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Choosing Green

It is often said that water will be the defining issue of the 21st century.  We are already beginning to see the signs.

The demand for bottled water is outstripping recycling capacity.  Year by year an ever smaller proportion of plastic bottles is recycled – from 2 out of 5 in the mid ‘90s, to only 1 out of 7 today.  Some 70 million bottles of water are consumed in America every day – and every day more than 60 million of these plastic bottles are discarded, not recycled. (Source: Container Recycling Institute)

It is imperative that we reconcile our demand for pure water with the urgent necessity of treading lightly on the environment.  

Fortunately, this is among the easier problems in the world to solve.   Water filtration is, frankly, a no-brainer.  With the right equipment in place, you can be assured of water quality that is equal or better than bottled, with greater convenience, at a fraction of the cost – and eliminate the bottle. You can also have filtered water where bottles can’t reach: in the shower, the baby’s bath, and for all food-prep.

The demand for pure drinking water is universal and accelerating.  Bottled water is nearly as popular in poor communities as in affluent ones. Trying to convince people to turn back to consuming raw tap water is useless.

During the summer of 2007, after The New York Times editorialized (for a third time!) pleading that tap water was perfectly good, they were compelled to acknowledge - OK, they printed a letter from Matt Kaye, President of BETTER WATERS - that, in fact, all of their employees in their new headquarters were drinking filtered water.  Some weeks later, they published an Op-Ed piece recommending widespread implementation of “point-of-use” filtration, with the goal of separating consumable water from general purpose water.

US Green Building Council awards LEED CIR for BETTER WATERS filtration technologies to eliminate bottled water. 



Twice Filtered: Factors

Water filtration technology is the answer to the growing environmental impact of bottled water, because it reconciles people’s desire for pure, safe drinking water with the imperative of reducing waste. But the details matter. For a system to be sustainable, it must 1) truly obviate the need for bottled water and 2) have the least possible environmental impact.

1) Water Quality People are not wrong to be wary of tap water. The most common and significant contaminants are 1) trihalomethanes (THMs) that are the byproduct of chlorine (which municipalities inject to prevent bacteria growth) interacting with organic material in reservoir water; 2) volatile organic compounds (VOCs), 3) Cryptosporidium and Giardia, cysts that are impervious to chlorine. A water filtration system that does not effectively eliminate these contaminants will not obviate bottled water – it is, like a small refrigerator filter, or a Brita or Pur filter commonly available in retail stores, only a cosmetic enhancement. If the object is to get people to reduce bottled water consumption, they must have in place a technology that offers water equal or superior to bottled.

2) Environmental impact While the use of nearly any filtration system is better for the environment than using bottled water, obviously filters that last longer have less environmental impact than those with less longevity. There is an exponential increase in longevity as a filtration cartridge gets larger, because the threshold of resistance – the point when the filtration cartridge becomes so clogged that it becomes an impractical barrier to the flow of water through it – is reached after a geometrically larger volume of water has passed through it.

But magnitude isn’t the only consideration. Better filters, i.e. the ones that take out more contaminants, naturally have a smaller filtration pore size. A submicron filter is required to remove cysts; but that same submicron filtration cartridge is highly vulnerable to rapid clogging in water conditions with a significant concentration of particulates. The turbidity of New York City water, for example, is close to the EPA’s maximum contaminant level (MCL), due primarily to the oxidation of dissolved iron and manganese as water travels from the source reservoirs through miles of pipe. Unless these particulates are largely removed before the water reaches the fine filter, that filter won’t last very long – meaning it will be far more costly to maintain the alternative system to bottled water. A system requiring excessively frequent cartridge replacement naturally has a negative effect on the environment, and can cause people to give up on filtration and return to bottled water.

The most efficient way to assure the longevity of high-performance filtration cartridges is to install a particulate filter at the building’s main, which effectively acts as a large “pre”-filter on the entire domestic water supply. Many developers now include such a system in their new buildings for purposes of aesthetics and energy efficiency: Removing oxidized manganese and iron, strong discoloring agents, from the internal water supply of a building assures overall water clarity; running a building on filtered water saves energy because unobstructed water lines permit heat transfer with greater efficiency.

Again, the choice of technology used is consequential. Traditional water filters in high-volume point-of-entry applications are large vessels that require a great deal of water for self-cleaning, or are cartridge-based, which become an endless nightmare and expense to maintain. The newer “screen” technology filters by Amiad Filtration®, looking more like small jet engines than massive tanks, are absolutely miserly with respect to water required for self-cleaning. For an average
New York City building of say 400 apartments, the difference is a ratio of at least 10:1 – a typical tank filtration system requires about 1.5 million gallons of water annually, whereas an Amiad filter does the same job using less than 150,000 gallons annually. This is among the reasons that the majority (if not all) of the mechanical engineering firms active in New York City residential construction now specify Amiad Filtration®.

Information Center

Information about water quality and related topics.  Media articles and environmental perspectives. Water Quality Reports from around the US.

Featured Case Study

Yankee Stadium

All water is filtered at the new Yankee Stadium. Eight Amiad® SAF6000 filters in parallel for 2000+ gpm.


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