Since water quality is critical to biodiversity and life on Earth, it is important to understand key water indicators and their parameters. Water quality is one of the ecosystem’s most important indicators of health. Good quality water supports humans, wildlife, and marine life and is a key factor in maintaining biodiversity.
Water quality is often represented by various indicators such as temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, total dissolved solids, conductivity, turbidity, color, flavor, and odor. This article covers detailed information on water quality indicators and how to test them.
Water Quality Indicators
A water quality indicator is a physical, chemical, or biological property of water that can be used to determine the overall condition of a body of water. It is important to know whether the water we use is of high or low quality, as poor water quality can have adverse effects. Understanding, evaluating, and monitoring key indicators of water quality and their key parameters are critical to maintaining standards.
The 8 Main Indicators of Water Quality and Their Testing
Scientists can measure various water quality indicators to improve the quality of tap water and drinking water. Some of the most common are given below.
Temperature is a measure of how hot or cold water is. Temperature can affect the growth and development of aquatic plants and animals and the rate of chemical reactions in water. Water temperature is one of the most important factors affecting water systems. Temperature can affect dissolved oxygen levels, chemical and biological processes, species composition, water density and stratification, and life stages of various marine organisms.
You can test your home water temperature at home by using thermometers. Here is the method of testing water temperature.
- Measure the water temperature by submerging the thermometer two-thirds of the way through the surface.
- Measure at the center flow location.
- Allow the thermometer to adjust to the water temperature for at least 1 minute before quickly removing the thermometer from the water.
Check the thermometer temperature after removing it from the water.
pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity of water. A lower pH indicates more acidic water, and a higher pH indicates more alkaline water. Most natural water environments have a pH between 6.0 and 8.5. pH levels below 4.5 and above 9.5 are lethal to aquatic organisms, and less extreme pH levels can affect reproduction and other critical biological processes.
A simple way to check the pH of the water is using pH test strips. These strips can be purchased at any hardware shop or online store. To use them, simply dip the strips into a water sample and compare the color of the strips to the attached chart. This will give you a general idea of the pH of your water.
3. Dissolved Oxygen
The amount of oxygen dissolved in water is an important indicator of water quality as it can affect the respiratory capacity of aquatic organisms. Dissolved oxygen levels can be affected by several factors, including temperature and the presence of contaminants.
Another common test of water quality is the dissolved oxygen check. Dissolved oxygen test kits are available at most hardware or hardware stores. To use them, you’ll need to take a sample of the water and follow the kit’s instructions. This test will give you a general idea of how much oxygen is dissolved in the water.
Turbidity is a measure of suspended particles in water. High turbidity can indicate the presence of contamination and the potential for harmful algal blooms. High turbidity values can make water appear cloudy.
Turbidity is commonly measured in Nephelometric Turbidity Units (NTU). Nephelometric methods compare how light is scattered in a water sample to the amount of light scattered in a reference solution. Handheld electronic meters are often used to measure turbidity.
Conductivity is defined as the measure of water’s ability to conduct electricity. It is often used as an indicator of the presence of minerals in the water. Results are usually measured using TDS or total dissolved solids.
TDS tests are usually carried out to check conductivity. TDS or Total Dissolved Solids measures all small particles suspended in water. To test for TDS, you must purchase a TDS meter or send a water sample to a lab for analysis. This will give you a general idea of the overall quality of your water.
Color is an important water quality indicator that measures water’s blueness or lack thereof. This can be an indicator of the presence of algae and other contaminants.
Notice the color of the water. If the water is very murky, algal blooms may be the culprit. If the water is green, it may be due to copper in the water. If the water is red, it may have iron in it. If the water is black, it may be due to manganese in the water.
The flavor is the measure of the taste of water. It is often used as a general indicator of water quality, as certain contaminants can give water an unpleasant taste.
Compare the taste of mineral water or spring water and water. If the water tastes different, it may be due to chemicals or contaminants in the water.
The measure of the odor of water is another important water quality indicator. It is often used as a general indicator of water quality, as certain contaminants can give water an unpleasant odor.
Check the smell of water. If the water smells different, it may be due to chemicals or contaminants in the water. Chlorine is commonly found in city tap water and smells like a swimming pool. Some sources of pollution, such as sewage and agricultural runoff, can also emit strong odors.
These are just a few of the most common water quality indicators. Using specialized test equipment, scientists can measure hundreds of other solutes, chemical properties, and biological properties.
After learning about water quality indicators, it is important to improve water quality. One of the easiest ways to do this is to install a water filter in your home. Not only does this enhance the taste and smell of tap water, but it also reduces exposure to harmful contaminants.