Drinking water continues to be a source of concern as the list of contaminants and their effects on health continues to grow. Whether your drinking water is from a municipality or from a private source (well or spring) there’s good reason to know what contaminants it contains so you know what filtration is needed.
Municipalities are required by federal law to test the water they sell to their customers, i.e. citizens. They are also required to provide those test results to consumers via the annual Water Quality Report, aka Water Confidence Report.
If you are on a private well or spring, there is only one time at which you are required to have the water tested: when you sell your property. Otherwise, it is wise to test if you’ve never had it tested or if it’s been over two years.
Here are some suggested guidelines for testing:
When to test:
- If the water’s never been tested
- If it’s been over 2 years since the last test
- If you have no clue what contaminants your water may have
This first test of a source should include:
- Bacteria (fecal coliform)
- Nitrates (from fertilizers)
- TDS = Total Disolved Solids (mineral components such as calcium, potassium and others)
Once you get the test results back, you may have some actions to take to get your system in compliance. Below are some suggestions for testing frequency for various contaminants.
Bacteria – Test yearly.
Arsenic – If absent in your first test or at a very low level, no need to test for it again.
Nitrates – Test yearly. This is especially important in an agricultural area.
Lead – If absent in your first test or at a low level, no need to test again.
TDS – If the level is 200 ppb (parts per billion) or below, no need to test again.
Knowing what’s in your private water source– and what isn’t – while following the above testing protocols and performing any needed remedies to clear contaminants, can ensure better health for all in your household and contribute to your peace of mind.
(If you live in or near the Sandy OR area, read here to learn about the water testing service offered by the City of Sandy.)