Drinking water is extremely important to good health. But drinking water full of impurities may not have the same benefit as drinking purified water. There are several common methods for purifying water, but each one has its own potential drawbacks compared to other methods or simply drinking out of the tap.
One of the major disadvantages of any water purification system is cost. For home purifiers, this means the cost of installing a filter and pipes, along with the ongoing cost of maintaining the system and replacing filter elements as they become saturated with impurities. For water utilities, the cost is amplified and may include the construction of large water treatment stations, pumps, pipes and staff to service and maintain the equipment. Even a water filtration pitcher requires a new filter every few months, making is less cost effective than drinking tap water.
Water purifiers represent a source of waste. The sheer volume of discarded filters adds up to landfill mass, while the chemicals and impurities removed from water may not always end up being disposed of properly. Companies that purify water and sell it in bottles contribute more plastic or glass to be recycled or thrown away as well.
Water purifiers also consume energy, both in their production and operation. Systems that use processes such as reverse osmosis or ultraviolet filtering to cleanse water rely on electricity that often comes from coal-powered plants. This means that purifiers indirectly contribute to increased carbon emissions.
Water purifiers take time to process water into a purified form. This may mean that it takes longer for a faucet or pitcher to produce drinkable water. In the case of a major water utility, it can mean that customers may have to wait for purified water when resources are limited, such as during a drought.
In some cases, water purification has a negligible result on improving the quality of the water. For example, some cities go to great lengths to ensure that customers receive pore water in their homes. However, many of these customers still process the water with an under-the-sink filter or water filtration pitcher unnecessarily.