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In rural Canada, most people rely on

private water supplies such as wells,


dugouts and ponds. Quality water is vital
to the social, health and economic well
being of the prairies and its people.

Monitoring your water quality by having it


tested regularly is an important part of
maintaining a safe and reliable source.

Testing the water allows a knowledgeable


approach to address the specific problems
of a water supply. This helps ensure that
the water source is being properly
protected from potential contamination,
and that an appropriate treatment system is
selected and is operating properly.

It is important to test the suitability of your


water quality for its intended purpose,
whether it is livestock watering, irrigation,
spraying, or drinking water. This will
assist you in making informed decisions
about your water and how you use it. The
purpose of this section of RWQIT is to
provide water quality testing information
that will assist rural residents using a
private water supply. It provides
information on the importance of water
quality monitoring and how you can get it
tested.

Why test my water?


 Regular testing is necessary to determine specific water quality problems.
 To help ensure you are using water suitable for your intended agricultural use.
 To help ensure that your drinking water is safe.
 To help determine the effectiveness of your water treatment system.
The quality of a water source may change over time, sometimes suddenly. Many changes
can go unnoticed as the water may look, smell and taste the same as it always did.

Monitoring your water quality is necessary to ensure your treatment system is working
effectively, providing the best quality water for your intended use.

Are there problems with my water quality?

The water you are using may or may not have problems with it. Many people are aware of
some of their water quality problems. For example, some people may be plagued with high
concentrations of iron, which causes aesthetically unpleasing colouring and staining.
Unfortunately, not all water quality problems can be easily detected without proper testing.
The water may look good but may actually be unsuitable for the specific application you
are using it for.

Proper sampling, testing and interpretation of the results are required to determine the
suitability of your water supply and identify any problems it may have.

water quality is measured by several factors, such as the concentration of dissolved oxygen,
bacteria levels, the amount of salt (or salinity), or the amount of material suspended in the
water (turbidity). In some bodies of water, the concentration of microscopic algae and
quantities of pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, and other contaminants may also be
measured to determine water quality.

Although scientific measurements are used to define water quality, it is not a simple thing to
say “that water is good” or “that water is bad.” So, the determination is typically made
relative to the purpose of the water – is it for drinking or to wash a car with or for some other
purpose?

Poor water quality can pose a health risk for people. Poor water quality can also pose a health
risk for ecosystems.

In the Florida Keys, good water quality is essential to a healthy marine ecosystem. Seagrass
and coral reef communities thrive in clean water that is relatively low in nutrients. Too many
nutrients in the water can cause excess growth of algae, which can smother corals and
seagrass. Pollutants such as metals, oils, pesticides, and fertilizers run off from land into the
waters, causing excess algae growth and other harmful impacts.

Within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, recommendations for actions to restore and
maintain water quality conditions needed to sustain healthy plant and animal populations are
generated through the Water Quality Protection Program.

There are things you can do to prevent degradation to sanctuary waters, such as supporting
and participating in advanced wastewater treatment programs that remove unwanted nutrients
and harmful bacteria, using “pump-out” stations for your vessel’s sanitation device, using as
many “green” products as possible at home, and reducing or eliminating the use of fertilizers,
herbicides, and pesticides.