Why Test Your Drinking Water?

Why you should consider testing your drinking water

Generally speaking, drinking water comes from either a public water system or a private water source.


Public Water Systems

Public water systems are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) safeguards human health by enforcing these requirements to ensure that the nation’s public water supply and its sources (rivers, lakes, reservoirs, springs, etc.) are being protected. The EPA ensures that public water systems comply with health-based federal standards for contaminants (Maximum Contaminant Levels), which includes regular monitoring and reporting. According to the EPA, public water systems deliver drinking water to approximately 90% of Americans.

 

If the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Act requires that public drinking water is monitored and/or treated to remove contaminants BEFORE delivery to the home, then why should homeowners still test their water?
Water should still be tested due to the fact that the EPA does not monitor the quality of public drinking water after it enters your home.

 

How can contaminants make their way into a home if it’s supplied with public drinking water?

Deterioration or damage to your home’s supply lines can allow contaminants to populate in your drinking water supply. Contaminated materials may be used during the manufacturing of water supply distribution systems such as service lines and pipes. In addition, materials utilized throughout your home plumbing system, including fixtures, fittings, solders, fluxes and more can also be a source of contamination.

 

Private Water Sources

According to the EPA, nearly 15% of Americans rely on private water sources for drinking water such as wells, cisterns and springs. Private water sources do not have experts regularly checking the water’s source and its quality before delivering to its users. While almost every state has licensed or registered water well installers, it does not mean they are testing your water. It’s important to note that although state and local governments set rules to protect users of these private water supplies, the EPA does not have the authority to regulate private drinking water wells.


How can contaminants make their way into a home if it’s supplied with private drinking water?
The same possibilities can happen as in publicly supplied water. There are additional sources for contamination in private drinking water such as natural impurities and contaminants. Human activities can directly affect private drinking water from leaking leaking septic tanks, cleaning solvents, motor oil, paints and thinners, soaps and detergents. Agriculture activities that may have animal and crop run-off can also be an issue. In addition, industrial activities like coal mining, gas drilling operations, dumps, junkyards, landfills, factories, gas stations and dry cleaning establishments can also cause water contamination.

Figure 1:
An illustration from the EPA of how contaminants can make their way into a drinking water system from potential contamination sources such as leaking underground storage tanks, poor industrial containment practices, landfill leachate, agricultural runoff, compromised septic tanks and improper household waste disposal.

 

Additional Reasons to Test Your Water