When it comes to the quality of your home’s water, there are a few key things you can look for to help ensure that it is safe for both drinking and bathing.
Knowing what to look for will help you take steps to correct any issues that may arise, as well as maintain the overall quality of your water.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the most common water quality indicators, so you can keep your home’s water in optimal condition.
Table of Contents
- What are water quality indicators
- How do scientists measure water quality indicators
- What are some common water quality indicators
- What water quality tests can I perform at home?
- Check your tap water source
- Sources of tap water pollutants
- What to do when your drinking water quality is low
- What to do next
What are water quality indicators
Water quality indicators are physical, chemical, or biological characteristics of water that can be used to determine the overall health of a water body.
It is important to know if the quality of the water we use is high or low since poor water quality can have negative affects.
How do scientists measure water quality indicators
There are a variety of ways that scientists can measure water quality indicators.
Some methods are more direct, such as measuring the concentration of a specific pollutant in the water.
Other methods are indirect, such as observing the qualities of water through our five senses.
What are some common water quality indicators
There are a variety of water quality indicators that scientists can measure to asset tap and drinking water quality.
Some of the most common include:
pH: The measure of how acidic or basic water is. A low pH indicates water that is more acidic, while a high pH indicates water that is more basic.
Dissolved oxygen: The amount of oxygen that is dissolved in water. This is an important indicator of water quality, as it can affect the ability of aquatic organisms to breathe. The dissolved oxygen level can be affected by several factors, including temperature and the presence of pollutants.
Temperature: The measure of how warm or cool water is. Temperature can affect the growth and development of aquatic animals and plants, as well as the rate at which chemical reactions occur in water.
Turbidity: A measure of the suspended particles in water. High turbidity can indicate the presence of pollution, as well as the potential for harmful algae blooms. High turbidity levels can make water appear cloudy.
Conductivity: A measure of the ability of water to conduct an electric current. This is often used as an indicator of the presence of minerals in the water. The result is often measured with TDS, or Total Dissolved Solids.
Color: The measure of the blueness, or lack thereof, in water. This can be an indicator of the presence of algae, as well as other pollutants.
Taste: The measure of how water tastes. This is often used as a general indicator of water quality, as certain pollutants can give water an unpleasant taste.
Smell: The measure of how water smells. This is often used as a general indicator of water quality, as certain pollutants can give water an unpleasant smell.
These are just a few of the most common water quality indicators.
With professional testing equipment, scientists can measure hundreds of other dissolved substances, chemical properties, and biological properties.
What water quality tests can I perform at home?
If you’re concerned about the quality of your home’s water, there are a few water quality tests that you can perform on your own.
Observe the water’s color.
If the water is very cloudy, it may be due to algae blooms.
If the water is green, it may be due to copper in the water.
If the water is red, it may be due to iron in the water.
If the water is black, it may be due to manganese in the water.
Compare the water taste to bottled or spring water.
If the water tastes different, it may be due to chemicals or pollutants in the water.
Check the water’s smell.
If the water smells different, it may be due to chemicals or pollutants in the water.
Chlorine is common in municipal tap water and it smells like a swimming pool. Phosphates can also alter the smell of your water.
Some sources of pollution, such as sewage or agricultural runoff, may also have a strong odor.
Look for traces of substances left behind by your water such as limescale buildup, stains, or decreased flow rate over time. These can indicate hard water or high levels of minerals.
Keep in mind that some common minerals are beneficial and not a problem in moderation.
One simple test is to check the pH of your water.
You can purchase pH testing strips at most hardware or home improvement stores.
To use them, simply dip the strip in a sample of your water and compare the color of the strip to the accompanying chart.
This will give you a general idea of the pH of your water.
Another common test is to check for dissolved oxygen.
Dissolved oxygen testing kits are available at most hardware or home improvement stores.
To use them, you’ll need to collect a sample of your water and then follow the instructions on the kit.
This test will give you a general idea of the amount of oxygen that is dissolved in your water.
Total dissolved solids
Another test is for TDS.
TDS or total dissolved solids is a measure of all the tiny particles that are suspended in water.
To test for TDS, you’ll need to purchase an inexpensive TDS testing device or send your water sample to a laboratory for analysis.
This will give you a general idea of the overall quality of your water.
For more complex or in-depth water quality tests, it is best to consult a professional or order a test kit.
Water test kits are available for purchase online or at some hardware or home improvement stores.
These kits usually come with everything you need to collect a water sample and test it for a variety of common water quality indicators.
After you collect a sample, you send the kit away to a lab for analysis.
Check your tap water source
Tap water can come from a variety of sources.
All tap water starts somewhere in natural water bodies, so proper environmental management of aquatic environments is important.
The health of aquatic plants and other aquatic life such as fish species in surface water provides information about a possible health risk to human life.
U.S. legislation like the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act are designed to help regulate the quality of surface water and drinking water.
If you have city or municipal water, you can expect your water to be tested regularly for a variety of common water quality indicators, including pH levels, dissolved oxygen, TDS, and more.
However, water treatment facilities also add chemicals to water such as chlorine to help remove or kill harmful contaminants.
Chlorine byproducts in your tap water can cause a number of issues, including taste and odor changes and potential health problems.
Contact your town or city to learn more about their water treatment processes and the most recent measurements of chemicals and possible pollutants.
If you have well water or another private source of water, it is important to test your water for these same indicators periodically.
It is common for well water to contain higher levels of certain contaminants, such as arsenic or nitrates.
In rare cases, well water can contain dangerous levels of bacteria or other pathogens that are leached by local power plants or as industrial pollutants.
Sources of tap water pollutants
Unfortunately, our natural world is full of substances that can affect our water supply. Some of those include:
- Human and animal waste
- Organic compounds
- Dissolved metals and heavy metals
- Chemical substances
- Industrial pollution
- Acid rain
Any of these can negatively affect human health, which is why it is important to assess water quality.
Both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) publish standards that outline important water quality parameters, recommended environmental monitoring, and limits on toxic substances.
What to do when your drinking water quality is low
If you test your water and find that the quality is lower than what is considered safe, there are a few things you can do.
A professional water test will give you the best information about your water and what is needed to correct the situation.
If you find that your water contains high levels of chemicals or other pollutants, such as arsenic or nitrates, you may need to take steps to improve the overall quality of your water.
This could involve installing a filtration system in your home, using water from another source, or purchasing your drinking water.
What to do next
Now that you know a little more about the water quality indicators, it’s important to take steps to improve your water quality.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by installing a water filter in your home.
Not only will this improve the taste and smell of your tap water, but it will also reduce exposure to harmful contaminants.
If you’re not sure which type of filter is right for you, our team can help. We offer information about a wide range of filters that are designed to meet the needs of every household.
We also have a simple online tool that will help you learn about water filters after answering a few simple questions about your home.