biologist testing water quality

How to Test Water Quality and What It Means

Water pollution is a major issue in the world today. About 80% of the world’s wastewater is dumped back into the environment, polluting our oceans and rivers. Most of this water is dumped untreated.

This large amount of pollution and wastewater has impacted water quality worldwide, and the problem continues to get worse. You may think this is an issue in areas with large populations or poor water management, but water quality can also be an issue in your backyard.

This highlights the need to check on your own water quality to ensure that you’re drinking and using clean water in your home at all times. But how do you check your water quality? What does water quality mean?

Keep reading to learn how to test water quality and why it’s so important to do so. 

What Does Water Quality Mean?

Before figuring out how to test water quality, we need to determine what water quality means.

Water quality is the measure of how suitable water is for particular uses, including:

  • Consumption
  • Agriculture
  • Cleaning

The way to determine water quality is to assess its physical, chemical, and biological characteristics. The most common ways these elements are assessed are through the health ecosystems, human use and consumption safety, and water pollution.

Water quality is important because it dictates the current water supply. If the quality of water or water system is not up to par for use by humans or proves to be dangerous to the environment, this cuts down our water supply. The consequences of this can be dire, as some countries already struggle with their water supply.

Why Test Water Quality?

Sustainable water management should be a top priority for our world, and testing water quality plays a vital role in that initiative.

Clean water is essential to our health. The consequences of drinking water contaminated with dissolved solids, bacteria like E. coli, or other elements include:

  • Transmission of disease
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramping

Water quality can change very quickly, so it’s important to stay on top of it. It’s important to continuously test water quality so that we can be made aware of changes to our water as soon as possible.

You won’t know if your water quality needs improving unless you test it – after all, you need to know what’s wrong with your water before you fix it.

Your municipality conducts water testing periodically to ensure that it’s always up to date, but you might want to consider testing your water from time to time as well, especially if you get water from private wells.

Now that you understand water quality and its importance, let’s discuss how to test it.

taking water sample from river

How to Test Water Quality

If you’re curious about the water quality in your area, your first step should be contacting your municipality to get a water quality report. Your municipality will send you a Consumer Confidence Report, which provides essential information on the quality of your drinking water. This water quality data will inform you of any heavy metals, dissolved solids, minerals, and contaminants in your water. 

If you want to take your water testing one step further, you have two options:

  1. Have your water tested professionally
  2. Test your water yourself at home

Let’s discuss both options.

Professional Water Testing

Every municipality should have a number of certified water quality monitoring services. You should always choose a service certified by the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that you truly have an expert analyze and give you advice on your water quality.

Check out the Environmental Protection Agency website for contact information for Certification Programs and Certified Laboratories for Drinking Water. If you’re in Canada, you can find this information at the Canadian Environmental Protection Act Registry.

How to Test Water Quality at Home

You have several options if you’re looking to take the extra step and learn how to test water quality at home.

There are a variety of water test kit options available for home water testing purposes. One of the most popular options is test strips. Here’s how to use a home water test strip:

  1. Fill a container with a tap water sample from your home.
  2. Dip the test strip into the water sample. 
  3. Remove the strip and wait.

After a few minutes, you should see the colour of the test strips change. This type of home water quality testing kit has a colour chart to compare your test strips. This will help you determine your drinking water quality and get a more accurate result.

Another similar home water quality testing kit requires you to fill a vial full of tap water, then add a few drops of an included testing solution. This solution will turn the water a certain colour, which you can compare with the included chart for your test result.

taking water sample from faucet

Conclusion: How to Test Water Quality

Several areas of the world are in a water crisis, and some might be in your own backyard. This is why it’s so important to know how to test water quality so that you can catch any problems with your water resources before they get worse – to the point your water is unusable or undrinkable.

Hopefully, this article has taught you how to test water quality to ensure you always have safe drinking water.