Monday, 23 November 2015 00:00

Why should I test my drinking water?

When should I get my water tested and what should I test for?

The Water Quality Association offers an interactive Diagnose Your Drinking Water tool on its Web site, which can help you figure out why your tap water smells like rotten eggs, tastes like salt, or spots your glasses.

Advice is also available on how to treat a problem once you've identified it. But some of the most serious — and most common — contaminants, such as bacteria, viruses, lead, and other chemicals, can't be tasted or smelled.

Test if...
• You have not tested or maintained your tank water in the past 6 months
• Your water tastes different
• Your water is cloudy or not visually normal
• The roof area and geographical location of your home or business is in a very vulnerable area.
• You have not tested or cleaned tank in past six months.
• You are pregnant, are planning a pregnancy, or have an infant less than 6 months old.

Test annually for:
• Nitrates
• Coliform Bacteria

Testing for fecal coliform and/or total bacteria is a good place to start. Depending on the results of that test, you may be advised to test for other contaminants such as metals, sediment, or organic pollutants. A presence of live coliforms in your water is an indication that there is surface water entering your drinking water. There will likely be other pollutants in your water as well.

Another common starting test for drinking water is nitrates. A value higher than 10 ppm (mg/L) can threaten your health especially if you are pregnant or nursing, and can threaten the health of infants. A presence of nitrates in your water indicates surface water contamination of your drinking water.

To better assist in understanding your water, the list below suggests some basic health conditions that may arise from contaminated water. Please note these are only general guidelines and could represent a potential problem.

If you would like to book an appointment or water test, ClearWater Systems can arrange this through the Bermuda Environmental Laboratories Ltd.

If you’re curious about what water can or cannot do to the body, the following chart gives you an idea of what should be tested in the event of:

Conditions or Nearby Activities: Test for:
Recurring gastro-intestinal illness Coliform bacteria
Household plumbing contains lead pH, lead, copper
Corrosion of pipes, plumbing Corrosion, pH, lead
Nearby areas of intensive agriculture Nitrate, pesticides, coliform bacteria
Objectionable taste or smell Hydrogen sulfide, corrosion, metals
Stained plumbing fixtures, laundry Iron, copper, manganese
Salty taste and seawater, or a heavily salted roadway nearby Chloride, total dissolved solids, sodium
Scaly residues, soaps don’t lather Hardness
Rapid wear of water treatment equipment pH, corrosion
Water softener needed to treat hardness Manganese, iron
Water appears cloudy, frothy, or colored Color, detergents

Where do I get the water analyzed?

• The Bermuda Environmental Laboratories is located at 10 Harvey Road in Paget.

• The Bermuda Environmental Laboratories will also book an appointment to collect a sample from your premise and return to the lab for testing. The report will be complete in 48-72 hours which can then be picked up, emailed or delivered by hand once the applicable fee is paid.

• Check with the lab before you do the test or collect the sample to make sure you have all the necessary information and the proper collection methods. Send in your sample according to the lab's specific directions.

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