Water Quality Issues in Balm, Florida
Balm is a charming, unincorporated community located in Hillsborough County, Florida. With a population of just over 12,000 residents, Balm has retained its small-town feel while still being close to major cities like Tampa. However, when it comes to water quality, Balm faces some concerning challenges. Other locations:
Overview of Balm
Balm is situated east of Tampa and north of Fort Myers. The town is known for its antique shops, cafes, and laidback atmosphere. Outdoor enthusiasts flock to Balm for its nearby hiking trails, parks, and the Alafia River which runs through the area.
While not directly on the coast, Balm is still influenced by its proximity to Tampa Bay. The subtropical climate brings hot, humid summers and mild winters. Afternoon thunderstorms are common, especially June through September.
Development in Balm has increased in recent years, raising concerns about environmental impacts. Maintaining high water quality is a priority as the population grows.
Potential Drinking Water Contaminants in Balm
The drinking water source for Balm residents is groundwater drawn from the Floridan Aquifer via private wells. While this vast underground reservoir provides seemingly limitless fresh water, risks still exist.
Potential contaminants found in Balm's well water include:
Nitrates - Runoff from fertilizers and erosion can lead to unhealthy nitrate levels. This is a concern for homes near agricultural areas. High nitrate consumption is dangerous for infants and pregnant women.
Bacteria - Wells drawing from shallow depths or with cracks in casing may allow bacteria like E. coli to enter. This pathogenic bacteria comes from human and animal waste.
Arsenic - Arsenic occurs naturally in deeper rock formations. Improperly cased wells can pick up dangerous amounts of this carcinogen.
Radon - Being a radioactive gas, radon seeps into well water from surrounding soil and rock. Long-term radon exposure may cause lung cancer.
Chlorides - Runoff containing road salt, fertilizer, and seawater can cause high chloride content. This affects taste at lower levels but can be toxic at very high concentrations.
Hydrocarbons - Leaking fuel storage tanks, landfills, and spills introduce hydrocarbons like benzene into groundwater. Chronic ingestion is a cancer risk.
Heavy Metals - Lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium and other metals can leach into aquifers from industrial sources or natural deposits. These have toxic health effects at certain doses.
Pesticides - Agricultural pesticides and herbicides can migrate into well water, especially after rainfall. These may have links to human illnesses.
Sodium - Saltwater intrusion from rising sea levels introduces high sodium. This is concerning for those monitoring sodium intake for health reasons.
Proper well construction, septic tank maintenance, and pollution prevention are crucial for keeping these drinking water contaminants out of Balm's groundwater.
Drinking Water Treatment Solutions for Balm
To address potential contaminants in their well water, Balm homeowners have several effective treatment options:
Reverse Osmosis (RO) Systems - RO removes dissolved contaminants through a semi-permeable membrane. This handles health hazards like nitrates, arsenic, radon, chlorides, and sodium.
Activated Carbon Filters - These use a porous media made of carbon that absorbs contaminants. Helpful for eliminating hydrocarbons, pesticides, herbicides, and some heavy metals.
Ion Exchange - This process swaps out unwanted minerals and metals for more acceptable ones. Useful for reducing heavy metal, radon, nitrate, and arsenic concentrations.
Oxidizing Filters - Adding an oxidizing agent eliminates microorganisms including E. coli and other disease-causing bacteria. Effective disinfection for biologically unsafe water.
Distillers - Distillation involves boiling water then collecting the condensation. This removes nearly all TDS and contaminants but can be slow and energy intensive. Helpful as a final polishing step after other treatments.
UV Systems - Ultraviolet light destroys microorganisms without chemicals. It adds an extra layer of biological protection with minimal impact on other water parameters.
No single treatment option addresses every potential contaminant. A tailored, multi-barrier approachcombining several technologies per installation ensures the broadest protection for Balm well owners.
Improving Balm's Water Quality
While homeowners can take action to treat well water on their properties, larger initiatives also help safeguard the region's groundwater supplies:
Adhering to strict septic codes reduces biological contamination from improperly maintained systems.
Following best practices for fertilizer and pesticide application minimizes agricultural runoff.
Implementing pollution prevention plans at industrial sites stops hazardous spills and leakage.
Upgrading stormwater systems decreases chemical-laden urban runoff into aquifers.
Installing central sewer systems eliminates onsite septic systems, especially in high density areas.
Creating new protected conservation areas around recharge zones keeps them free of pollution sources.
Managing development with aquifer health in mind prevents contamination issues before they occur.
Continuing to monitor and research water quality trends provides insight on emerging threats to address proactively.
With proper individual action combined with policies and education at the community level, Balm can continue enjoying its pristine, naturally-filtered groundwater for generations to come.
Like many Florida municipalities relying on well water, Balm faces potential drinking water contamination issues ranging from bacteria to heavy metals. Thankfully, modern treatment solutions exist to counteract these risks. Both homeowners and local government play important roles in safeguarding the aquifer feeding Balm's water supplies. Addressing water quality issues now preserves this vital resource for the future as the town grows and develops.
-Environmental Protection Agency - Drinking Water Contaminants https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/table-regulated-drinking-water-contaminants
-Florida Department of Health - Water System Information http://www.floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/drinking-water/index.html
-US Geological Survey - Groundwater Atlas of the United States https://pubs.usgs.gov/ha/ha730/ch_a/index.html
Filtrated Soft Water Solves Many Problems
Hard water can cause a wide range of problems that affect various aspects of daily life and household functions. Here is a comprehensive list of the issues that hard water can cause: