Water Quality in Houston, Texas
Watershed: City of Houston – Buffalo Bayou (surface water)
What is the water quality like in Houston, TX?
Let’s dive deeper into what’s in your water.
What’s in your water?
Here are the top 7 chemical compounds in your water and what health issues they can potentially cause:
- Arsenic – Potential effect: Cancer
- Bromodichloromethane – Potential effect: Cancer
- Chloroform – Potential effect: Cancer
- Haloacetic acids – Potential effect: Cancer
- Hexavalent Chromium – Potential effect: Cancer
- Radium – Potential effect: Cancer
- Total trihalomethanes – Potential effect: Cancer
These are seven of the 46 contaminants analyzed by the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org).
13 of these contaminants are rated as exceeding EWG Health Guidelines.
See the What Can You Do? section below for all of the contaminants you can filter out and how to do it.
Where does Houston’s water come from?
Houston’s water comes from the City of Houston – Buffalo Bayou watershed.
All 4 EPA assessed water sources in the City of Houston – Buffalo Bayou watershed are in Impaired condition. These include:
- Buffalo Bayou – Tidal and Above Tidal
- Newman Branch
- Unnamed Non-Tidal tributary of Buffalo Bayou Tidal
Ideally, a water source would be rated in Good condition.
Whether a water source is in Impaired or Good condition refers to the quality of these uses:
- Drinking Water
- Aquatic Life
- Fish and Shellfish Consumption
Learn more from How’s My Waterway
See below for what you can do to improve Houston’s water.
Conclusion – What Can You Do?
Information about water quality can be surprising.
But there’s no reason to lose hope. There are things you can do in your household as well as things you can do at a community level.
- Use Berkey water filters with activated carbon to filter out 37 of the 46 contaminants in your drinking water.
- Brita and PUR pitchers only remove 28 contaminants.
- Berkey filters can also remove up to 99% of Lead in Houston water.
- Note: We may receive a commission if you decide to purchase filters through links on this page.
- To filter out 42 of the 46 contaminants, consider a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system for your house.
- These are more expensive than pitchers to purchase, but can be more effective.
- They have the benefit of filtering out heavy hitters like:
- 1,4-Dioxane – “Exposure may cause damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys.”
- Arsenic – health effects in water
- Atrazine – herbicide. Potential harm to the developing fetus.
- Barium – In low doses, barium ions act as a muscle stimulant, and higher doses affect the nervous system, causing cardiac irregularities, tremors, weakness, anxiety, shortness of breath, and paralysis.
- Bromodichloromethane – health risks in drinking water
- Chloroform – side effects
- Chromium (total)
- Dibromoacetic acid
- Dichloroacetic acid
- Endrin – insecticide, rodenticide, and piscicide (fish poison).
- Haloacetic acids – chlorination byproduct*
- Hexavalent chromium – health effects
- Metolachlor – herbicide
- Monobromoacetic acid
- Monochloroacetic acid
- Selenium – toxicity
- Simazine – herbicide
- Total trihalomethanes – byproduct of chlorination*
- Trichloroacetic acid
*Chlorination is an effective method of disinfecting/treating drinking water. You can then use a water filter to reduce the effects of chlorination byproducts to get the safest, cleanest water possible.
In Your Community:
Contact your local government officials and put pressure on them to invest in cleaner waterways and upgraded city water filtration and treatment.
Go to: https://www.houstontx.gov/ to find contact information for your local officials.