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Consumer Advisory Bulletin

Water Treatment Systems: Check Them Out Before You Buy!

Special water treatment systems can be expensive -- and they often are completely unnecessary. Some sellers use "scare tactics" and high-pressure sales practices. Consumers must use caution, or they may waste their money.

The Consumer Protection Division advises you to follow these steps before you have your water tested or purchase any type of water treatment system:

  • First, contact local officials about your water quality. Federal law requires water quality to be monitored if you are on a residential water system with 15 or more households. Ask your water utility or county health department for the latest test results. If you use well water, contact local officials to find out if free water testing is available. Most Iowa drinking water is safe and of high quality.
  • If you find a problem or are still concerned about the quality of your water, arrange for an independent test. The Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) has a list of state-certified private laboratories that conduct water testing (call 515-281-8914.) Avoid "free" do-it-yourself home water tests. They cannot determine reliably if your water should be treated or if it is bad for your family's health.
  • Do not let a seller take a sample and offer to have it tested for you! Sellers usually are not experts, and test results can be altered or falsified. Deal directly with an independent laboratory.
  • Shop around, if you choose to get a system. Get several recommendations and estimates. There are many systems on the market. Keep in mind that one water treatment system cannot solve all possible problems with the quality of your water. Don't buy a system unless you are certain that it meets your needs.
  • Find out if a seller's system is certified or if the Attorney General's Office has received complaints about the seller. Sellers of water treatment systems in Iowa must be registered and their water systems must be certified by the Iowa Department of Public Health. Call the Health Department at 515-281-4680.

To find out if complaints have been received against a seller -- or to file a complaint yourself -- contact the Consumer Protection Division, Hoover Building, Des Moines, Iowa 50319. Call 515-281-5926.

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