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16

The Plain Talk Series - #31

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Today's question: How is my water tested and who tests it?

Plain Talk answer: All public water systems in the United States and Canada must test the treated water for nearly 100 parameters a specified number of times each year. The tests for microbes are conducted most often; the frequency varies depending on the population served by a water supplier. Rather than test for the actual pathogens, water systems test regularly for indicator microbes that are more readily collected and analyzed, and which provide a good measure of whether the system is adequately protecting public health.

In the United States, these tests are conducted in state certified laboratories using federally approved methods, some which are quite complex. In Canada, the testing labs are nationally accredited and, in most cases, must be approved by the local or regional government, such as the province or First Nation. Private wells may be tested in connection with the sale of a home, but it is up to individual homeowners to test their wells on a regular basis.

For more information on this and many other water-related topics, check out Plain Talk About Drinking Water by Dr. James M. Symons.

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