Published onMarch 25th, 2021
Water Filtration Solutions: Are We Better Than the Mayans?
Humans have known for thousands of years that clean water is essential for survival. This is still true in the 21st century here in New York City. Here’s a look at how the ancient Mayans filtered their water, along with some contemporary water filtration solutions available today for property owners and managers.
The Dangers of Unfiltered Water
Contaminated water kills
Today, we treat water used for drinking, washing, and cleaning. However, it was not that long ago that people drank unfiltered water. Although several ancient cultures knew how to successfully filter water, much of that knowledge was lost during the Dark Ages, and drinking impure water was practiced routinely well into the 20th century. Many countries around the world still do not have safe drinking water and must consume bottled water that is filtered where it is packaged.
The dangers of contaminated water are many, and the list has actually gotten longer since the Industrial Revolution. Water that hasn’t been filtered may contain:
- Human and animal waste
- Heavy metals
- Industrial chemicals
These elements can cause poisoning, cancer, and other long-term ailments, as well as dysentery, a general term for various intestinal infections. These infections can result in vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and even death. According to UNICEF, dirty water and poor sanitation kill over 5,000 children each day worldwide.
The Mayan Approach to Water Filtration
Effective and ahead of its time
We know that the ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese, and Egyptians all had water filtration systems. More recently, archaeologists discovered that the Mayans of Central America also had water filtration technology, and it was actually superior to the water filtration used by other civilizations.
In what was the city of Tikal 2,000 years ago, located in present-day Guatemala, a reservoir containing zeolite and quartz was discovered in the rainforest. These minerals are not found in that region, but they are known to be effective at removing contaminants like microbes and heavy metals from water. They are so good at that job that both zeolite and quartz are used in modern-day water filtration systems. The reservoir at Tikal is considered the oldest example of water purification in the Western Hemisphere and the oldest known in the world for using zeolite in the decontamination process.
Modern Water Filtration Solutions
Municipal water treatment
Nowadays, most municipalities have city-wide water filtration, performed at centralized locations. There are various chemicals and mechanical methods used in this process, depending on what is needed to clean the water. As mentioned above, techniques similar to those used by the Mayans are frequently employed.
New York City has been very lucky in that its water supply is largely quite pure, and only about 10 percent of it must go through a filtration process. The water is aggressively sampled and tested to ensure it remains safe. Money has been dedicated to preserving the water system and protecting it from contamination.
Water filtration for large buildings
In spite of the cleanliness of New York’s water, some people still prefer to filter it. They want to remove any chlorine from water that is treated, as well as odors and sediment or metals from old piping. They may also desire to get rid of minerals that, while not harmful, cause hard water scale to build up in pipes, boilers, and other building components. Therefore, some apartment and large commercial buildings use water filtration systems for the entire property. We can help determine if a whole building water filtration system is appropriate for you.
Single-residence water filtration options
Sometimes it’s not possible to provide water filtration solutions for the entire building. In that case, or for single-family homes, duplexes, and the like, individualized water treatment alternatives make a better choice.
Faucet mount (AKA countertop) filters attach to faucets, are easy to install, and are relatively inexpensive. They remove a surprising amount of materials from water. Many remove lead, which is an issue for older buildings. Filters need to be changed after a set amount of time or water volume treated.
Undercounter filters perform a similar function to faucet mount filters. They only work with certain types of sinks and faucets, however, and are slightly more expensive. The best undercounter basic filters are three-stage filters that provide superior bacteria elimination. Even better are six-stage reverse osmosis filters, which users often prefer because they make the water taste better.
Other types of in-unit water filters include:
- Shower filters
- Washing machine inline filters
- Humidifier filters
Call Sanitary Plumbing to Improve the Quality of Your Building’s Water
New York City’s hyper-local, blue-chip plumbing experts
If you or your tenants are not happy with the quality of the water in your building, Sanitary Plumbing is here to help. We can consult with you on the pros and cons of various water filtration solutions, including whole-building filtration systems and in-unit options. Don’t suffer from mineral scale buildup, poor sudsing, or bad tasting water when you don’t have to. Call us at 212-734-5000, or use our online form today to schedule an appointment.