In the Las Vegas heat, there are few things the residents of this city look forward to more than a long, cool drink of water. Many people choose bottled over tap water, but it can be expensive. In addition, the Mayo Clinic states bottled water and tap water are comparable in terms of health, with one having no health benefits above the other. If you’ve ever wondered if you can just save your money and drink water straight out of your tap, this article will help you determine the answer to that question.
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Where Does Our Water Come From?
If you’re drinking Las Vegas tap water, you’re drinking water that began as snowmelt in the Rocky Mountains and then flowed into the Colorado River. In fact, approximately 90 percent of the water in Southern Nevada flows here from the Rockies, and it ends up in beautiful Lake Mead. The rest—approximately 10 percent—comes from the water supply that lies just under the earth’s surface.
Most of the water you’re drinking had to travel a long way to get here. By the time the Colorado River empties out into the Gulf of California, it has traveled nearly 1,500 miles.
Is Las Vegas Tap Water Safe to Drink?
Las Vegas tap water is some of the safest to drink in the country. The Southern Nevada Water Authority meets or exceeds all benchmarks set by the Environmental Protection Agency and is seen as an international expert on water management. It routinely tests for contaminants in the parts per billion or parts per trillion range, which is far beyond the parts per million range most other cities track. However, Las Vegas’s tap water is quite hard and may have a distinctive taste due to chlorination.
One issue that affects the quality of drinking water is your pipes. If your water is traveling through lead pipes, your water is going to have lead in it. Even if you have lead-free pipes, they can contain as much as eight percent lead. Any breaches in your pipes increase the possibility that your water can be contaminated.
Everything You Need to Know About Las Vegas Water
In 2018 the Las Vegas Valley Water District conducted 295,500 analyses on 54,350 samples of water from across the valley. The Environmental Working Group by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection also conducted a study in late 2018. Here’s what they found.
What Is the pH of Las Vegas Water?
In order to understand what the pH level means, we must first understand how pH levels are measured. pH is measured on a scale from 0 – 14, with 7.0 being neutral. Measurements below 7.0 is defined as being acidic, while levels above 7.0 are said to be basic or what is defined as “alkaline”. Acidic water is corrosive and can potentially leach toxic levels of metals in your water due to the damage it will cause to your pipes.
Acidic water won’t be a problem for you if you live in Las Vegas. According to the 2019 Water Quality Report, the water tested here measured 7.9, ranging between 6.5 – 8.5, pH units. In some areas the water is on the acidic side, but in others the measurement leans toward the alkaline side.
Las Vegas Water Contaminants
According to the Environmental Working Group by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection’s database, the water tested here between July 2018 and September 2018 contained 12 contaminants that were detected at levels that exceeded health guidelines. These include hormones, chloroform, nitrates, and other carcinogens. Nine of these were above legal guidelines, health guidelines, or both.
Many of these contaminants are actually by-products of the water purification process. While some are found at levels above legal or health guidelines, there is little evidence available showing they have an adverse effect on human health. Other contaminants are only now being monitored, and SNWA is one of the few agencies, if not the only one, detecting some of them.
Las Vegas Water Hardness
Las Vegas has some of the hardest water in the country, but it doesn’t carry any health risk. To understand this figure, we must understand how water hardness is measured. If there is less than 17.1 ppm, you have soft water. If the measurement is 60 to 120 ppm, your water is moderately hard. Now that you understand the scale, you will understand exactly how hard our water is at 290 ppm. This is at the top of the scale and is considered to be very hard.
Related: Does Las Vegas Have Hard Water (And Should You Worry?)
Las Vegas Water Lead Levels
According to EWG’s report, 90% of the water samples tested between January 2011 and December 2013 measured below 2.0 parts per billion. This figure is far below the federal Lead and Copper Rule, which requires 15 ppb or less. Even if the water’s lead levels are within these guidelines, the water may still be unsafe for children, who can suffer a slight decline in IQ due to lead in the water. That’s why the EPA has set a goal of 0.2 ppb or less for our water.
In conclusion, drinking Las Vegas’s tap water is overwhelmingly safe, but you might decide to purchase a filter for an added sense of security. If so, it’s important to choose the right filter, as those that remove organic compounds typically won’t remove heavy metals and vice versa. If you’re concerned about the hardness of your water or want to change its taste, a filter can be very useful. Learning about water quality can help to dispel myths about Las Vegas’ water quality and can help you make a more informed decision about purchasing a filter.