4 Steps to Checking Your Water Quality

Your water may look clean, but there’s an entire world of microorganisms and contaminants that could be lurking under the surface.

Here’s how to find out what you’re really drinking and washing up with.

Who tests residential water?

All water routed to residential properties from a public utility like the local water company must undergo routine testing.

More than 90% of Americans get their water from public systems. That water must meet standards set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) courtesy of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

There may also be state guidelines in effect that further outline what constitutes good water quality when water is tested and how those tests should be conducted.

The results of local water supply tests are made available to consumers via Consumer Confidence Reports (CCRs), also known as annual drinking water quality reports.

These public water system reports will list all the contaminants found in the sample tests — note that some contaminants like calcium or chlorine may not be harmful and could even benefit you by providing useful minerals and preventing bacterial buildup in your water. Check out your water quality.

Stonybrook public water stats for checking quality of water

How often is your water tested?

This is a good question — unfortunately, there is no one solid answer.

Although your local water company is required to test its water according to EPA standards, the frequency of those tests depends on a variety of factors such as

  • where the water is coming from
  • how many people are being served
  • and the types of contaminants involved.

What are “good” or “bad” test results?

As mentioned above, sometimes your local public water report may list contaminants that are either beneficial or have the potential to be harmful but exist in small enough amounts that they’re essentially harmless.

What you want to look out for is any contaminant marked as “violated” — this indicates that the contaminant is present in amounts higher than those allowed by the EPA.

The more violations, the more concerning the report will be. But you should also consider your and/or your family’s unique needs.

You may be particularly concerned about a contaminant the EPA has deemed okay in minute amounts. In that case, even a “pass” reading may not be good enough for your peace of mind.

Where can you find local water test results?

All public water systems or community water suppliers are required to provide an annual drinking water quality report or CCR to its customers.

Suppose you pay your water bill directly to the town or public water company. In that case, you should receive a copy of your local water company’s residential water test report or CCR once a year, either by mail or online.

If you don’t pay your bill directly, you may need to contact your landlord or building management to access the report.

Most community water companies choose to post their CCRs online for public viewing. You can always contact your local brand or utility company to see if they will release the report or direct you to an online source.

Curious about your water quality? Let the experts at Stonybrook explain what’s in your water – and what filtration best suits your local public drinking water.

Photo by Hans Reniers on Unsplash

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