It can be easy to assume that the water produced from your home is safe drinking water and safe for everyday use, but the unfortunate reality is that this isn’t always the case.
Drinking water quality varies from place to place, depending on the condition of the source of water from which it is drawn and the treatment it receives. Surface waters and aquifers can be contaminated by various chemicals, microbes, and radionuclides.
Water quality testing is an important part of environmental monitoring. When water quality is poor, it affects not only aquatic life but the surrounding ecosystem as well.
How is Water Contaminated?
Even though U.S. tap water supplies are considered to be among the safest in the world, water contamination can still occur.
There are many possible sources of water contamination, including:
- Sewage releases
- Naturally occurring chemicals and minerals within the soil (for example, nitrates, radon, uranium)
- Local land use practices (for example, fertilizers, pesticides, livestock, concentrated feeding operations)
- Industry and agriculture – organic solvents, petroleum products, and heavy metals from disposal sites or storage facilities can migrate into aquifers.
- Human and animal waste – human waste from sewage and septic systems can carry harmful microbes into drinking water sources, as can wastes from animal feedlots and wildlife
What’s Found in Contaminated Water?
Contaminated water is more common than you might think. Whether your water is supplied by a municipality or a private well, it is important to understand what is and isn’t in your water. By having your water tested, through accurate results, you will learn about the quality of your water, if any contaminants are present and what water treatment options are available to improve your water. Let’s review some of these contaminants.
Most people are alarmed when they learn that their drinking water, from a public or private well water source, may contain any amount of arsenic.
Most arsenic in drinking water comes from natural rock formations. As water flows through these formations, it can dissolve arsenic and carry it into underground aquifers, streams, or rivers that may become drinking water supplies.
High levels in private wells may come from certain fertilizers used in the past or industrial waste. It may also indicate improper well construction or overuse of chemical fertilizers or herbicides in the past.
The most common sources of lead in drinking water are lead pipes, faucets, and plumbing fixtures. Certain pipes that carry drinking water from the water source to the home may contain lead.
Since you cannot see, taste, or smell lead dissolved in water, testing is the only sure way of telling whether there are harmful quantities of lead in your drinking water.
Hard water can lead to clogged plumbing, leave behind soap scum making it hard to clean, cause appliances to wear out, and much more. Even if your water is being treated by the city you live in, that doesn’t mean hard minerals are being removed.
Not only does hard water leave your shower walls coated in soap scum, but it also leaves the same residue on your body. This can result in your skin feeling dry and, if you have sensitive skin, itchy and irritated.
The only definitive way to determine if your home has hard water is to have hard water testing completed.
Bacteria and Viruses
Microbiological contamination of water has long been a concern to the public. Bacteria such as coliform bacteria live in soil or vegetation and in the gastrointestinal tract of animals. Coliforms and bacteria enter water supplies from the direct disposal of waste into streams or lakes, or from runoff from wooded areas, pastures, feedlots, septic tanks, and sewage plants into streams or groundwater.
The presence of minerals, such as magnesium and iron in excessive quantities in water can harm skin cells, leading to infection and wrinkles. Moreover, such water does not rinse off the soap residue from the body, causing clogged skin pores and buildup of oil in the skin, results in many skin problems such as eczema or acne.
What is Water Testing?
Water testing is carried out to meet the regulatory requirements and adhere to the safety procedures that are needed for pollutant-free water.
Useful tests are available to help determine the health and safety of a water supply, and the performance of a water treatment system.
Why is it Important to Test Water?
When the water is tested it offers the knowledge required to address any problems currently involved with water quality. It will also ensure that the water quality is protected from every potential cause of contamination and an appropriate approach is involved with the treatment system to meet standards and regulations set for public water systems.
Whether your home is supplied by well water, or by municipally supplied water, you should be testing your water regularly.
Drinking Water Testing
The only way to tell if your drinking water is safe is by having it tested. Harmful bacteria, parasites, and viruses are invisible to the naked eye, so water which looks and tastes good may not necessarily be safe to drink.
Certain chemical contaminants that are sometimes found in a water source can cause long term health problems that take years to develop. Frequent water testing will provide test results that will identify unsafe water and ensure that the treatment system is treating the water to a satisfactory level.
Health and Safety Concerns
This is the most important reason why you should be testing your water. A superior quality of water is crucial to the economic, health, and social well-being of the people.
Contaminants in our water can lead to health issues, including gastrointestinal illness, reproductive problems, and neurological disorders. Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems may be at increased risk for becoming sick after drinking contaminated water.
Recording Changes in Your Water
Regular water testing will allow you to identify any changes in your water supply. There are many outside factors that can change the quality and safety of your water, including a broken well cap, nearby contaminants unexpectedly seeping into the ground water, or faulty plumbing and old pipes can cause water contamination.
Should I Have My Water Tested?
The answer to this question depends on several factors. In addition to prevention of health risk illness, a variety of less serious problems such as taste, color, odor and staining of clothes or fixtures are signs of possible water quality problems.
Public Water Sources
If you pay a water bill, you are purchasing water from a public water system, where your water is monitored. Unfortunately, some contaminants may be difficult to detect or treat realistically on a large scale. Also, after the water leaves the treatment plant, contaminants can enter the water system through gaps in the infrastructure or from aging pipes.
Are you Investing in a Home Water Treatment System?
It is best practice to complete a water test to find out what’s in your water and what you might want to remove before deciding on what water treatment unit to invest in.
Private Well Owners
Private wells can be contaminated by both naturally occurring sources and by human activities. If your drinking water does not come from a public water system, or you get your water from a private well, you are responsible for assuring your private well water is safe.
Routine testing for the prevention of the most common contaminants is highly recommended. Establishing a record of water quality test results is helpful in solving any future problems, if they arise.
When Should I Have My Well Tested?
You should have your well tested once a year for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels. If you suspect other contaminants, you should test for those as well. You should also have your well tested if:
- There are known problems with well water in your area.
- You have experienced problems near your well (e.g., flooding, land disturbances, and nearby waste disposal sites).
- You replace or repair any part of your well system.
- You notice a change in water quality (e.g., taste, color, odor).
How Often Should I Test?
Generally, testing is done once a year but it may be wise to test the water for the following reasons:
- A new well or pump has been installed
- An old well or pipe has been repaired or replaced
- Family or guests are have reoccurring gastrointestinal distress
- An infant is living in the home
- A new home is being purchased, and the quality of water needs to be determined
- The effectiveness of a water treatment system needs to be tested
- The water has had a change in taste, color or odor (2)
How Does Water Testing in Rockwall, TX Work?
A great way to learn what is in your water is to have an in-home water test conducted by a certified water professional. Testing the water in your home allows a water professional to check the water at the source, as soon as it comes out of the faucet or spicket.
Thanks to modernization and advancement in chemistry, we can detect and determine thousands of harmful chemicals and bacteria in a water sample.
Water Testing Methods
There are a wide range of water quality tests available that provide test results to help determine how safe, or even drinkable, water is to be used in a household setting. These different types of tests help determine if specific materials of contaminants have infected a body of water, and help inform how it needs to be treated. Here are just a few types of water testing methods.
- Bacteria tests
- Mineral tests
- pH testing
There are some other basic water tests that don’t have anything to do with chemical testing such as conductivity, odor, sediment, and turbidity.
Our Water Testing Services
At Intown Plumbing, our water testing can help a homeowner understand the water quality that they’re dealing with and provide us accurate results to provide you the best water treatment solution. Contact us today to get started!