Well Water Testing Analysis and Contamination in MA and NH – Color & Turbidity in well water

The eleventh post in our series highlighting some of the contaminants that can be found in water wells. Northeast Water Wells is available to collect samples and test your well water for contaminants anytime.

If you have a private well, regular water quality testing is very important. Northeast Water Wells recommends testing your well at least every two years. Many contaminants cannot be identified by taste or odor, making it difficult for homeowners to know if the water quality of their well has changed.

What is a color test for water?

Your water should be clear and colorless. If your drinking water has a color, it can indicate that there may be: dissolved organic material, inorganic materials such as iron or manganese.

What is the standard for color in drinking water?

The Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level set by the EPA is 15 color units. At 15 color units people will notice discolored water.

Are there any potential health effects of color?

Color itself is not a health problem. However, there may be a health concern depending on what is causing the color. Most of the time discolored water will only cause nuisance problems like staining of laundry or plumbing fixtures.

If my water is discolored, how do I treat it?

Treatment for color will depend on what is causing the discoloration. Our well technicians will be able to help determine what treatments will work best after your water has been tested.

What is turbidity?

Turbidity is a measure of water clarity. Turbid water can look cloudy or opaque and can also affect the color of the water.

Material that causes well water to become turbid includes: clay, silt, finely dissolved organic and inorganic material, microorganisms such as bacteria or viruses.

A turbidity test will measure the decrease in the passage of light through a water sample based on the amount of floating particles in the water.

What can cause turbid water?

  • A leaky or malfunctioning septic or sewer system
  • Soil erosion
  • Algae or weeds
  • High iron concentrations which can give water a rust-red coloration
  • Air bubbles or particles from a water treatment system

What are the potential health effects of turbidity?

Health effects from turbid water will depend upon the type of material in the water that is causing the turbidity. Higher turbidity levels are often associated with disease causing microorganisms such as viruses, parasites and some bacteria. These organisms can cause symptoms such as:

  • Nausea
  • Cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches

What is the standard for turbidity in drinking water?

The Maximum Contaminant Level set by the EPA is 1 nephelometric turbidity unit (NTU).

If my water is high in turbidity, how do I treat it?

Treatment of turbid water will depend upon the type of contaminant causing the turbidity. The following treatment systems can be used to treat high turbidity:

  • Microfiltration
  • Chlorination, if the turbidity is the result of microorganisms
  • Ozone Treatment
  • Distillation
  • Aeration
  • Reverse Osmosis

Northeast Water Wells offers a variety of testing packages to take care of all of your water needs. Call today to set up a time for us to collect a sample of your water. All of our testing is done through a state certified analytical lab.

If you live in Massachusetts you can view the guidelines for Well Water Testing here

If you live in New Hampshire you can view the guidelines for Well Water Testing here

Article written by Karen Provencher, Northeast Water Wells