What Are Water Quality Standards?

Water quality standards are determined by the EPA. The agency regulates water quality standards. The standards outline the recommended condition of the water in accessible bodies of water. Before quality standards for water are recommended, they must be officially approved by the EPA.

Why is it important?

Water quality is very important in protecting public health. The water present in water bodies are the habitats that support fishing and agricultural activities that affect the food supply. Recreational activities as well as tourist activities are largely centered around accessible water bodies.

How can it be tested?

There are several methods used to test the water supply. Test strips are one of the most common methods used to gauge water quality. These strips turn a certain color if certain contaminants are detected. A color-coded chart helps you match the results to the corresponding color to make a determination about the contaminants found. Color disk kits are also used to test for chemicals in the water. In this process, a water sample is collected, and a powder substance is added. The powder substance turns a certain color, and that color is matched to a disk. Once it is matched to a color in the disk, the contaminants detected can be found. Digital instruments are also used to measure water quality. This testing method is considered to be one of the most accurate forms of testing available. These methods produce a color in reaction to the substances found in the water.

Classifications of contaminants

The EPA carefully monitors the contaminants in the public water supply. There are certain types of contaminants that are tracked. These categories are: physical, chemical, biological, and radiological. Different contaminants have different properties.

• Physical contaminants: Presence of organic material
• Chemical contaminants: Man-made substances present
• Biological contaminants: Bacteria, protozoans, viruses, and parasites present
• Radiological contaminants: Unstable atoms capable of producing radioactivity

What contributes to the water supply

The concentration of contaminants depends on different practices. Land management practices contribute to the presence of pesticides in the water supply. Watershed characteristics such as what all is present in the soil as it is introduced to the water supply. Chemical properties result from man-made substances and activities, which contribute to the negatively impact the quality of the water supply.

Water quality standards impact every aspect of the average person’s life. A person’s recreational activities as well as their food supply can be impacted by water quality. The EPA routinely tests the presence of chemicals and monitors fluctuations in the water supply to protect public health.