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Is city water bad for your garden and livestock? How to overcome it? 🚱 — The Grow Network Community
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Is city water bad for your garden and livestock? How to overcome it? 🚱

Marjory WildcraftMarjory Wildcraft ✭✭✭Posts: 1,039 admin
edited October 2020 in DIY Tutorials

Most municipalities in the US add chloramine to the city water. It used to just be chlorine, which could be overcome by simply letting it sit and disapate over about 24 hours or so. But chloramine doesn't disapate... Nor does the flouride they put in there too.

Chloramine is designed to kill bacteria which is what most of us are trying to encourage in our compost piles, soils, and microbiomes.

Looks like a regular charcoal filter doesn't do it, and you need something much bigger and more expensive to deal with it.

Do you have any suggestions? Would adding some humates to the water help? And if so, where would you recommend to get the humates?

Any other suggestions?



  • bmaverickbmaverick Posts: 175 ✭✭✭

    Having RV'ed for years prior to homesteading, it was very common for folks to use a drinking water hose to hook up at the camp site, we also used an RV water hose filter.

    One of the leading and better filters is the Camco 40043 TastePure RV/Marine Water Filter with Flexible Hose Protector. Protects Against Bacteria, Reduces Bad Taste, Odors, Chlorine and Sediment in Drinking Water. This filter just works in-line with your outdoor spout and hose. This product can be found nearly anywhere camping supplies are found. From Walmart to Camping World to Home Depot and others.

    A runner up to the Camco is the Culligan RV-800 Exterior Pre-Tank Recreational Vehicle Water Filter with Hose. This too will work in-line with your garden hose.

    Now, rather than just protect your garden hose, what about everything in the home and out?

    Living in the city or on well water, Omni offers the BF36C. Having 2 of them right after the water meter in the home will great reduce and remove those nasty chemicals. Why such big units? Well, the big units can use either the larger filters or the narrow skinny filters. This way, more options and filter selections in your budget can work for you. These Omni units can also use the Culligan filters, GE filters, and a dozen other brands. Planning ahead for whole house filtering keeps your hot water tank happy, no chemicals in the shower, nor chemicals in the laundry, nor in the water you may drink, nor chemicals out the faucet to the garden hose.

    Now, some folks collect rain water to irrigate gardens. Used Berkey filters come in handy for filtering the rain water, especially if the collection tank has turned algae green and not black yet. Highly recommend old t-shirts of cotton as a pre-filter before the Berkey filters get this type of water. In a few hours, gallons will be ready from the gravity feed system.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,610 admin

    That is good advice above!

    To answer your title's question, yes, it does affect your livestock. Municipal water will alter raw milk from your animals. For example, it will taste saltier. I don't know the breakdown on how it affects milk otherwise, however. I would not doubt that there is more. We feel that our animals were healthier when given untreated well water.

    As for chickens, it can affect them as well. It can cause thinner shell thickness, which of course can contribute to all sorts of problems if you are hatching chicks.

    These are what I know of. I am sure that there will be effects on their bodies as well, not just what they are producing. I would also question what might also go into their manure/urine as well, especially in a city, since city water contains so many other nasty chemicals due to drugs, garbage, factory and other pollutants.

  • VermontCathyVermontCathy Posts: 442 ✭✭✭

    I use city water from the hose directly on my garden, and I have had not had any problems. We do live in a wet climate, so for much of the growing season there's enough rain to take care of watering needs. But this was a very dry summer, so I had to water frequently with city water, and as far as I can tell my vegetables were perfectly happy with the city water.

    I can't speak to the effect on animals.

  • shllnzlshllnzl Southwestern UtahPosts: 1,457 ✭✭✭✭

    @Marjory Wildcraft Your information just depressed me. Here I was, letting tap water vent/age like my grandmother did, before watering my houseplants. My outdoor plants seem to be tough enough to survive city water as we have very little rain here.

  • Ethereal EarthEthereal Earth NevadaPosts: 142 ✭✭✭

    Does chloramine smell like regular chlorine? The water in Vegas smells like a straight swimming pool. I do know that I Have seen a bit of the chlorine burn on some of my plants, especially if they are in direct sun when it gets like 85+

  • kchiarinikchiarini Posts: 66 ✭✭✭

    Wow! I was talking about this just yesterday. Here I am, in the city, planting organic seeds in organic soil, and having them feed off of chlorinated water! But I just heard from one of Stacey Murphy's speakers in her recent summit that using the water from the condensation of the air conditioner is distilled water and could be used to water plants. That was a new one on me, so I'm just passing on the info. Any thoughts from you true gardeners out there?

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,610 admin

    People ask why I don't want to water my garden with the municipal water. I am just not comfortable with doing that to my garden. Most people don't understand & so I usually don't want to get into that with them. Not doing so is part of the reason my garden was late to grow this year.

  • VermontCathyVermontCathy Posts: 442 ✭✭✭

    @kchiarini I haven't tried the air conditioner trick, but that should work.

    If you have a dehumidifier, the water from it would also be distilled.

    I use the water from my basement sump pump on the garden, and while that's not distilled, it's essentially surface water like a creek or swale. Unfortunately we don't get enough of it for enough of the year to make it the primary water source.

    I have thought seriously about putting in some rainwater storage, leading the storm drains off the house roof into large garbage cans (or similar containers) instead of letting it drain onto the ground. That's a big enough project that I haven't tackled it yet. My goal would be more about an assured supply of water than avoiding adulterated town water, but it would be purer water too.

  • tomandcaratomandcara Colorado front range- Denver MetroPosts: 699 ✭✭✭✭

    To know what your city water has in it, ask your water department. They have to have it tested regularly. Also, I know a number of well water sources are actually contaminated. If you are using well water, it is a prudent idea to have it tested annually. It is so sad that even our rainwater is no longer necessarily a safe water as it can be contaminated by picking up pollutants from the air. https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/70046159#:~:text=Herbicides%20containing%20glyphosate%20are%20used,on%20more%20than%20100%20crops.&text=Glyphosate%20was%20detected%20more%20frequently,and%20large%20rivers%20(18%25).

  • shllnzlshllnzl Southwestern UtahPosts: 1,457 ✭✭✭✭

    @kchiarini @VermontCathy I had a small dish that caught my air-conditioner condensation. I put the dish there because the grass below it died and I thought the grass died from too much water. Turns out that even in the Las Vegas desert, the birds would not touch the condensation water. So beware, there is something wrong with that water -- maybe it contains chemicals from the unit???

  • Ethereal EarthEthereal Earth NevadaPosts: 142 ✭✭✭

    @tomandcara and if you are in CO it is illegal to harvest rainwater, which makes 0 sense to me.

    @kchiarini I tried getting into the summit and it was already at max all the times. Need to check if they have replays somewhere. But that is some new information about the AC unit. I live in an apartment but wonder if I can gather it from the units without having someone disturb the canister? Will have to try it out.

    With it effecting livestock, I wonder how it effects our pets nevermind the long term effects on our bodies.

  • Marjory WildcraftMarjory Wildcraft ✭✭✭ Posts: 1,039 admin

    Hi @Ethereal Earth It is legal to collect up to 110 gallons of rainwater in Colorado, and hopefully they will come to their senses about that limit - which yes, it is crazy.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,610 admin
    edited July 2020

    The problem with using distilled water for watering plants is that it is lacking important minerals. If you used this for watering plants, make sure that the soil gets supplemented otherwise.

  • Ethereal EarthEthereal Earth NevadaPosts: 142 ✭✭✭

    Thank you for the clarification. Everything I had seen up until now, which isn't too much granted, as been cannot collect at all. At least they have some hope.

  • tomandcaratomandcara Colorado front range- Denver MetroPosts: 699 ✭✭✭✭

    @shllnzl Quick Facts. Most homeowners in Colorado are now allowed to use rain barrels to collect rainwater. A maximum of two rain barrels with a combined storage of 110 gallons or less are allowed at each household. Collected rainwater may be used to irrigate outdoor lawns, plants or gardens. https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/natural-resources/rainwater-collection-colorado-6-707/

    Things have changed through the years. It used to be illegal. Happily, that is no longer the case.

  • shllnzlshllnzl Southwestern UtahPosts: 1,457 ✭✭✭✭

    @tomandcara Rainwater is great if not contaminated by glyphosate -- let's hope our rainwater is pretty clean.

    Rainwater is a great solution for those who get rain. The rest of us have to make do.

  • kchiarinikchiarini Posts: 66 ✭✭✭

    @tomandcara , hi! In case you don't know, Stacey is replaying her summit now. I don't see a direct link, but you can email her at Stacey Murphy <[email protected]> and I'm sure they will hook you up. I believe it is available all weekend long. Between her and Marjorie, they really have us in-the-know! PS: Marjorie was a speaker on it!

  • HassenaHassena Posts: 303 ✭✭✭

    So many great suggestions above. Luckily we live in a place with good rainfall. We have rain barrels around the house and rain tanks around the goats. We had read that well water is bad for goats as it contains a lot of iron and sulfur which can have an adverse effect on copper absorption.

    Currently we use only screens to filter the water before giving it to the goats and garden. Eventually we plan to add fish to the tanks to eat some of the potential worms and parasites

    Perhaps eventually… We shall try and filter this water for human consumption. For now the garden and goats are content.

    Look forward to reading more suggestions. :)

  • tomandcaratomandcara Colorado front range- Denver MetroPosts: 699 ✭✭✭✭

    @kchiarini  Thank you for the heads up about the summit replay.

  • OwlOwl Posts: 213 ✭✭✭

    https://www.urbanfarm.org/ is doing a class on water catchment. The class is already in progress but they will be recorded. Great information everybody!

  • GroundedGrounded Posts: 154 ✭✭✭

    I have been using city water, but had not thought about using a filter. I can see the difference between rain and city water in the growth of the garden veggies after the rainfall.

  • Marjory WildcraftMarjory Wildcraft ✭✭✭ Posts: 1,039 admin

    Hi @Grounded rain water is magical stuff!

  • ceriridenourceriridenour Posts: 52 ✭✭✭

    We were using the city water and our plants and produce was small. Started collecting rainwater (it rains almost everyday in the summer here in Florida) and we ended up with beautiful plants.

  • kchiarinikchiarini Posts: 66 ✭✭✭

    Living with chlorine and God knows what else in NYC water, I finally decided to get a filter. It attaches to a garden hose. And has rave reviews. If anyone is interested, let me know, and I'll provide you with info, but I think most of you seem to have the water contamination under control.

  • Marjory WildcraftMarjory Wildcraft ✭✭✭ Posts: 1,039 admin

    I'm curious to the model of the filter you have @kchiarini ... can you post the brand name and / or possibly a link?

  • marjstrattonmarjstratton Posts: 244 ✭✭✭

    Interesting. We have chloramines in our water supply. Have been thinking of getting a whole house treatment system for years but the good ones are so expensive.

  • marjstrattonmarjstratton Posts: 244 ✭✭✭

    Had always assumed that we had chlorine in our water supply until reading this post. Always just let my water set out. My husband just checked and found out that our water is treated with chloramines.

  • Marjory WildcraftMarjory Wildcraft ✭✭✭ Posts: 1,039 admin

    Hi @marjstratton from the research I've done many municipalities switched years ago. It is hard to keep up with everything isn't it? LOL

  • VermontCathyVermontCathy Posts: 442 ✭✭✭

    I've looked this up online and concluded that my town water system does not use chloramines, so the fact that I have not had any gardening issues is no consolation to you guys.

    The little bit of reading I've done on the subject suggests that they are added to reduce the risk of recontamination when the water is pumped long distances. I live in a smaller town with its own independent water system and there's no need to pump the water very far, so apparently there wasn't any reason to use it here.

    It looks like some of the larger Vermont towns in the Champlain Valley switched to chloramines about 10 years, despite some controversy over it. But most Vermont town water systems don't.

    I'm guessing that this is a more widespread problem in some regions than others, and that the bigger the metro area from which you get your water, the more likely that chloramines will be used.

  • Gail HGail H Posts: 359 ✭✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning It's interesting that you mention distilled water. A friend of mine did a lot of sprouting and decided to up her game by using distilled water instead of the city water. Nothing sprouted. She was really surprised. This was before the days of chloramines; she may have been one to let her water sit and off gas for a few days.

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