MIDLAND, Texas (ABC Big 2) – Tap water is a big talking point out here and many people hold strong opinions on it. Most Odessa and Midland residents say they don’t like the taste of the tap water.
But is it safe to drink? And does Reverse Osmosis fix all of our water problems in the Basin?
I sat down with Carl Craigo, the Utilities Director of Midland, to find out the answers to some of these questions.
“Yes, Midland water is perfectly safe to drink,” Craigo says.
That answers the first question! But what about Reverse Osmosis, and what is it? It’s actually one of the most common water filtration techniques for homes.
Basically, osmosis is the process by which some parts of a fluid are let through a membrane, like water, and other parts are kept out, like germs and dissolved minerals. In a RO home filtration system, the membrane is wrapped around a tube that water flows through.
As the water pushes through the tube, it’s forced inwards, through the filtration membrane, and because only water is allowed to pass through the membrane, the result is near-perfect H20.
The process, unfortunately, doesn’t scale well to a city-sized level.
“So last year, we produced 8.5 billion gallons of water at our water treatment plant; so 50-55% of that doesn’t make it to our wastewater plant. So that means a lot of that water is going on the ground. So if we did reverse osmosis at the plant, think about the expense of reverse osmosis at the plant, and then over half of that water being put on the ground,” Craigo explains.
That sure adds up to a lot of waste!
In addition, drinking nearly-pure water is not always the best from a health perspective, according to Craigo.
“So the scientists that I follow is it’s not actually good to only drink reverse osmosis water. Reverse osmosis is unstable water, meaning it’s looking for minerals you took back out of it, so if that’s the only water you’re drinking, it actually could end up hurting yourself. That’s why when you buy bottled water, it goes through a reverse osmosis process but they add things back into it.”
Poor health effects will only occur over a long period of time, and only if RO water is the only kind consumed.
Some people in the Basin say that the benefits of removing impurities out-weigh the risk of losing minerals. Reverse osmosis is a good method for filtering water and improving taste, but it’s not the perfect solution.
“What I do at home, I actually do a quarter cup of Midland water and the rest reverse osmosis water. So I just use the tap water,” offers Craigo.
Truly taking a best-of-both-worlds approach, and proving that the Midland city water is safe to drink, while also containing essential minerals.