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Water Filtration: Americans Learning More About Water Contaminations, Taking More Action

Water Filtration: Americans Learning More About Water Contaminations, Taking More Action

A recent national survey shows almost a third of Americans (28%) have experienced water contamination issues in the past two years, a slight increase from a prior poll.

The survey*, conducted by Bluewater, a leading water technology company and global advocate for clean water (bluewatergroup.com), reveals how the deteriorating state of America’s aging infrastructure affects Americans’ drinking water attitudes and habits.

“Everyone saw what happened in Flint,” said Bluewater president Anders Jacobson in reference to Flint’s 2014 lead contamination crisis. “It’s important we recognize that what happened in Flint wasn’t an anomaly — there are more than 3,000 U.S. communities found to have lead contamination levels higher than Flint, plus emerging instances of contamination from agricultural runoff, PFAS, microplastics and nitrates.”

The Bluewater survey also reveals more Americans are taking action to improve their water supply quality. Nearly 60% of respondents reported they want to take control of what’s in their drinking water.

“Homeowners in the U.S. are more educated and aware of water quality issues than ever before. News stories and social media spread the word and people start asking questions, not only about the aesthetics of their water, but how it impacts their families’ health,” said Luke Java, sales and marketing director for Water-Right, a manufacturer of water treatment systems for residential and commercial applications.

This interest provides an opportunity for plumbers to expand their business.

“Plumbers regularly have conversations with homeowners about water problems, so they already have a foot in the door. Helping people improve water quality makes sense. Plumbers have an opportunity to branch out and become trusted experts,” Java said.

For a plumbing contractor not familiar with water filtration, Java recommends partnering with wholesalers and manufacturers that not only provide water treatment equipment, but sales and installation training to trade professionals as well. “Residential water treatment is both a science and an art. The more a plumber understands the equipment used to improve water quality, the easier it will be to explain the benefits to homeowners and close the deal,” he said.


Any variety of pollutants can impact drinking water. Point of Use (POU) and Point of Entry (POE) systems can reduce levels of organic contaminants, control turbidity, fluoride, iron, radium, chlorine, arsenic, nitrate, ammonia, microorganisms and many other contaminants. Aesthetic factors, such as taste, odor, or color also can be improved with POU/POE treatment.

“Homeowners are certainly showing more interest and doing more research about their home water treatment options, both at the point of use and whole home systems,” said Melissa Jones, business unit manager for Pentair. “It’s always best to start with a water test to determine the best solution for the homeowners’ application. Generally speaking, water softening and conditioning is performed at the point of entry on the main water line, along with sediment filtration. Point of use filtration — such as reverse osmosis (RO) systems or carbon filter systems — offer more options to fine-tune water quality, reduce specific contaminants, and manage taste and order.”

POE Advantages

Some homeowners want purified water at every point of use in the house. In that case, there are whole home RO systems as well as lead filtration POE.

“POE systems are the best answer to treat all the water in the home,” said Justin Barker, vice president of sales at Enviro Water Products, a designer and manufacturer of professional grade residential water treatment solutions. “We have observed an overall growth in the interest in whole home systems. People are becoming more aware of the impact chemicals have on their family.

“While bottled water may be free from chlorine, it does nothing for the chlorine that is absorbed through your skin in the shower or through the food you wash in the sink for cooking. Whole home systems address the chemicals before they can impact the family inside,” Barker said.

He added that Enviro offers training for plumbers to understand the role of chemicals in the water that are absorbed by the body through the skin, thus requiring whole home water treatment. “We instruct plumbers on the best applications for POU as well. This can include water heater and other specific devices that require protection in various ways.”

POU Advantages

“In many cases, a POU system will be an effective solution for removing the potentially harmful contaminants that give homeowners concerns. It’s important to realize, however, that not all POU solutions offer the same type of filtration,” Java said. “A RO system can be certified to remove lead, arsenic, pharmaceuticals, harmful bacteria and many other contaminants. But, solutions such as most fridge and faucet filters only provide carbon filtration. They improve taste and reduce odor, but human senses can’t detect most of the unsafe contaminants in drinking water.”

“When homeowners choose to invest in an affordable under-the-sink RO unit, they get the same or better quality for drinking and cooking right from a convenient faucet in the kitchen. Not only will this save the homeowner money over time, it also reduces the amount of plastic waste their family creates when buying bottled water,” Java said.

Changing Attitudes Toward Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles

In January 2018, Bluewater published its first water habits survey that revealed 33% of Americans drank more than five plastic water bottles per week. One year later, that statistic dropped to 22%, suggesting that Americans are weaning off single-use plastic bottled water amidst growing awareness of plastic pollution and its threat to human and environmental health.

“It’s estimated that globally, we are consuming a million plastic bottles per minute. And unfortunately, around 90% of plastic is not recycled,” Java said, adding that “the quality of bottled water you’re getting is often clouded by marketing as most water in grocery stores is just filtered tap water.”

In-Home System vs. Bottled Water

Melissa Jones, business unit leader at Pentair, pointed out benefits of an in-home water filtration system.

“One is it’s sustainable. We have POU systems that can keep over 2,000 water bottles out of the landfill,” she said. Secondly, it’s cost effective. A POU filtration system provides fresh clean water for about 20 cents a gallon. When is the last time you bought a simple 8 ounce bottle of water for less than 20 cents? Thirdly, it’s convenient. Water on demand, no waiting for deliveries or lugging bottled water from store to home.”

Trends in Water Treatment

As with so many other consumer trends, millennials are the drivers.

“This generation wants water treatment solutions that are convenient, support their well-being, and reduce waste to protect the environment. They also expect water treatment systems to be supported by technology that fits with the shift toward smart appliances and the internet of things (IoT),” Java said.

“Another trend we’ve noticed is the desire to improve the quality of city water. Municipalities don’t remove hard minerals from the water supply. So, city residents may still need a water softener. Soft water is especially important for ensuring that high-efficiency appliances in the modern home continue to run as specified. Removal of the chlorine and chloramines (chlorine and ammonia compound) used to disinfect municipal water is another common request,” Java said.

Jones noted an increased interest in smart products, particularly those that monitor water usage and water quality. “Consumers are also making the connection between the importance of home water quality, and the health of their families. Finally, we know that while consumers research and in some cases purchase online, many consumers continue to value professional specification and service when choosing a water treatment solution for their home.”

Make Water Filtration Part of Your Business

“Service and repair plumbing contractors are recognizing the need to offer whole home water treatment to their customers,” Barker said. “The growth of our line of products in this segment is significant. They are now recognizing that they can offer solutions rather than sending their customers to other vendors who are not typically trained plumbing professionals.”

“I would advise the contractor to search for companies that offer a full line of products that meet the demands of today’s consumers. Furthermore, make sure the products are tested and certified to perform at high levels and meet industry standards. Finally make certain that the manufacturer can provide effective training on the products, back their products with solid service and warranty and is available through the distributors that are most commonly positioned in their communities.”

Implement these Selling Tips

Jones offered these easy to implement tips for plumbing contractors wanting to expand into water filtration treatment systems.

  • Water filtration is an easy add-on sale to a kitchen remodeling project. When installing a faucet or a sink, offer a water test and provide a POU water filtration solution as part of the bid.
  • When installing a new water heater, ask if the consumer has considered water softener or pre-filtration to protect their investment and prolong the life of their appliances.
  • Consider offering a water filter replacement program with every system you sell — this provides a recurring revenue stream and an opportunity to keep in touch with existing clients.

Jones concluded: “It’s a great time to be in the water filtration business!”

*Survey methodology: One-time survey fielded to the general population in the United States on 11/16/2017 through 11/18/2017 via Google Consumer Surveys publisher network on behalf of Bluewater, receiving at least 1,701 responses. And a one-time survey fielded to the general population in the United States on 1/2/2019 through 1/4/2019 via Google Consumer Surveys publisher network on behalf of Bluewater, receiving at least 1,256 responses.