Monday, July 14, 2008

How Good is the Water in Argentina?

A fellow expat, and soon to be local business owner, recently submited a water sample to an American water testing company called National Testing. She just received the report, and from what I can tell, the water in her sample was good. She took it from the tap in her home in Las Cañitas.

I would like to share the results of the test with you:

If you would like a copy of the test you can click on the image above.

Iron and manganese are common metalic elements found in the earth´s crust, and therefore, also found in water. They can affect the color and flavor of food and water. They may react with tannins in coffee, tea, and wine. In this report the local water supply got a 0.046 mg/L in Iron, way under the US national standard of 0.3 mg/L. Manganese squeeked by with a 0.04 mg/L against the national standard of 0.05 mg/L.

Copper also comes in way below the national standard of 1.3 mg/L at just 0.10 mg/L.

Zinc also comes way below its national standard clocking in at .067 mg/L against 5 mg/L.

There were three elements that did not state a national standard limit and only had a minimum detection level stated. Those were Calcium (19 mg/L), Magnesium (3.8 mg/L), and Sodium (21 mg/L).

Calcium and Magnesium are involved in affecting the hardness of the water, and since the hardness came in at 63 mg/L, this qualifies it as moderatly hard water, but well below the national standard of 100 mg/L.

Turbidity in the local water was 0.6 mg/L below the standard of 1 mg/L. Turbidity is the lack of clarity of brilliance in a water.

Total Dissolved Solids is used as an indicator test to determine the general quality of the water. In this case it came in at 130 mg/L, way under the national limit of 500mg/L.

Chloride, which gives water a salty taste, also comes in way below the national standards; 21 mg/L versus the limit of 250mg/L for example.

Total THMs came in at 0.06 mg/L against the national standard of 0.08mg/L. This test is important becuase it measures four chemicals that are formed as by-products of chlorination. These chemicals are Cancer group B carcinogens (they cause cancer in lab animals). The full name of the test is Trihalomethanes.

I am no expert in this topic. I just started snooping around based on the report received. Based on this report, it looks like the drinking water is safe and well within the US National Standards. The water might be a little hard, but that was kind of obvious to me when I first came down here.

Good-bye bottles!

** Note: The following are links for informational purposes only. I do not endorse any of these companies. **

AYSA - Water treatment plants of Buenos Aires
AABA - Atlas Ambiental de Buenos Aires

Companies that clean water tanks:
Antiplaga Norte

Companies that analyze water samples:
Entolux - this one does both the cleaning and analyzing


SFO said...

Frank -

I think it's worthwhile to point out that Kara Bauer's water sample comes from a new building (2003), that does not have a tank. The water is pressurized by pumps inside the building. This setup is common in new apartment construction.

Individual water samples such as these are most useful in determining whether there are contamination issues once the water enters the building. Single samples are not really a valid reference for the municipal supply since the water quality undoubtedly varies over time.

I was just looking at my water quality report for my city on the San Francisco peninsula, and even though the water is derived mostly from spring snow melt, it still varies considerably (based on almost 90,000 samples over a year).

Probably the biggest concern in water quality is the amount of lead, since this was commonly used worldwide in plumbing, and also used in solder for joining copper pipes.

In one apartment I rented in Las Canitas (the building was probably 40-50 years old), there was a flexible lead pipe connecting the caldera - but fortunately on the hot water side. At least as recently as four years ago, replacement lead connectors were on sale at Easy. I would be almost certain that these are illegal in Argentina, but given the lax enforcement and oversight of many laws they are still available. I think too that there is much more awareness of lead in plumbing and paint in the US and western Europe given the amount of consumer advertising and warnings.

I've never been concerned about the safety of the municipal water supply in BsAs, but I do find that it's dissolved solids make a considerable difference in the taste of coffee and tea. Because of this I used bottled water just for preparing these two beverages.


Unknown said...

Hi John,

Thanks for the insights. Like I said, I am no expert on this topic. Why would the quality of the water fluctuate over time?

I can understand the quality variance depending on the different qualities of pipes or tanks, but would not know why it would deviate over time.

So the best thing to do would be to order one of these tests for your own place.

At least we know have numbers that back up the municipal water supply, now we just need to test our own individual homes or residential buildings.