Home & Garden

Filtration at your fingertips

Water Inc. faucets, above, come in a variety of styles and finishes.
Water Inc. faucets, above, come in a variety of styles and finishes.

W hen Wayne and Dee Millar moved to Southern California in 1987, they found one thing distasteful about their new residence: the drinking water.

Wayne, who worked in manufacturing, was mechanically-minded and began tinkering with reverse osmosis systems. He solved his own drinking

water conundrum— and began repairing and installing systems for Farris Enterprises, a water filtration system manufacturer in Riverside County.

The couple moved to Arroyo Grande in 1996, and Wayne continued to work in manufacturing while he kept a side business selling and installing water filtration systems. In 2009, he went into the business full-time when he and Dee opened Central Coast Drinking Water. The company sells, installs and services filtration systems, reverse osmosis systems, and hot/cold water dispensers manufactured by Farris Enterprises.

Both their reverse osmosis and basic filtration systems are installed under the sink and have a faucet that can integrate with the kitchen’s design. The company offers faucets made by Water, Inc. with the choice of traditional or contemporary lines, in decorative finishes like chrome, brushed nickel, polished copper, and oil-rubbed bronze.

Basic filtration is the least expensive option, ranging from $190 to $236, which includes installation. Renting a system is $7.50 per month. The equipment takes up less space under the sink than a reverse osmosis system — a little less than the size of two two-liter bottles.

Millar uses a two-stage filtration system that removes organic chemicals, chlorine, asbestos and heavy metals. The first filter uses a compressed block of carbon that tends to be more effective over time than granular activated carbon. The second filter absorbs heavy metals like mercury and lead.

Basic filtration leaves most minerals in the water, whereas reverse osmosis removes 80 percent to 90 percent of them. Some people consider minerals a plus, but Millar is not one of them.

“Minerals taste bad,” he said. “I’m one of those who believe we get the minerals we need through the food we eat, not through water.”

Reverse osmosis systems use a membrane for filtration. They range in price from $300 to $350, including installation, depending upon whether you purchase a three-, four-or five-stage system. Renting a unit costs $12.50 per month.

A three-stage reverse osmosis system is usually sufficient for city water with homes that have plastic or copper pipes. A four-stage system eliminates the sediment or rust that tends to be an issue with well water or galvanized pipes. Very few situations would warrant a five-stage system.

Reverse osmosis systems take up a little more space than basic filtration systems. They also have limited output: about 26 gallons per day, although that is more than sufficient for the needs of most households.

The primarily downside of reverse osmosis is that a small amount of water is needed to constantly wash the surface of the membrane in order to prevent buildup of minerals. That means for every gallon of drinking water, around four to seven gallons go down the drain. A permeate pump, which minimizes this wastage, costs an extra $75.

Central Coast Drinking Water also sells hot and cold water dispensers, which are freestanding units, similar to the traditional water cooler, but without having to hoist five-gallon bottles onto the dispenser. They use either a standard or reverse osmosis filtration system.

Millar recommends annual service for any filtration unit, which includes recharging the tank, checking for proper operation, and measuring the membrane efficiency of reverse osmosis units. Filters and reverse osmosis membranes also need to be periodically replaced. But Millar maintains that, when compared to bottled water, home filtration is a more eco-friendly, cost-effective and convenient option.

Central Coast Drinking Water performs in-home consultations and may be contacted by calling 540-4066.

Rebecca Juretic is a contributing writer for Home & Garden.