Published: August 28, 2019

    Shrinking Populations in Big Cities Are Creating Water Quality Concerns

    If you live in a bustling city like Chicago and hear that the population is actually decreasing, right away you may start thinking of potential benefits. The housing market is less competitive! Maybe you’ll experience less traffic on the way home from work!

    However, there is one unseen side effect of a shrinking population that many citizens aren’t aware of: worsening water quality. Overall decreases in a city’s size directly increase the risk of certain water quality issues, according to Steve Smith of PHC News. As people move away from certain cities to search for new opportunities, the water in the pipes isn’t used as quickly as it once was. Water will remain inert in pipes during periods of low usage.

    What Cities Are Shrinking?

    Most metropolitan areas in the United States are expanding, but a few key cities are experiencing significant population decline. Most cities losing residents are situated in the Rust Belt. The largest “shrinking” cities are:

    • Detroit, with a 29% population drop between 2000 and 2016
    • Cleveland, with a 19% population drop between 2000 and 2016
    • St. Louis, with an 11% population drop between 2000 and 2016
    • Chicago, with a 7% population drop between 2000 and 2016

    How Does This Cause Water Quality Problems?

    All city infrastructures are designed with the assumption that the population will grow. When the water supply remains the same but the amount of people using it goes down, water ends up sitting in pipes for weeks or more before flowing out of a tap.

    As the age of the water in a pipe increases, the overall concentration of chlorine and other disinfectants in that water decreases. The likelihood of corrosion sharply rises, which can lead to elevated levels of heavy metals like iron. During the warmer summer months the growth of Legionnaires’ Disease increases, as does the total amount of bacteria that is likely present in the stagnant water.

    What Can You Do?

    You should be proactive in protecting yourself and your family from possible water quality concerns, especially if you live in one of these major cities. Researchers who contributed to a story about water quality issues published in The Conversation concluded that “simply relying upon and then communicating about a water quality parameter that ‘meets all regulatory standards’ — as per the law — is an inadequate way to communicate about water quality.”

    The monitoring process for these specific problems hasn’t been updated since the Safe Drinking Water Act was passed 45 years ago. Regulatory agencies can only do so much to correct these problems. It’s up to you to guarantee your home has safe, pure drinking water. 

    Best Water Filters for Cities With Shrinking Populations

    No matter what water quality concerns arise in your shrinking city, address them head on with a Pelican Water filter system. Choose the ideal system based on your needs:

    • Concerned about viruses, bacteria and other organisms that can grow in pipes due to stagnation? A Whole House Filter With UV filters chlorine at a rate of 97% while also eradicating organisms like E. Coli and cyanobacteria from your drinking water.

    • Worried about heavy metals like lead, iron and manganese leaching into your water? A combination of a Countertop Drinking Filter System and an Iron & Manganese Water Filter will set your mind at ease and protect you from common contaminants that are picked up from service lines.

    Even if you aren’t living in a city currently declining in population, a Pelican Water filter system will safeguard the drinking water in your home against future water quality issues so you can enjoy fresh, safe and pure drinking water from your tap every day.