There are many ways to test water for quality. Ideally, water must be free from harmful microorganisms, toxic metals and chemicals, radiation, and fecal matter. It should taste good, safe to drink, and it must be clear upon inspection. You can analyze its chemical, physical, or biological content to know if your water is good for drinking and cooking. Here are some of the ways how water test laboratories analyze its quality.
How to Take Water Samples
A private water testing lab samples water by collecting and analyzing the water for chemical or bacterial impurities. Upon inspection, when water is turbid and has a pungent smell and taste, laboratories can check for contamination. You may only use water from a well when you receive a notice that it is safe for drinking.
A problem arises when a community does not have access to a proper laboratory for bacterial water testing. Diarrhea, vomiting, and other acute water-borne diseases will ensue if anyone drinks from a well with poor water quality.
Water Sampling and Testing Frequency
Tests must be done every year or more frequently for vulnerable areas (flood prone) to maintain water quality. Portable kits are available to test for water quality if you don’t have a dedicated laboratory for water testing near your area. Consistent tests will establish baseline values for the well, and atypical values could indicate that something might be affecting water quality.
You must take water samples carefully by pumping water for at least three minutes. Dip a nitrate test strip from the water for testing and wait until the strip changes in color. Compare the test strip with the table of colors and document.
Collect a sample from the well in question and dip the test strip much like you would use a nitrate test strip to see if the water is alkaline or acidic. Apply recommended treatment to bring the water back to its normal pH range.
Turbidity and Coliform Tests
Water may have dissolved particles that could be harmful to your body. To test for turbidity and dissolved particles, take note of the water appearance and measure the dissolved particles using a TDS pocket device. Turbid water may indicate bacterial contamination. Record your findings and assign the appropriate units of measurement.
A coliform test shows if fecal matter is present in water. The E. coli bacteria is the most common type of contaminant in water, and it causes common diarrhea and other symptoms.