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What is a Consumer Confidence Report?

Monday, June 17th by Mike Ohlinger


Water Test with Testing Bottle

Once a year, typically in the summer, municipal water customers receive some additional paperwork with their water bill. It’s called a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) and it’s your city’s water report card explaining the condition of the water being supplied to your home. If you have seen one before, you know that a CCR can be a somewhat daunting thing to digest with its breadth of technical information, especially if you are not well versed in water treatment. However, with a little bit of know-how, you too can be a water guru and start to understand the unique makeup of your local area’s water.

What does a CCR Include?

Consumer Confidence Reports, often referred to as “Water Quality Reports”, have a different look and feel depending on the municipality that produced it but will all contain similar information. Some of the information that you will find in your
CCR is :

  • The source of your drinking water. For municipalities, this can be an above ground source like a lake or river or an underground source such as an aquifer.
  • Any contaminants that are detected in the water alongside what the EPA considers a safe amount to consume.
  • If your water utility is in compliance or violation with regulating certain contaminants.
  • Any actions that your municipality has taken to fix known water problems and restore safe drinking water conditions.
  • Educational information for contaminants that might be especially prominent in your local area. For example, if you live in an area with big farming operations nearby, you may find information regarding nitrates in your water.

On the first page of your CCR, you may receive information about your municipality’s water source and some of the challenges it has faced over the preceding year. This page will also speak to your utility’s ability to provide safe, treated, and regulated water to your home and family by detailing any new technology or processes that have been employed.

What’s in your water?

The following pages contain the most important information in the report, but can also be the most intimidating to read and interpret. There is usually a chart that lays out exactly what is in your water and how much of it is there. Again, your CCR may look a little different than the one pictured below but will contain the same information.

CCR Table

When looking at this portion of a CCR, there are four columns that you should focus on.

  1. Contaminant Name: This is the detected substance in your water, such as lead or sulfate.
  2. MCL: This is called the Maximum Containment Level and shows the maximum amount of this contaminant that can safely be in your water (set by the EPA).
  3. Violation: This shows if your water has more than the safe amount of the contaminant in your water. If a YES appears in any of these rows, it means the detected contaminant has a higher amount than the MCL.
  4. Typical Source of Contaminant: This gives handy information regarding where some of the contaminants in your municipality’s water are coming from.

It may feel like a lot of information to take in, but the CCR provides a great snapshot of what is in the water that you consume and may even give you a little more appreciation towards the services that your municipality provides to keep your water safe and clean.

What else is in a water report?

So, you’ve read through your entire water report and feel like you understand your water utilities and the water that they provide a little better. You know how many parts per million of copper is in your water and can tell your neighbors the exact source of their water.

Another noteworthy item to look for in your report is chlorination by-product. Your municipality will treat water with chlorine that kills microorganisms and bacteria keeping it safe for consumption before it reaches your tap. As a result, residual chlorine will often make it into your home, affecting the taste and smell of your water. Fortunately, there are options to reduce the impact that chlorine disinfection can have on your water. Our WaterCare’s CareSoft Elite RC  system removes chlorine with its activated carbon top chamber while also providing soft water with the lower resin chamber.

One thing that your water report may not include is the amount of hardness in your water. Municipalities consider hard water an aesthetic issue and do not treat for hardness at their treatment facilities. As a result, hardness minerals like calcium can travel to your home and wreak havoc on your home’s plumbing and appliances if not treated first by a water softener.

If you are unhappy with some of the results of your CCR and want to learn more about your home’s water, call your local WaterCare dealer today to schedule a water test. The results of a professional water test can reveal which contaminants are affecting you and your home the most. They can help to ­­find the right water treatment solution for you.

If you would like to obtain an electronic copy of your CCR, visit the EPA’s website at https://www.epa.gov/ccr.

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