Bottled Water Free Day

10 Signs of Water Filter Scams

When you are desperate for clean healthy water, it is easy to fall for a scam and buy a cheap home water filtration system at an inflated price. But knowledge is power! So you will not be the next water filter victim, here are some documented water filter scams you can avoid.

  • When a water filter salesperson comes to your door with the grim news that your drinking water supply comes from recycled wastewater and you may need a water treatment system in your house.
  • When a water purifier representative tells you that your local tap water contains cancer-causing chemicals that cause deformities of babies.
  • When a water filter company comes with unverifiable scientific data proclaiming the benefits of its supposedly energized mineral water.
  • When a food giant company claims that their bottled water “comes from a lush spring tucked deep in the woods of Maine.”
  • When a salesperson comes to your house with unsolicited claims that he or she can sell a camping water filter and water purifier that will make untreated water in the wilderness safe to drink.
  • A water filter company claims their water filter is approved by USEPA and it will remove certain harmful chemicals in your drinking water.
  • A filter manufacturer claims their water filter system is NSF-certified when in fact the filter was simply tested or the unit (not the filter) was certified. Some housing units may be certified for integrity while the filter may not.
  • Someone comes to your door to peddle water-testing kits and then warns you that your tap water contains high lead or chlorine or other harmful contaminants. This is an attempt to sell you his or her overprized and non-certified water filter system.
  • A water filter salesperson who pretends to be from a local water authority representative comes to your door asking you to participate in a “water survey.”
  • A water filter peddler tells you there had been a chemical spill near your water supply and your house water may not be safe to drink, and then tried to convince you to have your water tested so you can buy you their expensive filter.

How to avoid a possible water filter scam:

  • You can simply contact your Water Authority to confirm any claim of water contaminations. If there is a problem you will hear in the news. You should also have received an annual report about the condition of your water supply.
  • You can buy a home water testing kits to confirm the presence of some contaminants in your water or contact your local water authority for information about a possible free testing program in your community.
  • Check NSF website to confirm claims that a filter is NSF-certified. There is a lot of information about drinking water treatments on this site.
  • Confirm with EPA any claims that a water purifier is EPA-approved. Note: EPA does not certify water filters.
  • Don’t give in to pressure to buy an overpriced, unreliable and untested water filter for your house. Take a deep breath, ask the salesperson to come back and do some of the suggestions listed above.

How a Water Treatment Plant Works

Water treatment is required in most cases with very few exceptions. Drinking water sources need to be treated or purified prior to distributing to homes.

Natural rainwater tends to be pure but the need for water treatment is because the rainwater may pick up contaminants as it drops, or as the overland water flows to lakes, rivers, and wells.

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets maximum allowable levels of several contaminants found in source water supplies.

Under the Act, public water suppliers must monitor their water to make sure it complies with science-based public health standards. However, the Act does not cover private wells so each good owner must be responsible to find out what contaminants are in their drinking water.

Because some contaminants are colorless and odorless, testing is recommended for well water to ensure it is safe to drink.

Contaminants in source water may come naturally or are from human activities such as combined sewer overflows, concentrated animal feeding operations, failed septic systems, constructions.

Contaminants may come in the form of dissolved organic and inorganic substances. The source water may also smell and look bad, and may also contain bacteria and other microbiological organisms at levels that threaten public health.

Microbial contaminants that may be of special concern are pesticides, minerals, and solvents which may cause gastrointestinal problems, skin irritations, cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, and other chronic health effects.

If contamination poses an immediate health threat, water suppliers are required by law to immediately notify consumers.

To remove these contaminants, source water may go through the following basic treatment steps: preliminary screening, coagulation, sedimentation, filtration, and disinfection.

Some water treatment plant may require additional treatment steps because of the extent or types of contaminants in the source water such as aeration, ion exchange, distillation, and other steps as determined by the water treatment operators.

Preliminary Screening

Screening is necessary to remove floating debris from the source water. This debris may be dead woods, leaves, rags, or from runoffs from storm events or snow melts. Some water treatment plants also use very fine screen materials or micro-strainers to remove suspended algae and plankton.


While the screening process is to remove small suspended particles, the coagulation process is to remove dirt and other suspended particles missed by screening. Coagulation requires the addition of alum and other chemicals. These contaminants flow toward the chemicals to form “flocs” which attract other impurities. The flocs become heavy and are separated from the water through the next process – sedimentation.


Think about sedimentation in terms of muddy water scooped into a clear jar and allowed to sit for a few hours. You will notice the water at the top becomes clear (maybe not fit to drink) as a sheet of impurities settles at the bottom of the jar. Sedimentation on a large scale is also the separation of water from the flocs. The combination of alum and contaminants will settle at the bottom leaving the clear water on the surface. Water from the coagulation process is allowed to settle for several hours (typically three hours) and the clear water is then transferred to the filtration unit.


Water filtration is a process whereby water passes through filters, some made of layers of sand, gravel, and charcoal that help remove even smaller particles that may have passed through the preceding process units. These particles may pose significant threats to human health; therefore, filtration is the surest way to remove them prior to distribution by water suppliers. In fact, the Surface Water Treatment Rule under the Safe Drinking Water Act requires some source water to be filtered. The most common filtration methods are sand filtration and rapid gravity filtration. Others may include packaged filtration, membrane filtration, and diatomaceous earth filtration.


Disinfection is the most important part of water treatment. This process is to kill or inactivate any pathogenic bacterial in source water such as algae, spores, and viruses. Ninety-nine percent of Giardia cysts must be inactivated to provide safe and healthy water. The basic disinfection methods are chlorination, chloramines, ozone, ultraviolet light, and nanofiltration.


After the water is fully treated, it is now ready to be distributed to consumers. However, treated water is placed in a closed tank or reservoir and then flows through pipes to homes and businesses in the community. Similarly, some multi-stage home water filter systems come with a storage tank. For instance, a 5-stage reverse osmosis water filter comes with a storage tank. This tank stores the treated water and ready to be dispensed.

Why Home Water Filters?

You may wonder why people still buy water purifiers or filters after all the regulations and treatment methods. A disinfectant must be effective in killing or inactivating all pathogenic bacteria and should not leave any residual.

But residual chlorine often remains in the water supply leaving unpleasant tastes and odors which must be removed by consumers. Concerns about water qualities have driven people to buy portable water purifiers when they are away from homes.

These home water treatment devices can remove these unwanted tastes and odors. Home water filters that come with activated carbon and reverse osmosis filters are capable of removing tastes and odors.

Also, water distributed to homes may be fit to drink; however, it may pick up contaminants within the home plumbing fixtures. Lead in old pipes or in solders may leach into the water.

Therefore, it may be necessary to have the water tested to determine if water filters purifiers are necessary. It is even advisable for well water to be tested for possible contaminants, and to determine if a water purifier or filter is necessary.

During water treatment, UV radiation is generated by a special light that penetrates the cell wall of an organism. This water treatment technology is also used in some home water treatment systems to kill the bacteria in the water.

Solid Carbon Block Filters

Solid carbon block filters effectively treat the age-old contaminants such as lead, TCE, chlorine, benzene and several contaminants found in the nation’s drinking water supplies today like MTBE, chloramines, and PCBs.…