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June 2024

What Texans Need to Know About Fort Worth Water Quality

Key Takeaways

  • Fort Worth’s drinking water comes from several different lakes and rivers and is treated to adhere to the guidelines of the EPA.
  • Since Fort Worth’s drinking water is hard, residents may want to use a water filter to remove dissolved minerals.
  • Lead may also be a concern in some homes due to the city’s aging infrastructure.
  • Residents of Fort Worth can use a reverse osmosis filter to remove contaminants of concern, such as lead and arsenic.

Fort Worth, Texas, is one of the largest cities in the U.S., spanning 350 square miles of land, with a population of nearly 1 million. In fact, its fast population growth is putting a lot of pressure on the water supply, so much that the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) is developing new wetlands to meet the anticipated demand for water.

At the same time, the detection of forever chemicals like PFAS in the water system has raised questions about Fort Worth water quality. If you live in Fort Worth or are thinking of moving there, get the facts about Fort Worth’s water so you can make an informed decision about what’s coming out of your faucet.

Where Does Fort Worth’s Tap Water Come From?

The City of Fort Worth gets its drinking water entirely from surface water — that is, from lakes and rivers rather than from groundwater wells. According to the Fort Worth 2022 Annual Water Quality Report, it currently comes from the following sources:

  • Lake Worth
  • Lake Bridgeport
  • Benbrook Lake
  • Eagle Mountain Lake
  • Cedar Creek Reservoir
  • Richland Chambers Reservoir
  • The Clear Fork of the Trinity River

The City of Fort Worth owns two of these lakes itself, while the others are owned and operated by the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Fort Worth buys untreated water from the TRWD — more than 81 billion gallons in 2022 — and treats it at one of its water treatment plants.

This means that Fort Worth water quality comes down to a few different factors, including the quality of the source water and how it’s treated.

Is the Water Hard or Soft in Fort Worth, TX?

There are a couple different ways to measure the hardness of water: grains per gallon or carbonate hardness. Fort Worth’s water measures 6 to 10 grains per gallon, or 100 to 171 parts per million (ppm) of total hardness as CaCO3.

Both of these measurements are considered hard water, so Fort Worth residents may want to consider using a water softener to reduce its mineral content.

Hard water isn’t a public health concern. It refers to a high concentration of minerals like calcium and magnesium, which aren’t toxic. But it can affect the taste of the water, and leave behind mineral residue on clothes, sinks, hair, and skin.

Fort Worth’s water has a turbidity level of 0.7, which reflects the cloudiness of the tap water and is usually caused by soil runoff.

Who Is Responsible for Fort Worth Water Quality?

Since Fort Worth’s water comes from multiple sources, and passes through the hands of several service providers, who is ultimately responsible for delivering safe drinking water to residents of Tarrant County?

First, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.gov) sets drinking water quality standards that apply to all American public water systems. These include maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for specific contaminants, like lead and arsenic.

Next, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) monitors the watershed for susceptibility to pollution from agricultural and industrial runoff. This helps to ensure that the city’s water comes from high-quality, clean water sources to begin with.

Then, the Tarrant Regional Water District uses pipes and pump stations to deliver raw water to regional water utilities. It also undertakes water management projects, like building wetlands and treating wastewater, to ensure a consistent water supply.

Finally, Fort Worth Water treats the water to ensure it meets national drinking water standards and delivers it to consumers via a network of 4,000 pipes.

Since Fort Worth’s infrastructure is 100 years old, the water department is currently replacing 20 miles of water mains per year to cut down on water main breaks.

Fort Worth’s Drinking Water Man Checks for Contaminants

What Contaminants Are Found In Fort Worth’s Drinking Water?

The City of Fort Worth tests for a wide range of contaminants, including those that are regulated by the EPA and unregulated contaminants that don’t yet have a legal limit. It publishes those test results each year in its annual drinking water quality report.

Although Fort Worth didn’t report any EPA violations in 2022, some contaminant levels are high compared to other American water systems.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) identifies 16 contaminants that exceed their recommendations, including the following five.

Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs)

Total trihalomethanes are a byproduct of the water disinfection process, which means they aren’t present in the source water, but appear during the treatment process. In high amounts, TTHMs are linked to health problems like skin cancer and bladder cancer.

Fort Worth’s drinking water meets the EPA guidelines for TTHMs, but it has levels 74 times higher than the EWG’s recommended maximum:

  • EPA maximum allowance: 80 ppb
  • EWG recommended maximum: 0.15 ppb
  • Fort Worth maximum contaminant level: 11.1 ppb

Haloacetic acids (HAA5)

Haloacetic acids (HAA5) are another group of disinfection byproducts linked to cancer and harm to fetal growth. Although Fort Worth’s HAA5 levels are below the legal limit, they exceed the EWG’s recommendations by 73 times:

  • EPA maximum allowance: 60 ppb
  • EWG recommended maximum: 0.1 ppb
  • Fort Worth maximum contaminant level: 7.32 ppb

Nitrate

Nitrate is a potential carcinogen that can be found in a wide variety of sources, including cured meats and even some vegetables. It ends up in the water supply through fertilizer runoff, discharges from septic tanks, and erosion of natural deposits.

The EPA’s legal limit for nitrates is set at 10 parts per million. Fort Worth’s water meets this standard, but exceeds the EWG’s health guideline by 2.8 times:

  • EPA maximum allowance: 10 ppm
  • EWG recommended maximum: 0.14 ppm
  • Fort Worth maximum contaminant level: 0.387 ppb

Arsenic

Arsenic is a heavy metal that turns up in tap water as a result of runoff from orchards, electronics production, and natural deposits. Chronic exposure to arsenic can lead to arsenic poisoning, or arsenicosis, a potentially life-threatening condition.

Fort Worth’s arsenic levels are relatively high, exceeding the EWG’s recommendation by 227 times:

  • EPA maximum allowance: 10 ppb
  • EWG recommended maximum: 0.004 ppb
  • Fort Worth maximum detected level: 0.909 ppb

Chromium (hexavalent)

Chromium-6, or hexavalent chromium, is one of two forms of chromium detected in Fort Worth’s drinking water. This form of chromium, brought to the world’s attention by Erin Brockovich, is a known carcinogen linked to discharges from industrial sites.

Although Fort Worth’s water meets the limit for total chromium, there’s no legal limit for chromium-6, and it exceeds the EWG’s recommendation by 2.7 times:

  • EPA maximum allowance: No legal limit
  • EWG recommended maximum: 0.02 ppb
  • Fort Worth maximum detected level: 0.0539 ppb

Fort Worth Drinking Water City View River

Does Fort Worth Drinking Water Contain Lead?

According to the most recent water quality report, no sites in Fort Worth that were tested for lead exceeded the federal action level of 15 parts per billion.

However, compared to cities with newer lead-free infrastructure, lead and copper pipes are still a concern in Fort Worth, Texas. Fort Worth uses corrosion controls to prevent lead and copper from leaching out of service lines, and is taking steps to identify and replace any lead service lines that still exist.

Older homes could still have lead pipes or plumbing fixtures that need to be replaced. Fort Worth offers free lead testing to anyone with a lead service line.

Is Fort Worth’s Water Fluoridated?

Yes, Fort Worth adds fluoride to its tap water as a public health measure. This water additive is recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA) for oral health.

Fort Worth’s fluoride levels range from 0.18 to 0.64 ppm, well below the EPA’s upper limit of 4 ppm.

Does Fort Worth’s Water Contain PFAS?

Like many other American cities, Fort Worth is dealing with growing awareness of the risks of PFAS, or forever chemicals, in drinking water. Although many industries have phased out their use, these chemicals can persist in the environment for decades.

Recent testing identified seven PFAS chemicals in Fort Worth water samples, but at levels lower than the EPA’s proposed limit of 4 parts per trillion (ppt).

The EPA hasn’t yet set official guidelines for these chemicals, so concerned residents may want to invest in a home water filtration system that can filter out PFAS.

Which Water Filters Will Improve Fort Worth Water Quality?

Home water filters can make a big difference to the taste and appearance of your tap water, but do they make it any safer? That depends on what you want to filter out.

Activated carbon filters have a dense, porous surface that can filter out chlorine and chloramines, volatile organic compounds, VOCs, and some forever chemicals. They don’t filter out fluoride, hard water minerals, or microbial contaminants.

Reverse osmosis filters are more effective at removing chemicals like PFAS. They can also remove heavy metals like lead and arsenic, as well as the total dissolved solids (TDS) that make your tap water cloudy or discolored.

Ultraviolet (UV) filters are effective for killing microorganisms like salmonella, E. coli, and coliform bacteria, but this is unnecessary with Fort Worth’s drinking water.

Fort Worth Tap Water Safe to Drink Woman Pours Glass

Is Fort Worth Tap Water Safe to Drink?

Based on its 2022 annual water quality report, Fort Worth water is safe to drink for most residents without any underlying health conditions. People with compromised immune systems are more at risk from rare microbial contaminants like cryptosporidium.

As for forever chemicals like PFAS and disinfection byproducts, that’s up to you. Fort Worth’s water quality meets the EPA’s guidelines for regulated contaminants, but you may prefer to take a more cautious approach and invest in a home water filter.

The HomeWater 4-Stage Reverse Osmosis Under Counter Water Filter can filter out many contaminants of concern in Fort Worth’s drinking water, including lead, copper, chlorine, radium, barium, and hexavalent chromium.

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