The Importance and Process of Water Testing

Ensuring safe water for homes and commercial properties, like offices, is crucial for keeping people hydrated and healthy. Unfortunately, sometimes unclean water can seep through the cracks and find its way into your bottle or glass when you fill it up. The contamination of water can happen for several reasons – perhaps your filtration system is operating inefficiently, or pipework needs replacing due to the material’s age. Fortunately, by testing water, specialists can identify if any further issues need to be fixed and make sure people are safe when using the water that is supplied to their location.

But how is water tested and by whom? What do people search for when water testing and what is the threshold of contaminants that can be in water that makes it either safe or unsafe? Here at WaterCare Solutions, we have the expert knowledge to answer all these queries. In this blog, we will provide answers on the vital importance and process of water testing.

Protecting your health and environment

The number one priority when supplying water to the public is to ensure safety, both to public health and to the environment. Without adequate water testing performed by specialists, the public would contract many different, harmful and sometimes deadly infections and diseases. Water testing works hand in hand with water treatment, but they are, in fact, different ways of providing potable water.

What is water testing?

Water testing is the process of identifying contaminants in water, in addition to industries using water that is not contaminated or for natural environments, such as reservoirs, lakes, and canals that need to be free of extensive pollution. Water quality is vital to ensure public safety, as poor quality of water for purposes such as domestic and recreational use will lead to human illness on a grand scale.

Some of the most common diseases associated with poor quality and contaminated water that affect human health the most include:

  • Cholera
  • Dysentery
  • Hepatitis A
  • Typhoid

In addition to ensuring the safety of public health, water testing helps to identify contaminants that can have a negative impact on the environment. Healthy water is needed for flora, fauna, and plant life, they need stable and healthy water to thrive and survive. Factors such as chemical leaks, oil spills, and waste, such as rubbish, can disrupt environmental and biological processes and kill plant life.

How does it work?

Water testing is quite a simple process to carry out. For some areas and sites, water testing can be completed on-site using equipment, including a calibrated thermometer to check the temperature, as well as on-site lateral flow test equipment to check for certain types of bacteria. However, when performing more extensive tests, water must be taken off-site and transported to a laboratory.

Once at the laboratory, water treatment companies, like WaterCare Solutions can test the water to identify an array of contaminants and elements that may affect the quality of water. These can include:

  • TVC
  • Legionella
  • Chemical make-up
  • The physical and metal parameters
  • Corrosion
  • Pseudomonas

You can even test the water yourself using equipment such as test strips, but it is important to hire professionals like WaterCare Solutions if you have any concerns about the cleanliness of your water.

Understanding Common Water Contaminants

The quality of water can be affected by several factors that can make it unsafe. These factors can occur in both residential and commercial areas and is the duty of building owners and operators to make sure none of these influencers are present in a building.

Contaminants in water can be found in a variety of forms from emerging contaminants as well as agricultural and industrial chemicals that all have a significant effect on the cleanliness of the water.

Chemical contaminants in water

Firstly, chemical contaminants are pollutants that can be found in water as a result of human activities, such as mining, manufacturing, and waste disposal.

Several chemicals can be highly toxic and typically enter the water table through runoff from landfills and industrial sites. Some of the major health effects that chemical contaminants can have include causing serious skin conditions and cancer, as well as immune disorders and liver damage.

Emerging contaminants in water

What is meant by emerging contaminants? Simply put; emerging contaminants are pollutants that have been discovered in water sources and are not yet regulated. These contaminants can include microplastics, which are small plastic particles that have been broken down from larger plastic items, such as bottles and bags, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products (PPCPs), which can include medications, hormones, antibiotics and other liquids, which can enter into water sources through the sewer system.

Unfortunately, the effects of emerging contaminants are not specifically known, but the concern is that the effects have long-term impacts on human health and hormone balance.

Agricultural contaminants

With livestock farming, irrigation, and other agricultural operations, pollutants from these processes can be found in water sources. The common pollutants of agriculture include:

  • Nitrate: A fertiliser that can enter water sources through runoff from agricultural fields and manure storage areas.
  • Pesticides and herbicides: These are used to repel, control, or kill forms of animal and plant life considered to damage agriculture, with herbicides used to destroy and control weeds and other unwanted vegetation.

If these substances pollute water, then the effects can be disastrous and harmful. Being exposed to high levels of nitrate can cause a condition called methemoglobinemia, or “blue baby” syndrome, in infants. Nitrate can damage the environment also causing algal blooms which are harmful to aquatic life. The typical impact of pesticides and herbicides on human health can include cancer, nervous system damage, and reproductive problems.

Industrial contaminants

Industrial contaminants, such as heavy metals including lead and mercury, can be found when water testing as a result of manufacturing and mining. In addition to harmful metals, oil, and grease can enter water systems from spills and leaks. From skin irritation and respiratory problems to serious liver and kidney damage from oil and grease, it is vital to test water for industrial contaminants.

The role of the government in water testing and regulations

Not only is it important to provide water testing to find any contaminants but it is required by law. Every company must take the quality of its water seriously, whether they are in manufacturing, education, construction, healthcare, or the hospitality industry. Although there may be no signs of contamination, regular testing of your water should be taken into consideration.

Water testing regulations

There are several UK regulations to ensure proper water testing is performed by water treatment companies and the UK government. If you are a landlord or have control over a building, then it is your responsibility to ensure the health and safety of those that occupy the building by following The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that clearly outlines the guidelines for managing the risk associated with legionella.

In addition to this legislation, the UK also follows the strict legislation of The Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 2016, which includes the specific standards for testing a range of substances and the properties of water.

If you receive water from a private supply, which is around one percent of the UK population, then private water companies must adhere to The Private Water Supplies 2018.

Importance of regular water testing: Preventative maintenance and quality assurance

Those supplying water to the UK population must follow these regulations which outline that water testing must be performed frequently. The benefits of frequent water testing are to ensure and promote human health and sustain the environment and provide the UK population with peace of mind that the water is safe.

How often should you test your water?

The water testing frequency can fluctuate depending on the risk of contamination. This means if the risk is high, then testing should be carried out at least once per day – sometimes once per hour – and if the risk is low then once per month is an optimal frequency. Water systems such as cooling towers and evaporative condensers should be tested weekly and at least quarterly for Legionella to ensure they are operating safely.

Additionally, it is always important to remember – even though your current water supply may look clean, water testing will always be required to ensure your water supply and treatment programme is safe and potable.

Professional water testing: What to expect and how to choose a testing service

If you are looking for a professional water testing service that can provide you with accurate results, then look no further than WaterCare Solutions. We can help you stay compliant with a water risk assessment and test your water for contaminants like legionella and provide practical advice to duty holders to meet their legal requirements. We provide turnkey water surveys and dissemination where we will create a full report as well as schematic drawings and a regime for the ongoing management of risk in your water system. We provide a host of services in the water treatment industry. For more information on how WaterCare Solutions can help you, get in touch by calling us on 01299 271144 or emailing us at mark@watercaresolutions.co.uk.