Water treatment is a much studied and sought after practice. Sanitary engineers are always finding new technologies, new, more efficient and better ways to treat and convey water from source to your tap. One thing that has not changed since it's inception into accepted practices is the multi barrier treatment approach.
The multi barrier approach is a simple one. It means that instead of relying on one treatment technology or method to treat water, you rely on several steps.
The more steps you have in treating your water, the less likely there is for a source of contamination to get through to the customer. It's like locking your storm door and your front door: If a burglar manages to break the lock on the storm door he now has to deal with the dead bolt on your main door.
The multi barrier approach is the smartest approach to water treatment to mitigate the maximum amount of risk. The more treatment barriers, the less potential of a contaminant making it through.
This type of approach can be used with a personal water system too. If you have a well or your own water supply, the best approach is the multi barrier approach.
The first barrier of any multi barrier approach is your water source. The cleaner it is, the less treatment you'll need, and the less likely you are to have a problem. No contaminant is easiest to treat.
Look at your water supply. Is it secure? Can garbage, debris, or other foreign objects or contaminants enter the water supply?
If you have a well, is it bored or drilled? If your well is old, it may be time to invest in a new one. New drilled wells are very secure. Your well driller will know where the best and most plentiful water is in the aquifer. Your new well will have a screen at the bottom to ensure none of the surrounding soil gets sucked up by your pump. A new well will have a device called a pitless adapter, eliminating the need to have a pit dug for your well and lessening the chances for foreign object contamination or contaminated surface water infiltration. It will also have something called an annular seal, which is an additional safety barrier to contaminated surface water intrusion.
Filtration is an important step in treatment. Filters remove any sediment that might make it in. Not only is sediment aesthetically displeasing, it can both harbor bacteria and shield it from disinfection. Using sediment filters will remove this from your water. Consider using several different filters of different pore sizes from largest to smallest. This will reduce the frequency of filter changes as well as catch more sediment. Your water conditioner salesperson can help you with this, and custom design a filter system to best suit your needs and your raw water quality.
Also, if you are using surface water such as a pond or lake, consider using a 1 micron absolute filter after your sediment filters. Protozoa such as giardia and cryptosporidium inhabit surface waters. These protozoa are between 2 and 10 micron in size, so a 1 micron absolute filter will effectively filter them out if there are any.
Finally, you need disinfection. A point of entry disinfection device like a UV system is ideal for the home owner as it requires little maintenance and contains no chemicals. It is important to find a good device that has appropriate third party validations proving it's effectiveness. If there are no third party tests for the unit, it likely will not contain a proper dose.
The last step is testing. To ensure that your water is free from contaminants, test it on a regular basis. Your local health unit can do testing, and / or refer you to the proper laboratories.
Using a multi barrier treatment approach can assure that you and your family have safe, clean drinking water, just as is supplied by large municipal systems.