Alabama is known for its freshwater fishing and for obvious reasons. The state boasts an array of surface water sources including lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands. More popular sources include the Chattahoochee and Perdido rivers but these are far from the only sources of potable water.
Groundwater is another source of drinking water pulled up for use in local water systems. The majority of groundwater in Alabama is taken up from limestone aquifers, which can lead to some significant hard water issues.
Alabama is a state that is enjoying a surge in population. While this is certainly beneficial to the economy, it can create problems for the water supply. An increase in population, commerce, and industry often leads to a variety of contaminants like lawn fertilizer or other contaminants.
Fortunately, Alabamians enjoy clean water that has been treated to ensure its safety. The downside is that you may notice a chemical smell and even poor tasting water after treatment.
Common Water Problems by City
Water problems vary as cities source water from different supplies. Each community treats its water in a way that makes it safe but can choose from different methods that lead to different types of issues.
Black Warrior River
Big Creek Lake
The city of Birmingham uses a variety of sources to get water to its residents. Each source has its own issues but the prevailing problem is contamination.
The surface water supplies employed by Birmingham see pollution from mining operations, residential runoff, sewage overflow, and contamination from leisure boating. This leads to a heavy treatment process to make the water safe for use and consumption.
The treatment process involves chemicals that might lead you to believe there is something wrong with the water. It is, in fact, safe to drink but can cause an unpleasant taste and odor.
As the surface water travels over land, it picks up minerals and earth metals. These are absorbed into the water creating a condition known as hard water. Hard water is safe but can cause dry skin after bathing.
There was a time when Montgomery used only well water. Now, water is also pulled from the Tallapoosa River, which requires aggressive treatment to make it safe for you to drink and bathe in.
This treatment does make the water safe but can have some negative side effects. You may notice a chemical smell or taste. This often originates from the chlorine used to remove bacteria from a surface water source.
Well water still makes up about 40% of the Montgomery water supply. Wells often face fewer pollutants, however, are still susceptible to mineral and earth metal absorption. This leads to a condition called hard water. Hard water will leave your skin dry and can reduce the efficiency of appliances that use water.
The water feeding Big Creek Lake, also called the Converse Reservoir, comes from a massive watershed covering over 100 square miles. While this ensures plenty of supply, it leaves the supply vulnerable to virtually every type of contaminant possible.
Fortunately, the water is made clean with treatment by the local water authority. However, this treatment can lead to water that tastes and smells bad. Chlorine is a chemical prevalently used to remove bacterial contaminants and has a noticeable smell.
Hard water is a problem for Mobile residents. Safety is not an issue but it can cause dry skin. Plumbing issues can arise as untreated limescale builds up in pipes. Limescale can also combine with water sitting in tubs or on surfaces, creating the domestic nuisance known as soap scum.