The Case of Ms. Ima Well

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59,988 sq. mi.

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© 1996-2003, The University of Arizona
Page Content:  Marti Lindsey


Water Quality Information - Somewhere Town, Florida


The Somewhere Town Water Utility knows how important clean water is to this town. As a service to our customers we provide information on some common water testing and treatments. 

Common Water Tests
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Many items, including bacteria, chlorine, pH, total dissolved solids, and chemical contaminants, are closely monitored to ensure a safe drinking water supply.  Below is a brief description of each test:
Coliform Bacteria: Coliforms are a type of bacteria which occur widely in the environment in places such as surface water, soil, and decaying organic matter. This group of bacteria includes the fecal coliform group which grows in the intestines of warm blooded animals. While this group of coliform bacteria are generally not harmful in themselves, they have long been used as an indication of water quality. Generally if coliform bacteria are present, other harmful bacteria are likely to be present. Most of the harmful bacteria cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, low-grade fever, and vomiting
Coliform samples are carefully collected in sterilized bottles. A certain portion of each sample is mixed with a nutrient medium and incubated for twenty-four hours. A color change or the production of gas indicates the presence of coliform bacteria.
Chlorine: Chlorine is the most widely used drinking water disinfectant in North America. Chlorine is added to drinking water as either a gas or as a solid already dissolved in water.
Chlorine is measured in the field using a portable instrument.. Federal regulations require at least 0.2 parts per million of chlorine where water enters the distribution system and at least a detectable amount of chlorine in 95 percent of the samples taken from the water distribution system. When the level of chlorine is above 0.5 parts per million, most people can smell chlorine in the water.
Mineral Content: Mineral content measures the amount of total dissolved solids, or TDS, in the water. The federal secondary drinking water standard for TDS is 500 parts per million. There is no health basis for this level, but many people can detect a salty taste in the water when TDS is above 500 parts per million.
pH: pH is a measurement of a water's acidity. Water with a pH below 7.0 is considered acidic.  Water with a pH above 7.0 is considered basic.  pH is measured in the laboratory on the same day the water samples are collected from the system.

Chemical Contaminants: If there is a known region of groundwater contamination near one of our pumping stations, we continually monitor the water for the known chemical contaminants. For example, the city landfill has contributed to groundwater contamination near our southeastern pumping station (6200 Barrel Lane). The contaminants of concern for that region are lead and cadmium, so we carefully monitor the water for the presence of these 2 metals. So far, the water we pump from the southeastern sector is not contaminated.

back to the Environmental Quality Office
Marti Lindsey, Director: 520-626-3692

mailing address:
Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center
University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, Room 244
PO Box 210207, Tucson, AZ, USA  85721-0207