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By: Thad Jonathan
Does your establishment provide drinking water to your customers or employees? Have you noticed fewer of your employees lining up to fill their cups with water at your dispenser? Or perhaps you have received complaints from your customers about the taste and quality of the drinking water.

No business owner likes to see an investment, such as an ice and water dispenser, going to waste. Nor do you want to have your business earn a poor reputation because of the flavor of the water.

What causes such bad tasting water? There are many causes and they entirely depend upon location and even the time of the year. For example, the water might be drawn from underground aquifers, which often produce mineral-laden water (think mineral springs). Lakes and river water sources can be contaminated by runoff through industry-dense areas or there may be an increase in algae growth due to climate conditions (summer time pond scum). Your local soil or rock composition might also be high in calcium, magnesium or other silica that can be dissolved in the water as it runs through and over on its way to your local water sources.

In addition, the water treatment processes that are used to disinfect your water before it gets to you might mean the addition of Chlorine or Chloramines to kill bacteria. However, this treatment adds a distinctive chemical taste to the water.

The presence of these minerals, chemicals and organic materials leads to an increase in the total dissolved solids in your water, the higher chemical content, alkalinity, and biological contamination. This can possibly create a build up of mineral scale, staining, corrosion or bacterial growth on your foodservice equipment, specifically your water dispensing unit. At minimum, this means poor tasting water and in the worst case scenarios, possibly unsafe drinking water. And you may not realize it until it is too late and your customers or employees health has already been jeopardized.

So what can you do to ensure that you are providing the best tasting, best quality water that you can, either for your employees or your customers?

If you own or manage a foodservice business, you are likely familiar with the necessity of having water filtration for your ice machine or your soda beverage dispenser. Should you not take the same care to set up a water filter system for your drinking water dispenser? In fact, water filters that you would use on a soda or fountain beverage unit are the exact type and quality that you would use on your drinking water.

Essentially, you need a dedicated water filtration system specifically for the drinking water dispenser. You may have an all-in-one ice maker/dispenser with a built-in water dispenser along side the ice chute, so you will want to have a water filter on the line coming in to the ice maker and a separate, additional water filter on the water line supplying the drinking water. You may have considered using the same water line and a single water filter on the one line for both drinking water and ice making. Unfortunately manufacturers recommend two separate water lines, due to the required water flow and water pressure on the ice machine.

However, you can take the opportunity to make your drinking water as pure and clean as the ice your customers or employees add to it. Consider installing a water filter system that was specifically designed by the manufacturer to improve the taste of the water entering the equipment. These water filter systems reduce chlorine taste and odor as well as filtering out other offensive contaminants that might taint the water\'s flavor. The highest quality water filter systems can filter out dirt and other particles as small as 1/2 micron. Some water filter systems also reduce health contaminants that could possibly be in your water source, such as Cryptosporidium or Giardia cysts. However, some systems are not as effective as others, so you will want to investigate and find the best water filter system you can afford.

For ultimate peace of mind, when you are looking for a water filtration system for the drinking water of your business, you should look for the NSF trademark, plus the words \"cyst reduction\" or \"cyst removal\" on the filter\'s label. NSF-International is the world\'s leading independent testing organization whose certification process is respected throughout the world. Manufacturers whose products directly impact public health are wise to have their products submitted to the NSF\'s testing for their certification. For example, all of the water filter system products manufactured under the Everpure Water Filter brand have received certification under NSF Standard 42, Class I for taste, odor and flavor and certification under NSF Standard 53 for health.

So not only are you providing a better glass of water for your end-users, you are protecting them, to the best of your ability, by only offering filtered drinking water.

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