain vigilant of this precious natural resource, and become informed of ways to conserve and to protect it from pollution. During Drinking Water Week some of the local public water suppliers will sponsor a variety of events to aid in the education and awareness effort.
In the meantime, the county is doing its part to ensure the safety of its residents.
"The Montgomery County Health Department has strived to preserve, promote, and protect drinking water quality since its inception in October 1991," said Willingham. "The Division of Water Quality Management has overseen the on-lot sewage disposal program and individual water supply permitting program to achieve these goals."