As the weather begins to turn warmer, water safety issues inevitably seem to bubble to the surface.

As the weather begins to turn warmer, water safety issues inevitably seem to bubble to the surface. From contaminants in other city’s water supplies to amoebas in local lakes, water safety was a hot button issue last year. If you are renovating or remodeling your home, now might be an ideal time to consider adding a water filtration system to make your water taste better and to filter out potentially dangerous contaminants.

These water filtration systems – whether they are whole-house, built into your appliances, attached to key faucets or even a simple pitcher-type variation – can save you money in the long run. In fact, the average cost of grocery store drinking water runs about $180 per person per year. (Multiply that by the number of members of your family and you can see how quickly the costs can escalate!) Filtration systems also can be beneficial to your health by encouraging you to drink more water.

While many Charlotte area homeowners are connected to public water systems and thus are primarily concerned about the taste of their water, there are many others who rely on private wells for their drinking water, which may bring safety issues to the forefront. While all home wells are tested when they are installed, the quality of your well water can change over time. That’s because groundwater is impacted by changes in the environment, whether man-made or naturally occurring. Construction in the surrounding area, agricultural activity and even eroding mineral deposits can impact water quality.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recommends testing for total and fecal coliform bacteria every year; testing for heavy metals, nitrates, nitrites, lead, copper and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) every two years; and testing for pesticides every five years. (They recommend testing annually if you are aware of pesticides being applied in your area.) In addition, if you are pregnant or have an infant at home, the NCDHHS recommends testing for nitrates, and cautions that nitrates cannot be removed by boiling water; so moms-to-be should drink bottled water and use bottled water to prepare infant formula.

Getting your well water tested is a relatively simple process. Contact your county health department – a list of health departments by county is available through the NCDHHS website. Fees vary per county, as does the procedure. (Some counties will send an inspector out to take a sample, others will ask you to send it in.) Results are generally mailed and may include recommendations for whether additional treatment is needed.

It’s worth noting that there are times you’ll want to test your water even if you do receive it via a public water system, since those systems do not monitor how your home’s plumbing may impact your overall water quality. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends testing if you suspect that there might be lead in your pipes, if your pipes are corroding, if the water has an unusual taste or smell, if you notice stains on your plumbing or laundry, or if a family member is experiencing recurring gastrointestinal illnesses. They also recommend testing if you are considering a home water treatment system (so you’ll better know which type of filtration system you’ll need.)

In the case of water safety, an ounce of prevention is well worth your investment.