Common Water Quality Problems By Region – Midwest

Common Water Quality Problems By Region – Midwest

When traveling, you know to expect differences in culture, weather, and scenery, but do you know to expect different water?

Each region uses a unique source for their water supply, and region-specific water treatment policies to create a supply that’s safe to use in your home. We have comprised a list of common water issues specific to each region to help residents understand what issues they may be facing.

We spoke with expert regional Water-Right sales managers to gain insight into the most common water contamination issues facing homeowners in their area. We gained an insider’s eye view of the relationship between your water supply, plumbers, well drillers, and water treatment dealers. There is nobody with a closer or broader spectrum of information about regional water treatment.

Central States representatives Jeff O’Callaghan and Mark Selvig manage teams in the Midwest. This includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Municipal water benefits greatly from softening, which can improve both the flavor of the water and the longevity of appliances. Many of the homeowners in these states rely on private wells for their water supply, which are almost guaranteed to require a softener to make the water palatable and prevent damage to appliances

The Midwest is also home to a third, less familiar water source.

“Out in the Dakotas, our water treatment dealers and plumbers are dealing with rural water,” Selvig explains. “That’s basically a municipal water system for rural areas, which could be partially softened. They may take the hardness down from 30 to 10 grains per gallon. People start to believe they don’t need a water softener but that’s not true, 5 or 10 grains of hardness in your water can still be detrimental to your plumbing system, your water heater, and more.”


Signs you may be dealing with problematically hard water include limescale and soap scum residue, appliances wearing out unexpectedly fast, rattling water heater, and a number of other hard water problems.

Many of these states are in a territory known as Missouri River Valley. These properties tend to experience a higher than average number of iron deposits in their water supply, which can become an expensive problem for your plumbing and home appliances.

“Heavy iron in the Missouri Valley area is very common, particularly in Nebraska, eastern Kansas and eastern Oklahoma,” he says. “There’s just a lot of natural iron in the soil along the region that percolates into the aquafer or the water tables.”

While iron doesn’t pose an actual health risk, rust in your tubs, pipes, and appliances is not only difficult to clean, but possibly damaging to plumbing and fixtures. Studies show that most Americans aren’t drinking enough water, and if your supply tastes metallic or musty, it’s not easy to stomach 8 glasses a day.


O’Callaghan suggests treatment of high-iron water with Crystal-Right media to reduce rust and unpleasant flavors from your supply. A zeolite, Crystal-Right uses an ion exchange process to remove iron and manganese, while softening your water.

“Iron and manganese are also a problem in western Oklahoma and Texas, but high hardness and hydrogen sulfide tend to be bigger issues,” O’Callaghan explains.

If you’ve noticed a sulfuric, or “eggy” smell to your water, it’s likely that you have a high hydrogen sulfide count in your supply. While this isn’t a health risk, it makes bathing and drinking water unpleasant. Imagine lifting a perfect bite of dinner to your lips, only for it all to smell like rotten eggs.

The levels that this is detectable to human senses lies around 0.5 parts per million. If your children are always complaining about the taste of their dinner or refuse to drink from a cup, you may be dealing with more than a picky eater, you may just be dealing with someone who is not yet accustomed to the unpleasantness of sulfuric water.

Standard water softeners do not address this issue, which sometimes requires the combined efforts of carbon filtration and another zeolite, Turbidex in the media bed.

While smelly, rusty waters are a nuisance, there are other, more serious water contaminants in this region that may pose a bigger threat. These central states are a hub of agriculture, and the country relies on them for both livestock and farmed produce. The tradeoff for this rich fertility can be a high nitrate count.


Contamination of private wells caused by fertilizer runoff

“At one point in Nebraska there were more than 100 different towns and villages over the maximum contaminant levels on nitrates,” O’Callaghan says. “It’s because of all the fertilizing that’s been done in those areas over the years. But, that’s something that is tasteless and odorless, and you don’t know it’s there until you have problems with a newborn. That’s why periodic testing of private wells is so important.”

While most adults can consume a moderate number of nitrates with little adverse reaction, infants are unable to process them. A condition called “blue baby syndrome” is caused by an inability to oxygenate the blood, leading to poor organ function.

Additionally, a high nitrate count can be indicative of E.coli contamination. Water testing is available, and should be performed annually to assess your risk. O’Callaghan recommends a reverse osmosis (R.O.) system in most homes where nitrates pose a threat.

“Generally speaking, reverse osmosis does a good job at nitrate reduction,” says Selvig. “Some models perform better on nitrates than others. Homeowners should ask their local dealer if the system they sell is certified for nitrate reduction in the state.”

Every Home is Special, Just as All Water Requires Special Consideration

O’Callaghan and the Midwest team of water treatment experts remind us that while these are all common concerns for Midwestern families, each home and each water supply will pose unique challenges and benefits, and your needs may vary from your neighbor’s.

“You can have totally different water conditions with two wells that are right next to each other,” he explains.

Water is more than our hobby, it is our passion, and a science we have spent years mastering. A store-bought water softener is incapable of diagnosing your home’s needs, and is unlikely to solve the mineralization or contamination in your water supply. You need a team of trained professionals to assess, identify, and maintain the system that supplies your family with healthy water that fits your lifestyle.

Call us at 402-453-5730 to schedule your free water analysis and discover what you need to achieve “the right water for life.”

For those who have serious concerns about water quality or potential contamination, you can have your water tested at our clean water  center to get the answers and peace of mind you need.