How is the drinking water quality of Jerusalem? Can you tell by its look, taste or smell?

How is the drinking water quality of Jerusalem? Can you tell by its look, taste or smell?

If you want to know more about the water source in Jerusalem and the process of testing the water quality laboratory at Gihon, please read on. You will also find information about how how to deal with water quality problems.

Questions & Answers

Can you tell water quality just by its look, taste, or smell?

The look, taste and smell are important signs for water quality, however, they should be treated only as initial criteria. It is obvious that you should avoid drinking water which appears unclean, tastes funny, or has a bad odor, excluding a very slight smell of chlorine which is added to the water according to the binding standard in order to ensure its quality.

"Hagihon" operates a water quality testing laboratory in Jerusalem, which was authorized to do so by the national authority for the certification of laboratories and the Ministry of Health, and it monitors the water in accordance with strong regulations.

 

How to guarantee the quality of drinking water?

The waters are disinfected using chlorine to guarantee their bacteriological quality, usually by Mekorot co. The use of chlorine to ensure drinking water quality is a controlled use, under strict supervision and it is even required according to the Ministry of Health's regulations and instructions.

 

Is it alright and perhaps even desirable to drink water from the tap?

The quality of drinking water supplied by Hagihon is very good and therefore the water is certainly drinkable. However, it should be noted that Hagihon's responsibility is to supply the water up to the building's main gauge and from there onwards the responsibility for properly handling the water is passed to the residents of said building.

If water treatment equipment is installed in the building, said equipment must be maintained according to the manufacturer's instructions and as part thereof the filters installed therein must be cleaned of depressurizing agents according to recommendations herewith.

On site, wash household piping if repairs were made therein and wash water pipes in new homes. In any case where there is a problem in the household system, call a plumber. In houses where these instructions are strictly adhered to water can certainly be drunk from the tap.

In an emergency, should we prefer drinking water from bottles to water from taps? Not necessarily. Hagihon tests water quality daily under the supervision of the Ministry of Health. However, each consumer has his own preferences.

 

Do water bottles have different shelf lives?

There is no doubt that water bottles are an important source of drinking water in an emergency and Hagihon recommends keeping a six pack of bottles per person at home, for use in an emergency. It is important of course to replace said bottles before the expiration date printed on the bottle.

 

Who can I contact with questions or complaints in the matter of drinking water?

The address to contact is Hagihon's operations center which is open to public service 24 hours a day:

Telephone: 02 5651111 or *2070; Fax: 02 5651193

Mailing address: Hagihon Ltd., P.O.B. 10118, Jerusalem, 91100

Email: peniyot@hagihon.co.il

 

Do chemical substances found in the drinking water endanger our health?

In addition to the natural chemical substances which drinking water made of, including calcium and magnesium, chemical betterment substances, such as chlorine and fluoride, are added to the water, in accordance with health regulations. The Ministry of Health's drinking water regulations stipulate permitted concentrations of the chemical substances which are in the water and do not endanger the health of those who drink them, and which give drinking water their familiar taste.

 

What are Coliforms and what is the significance of their presence in drinking water?

Coliforms are a type of bacteria found in the intestines of humans and animals. Therefore their presence in drinking water is a criterion for the possible existence of pathogenic bacteria in the water. As part of the daily test conducted by Hagihon, we test for the existence of coliform bacteria in the water in accordance with the Ministry of Health's regulations.

 

How are pathogens removed from drinking water?

The bacteria are removed from drinking water by adding a disinfectant substance – meaning chlorine, to the water according to the concentration defined by the Ministry of Health's regulations.

 

 Why does drinking water sometimes have an aftertaste or smell?

There are several reasons for this phenomenon which do not endanger public health. However, if you sense a repugnant taste or smell to the water, do not drink it, and call Hagihon's center. When there is fear for the quality of drinking water, the Ministry of Health, together with Hagihon makes sure the public is informed of this via the media.

Tastes and flavors in the drinking water could be caused, among other things, due to the chlorine added to the water, use of new piping or piping which was repaired and not flushed properly. Improper maintenance of private water tanks, household water treatment devices improperly cared for and algae in upper water sources are among the common causes for aftertastes and smells in drinking water.

 

What is the source of petroleum and oil tastes and smells in drinking water?

Petroleum and oil tastes in drinking water are created as a result of using plastic household piping installed by private bodies and not washed according to the standard. Hagihon does not use plastic piping to conduct drinking water.

 

What is "hard" water and why is the water in Jerusalem defined as such?

Water hardness is caused by the natural presence of calcium and magnesium in the water, which originate in the limestone of the mountain aquifer. Part of the waters supplied by Mekorot co. to Jerusalem originates in drills made in this region. The presence of these two substances in the water is the source of scale created when the water is heated. "Hard" water does not endanger human health.

 

Why is there sometimes sand in the water?

While drinking water flow through the pipes, a small quantity of sand sinks to the bottom of the pipes which originates from the drilling. Due to changes in pressures or repair and maintenance works carried out by Hagihon co., a small quantity of sand might be mixed with the running water and reach residential homes. In such cases it is recommended to let the water flow a little. We would also remind private consumers again that the proper maintenance of household devices for drinking water treatment must be observed.

 

Why is there sometimes a "white color" to the drinking water?

The "white color" originates from the presence of tiny air bubbles in the drinking water, a phenomenon which is caused while water is pumped from one site to the next or from a decompressing process. The air bubbles disappear from drinking water within seconds and have no effect whatsoever on health.

 

Why does drinking water sometimes have a yellow, brown, or red hue?

These hues originate in rust which has accumulated in household piping which is made of iron or steel. It is caused mainly in piping which was not in use for a relatively long time and is not toxic. In such cases, let the water flow until these hues disappear. Almost all Hagihon's piping is coated in concrete, which is NOTE a source for rust.

 

Why does the water, on rare occasions, have a greenish hue to it?

In houses with rooftop water storage tanks, which were not properly maintained, algae may grow, which are the source of the greenish hue (you can find detailed instructions on this website on how to properly maintain water storage tanks).

 

Fluoride in drinking water

All questions on the subject of fluoride in drinking water must be referred to the Ministry of Health: Ministry of Health, the Dental Health Laboratory, Dr. Daniel Kushnier.

Telephone: 02 5314871, 02 5314804.

Or Dr. Shlomo Zusman, Telephone: 02 5681451, 02 5681272, 02 5681268.

In this matter you can also contact Mr. Alexander Kushnire, the Public Services of Water and Sewage Authority's representative. Telephone: 02 6595100.

Answers to questions on the matter of adding fluoride to drinking water can also be found on the Mekorot co. website.

 

Is it recommended to use a household system for drinking water improvement?

The quality of water supplied by Hagihon is very good. The water supplied by the company in Jerusalem complies with all Ministry of Health standards and therefore is certainly drinkable.

You can get information regarding suppliers of water purification systems from the Standards Institute, telephone: 03 6465132. The Standards Institute's website: www.sii.org.il, or with the officer in charge of standardization at the Industry, Trade, and Employment Ministry, telephone: 02 6662295.

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Recent water analysis

In accordance with the Municipal Ordinance Amendment Law (No. 75), 2001, we hereby provide to the water consumers of Jerusalem details about the quality of the water supplied in Hagihon network (bacteriological tests):

 

Water Quality Periodic Report - Jerusalem

The reporting period: 1/4/2017 - 30/6/2017

Sampling points

The number of microbiological tests required by the regulations

Number of actual tests performed

Number of abnormal coliform results indicating contamination

Number of abnormal fecal coliform results indicating contamination *

Number of repeated tests

Number of abnormal results in repeated tests

Deviation percentage

Number of final normal tests

Reservoir

456

305

1*

0

1*

0

0.3*

304*

Supply network

456

516

3*

0

4*

2*

0.6*

513*

Feeding lines (Connections from Mekorot)

114

114

0

0

0

0

0

114

Total

570

935

4*

0

5*

2*

0.4*

931*

 

* The drinking water standard determines that the presence of one coliform bacteria or one fecal coliform in 100 ml of water sample is considered an abnormal result.

 

* One general abnormal coliform was found in May at Har Nof Pool, at point 203. The re-sampling was found to be normal. General coliform abnormalities - 3 consecutive times at Givat Shaul 11, at point 326 due to work carried out at this place. The fourth re-sampling was found to be normal.

 

Based on the results, the microbiological quality of the water provided for drinking during the above-mentioned period was very good and the water is potable.

 

A consumer interested in more details regarding the sanitary quality of the drinking water can read the report located at Hagihon customer service headquarters, Beit Ha'omot building, 101 Hebron Road, Jerusalem, Tel. 02-5651234.

 

Monthly update of water quality data can be found at www.hagihon.co.il

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Water quality tests

Hagihon carries out chemical and microbiological tests - daily, monthly and periodically - via an authorized laboratory operated by the company, in order to ensure the high quality of the water it supplies to the city residents.

 

Carrying out the tests in practice every day, samples of water are brought to the laboratory, from various sampling points scattered across the city’s water system. The laboratory staff carry out tests of the water in order to define the level of chlorine, murkiness, chlorides, hardness, fluoride, reaction, coliforms, fecal coliforms and a general count of hetero-tropical micro-organisms.  Their findings of various chemical materials and also bacteriological tests are all subject to the drinking water regulations and the requirements of the Ministry of Health.

 

To be even more certain, the Hagihon laboratory carries out a larger number of tests than stipulated by the standard, in order to ensure an uncompromised quality for the water supplied to the city’s residents by the company.

 

The laboratory operated by Hagihon received a certificate of authorization (no. 034-2) from the Israel Laboratory Accreditation Authority. Indications: sampling, chlorine, murkiness, chlorides, hardness, fluoride, reaction, coliforms, fecal coliforms and a general count of hetero-tropical micro-organisms. The certificate testifies to professional worthiness and international recognition according to the ISO 17025 regulations. The tests in the laboratory include tests of water samples from the feeder pipelines (connecting sources), collecting pools and the urban pipeline network. The laboratory tests are carried out in accordance with the requirements of the public health regulations, drinking water’s sanitary quality, 1973-4 (combined version – 2000). The Israel Laboratory Accreditation Authority and the Ministry of Health oversee, with continuous supervision, the functioning of the Hagihon laboratory, in order to ascertain that it maintains a high level of functioning as obliged by the requirements of the authorization it received.

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