It is vital for both municipalities and private citizens to accurately test their water supplies regularly. There are several reasons for this. First, federal law requires that local governments test public water thoroughly. Also, testing ensures that water is safe for consumption. Finally, careful testing makes it possible to determine if there are any pollutants in the water that could damage the environment.
Field testing is more common than lab testing. However, lab testing is more thorough and accurate. This is because it uses precision equipment like a refrigerated incubator, also known as a chilling incubator.
Read on to learn more about why it is so important to accurately test water supplies.
Reasons to Test Water
Federal Law Requires Thorough Testing of Public Water
Federal laws, such as the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act, require local governments to test drinking water quite thoroughly. Local governments may be fined and could even lose federal funding if they do not follow these regulations.
While private citizens and companies are not required to follow these laws, it’s a good idea to test well water regularly. The procedures followed by local governments could provide a reference point for testing private water supplies.
Ensuring Water is Safe for Consumption
The most important reason to test water is to ensure that it is safe for consumption. Many diseases, some of them fatal, can spread through contaminated drinking water. Such diseases are often caused by bacteria, but may also be caused by viruses or protozoa. Private companies may be exposing themselves to liability if they are responsible for providing safe drinking water and their wells are contaminated with waterborne diseases.
Identifying Any Environmental Concerns
It is also vital to test water for any pollutants. These pollutants could be toxic to humans, animals, and plants. Common pollutants include pesticides and herbicides. It is also quite common to find traces of prescription medications in wastewater.
This is because many people flush their prescription medications down the toilet, even though there are not supposed to. While wastewater will not be consumed by humans, it may be consumed by animals or plants. This could cause severe environmental damage. It’s a good idea to test wastewater for traces of prescription medicines.
Field Tests vs. Lab Tests
The majority of water testing is done in the field. Field water tests have several benefits. They are fast, convenient, and affordable. These tests can evaluate the water’s hardness, PH, and chemical content. However, field tests do have drawbacks.
Field tests are not as accurate as lab tests. Also, they are not as comprehensive as lab tests. For example, it is not possible to accurately test water for bacteria in the field.
This is why lab tests are so important. Water testing laboratories utilize high-tech equipment like refrigerated incubators to come up with accurate and comprehensive results. Most importantly, lab tests can determine the presence of microorganisms that may cause disease. However, lab tests can also come up with more accurate results than the field test equivalent. For example, a lab test can more accurately determine which chemicals are in the water and how much of each chemical is present.
How Often Water Should Be Tested
As a general rule, water supplies should be tested at least once per year. However, there are situations where water must be tested more often. For example, it is a good idea to test water after a flood or very heavy rainfall. This is because outside water may have gotten into the water supply and contaminated it with microorganisms or pollutants.
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