Solving Water Quality Problems

There are many options for solving water quality problems (see Table 3.1). Some may be as complex as having to locate a new water source, such as drilling a new well. Others may be as simple as attaching a filter to a faucet.

It is important for you, the designer, to discuss water quality problems with your client. The water in a new bathroom should not be a health threat. New fixtures and fittings need to be protected from staining, deposits, and other maintenance problems caused by water problems. Aesthetic problems with water can detract from the enjoyment of jetted tubs or luxury showers. Early in the design process, determine if water quality problems are a concern. Help your client get expert advice about water testing, and if needed, the selection of appropriate water treatment equipment.

efficient and sustainable use of water

A large custom shower provides space for two people. A jetted tub full of hot water gives a stress – relieving water massage. A body shower pulsates with multiple streams of water. A toilet has both a bidet and a self-cleaning wash system. These amenities in today’s bathrooms, designed as private

TABLE 3.1 Common Types of Water Treatment Methods

Water Treatment Method

Typical Contaminants

Activated carbon filtration

Odors, chlorine, radon, organic chemicals

Anion exchange

Nitrate, sulfate, arsenic


Coliform bacteria, iron, iron bacteria, manganese


Metals, inorganic chemicals, most contaminants

Neutralizing filtration

Low pH

Oxidizing filtration

Iron, manganese

Particle or fiber filtration

Dissolved solids, iron particles

Reverse osmosis

Metals, inorganic chemicals, most contaminants

Water softening (cation exchange)

Calcium, magnesium, iron

retreats and luxury spaces, may be desirable in the context of our busy, demanding lives. Yet, the bathroom is a place of high water use and many luxury water features may be in conflict with the desire for sustainability in housing.

Toilets, showers, and bathroom faucets are responsible for over half the water use in a typical home. Precisely because so much water is used in the bathroom, the designer needs to be aware of, and plan for, efficient water use. As populations expand, finite water resources need to be shared with more people. It is a major community—and taxpayer—investment to collect, treat, and deliver high-quality water to residents as well as to treat the resulting wastewater.

There are many benefits to efficient and sustainable use of water:

• Reduced pollution caused by excessive water in our wastewater systems

• Healthier natural wetlands

• Reduced need for communities to construct water and wastewater treatment facilities

• Fewer dams and reservoirs needed to provide a water supply

• Reduced energy use to treat both the water supply and wastewater

Efficient use of water in the bathroom means that water is not wasted, but can be used where it is most needed and most appreciated.