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CHARACTERISTICS OF WATER

The raw treated water can be checked and analysed by studying and testing their physical, chemical
and microscopical characteristics as explained below:
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF WATER
(1) Turbidity
The turbidity is measured by a turbidity rod or by a turbiditymeter with optical observations and is
expressed as the amount of suspended matter in mg/l or parts per million (ppm).
For water, ppm and mg/l are approximately equal.
The standard unit is that which is produced by one milligram of finely divided silica (fullers earth) in
one litre of distilled water.
Turbiditymeters:
1.
Turbidity Rod: The turbidity can be easily measured in the field with the help of a turbidity
rod. It consists of an aluminium rod which is graduated as to give turbidity directly in silica units
(mg/l)
2.
Turbidimeter: The turbidity can be easily measured in the laboratory with the help of a
instruments called turbiditymeter. In general, a turbiditymeter works on the principle of measuring
the interference caused by the water sample to the passage of light rays.
3.
Jacksons candle Turbidimeter: The height of water column will therefore be more for less
turbid water and vice versa. Longer the light path lower the turbidity. Such a turbidimeter can not
measure turbidities lower than 25 JTU. It can be used for natural sources only and can not be used
to measure the turbidities of treated water supplies, for which Bayliss turbiditymeter ormodern
nephelometers are used.
4.
Bayliss turbidimeters: one of the two glass tubes is filled with water sample (whose
turbidity I to be measured) and the other is filled with standard water solution of known turbidity.
The electric bulb is lighted and the blue colour in both the tubes is observed from the top of the
instrument.
5.
Modern Nephelometer: for low turbidity less than 1 unit.
NTU Nephelometric Turbidity Units
FTU Formazin Turbidity Units
1.

Ratio turbidimeter: River water has maximum amount of turbidity.

(2) Colour
The presence of colour in water is not objectionable from health point of view, but may spoil the colour
of the clothes being washed. The standard unit of colour is that which is produced by one milligram of
platinum cobalt dissolved in one litre of distilled water.
For public supplies, the colour number on cobalt scale should not exceed 20 and should be preferably
less than 10.

Colour determined by an instrument is known as tintometer.


(3) Taste and Odour
The extent of taste or odour present in a particular sample of water is measured by a term
called odour intensity, which is related with the threshold odour orthreshold odour
number. Water to be tested is therefore gradually diluted with odour free water, and the mixture at
which the detection of odour by human observation is just lost, is determined. The number of times
the sample is diluted represents the threshold odour number.
For public supplies, the water should generally free from odour, i.e. the threshold number should be 1
and should never exceed 3.
(4) Temperature
For potable water, temperature of about about

C is desirable. It should not be more than

C.

(5) Specific Conductivity


The total amount of dissolved salts present in water can be easily estimated by measuring the specific
conductivity of water.
CHEMICAL CHARACTERISTICS
(1) Total Solids and Suspended Solids
Total solids (suspended solids + dissolved solids) can be obtained by evaporating a sample of water
and weighing the dry residue left and weighing the residue left on the filter paper.
The suspended solid can be found by filtering the water sample. Total permissible amount of solids in
water is generally limited to 500ppm.
(2) pH value of Water

If
If

concentration increases, pH decreases and then it will be acidic.


concentration decreases, pH increases and then it will be alkaline.

pH + pOH = 14
if the pH of water is more than 7, it will be alkaline and if it is less than 7, it will be acidic.
The alkalinity is caused by the presence of bicarbonate of calcium and magnesium or by the
carbonates of hydroxides of sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium.

Some, but not all of the compounds that cause alkalinity also cause hardness.
pH Measurement:
the pH value of water can be measured quickly and automatically with the help of a Potentiometer.
The pH can also be measured by indicators as given below:

Indicator
Methyl orange
Methyl red
Phenol red
Phenolphthalein

pH range of indicator
dye
2.8 4.4
4.4 6.2
6.8 8.4
8.6 10.3

Original colour
Red
Red
Yellow
Yellow

Final colour
produced
Yellow
Yellow
Red
Red

Permissible pH value for public supplies may range between 6.6 to 8.4.
The lower value of pH may cause incrustation, sediment deposits, difficulty in chlorination.
(3) Hardness of Water
Hard waters are undesirable because they may lead to greater soap consumption, scaling of boilers,
causing corrosion and incrustation of pipes, making food tasteless etc.
Temporary Hardness: If bicarbonates and carbonates of calcium and magnesium are present in
water, the water is render hard temporarily as this hardness can be removed to some extent by simple
boiling or to full extent by adding lime to water. Such a hardness is known as temporary hardness or
carbonate hardness.
Permanent Hardness: If sulphates, chlorides and nitrates of calcium or magnesium are present in
water, they can not be removed at al by simple boiling and therefore, such water require special
treatment for softening. Such a hardness is known as permanent hardness or non-carbonate
hardness.
It is caused by sulphates, chlorides, nitrates of Ca and Mg.
Carbonate hardness = Total hardness or Alkalinity (which ever is less)
Non-carbonate hardness = Total hardness Alkalinity

Carbonate hardness is equal to the total hardness or alkalinity which ever is less
Non-carbonate hardness is the total hardness in excess of the alkalinity. If the alkalinity is
equal to or greater than the total hardness, there is no non-carbonate hardness.

One French degree of hardness is equal to 10mg/l of CaCO3.

One British degree of hardness is equal to a hardness of 14.25mg/l.

Water with hardness upto 75ppm are considered soft and above 200ppm are considered hard
and in between is considered as moderately hard.

Underground waters are generally harder than surface waters.

The prescribed hardness limit for public supplies range between 75 to 115ppm.

(4) Chloride Content


The chloride content of treated water to be supplied to the public should not exceed a value of about
250ppm.
The chloride content of water can be measured by titrating the water with standard silver nitrate
solution using potassium chromate as indicator.
(5) Nitrogen Content
The presence of nitrogen in water may occur in one or more of the following reasons:
1.
2.
3.
4.

Free ammonia: It indicates very first stage of decomposition of organic matter. It should not
exceed 0.15mg/l
Albuminous or Organic Matter: It indicates the quantity of nitrogen present in water brfore
the decomposition of organic molten has started. It should not exceed 0.3mg/l
Nitrites: Not fully oxidized organic matter in water.
Nitrates: It indicates fully oxidized organic matter in water (representing old pollution).
Nitrites is highly dangerous and therefore the permissible amount of nitrites in water should be
nil.
Ammonia nitrogen + organic nitrogen = kjedhal nitrogen
Nitrates in water is not harmful. However the presence of too much of nitrates in water may
adversely affect the health of infants causing a disease calledmathemoglobinema commonly
called blue baby disease.
The nitrate concentration in domestic water supplies is limited to 45mg/l.

(6) Metal and other chemical substances in water:


Iron 0.3ppm, excess of these cause discolouration of clothes.
Mangnese 0.05ppm
Copper 1.3ppm
Sulphate 250 ppm
Fluoride 1.5 ppm, excess of this effects human lungs and other respiratory organs.
Fluoride concentration of less than 0.8 1.0 ppm cause dental cavity (tooth decay). If fluoride
concentration is greater than 1.5ppm, causing spotting and discolouration of teeth (a disease called
fluorosis).
(7) Dissolved gases
Oxygen gas is generally absorbed by water from the atmosphere but it being consumed by unstable
organic matter for their oxidation. Hence, if the oxygen present in water is found o be less than its

saturation level, it indicates presence of organic matter and consequently making the waters
suspicious.
Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD): The extent of organic matter present in water sample can be
estimated by supplying oxygen to this sample and finding the oxygen consumed by the organic matter
present in water. This oxygen demand is known as Biological oxygen demand (BOD).
It is not practically possible to determine ultimate oxygen demand. Hence, BOD of water during the
first five days at

C is generally taken as the standard demand.


= Loss of oxygen in mg/l x dilution factor.

The BOD of safe drinking water must b nil.


BACTERIAL AND MICROSCOPIC CHARACTERISTICS
Five types of parasitic organisms (i.e. bacteria, protozoa, viruses, worms and fungi) are generally
known to be infective to main and are found in water.
(1) Bacteria
These are the minute single cell organisms possessing no defined nucleus and having no green
material to help them manufacture their own food. They are reproduced by binary fusion and may of
various shapes and sizes are 1 to 4 microns, examined by microscope.
a) Non-disease causing bacteria Non pathogenic bacteria.
b) Disease causing bacteria Pathogenic bacteria.
(2) Protozoa
These are single cell animals and are the lowest and the simplest form of animal life. They are bacteria
eaters and thus destroy Pathogens. They are counted by microscope.
(3) Viruses
(4) Worms
These are the larva of flies.
(5) Fungi
These are those plants which grow without sunlight and live on other plants or animals, dead or alive.
Classification of bacteria based on oxygen requirement:
1.
Aerobic bacteria: Those which require oxygen for their survival.
2.
Anaerobic bacteria: Those which flourish in the absence of free oxygen.
3.
Facultative bacteria: Those which can survive with or without free oxygen.
Pathogenic bacteria

These can be tested and counted in the laboratories but with great difficulty. These tests are therefore,
generally not performed in routine to checkup of the water quality. The usual routine tests are
generally conducted to detect and count the presence of coliforms which in themselves harmless
organisms, but their presence or absence indicates the presence or absence of pathogenic bacteria.
Methods to measure the presence of coliform bacteria:
1.
Membrane filter technique (modern technique)
2.

Mixing different dilution of a sample of water with lactose froth and incubating them in testtubes for 48 hours at
C. the presence of acid or carbon dioxide gas in tubes will indicate the
presence of coliform bacteria.

Most probable number (MPN) represent the bacterial density.


1.

Coliform index

It may be defined as the reciprocal of the smallest quantity of a sample which would give a positive
portion. Coliform sometimes called bacteria coli (B-coli) or Escherichia (E-coli) are harmless aerobic
micro-organisms.
If not more than 1 coliform is present per 100ml of water, then water is said to be safe for drinking.

PREAMBLE

The Quality of drinking water in Chennai is maintained and monitored by Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board
through the Quality Assurance Wing. The Quality of water is monitored through sampling, testing and reporting through the team of
trained personnel in the laboratory and field. This division is headed by Executive Engineer and consists of Engineers and Analysts.
The Engineers of this wing provides the necessary Engineering service for effective functioning of the wing and does investigation,
preventive actions, sanitary survey and providing necessary assistance to the field staff in water quality surveillance.
The Analysts does the work of collecting water samples, analysis and report to the Engineers concerned in regard to the quality of
water supplied to the public confirming to water quality standards.
MONITORING WATER QUALITY
The scientific personnel in the Analytical section have a periodical sampling programme as per the W.H.O. norms, for monitoring
water quality at the sources, treatment plants, Water distribution stations and in the distribution net work.
Water samples are being collected, treated once in a month from the three lakes, which is major source of water supply to the
Chennai City daily . The treated water from the water treatment plants are collected from the test tap and samples were examined
for conformity to physical, chemical and Bacteriological standards, besides monitoring the treatment process at various units.

About 500 samples are collected from the City distribution system every monthn for physical, chemical and Bacteriological analysis,
besides checking of minimum level of Residual chlorine in 100 sample daily in the distribution net work to ensure the water is safe
for drinking.
Apart from the sampling carried out by Quality Assurance wing , 161 depot. Engineers monitor the minimum level of Residual
chlorine available in the water distribution net work.
The water supplied to the public is assured as per norms laid down in BIS: 10500 -1991,the Indian Standard. The Physical,
Chemical and Bacteriological quality of water should not exceed the limits shown in the table below:
INDIAN STANDARD DRINKING WATER - SPECIFICATION ( BIS 10500 : 1991 )

SL
.
NO
.

REQUIREMENT
(DESIRABLE LIMIT)

SUBSTANCE OR CHARACTERISTIC

PERMISSIBLE LIMIT IN
THE ABSENCE OF
ALTERNATE SOURCE

Essential characteristics
1.

Colour, ( Hazen units, Max )

25

2.

Odour

Unobjectonable

Unobjectionable

3.

Taste

Agreeable

Agreeable

4.

Turbidity ( NTU, Max)

10

5.

pH Value

6.5 to 8.5

No Relaxsation

6.

Total Hardness (as CaCo3) mg/lit.,Max

300

600

7.

Iron (as Fe) mg/lit,Max

0.3

1.0

8.

Chlorides (as Cl) mg/lit,Max.

250

1000

9.

Residual,free chlorine,mg/lit,Min

0.2

--

Desirable Characteristics
10.

Dissolved solids mg/lit,Max

500

2000

11.

Calcium (as Ca) mg/lit,Max

75

200

12.

Copper (as Cu) mg/lit,Max

0.05

1.5

13

Manganese (as Mn)mg/lit,Max

0.10

0.3

14

Sulfate (as SO4) mg/lit,Max

200

400

15

Nitrate (as NO3) mg/lit,Max

45

100

16

Fluoride (as F) mg/lit,Max

1.9

1.5

17

Phenolic Compounds (as C6 H5OH)mg/lit, Max.

0.001

0.002

18

Mercury (as Hg)mg/lit,Max

0.001

No relaxation

19

Cadmiun (as Cd)mg/lit,Max

0.01

No relaxation

20

Selenium (as Se)mg/lit,Max

0.01

No relaxation

21

Arsenic (as As) mg/lit,Max

0.05

No relaxation

22

Cyanide (as CN) mg/lit,Max

0.05

No relaxation

23

Lead (as Pb) mg/lit,Max

0.05

No relaxation

24

Zinc (as Zn) mg/lit,Max

15

25

Anionic detergents (as MBAS) mg/lit,Max

0.2

1.0

26

Chromium (as Cr6+)mg/lit,Max

0.05

No relaxation

27

Polynuclear aromatic hydro carbons (as PAH)


g/lit,Max

--

--

28

Mineral Oil mg/lit,Max

0.01

0.03

29

Pesticides mg/l, Max

Absent

0.001

30

Radioactive Materials
i. Alpha emitters Bq/l,Max

--

0.1

ii. Beta emitters pci/l,Max

--

1.0

31

Alkalinity mg/lit.Max

200

600

32

Aluminium (as Al) mg/l,Max

0.03

0.2

33

Boron mg/lit,Max

BACTERIOLOGICAL STANDARDS
I. Water entering the Distribution system Coliform count in any sample of 100 ml should be Zero. A sample of the water entering
the distribution system that does not conform to this standard calls for an immediate investigation in to both the efficacy of the
purification process and the method of sampling.
II. Water in the distribution system
1.

E.coli count in 100ml of any sample should be zero.

2.

Coliform organisms not more than 10 per 100 ml in any sample.

3.

Coliform organisms should not be present in 100 ml of any two consecutive samples or more than 5% of the samples
collected for the year.

PRIVATE SAMPLES
Besides monitoring the Quality of water supplied by Metro Water, the C.M.W.S.S.B. facilitates the public to assess the water quality
of their own sources(Well / Bore Well water) by testing for Physical and Chemical examination on nominal charges as follows:

Public (Individual houses-Drinking)

Rs.75/-

Per Sample

Private Institute(Drinking)

Rs.200/-

Per Sample

Private Institute(Construction)

Rs.200/-

Per Sample

The following parameters are tested for Physical and Chemical Examination: Colour and Transparency, Odour, Turbidity (N.T.U.),
Dissolved Solids mg/l, Calcium mg/l (as Ca), Magnesium mg/l (as Mg), Total Hardness mg/l (as CaCO 3), Chlorides mg/l (as Cl),
Ammoniacal Nitrogen mg/l ( as N), Albuminoid Nitrogen mg/l (as N), Nitrous Nitrogen mg/l (as N), Nitric Nitrogen mg/l ( as N),
Oxygen absorbed mg/l, (Tidy's 4 hrs test), Hydrogen ion concentration (pH), Alkalinity to Phenolphthalein mg/l (as CaCO3 ),
Alkalinity to Methyl orange mg/l (as CaCO 3 ), Sulphates mg/l (as SO4 ), Phosphates mg/l (as PO 4), Iron mg/l (as Fe), Fluorides
mg/l (as F) and Specific Conductance (micro siemens/cm) at 25 o C.
In case of water quality for Construction purpose the following parameters are tested for its suitability
1.

To neutralise 200 ml of sample of water , using Phenolphthalein as an indicator, it should not require more than 2.0 ml of
0.1 (N/10) Normal sodium hydroxide.

2.

To neutralise 200 ml of sample of water, using methyl orange as an indicator, it should not require more than 10 ml of 0.1
(N/10) Normal Hydro chloric acid.

3.

Suspended
matter,
Sulphate
(as
SO4),
Chlorides
Quantity of samples required for testing are as follows :

Drinking Purpose

2 litres.

Construction Purpose :

5 litres.

as

Cl,

Inorganic

solids,

Organic

solids

The Containers used for collecting water samples should be free from any contamination. It is advised to use new plastic container
of required capacity as mentioned above.
Procedure for remittance of Testing Charges :
On request, Junior Administrative officer, Q.A.Wing issues a challan for making payment at Canara Bank (Kellys Branch) located at
Purasawalkam (Near Madharsha) and remitted challan is returned to Q.A.Wing for testing.
The Analytical Report shall be collected from the laboratory after15 days. from the date of receipt of samples.

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LOCATION OF THE LABORATORY :
WATER
C.M.W.S.S.Board,
(Near
Kilpauk
Phone Number : 2644 9851.

New
Water

ANALYSIS
Avadi
Works)

Chennai

Road,
-

LABORATORY
Kilpauk,
600
010.