29 Apr 2009

Water Quality Bleg

Hey Folks,

I am looking for some help on water quality testing, i.e.,
  • What off-the-shelf equipment is out there?
  • How much does it cost to buy? for each test?
  • How much training does the operator need?
  • Is there a one-shot tester for home use?
  • How long does each test take? How many contaminents does it test for?
  • Can the equipment be moved? Used in the developing world?
Thanks for any help!

Bottom Line: Don't drink the water if you don't know what's in it!


  1. I wanted exactly the same answers you are looking for to teach a workshop for teenage girls. I was informed that it is easy to test for pollutants in heavily polluted water, but drinking water is quite different since contaminants are measured in PPM or PPB (or even less). They test for organisms, heavy metals, and toxic chemicals. Apparently there are separate tests for each category, and even for each substance. Some of the lab work is very involved and time consuming.

    Here is a contact for a biochemist that tests wells and drinking water systems daily and weekly. She works for the Spokane Water Dept. and you can email her at kgraf@spokanecity.org. She also publishes Spokane's annual water quality report.

  2. Try the new meter from Industrial Test Systems. www.sensafe.com They also sell test strips.

  3. Grainger, and Rickley sell lots of test gadgets, many quite reasonably (sub $200) priced

  4. Forestry Suppliers is another good place to look. They have an assortment of water testing kits available here: http://www.forestry-suppliers.com/drilldown_pages/view_category.asp?cat=321

  5. Thanks!

    @FMF -- I emailed her.

    @Anon -- I ordered a kit ($33)

    @Philip -- too expensive.

    @CB -- I ordered a kit ($53)

    Update in a few weeks!

  6. Thanks for this post and all the comments, people. I live just blocks from a superfund site, and although I'm against using bottled water, I am using it anyway because although I read the water quality reports from my municipal supplier and the quality is good, I worry about contaminants getting in "along the way". (And a couple of other reasons having to do with health of family members...)

    I'm not sure that one time testing would be enough for me to feel comfortable foregoing bottled water, though. Ongoing monitoring might be required. I'm eagerly awaiting your follow up post on the kits you've ordered.


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