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Karen Ridings

Household water testing

Did you know that your body weight is 55-75% water, or approximately 10-12 gallons? We need water to live and stay healthy. On an average day, an adult needs approximately 10-12 cups of water. We need to replace water lost through respiration, sweat and elimination.

How safe is my water? Should I test my household water supply? Many people have concerns about the safety of the water used in their households.

• Municipal water systems
First, it is important to know that public or municipal water systems are required by Federal law to monitor and test the water sold to residents. The water is tested as it leaves the treatment plant. Even though the water meets federal standards, contaminants may enter the water supply from old plumbing in a household. If you have aging plumbing in your home, you may want to consider water testing.

• Private wells
If you have a private well, here are general recommendations for testing:
- Every year test your water for coliform bacteria.
- Every three years test the pH levels and total dissolved solids.
- Test your well if :
1) there is a new infant or pregnant woman in the household,
2) agricultural operations are nearby,
3) a dump, landfill, or factory are close by,
4) your well is located near heavily salted roads,
5) your water has an odor of gas or fuel or tastes very salty,
6) you notice orange or black staining from your water,
7) soap has no lather.

The Virginia Cooperative Extension has numerous resources regarding water safety and conducts water clinics throughout the state. For more information go to www.ext.va.edu to locate an Extension sponsored Well Water Clinic near you!



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