A Penn State drinking water testing kit (photo J. Clark)
Nearly three million rural residents in Pennsylvania rely on a private well, spring or cistern for their drinking water. The management of these water supplies, including proper water quality testing, is the voluntary responsibility of each homeowner.
Each year, thousands of water well and spring owners get their drinking water tested through Penn State or other state accredited water testing labs. These reports include critical information to help homeowners determine the safety of their drinking water and what, if any, types of water treatment may be necessary. Unfortunately, the information contained on drinking water test reports can be very difficult to understand and interpret. A 2010 study by Penn State Extension found that about three-fourths of customers from various water testing labs found their test reports were somewhat or very difficult to understand.
Penn State Extension recently completed a short video that explains the components of a water test report including how to interpret the results for drinking water. The video specifically describes water test reports from the Penn State Agricultural Analytical Services Laboratory but the same components can be found on most other water test reports. It includes a discussion of common water quality parameters, measurement units, drinking water standards, methods, and detection levels.
This new eight-minute Water Testing video can be viewed online.