Water testing

Water absorbs dissolved minerals and organic compounds as it moves through the soil. In this process, many contaminants can get dissolved into the water and putting your life in danger.

Public and private water systems are regulated by certain standards.

The regulation on private water systems aren’t as hard as in the case of public water systems. Private well owners need to monitor their water quality by themselves. Testing your water is very important.

To make sure that your water is good to drink, you need to take a sample and send it to a local, authorized laboratory. They will tell you if your water is contaminated with bacteria, metals, nitrates, etc. This way you will prevent any diseases to your family.

Private water systems need special attention in rural areas, where there aren’t any special regulations.

More than 50 minerals can be present in water and none of them is dangerous for your health.


Usually contaminants are man made. These are synthetic organic compounds like benzene and phenols. Also heavy metals like lead and cadmium can pollute the water.These chemicals contaminate the water because of bad disposal. In order to have the best testing of your water source, all wells in a certain area need to be tested. A very complex hydro-geological investigation needs to be made.

Immediately after you discover that your water is contaminated, call the local health department, or a private testing laboratory. They will take some samples and advice you on the right purification system.

There are a few things that need to be tested in the water:

  1. First of all, the test will determine whether or not your water is contaminated with bacteria. Odors, taste and discoloration are all caused by bacteria.
  2. The second test is meant to discover any harmful chemical contaminants, such as magnesium, calcium, sodium, iron, fluoride, chlorine, nitrates. Most of these contaminants are dangerous only in high levels.
  3. A third test is made to determine the exact levels of a certain chemical in the water.

Some of the most common types of chemical analysis are:

  • purgeable halocarbons – this includes solvents and degreasers.
  • purgeable aromatis – made to determine the levels of petroleum products.
  • non-volatile organics – pesticides
  • total organic halogen – chemicals containing chlorine and bromine
  • total organic carbon – specific class of contaminants.

If contaminants are discovered in your well, the best choices you have is whether to buy a lot of bottled water or install a filter. Bottled water is only a temporary solution so it’s advised that you install a filter, according to your problem.

Here are a few problems found in water supplies and the appropriate tests:

  • Frothy, Foamy – Detergent
  • Black Flakes – Manganese
  • Brown or Yellow – Iron, Tannic Acid; Stains on fixtures or clothing
  • Red or Brown – Iron
  • Black – Manganese
  • Green or Blue – Copper; Odor or Taste
  • Bitter – Nitrate, Sulfates
  • Rotten Egg – Hydrogen Sulfide
  • Metallic – pH, Iron, Zinc, Copper, Lead
  • Salty – Total Dissolved Solids, Chloride, Sodium
  • Septic, Musty, Earthy – Total Coliform Bacteria, Iron
  • Soapy – Detergents (Surfactants)
  • Gasoline or Oil – Hydrocarbon Scan, Aromatic Volatile Organic Chemicals
  • White Deposits on Pots/Soap Scum – Hardness
  • Discoloration of Child’s Teeth – Fluoride
  • Family or Guests Become ill – Total Coliform Bacteria, Nitrate, Sulfates
  • Water Supply Used for Infant Less Than Six Months Old – Nitrate
  • Corrosion of Plumbing – Lead, Iron, Zinc, Manganese, Copper Sulfates, Chloride; If You Suspect or Observe Contamination from:
  • Old Lead Pipe or Solder – Lead, Copper, pH, Zinc
  • Leaking Fuel Tank – Hydrocarbon Scan, Aromatic Volatile Organic Chemicals
  • Coal Mining – Total Dissolved Solids, Iron, Sulfates, pH, Corrosion Index, Manganese, Aluminum, Arsenic, Selenium
  • Gas and Oil Drilling – Total Dissolved Solids, Chloride, Sodium, Barium, Lead, pH, Corrosion Index, Strontium, Volatile Organic Scan
  • Landfill – Total Dissolved Solids, pH, Volatile Organic Scan, Heavy Metal Scan
  • Septic Systems – Total Coliform Bacteria, Nitrate, Detergents, Total Dissolved Solids, Chloride, Sodium, Sulfates
  • Land Application of Sludge- Coliform Bacteria, Nitrate, Metals (Lead, Cadmium)
  • Intensive Agriculture – Total Coliform Bacteria, Nitrate, Pesticide Scan, pH, Total Dissolved Solids
  • Livestock Feedlots – Total Coliform Bacteria, Nitrate, Total Dissolved Solids, Total Organic Carbons
  • Road Salt – Total Dissolved Solids, Chloride, Sodium


Every year you will need to perform a test of your drinking water. Test if for bacteria, nitrates, hardness and also pH. Every 3 to 5 years you will need to test the levels of sulfates, iron, chlorine.

You can even buy special testing kits, that will help you perform the testing by yourself.

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