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Testing Water Quality and Contamination

Good water quality and cleanliness are essential to making sure the water we are using in our homes and gardens is the safest it can be. Contamination of water can lead to a variety of health concerns especially for pregnant women and children. Symptoms can include nausea, intestinal and stomach issues, and diarrhea. This contamination of minerals and chemicals is possible even with city treated water. Water can dissolve metals present in the pipes and fixtures which can make lead, copper, and iron present in higher concentrations than advisable. Another source of contamination can be by-products created by organic matter combining with the chlorine and disinfectants. These disinfectants are necessary for water purification, however they can have unforeseen negative effects as well.

Testing you water is a great way to ensure you and your family are drinking and using the safest water. There are many home test kits available for purchase. These home test kits usually specifically test for one or a small number of issues. With these tests you can determine water hardness (is your water softener working well), lead/copper/iron levels, bacteria, and presence of contaminants like arsenic by using test strips on your water supply. While this system is good for understanding the basics of your water quality, the results are often in ranges rather than exact numbers. There are also meters you can place directly into a source of water to get an immediate and more precise result. These meters are often also equipped with temperature and pH or alkalinity readings as well.

If you are looking for a more cohesive report of your water quality, you can send a sample of your water to a certified laboratory or to a county health department. If you are looking for locations that you can send your water sample to, the EPA has lists of locations in your area. If you are looking for more information on water quality, looking at your city’s annual water quality report can also tell you where your city’s water is sourced from, how it is treated, and what contaminants have been mediated against. It is always a good idea to add additional filtration to your water system, using a filter attachment on the faucet or using a filtering water pitcher are great ways to additionally filter your drinking water.

If you are moving to a new home/ property, have gotten new plumbing, have a baby/expected baby, or notice a difference in the clarity, taste, smell of your water, it is a good idea to have your water tested. If you believe you have an issue with your water quality, contact your local health department for the next steps that should be taken.

Follow this link to find a water testing lab near you:

www.epa.gov/safewater/labs

(Headline Picture) At the Jewel of Encanto Farm, we are on city water but also use additional filtration. This carbon and debris filter is replaced every few months to help clean and clarify the property’s water.

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