The question of whether tap water is safe to drink is a difficult one to answer. In most cases the answer is yes. However, drinking water comes from a variety of sources, so the question of "is your tap water safe to drink?" will depend on where your water comes from.
Tap water comes from a number of natural and man-made sources. The most obvious of these would be lakes and rivers, but water also comes from man-made reservoirs, underground aquifers, natural springs and wells. Knowing where the water comes from, and the cleanliness of that source, allows the drinker to make an educated assessment of how safe tap water truly is.
What Is in the Water?
Even the purest sources of water contain trace amounts of dissolved salts and minerals. In fact, salts and minerals are often added back to the water once it has been filtered because these elements are responsible for the appealing taste of many brands of bottled water. However, other contaminants may find their way into the water which add nothing to the flavor and might be bad for your health. Check with your local water district to find out the exact composition of your water.
Making Water Safer
Water suppliers do their best to make tap water safe to drink. Most of the time, water districts filter the water thoroughly and add a small amount of chlorine to the water supply to kill any nasty pathogens that may be present. This gives tap water the familiar "city" taste that most of us try to avoid. Although the water might not taste like the natural spring it may come from, the added chlorine ensures that the tap water is safe to drink.
Making Water Tase Better
There are a few things you can do at home to make tap water taste better. Water filters can be purchased at most grocery and home improvement stores; these filters are easy to use and help remove many of the chemicals that give tap water its distinctive taste. Water filters can be installed directly on the tap, on the line supplying the water to your fridge and ice maker, or atop a reusable water jug.
What Can You Do?
Each of us plays a role in keeping our drinking water safe. You can do your part by keeping local bodies of water clean. This may sound like common sense, but keeping local drinking water safe begins with limiting the number of contaminants which may find their way into the water supply. Common household contaminants include pesticides, fertilizers, prescription drugs and industrial oils.