What’s In Your Water?

We trust our water sources to be safe; however, the average person is not aware of what is actually in most urban sources of water. 

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You put a lot of hard work and sweat into your garden, and it’s important to know if your water will affect your plants or not. 

Common Chemicals and Contaminants in Municipal Water

  • Chlorine
  • Fluoride
  • Pesticides
  • Fertilizers
  • Heavy Metals
  • Petrochemicals
  • Dioxins
  • Microorganisms
  • Monochlo​​ramine


This chemical is added to the water supply to kill bacteria that is not only in the water but in the pipes the water travels through.

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A chemical added to the water but for reasons solely for the benefit of humans.

Fluoride is not required to be added; however, many cities opt to include it to add a boost to promote teeth health for humans.

Fluoride is considered a heavy metal. 


Pesticides get into the water supply from the runoff of crops or fields and landing in our water reservoirs. 

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Chemicals found in pesticides are chlorinated compounds, DDT, chlordane, and lindane.


The water supply is contaminated with fertilizers as a result of runoff from agriculture into water reservoirs.

Nitrogen (a form of nitrate) is found in fertilizer. 

Heavy Metals

Heavy metals seemingly find their way into the water supply as a result of a byproduct that is produced by both industry and consumer waste.

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Common heavy metals in water are mercury, lead, and cadmium.


These nasty agents enter the water supply from leaking into the ground and into the water table underground.

Such things as gas, diesel, and benzene infiltrate the water making its way to our water taps.


These environmental pollutants are compounds that are produced from the use of chlorine bleach in processes such as paper production, incinerators that burn waste, production of pesticides and the use of wood for fuel when burning.

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Dioxins are not only man-made but are produced naturally in volcanic eruptions, wildfires, fog, and rain.

Microorganisms (water-borne diseases)

The water supply that is contaminated by various diseases is caused by human and animal waste.

The contamination originates from seepage of septic systems, runoff from feedlots and other areas frequented by animals.

Flooding is another primary cause of waterborne diseases.


This is a combination of chlorine and ammonia that is used to disinfect the water to make it safe for drinking.

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Harmful to Gardens

Chlorine, which is a chemical added to all municipal water sources, can hinder plants and goes further in destroying microbes in the soil that are beneficial to gardens.

This is frustrating for gardens that have municipal water.

Monochloramine is another chemical that is added to municipal water which is used to disinfect the water to make it safe for drinking.

However, it too can damage your plants.

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So, what are gardeners to do with no pure source of water for their gardens?

Capturing rainwater is the best method of retrieving a pure water supply to use on your garden. 

Rain barrels have become very popular with gardeners and are used to collect rainwater, and by connecting a water hose, you can water your garden safely.

The only drawback to this watering method is if you live in an arid area with little rain this, of course, is not an ideal method to pursue.

Watering The Right Way

The rule of thumb when watering your garden is easy to remember. This is based on a weekly watering amount.

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1 gallon of water should be applied for every square foot of garden. So if you have a 12’ x 10’ garden, you will need 120 gallons of water per week.

The ideal time to water is in the early morning or evening.

Your plants get the most benefit from water during the cooler portion of the day.

During the hottest part of the day, the heat will evaporate up to 30% of the water you apply to the garden.

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Hand-sprinkling your garden is at best soaking the top layer of soil and not reaching your plant roots.

If possible, allow your water to saturate your garden remembering that the root structure is at least 6” deep into the soil.

And, of course, postpone watering when rainy days hit.

Join us now as we continue on to our next article in this series!

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