Raise your hand if you turn on the hose to water your garden when it’s thirsty. I suspect that most of us do at least some of the time. That may not be the best way to hydrate your plants, though. Especially if your municipal water is treated with chloramine.
For years, municipalities have been adding chlorine to water supplies to make it safe for drinking. At a recent community event I learned that our municipal water provider has switched over to something called chloramine, and other municipalities are embracing chloramine as well. The difference is this: the chlorine in water will dissipate if you leave a container of water uncovered for a few hours. Chloramine is not removed from water by boiling, distilling, or by standing uncovered. Both of these treatments kill bacteria and microorganisms in our household water, making it safe for use.
Here’s the rub: Good healthy soil is home to lots of living bacteria and microorganisms. It stands to reason that water that’s been treated to kill off bacteria in our drinking water might also kill off the good bacteria in our soil, making it harder and harder to maintain healthy soil.
What to do? You’ll need to determine if you feel the chemicals in the water are compromising your soil’s health. If at all possible, consider rainwater collection. If you live in an area that gets rain throughout the growing season, you can probably get by with a couple of small barrels to supplement during dry spells. Residents of arid locations will have a tougher time of it and need a bigger system. If catchment just isn’t an option, you’ll need to call your water department to determine what product they’re using to treat your water.
How to remedy municipal water
If it’s chlorine, consider adding a water barrel or two to your garden area that you can fill with municipal water. Let it sit and the chlorine can dissipate before you use it to water.
If it’s chloramine give some thought to creating a filtration system. This site has some good information on creating a water filter from a recycled fuel drum. (Your choice of receptacle might vary.) Maybe it’s a project you can tackle while you’re anxiously awaiting planting time?
I’m doing everything I can to bring my soil back to a living, teeming collection of microorganisms. I use collected rainwater when I can. But I was disappointed to find out that letting municipal water sit so that the chemicals dissipate is no longer a viable option.
What do you use for watering your garden? Have you had success addressing this issue?
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