How Does Industry Measure Water Quality?

One of the least understood aspects of water is the measurement of quality. In it’s pure form, water has no contaminants in it. You might be surprised to find out that pure water is not natural. It doesn’t exist anywhere in nature; it can only be produced by machines; and because it refuses to remain pure for even a nanosecond, it is very complicated and expensive to keep pure water, pure.

People blessed with great drinking water, or who are fortunate enough to afford expensive bottled water often boast that they are drinking pure water. News flash; if you are drinking commercially available water, you are not drinking pure water.

To confound this topic, different industries and applications have different water needs and a contaminant that is bad for one application, may be totally within the guidelines of acceptable and “pure” for another application or use.

Water contaminants are of 4 basic varieties. Organic, and Inorganic. They may be dissolved or undissolved. The typical municipal water analysis does not address every known water contaminant, and providing such an analysis would be extremely costly and time consuming.

Another peculiarity of measuring water quality is that any analysis one performs, very well may not be representative of the long-term condition of the water. Remember, water is hungry to absorb and dissolve any contaminants it comes into contact with. So for instance, a good analysis on Monday may only be representative of the local air pollution level being unexpectedly low when the sample was taken. Another test, hours later may look totally different.

There are a few takeaways here.

  • Your municipality is likely your best source for accurate and dependable water quality analysis
  • If you treat your own water it is mandatory that you develop a reliable method of measuring quality
  • Water quality constantly changes, What is acceptable today, may not be tomorrow. The reverse also holds true
  • As the environment becomes more contaminated, water education becomes invaluable


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Tommy V
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