Testing Your Water Quality: Measuring the Cleanliness of Water in Your Home
The water that comes from our kitchen faucets and bathtubs could derive from one of two sources, groundwater or surface water, meaning the levels of pollution could vary in each. Nonetheless, tap water only gets as clean as its source.
In many towns and cities, the major source of water pollution is urban and storm water runoff which comes from rainwater flowing into street catch basins. It’s not that rainwater is terribly unhealthy, but when it flows into these basins, it’s more likely to catch on to untreated waste products from our streets, yards, and other places. When this happens, the newly polluted runoff flows right into our drinking water sources (i.e. rivers, streams, and lakes). Murfreesboro Water Resources Department and other communities are ahead of the problem as we’ve found various ways of treating rainwater before it can get to our drinking water sources.
For other communities, water suppliers are still relying on old sewer systems that oftentimes combined, meaning their storm water sewer and their sanitary sewer are one in the same. In this case, all water flows into one wastewater treatment plant, and can sometimes create an overflow in the event of a bad storm. More cities are looking to create separate systems again to manage this problem and lessen the possibility of releasing untreated sewage into the environment.
When it comes to understanding what contaminants could be found in your source of water, the quality of treated water is still tested more frequently than the quality of source water. You may rely on your water supplier to test quality or you can do it yourself by the ways described below.
BUYING A WATER TESTING KIT
Water testing kits can be bought for no more than $15 from your local convenience store and will provide you with all tools necessary to check your water quality for several contaminants. The contaminants or elements that you’d usually test water for include hardness, chlorine, nitrites/nitrates, bacteria, lead, pesticides, and the water’s pH level. The test itself is as easy as dipping the prospective stripes of the element in which you’d like to test for into a cup of water from your home. The stripes will change colors based on the water’s mineral content.
USING YOUR SENSES
Sometimes testing the quality of your water simply comes down to using your senses. For instance, water from your tap shouldn’t have a distinctive smell, but If you notice the water from your shower smells like a rotten egg, there is a possibility that your water contains bacteria. Contact your local water supplier immediately!
When drinking water from the tap, and it tastes like bleach or an old rusty pipe, your water quality could be suffering from low pH levels or may contain excessive chlorine. If it tastes salty, it may contain sulfates from industrial waste and/or irrigation drainage. And of course, if your water looks any other color but clear, your area’s water source could have some major upstream pollution issues or contain runoff from rusty pipes.
FINDING YOUR AREA’S WATER QUALITY REPORT
Your water supplier is required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to supply you with a Consumer Confidence Report each year, which is a water quality report that details all contaminants that may be present in your water and alerts you to the health risks they pose. Be on the lookout for this report from the MWRD and all other water suppliers by July 1st each year, provided within the mailing of your water bill or available online at the supplier’s website.
All public water systems in the United States and Canada must test their treated water for nearly 100 parameters a specified number of times each year. If you have a privately owned well, or have recently replaced or repaired pipes, pumps, or a well casing, water quality testing should be conducted yearly.
Being sure that the water in your household is free of bacteria, lead, pesticides, and all other contaminants frees you of the thought of drinking, bathing in, and utilizing water that could be harmful to your health in the long run. The Murfreesboro Water Resources Department encourages you to continue to take precautions in assuring the cleanliness of the water in your home and community. Our water quality report, as shown above, is sent out daily to update customers of the effectiveness of our clean water systems.
**The World Health Organization (WHO) has a searchable database of information about water quality, sanitation, and multiple other health statistics for more than 190 countries available online at www.who.int/whosis/en
**If you have any questions regarding the water quality in your home or community, contact the Murfreesboro Water Resources Department at 615-848-3209.