Water Quality in Portsmouth, Virginia
Watershed: Deep Creek – Southern Branch Elizabeth River
What is the water quality like in Portsmouth, VA?
Let’s dive deeper into what’s in Portsmouth water.
What’s in Portsmouth water?
Here are the top 5 chemical compounds in your water and what health issues they can potentially cause:
- Bromodichloromethane – Potential effect: Cancer
- Chloroform – Potential effect: Cancer
- Haloacetic acids – Potential effect: Cancer
- Hexavalent Chromium – Potential effect: Cancer
- Total trihalomethanes – Potential effect: Cancer
These are five of the 20 contaminants analyzed by the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org).
10 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 Portsmouth’s water come from?
Portsmouth’s water comes from the Deep Creek – Southern Branch Elizabeth River watershed.
All 20 EPA assessed water sources in the Deep Creek – Southern Branch Elizabeth River watershed are in Impaired or Unknown condition. These include:
- Deep Creek – two segments
- Elizabeth River Mainstem
- Gilligan Creek – two segments
- Jones Creek – two segments
- Milldam Creek
- Newton Creek
- Paradise Creek – two segments
- Saint Julian Creek
- Southern Branch Elizabeth River – five segments
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 Portsmouth’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.
In Your Household:
- Use Berkey filters with activated carbon to filter out 18 of the 20 contaminants in your drinking water.
- To filter out 18 of the 20 contaminants in your whole house, consider a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system for your home.
- These are more expensive than pitchers to purchase, but can be more effective.
- They have the benefit of filtering out heavy hitters like:
- Barium – health risks in water
- Bromodichloromethane – health risks in drinking water
- Carbofuran – one of the most toxic insecticides. Extremely poisonous. Also marketed as Furadan.
- Chloroform – side effects
- Dibromoacetic acid
- Dichloroacetic acid
- Haloacetic acids – chlorination byproduct*
- Hexavalent chromium – health effects
- Monobromoacetic acid
- Monochloroacetic acid
- 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://portsmouthva.gov/ to find contact information for your local officials.