Testing--a step to good quality water by Dr. Joanne Sketchell Sask Water

In rural Saskatchewan, most people rely on private water sources for their daily water needs.

Whether the raw water is from a ground or a surface water supply, these supplies are often of poor quality and require some form of treatment to make them safe and aesthetically acceptable.

In determining the quality of water, many people rely on the obvious--how it looks, tastes and smells.

Although these are important characteristics when assessing water quality, other properties that can't be detected by our senses, should also be considered.

As water quality varies with each source, the safety of a water supply can't be determined, nor its quality effectively improved and maintained, without first knowing what parameters are in the raw water supply.

As the first step toward improving and maintaining a good quality water, all drinking water supplies should be routinely analyzed. Sample collection is a critical step in receiving an accurate water analysis--analytical results are only as good as the samples collected.

When having water tested, it is important to consider:

All these factors can affect the accuracy of analytical results and if they are representative of the water source. Once the analysis has been completed, the results and their implications need to be interpreted. Only then, based on the constituents of the water and individual water needs, can the appropriate water treatment be selected to ensure that the best quality water is being used.

Program offers quality advice

With the growing demand from rural people for access to good quality water, Sask Water initiated a water quality program in November 1997.

The Rural Water Quality Advisory Program is a province-wide service designed to help rural residents assess and improve their water quality. Through the program, a qualified technician samples the raw water supply. Samples are analyzed at a certified laboratory for an extensive number of test parameters. Once results are received, the technician follows-up to explain the results and their implications, and provide guidelines on how to improve or protect the raw water source, whether it is a ground or surface water supply.

The technician is also knowledgeable about currently available water treatment equipment, as well as innovative treatment techniques and will consult with individuals on what type of equipment would best reduce/eliminate their specific water quality problems.

The program is available from all Sask Water offices to anyone who relies on a private water system including farmers, ranchers, acreage owners, northern operators and trailer park residents.

Technicians are located in Saskatoon, Yorkton, Nipawin, Moose Jaw, Swift Current and Weyburn. For more information, please contact your nearest Sask Water Office.

To contact the author, write to Rural Water Quality Section, Sask Water #330-350 Third Avenue North, Saskatoon, SK S7K 2H6

Sask Water technicians follow rigid technical standards when shipping
water samples to the laboratory. This ensures an accurate and reliable water analysis.

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