In the Lowcountry, we enjoy water everywhere. We have the ocean, the Intracoastal Waterway, rivers, marshes, lagoons, tidal creeks and, of course, our tap water.

Many homeowners ask, “Where does our tap water come from?”

Before we explore the origins of tap water, we need to understand the three types of water in your home:

• Raw water is the tap water coming into your home, used for watering plants, irrigation systems, washing vehicles and hosing down your home

• Working water is the tap water coming into your home that is used for bathing, washing clothes, washing dishes, and cleaning your home.

• Drinking water is the tap water used for preparing food, making drinks, ice cubes or for drinking.

Did you know that 99% of the tap water in your home is used to water lawns and flush toilets, and for bathing, washing dishes, and other household applications? That other 1% is your drinking water. It should be noted that water filtration for working water and drinking water should not be at the same level.

In the Lowcountry, your tap water can come from any number of sources, including private well water, Savannah River water, the North Floridan Aquifer, and public service districts’ reverse osmosis plants – using water from Middle Floridan or Cretaceous Aquifers. The PSD’s or water authorities’ water treatment plants distribute “drinking tap water” that is treated to the standards defined by the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

Despite central treatment of tap water to EPA Safe Drinking Water standards, contaminants, aesthetic issues and points of contamination can still be present in tap water when it reaches your home. Pharmaceuticals, disinfection biproducts, pesticides, herbicides, leaching of pipe wall and biofilms are just a few of the possible contaminants in our tap water.

A recent consumer survey indicated that homeowners wanted four things for their family’s tap water: overall water quality throughout the home, water that is virtually free of toxins, softer water for healthier, softer skin, and water to make appliances last longer and work better.

To provide the desired water quality and attributes throughout the home, every homeowner must have their water tested. A one-size-fits-all water filtration system just won’t deliver the desired water quality to meet the four criteria desired.

Hardness, chlorine, total dissolved solids, pH, pharmaceuticals or any other contaminants will vary from home to home as well as time of year. This is why it is important to have your tap water tested.

For more information on how you can safeguard your home’s water supply, visit the Water Quality Association at or call a local water treatment professional.

Chris Lane is the owner of Culligan Water Conditioning of the Lowcountry, serving Beaufort, Jasper and Hampton counties.