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How clean is that glass of water, really? Pulling and drinking water from the tap is an act that most of us do many times a day without considering the quality of the water. Sure, we become suspicious if the water is cloudy or there’s a strange smell, but analysis is needed to detect most contaminates. Bacteriological and chemical are the two types of tests that assess water quality.

Bacteria. Do you want to know if your water is safe for human consumption and free of bacteria? Tests can be conducted to determine if coliform is present in your drinking water. Coliform bacteria are found in the intestinal tracts and fecal discharges of humans and all warm-blooded animals. To determine if your water is bacteriologically safe to drink, contact the Routt County Department of Environmental Health at (970) 870-5588. There are special collection techniques that need to be followed in order to perform a valid test.

Chemical. Colorado State University’s Soil, Water & Plant Lab and other private labs can assist in conducting a chemical analysis of your water. Chemical tests identify impurities and other dissolved substances that affect water used for domestic purposes.  CSU’s routine analysis determines levels of conductivity, pH, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, carbonate, bicarbonate, chloride, sulfate, nitrate, total alkalinity, hardness, total dissolved solids and boron. Additional contaminates such as lead, arsenic and molybdenum can also be tested for. Click here for a water test form and instructions (PDF).

Learn more:

EPA – Home Water Testing

CSU Extension Fact Sheet – Domestic Water Quality Criteria

CSU Extension Fact Sheet – Drinking Water Quality and Health

CSU Extension Fact Sheet – Irrigation Water Quality Criteria

CDHE Interpreting Water Test Results – https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/interpreting-water-test-results