How Important Is Water Quality Testing?
Those who use well water aren’t subject to federal water quality standards. Fortunately, more than 90% of people in the U.S. receive tap water from community water supplies.1 Municipalities must comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), while many states have standards that ensure just as much protection. Some water quality risks and rules will be discussed below, along with reasons why water quality testing is so important.
Dangers of Water Contamination
The risks posed by water contamination help understand why water quality needs to be tested, no matter where your tap water comes from. Water used for drinking, washing dishes, showering, and other activities can be hazardous if it contains:
- Materials from sewage releases, backups, or leaks.
- Naturally occurring materials like radon, arsenic, or uranium.
- Heavy metals, cyanide, and other materials from manufacturing.
- Fertilizers, pesticides, and other land use-related products.
- Bacteria, viruses, and other microbial contaminants.
Water can become contaminated by many sources. Even stormwater, livestock feeding operations, cracked pipes, and wildlife may introduce contaminants. Germs are a major hazard. Those of concern include cryptosporidium, E. coli, salmonella, legionella, and Hepatitis A virus. People at a higher risk of getting sick from contaminated water include infants, young children, and older adults. Pregnant individuals and people with weakened immune systems are also most at risk.
Issues often associated with water contamination include:
- Gastrointestinal illness
- Neurological disorders
- Circulatory system disorders
- Reproductive problems
- Skin diseases
- Organ damage
About the Safe Drinking Water Act
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified over 90 contaminants in drinking water that can be harmful.2 The SDWA, last amended in 1996, aims to protect public health with strict drinking water regulations. It regulates the presence of arsenic, lead, copper, radionuclides, and microbial contaminants.
Nonetheless, private well owners are responsible for testing their own drinking water. At Waldrop, we recommend testing your well at least once a year for contamination and functional issues. Chemicals and germs can infiltrate well water after a flood. Wells should be tested if your water supply tastes or smells differently or if you otherwise suspect a problem.
Water Quality Reporting Requirements
The EPA requires all community water suppliers to produce annual Consumer Confidence Reports (CCRs) and provide them to customers. Reports can be delivered by mail or online. If you don’t pay your water bill directly, a landlord or building manager can provide you with a CCR. The report identifies any types of contamination found, including those that aren’t harmful. If a contaminant is higher than EPA guidelines allow, it is marked as “violated”, in order to help protect you and your family from potential water-related illnesses.
When Should I Have My Water Quality Tested?
Federal guidelines usually eliminate the need to test water quality yourself. But there are times when you should request an evaluation. Local agencies and plumbing contractors can do this for you. Water quality testing should be performed if:
- Anyone at home suffers from recurrent gastrointestinal problems.
- Your water supply does not taste or smell right.
- Plumbing fixtures, laundry, and other items are stained.
- The water has a cloudy, frothy, or discolored appearance.
- Pipes and plumbing are corroding faster than expected.
- Tap water tastes salty or you reside near a heavily salted roadway.
- Water treatment equipment wears out rapidly.
- You live near agricultural, mining, or other industrial operations.
- There’s often a gasoline or fuel oil smell nearby.
- Your home is near a landfill, junkyard, or factory.
Safe to say, water quality testing is extremely important, as chemicals, organic pathogens, and other contaminants can have a wide range of detrimental effects. Water quality issues can be a sign of plumbing problems or violations on the part of water suppliers. In addition, it can help us determine the best type of water filtration system to install.
Fortunately, our trained technicians are experienced with the latest technologies and have the skills to evaluate your water supply and ensure it’s pure and safe to drink. We can install point-of-use and whole-home water filtration systems. They can remove minerals, pesticides, lead, chlorine, fluoride, cleaning chemicals, and other contaminants. Request water quality testing and water filtration services by calling 864-536-0887 today.