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Great Lakes Article:

You may want to consider water-conditioning system
By Glenn Haege
Detroit News
Published June 16, 2007

If you get your water from a well, you probably already have a filter or some kind of water conditioning system; but do you need anything extra if you have city water?

The definitive answer is: No / Yes / Maybe. As Glenn Beck says, "Here's how I got there."

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), that serves 4.3 million people in 126 southeast Michigan communities, has the 2005 Water Quality Report on its Web site,, (313) 964-9090. The water meets or exceeds all federal and state standards for quality and safety.

As a resident of Macomb County, I can tell you that water mains break every year and many of us are stuck either without water or with a "boil water" advisory.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, the DWSD, and the Michigan Public Health Institute performed a water-source assessment and determined the DWSD Detroit River source intakes were highly susceptible to potential contamination.

To give you an idea of how worrisome that is, the DWSD has three water intakes, two in the Detroit River and one in Lake Huron. Four of their five water treatment plants treat Detroit River water. This means that four-fifths of our water supply is highly susceptible to potential contamination. Add an aging infrastructure, chemical spills and an often unpleasant, chemical taste and you have a call to action.

I contacted James Reynolds of Reynolds Water Conditioning Co., (800) 572-9575,, to ask him if there was much demand for water filtration and conditioning from homeowners using city water or if most of his business was from homes, businesses and schools using well water. .

Reynolds assured me that city water consumers account for much of their business. He also says that two of the biggest problems with city water are that the Great Lakes are loaded with living organisms and that lake water is hard.

According to Reynolds, the public water system kills bacteria with increasing amounts of chlorine, but viruses, spores and cysts can pass right on through. The only way to remove the contaminants, including added chemicals, is to add filtration and conditioning systems.

"Since most water is used for cleaning and watering the lawn, a family on a budget can get the highest-quality drinking and cooking water inexpensively with a reverse osmosis filter that only serves the kitchen," Reynolds says.

The modern RO system is often in the basement below the kitchen. It combines a large particle filter (to remove hunks and chunks) one or more pre-filters, the RO filter, a final carbon filter to "polish the water" and brighten the taste and a storage tank. Good RO systems are available from most water conditioning companies and cost between $700-$800 installed.

To meet this need, the Reynolds Water Co. developed two whole-house systems designed to improve city water.

The first system, called the PureStream City Water Purifier, combines heavy-duty filtration and a long, high-powered ultraviolet sterilization chamber. The combination results in a 99.9 percent kill rate for bacteria, viruses, chlorine-resistant spores and giardia cysts. It gives unlimited purified water even during a "boil water" advisory, Jaime says.

The second system combines filtration and a water softening system. Reynolds has sodium- and potassium-based water softening.

Systems like these can run $3,000-$4,000.

When you look at the alternatives, adding some form of water purification makes a lot of sense even if you are on city water.

If you have a question, call the "Handyman Show" with Glenn Haege at (866) ASK GLENN noon-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The show can be heard locally on WJR-AM (760) and more than 160 radio stations nationwide. To suggest a question for Haege's Wednesday "Ask Glenn" column at, write: Ask Glenn, Master Handyman Press, P.O. Box 1498, Royal Oak, MI 48068-1498, or e-mail

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