If you want water on board that’s fit to drink, you need filtration, even in the United States. Most domestic drinking water is safe, thanks to EPA regulations requiring the removal of the most dangerous contaminants. But even if the water is technically safe, it can look and taste funky due to other, permissible contaminants.
Moreover, even if the water coming from the dockside tap is fine, fiberglass water tanks can turn it sour, especially if you haven’t cleaned them in a while. When was the last time you cleaned your tanks? I’m guessing never. So step one on the path to pure water is to do it now. Add a cleaner/treatment, like Starbrite’s Aqua Clean, let it slosh around, then pump the tank dry through the galley and head faucets. Refill the tank, adding Starbrite’s Water Conditioner to keep the tank and plumbing sweet.
Clean tanks make the filter’s job easier. The ideal setup for boats with more than one freshwater outlet—that’s just about every boat—is a charcoal filter at the freshwater pump. Boats with dockside pressurewater should have a filter at the inlet, too. In either case a flowmeter will be handy for determining when to change the filter cartridge—a dirty filter is worse than no filter at all. The option is to mount a filter at each faucet providing drinking water, including the icemaker.
Shurflo makes good, reasonably priced filters. If you want to spend more for something fancier, check General Ecology’s NaturePure and Seagull IV systems. Or visit West Marine where you’ll find a selection of filters, from simple in-line models to more complex systems.
If you want the ultimate in clean water, invest in ultraviolet disinfection, working in combination with a standard filter. Filtered water runs through a clear tube where it’s zapped with UV rays that kill microorganisms. The only downside to this setup is that it requires electricity. The Water Fixer and Atlantic Ultraviolet make UV purifiers for both 12- and 120-volt systems.
Finally, Sea Recovery’s UltroClear DF is a super filter—almost a water polisher—that is installed between a watermaker and the ship’s tanks. Its carbon filter “double-purifies” the water, according to Sea Recovery, ensuring that only “ultra pure” H2O enters the boat. The smallest UltroClear DF model can scrub 400 gallons a day. However, finding a place to install it could be a challenge: It lives in a case measuring 28" by 19" by 17.5", so it’s as big as a small watermaker. But I’ll bet the water tastes great.