How Long Does It Take to Test Water for Water Quality? 

What can you do to make sure the water you drink, prepare food and use in the home is clean?

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Whether your drinking water comes from a well, a private supply or a public water system, it’s important to test for contaminants. These chemicals can pose a health risk to children, pregnant women and people with medical conditions or other disabilities. 

How long does it take to test your water?

Generally, it takes no more than an hour to test your water at home. In some cases, it can take as little as 10 minutes to get results, depending on the type of contaminant you are testing for. However, if you want more precise results, it’s best to go with the professional tests. 

If you’re concerned about your well water, call RIDOH’s Private Wells Program or URI’s Water Quality Program to find out what to do next. They will help you troubleshoot your concerns, provide information on treatment options and answer any questions you may have. 

You need to know the specific types of contaminants in your well water before you can determine what steps are needed to protect your family’s health. There are many types of chemicals, bacteria and other substances that can cause illness or disease if they get into your drinking water. 

Some of these contaminants have federal and state criteria for a concentration level that must be exceeded to cause health effects. Other substances, such as those that affect taste and odor, aren’t regulated by federal or state standards but could still be in your water. 

In addition to the EPA-set water quality criteria, local authorities and water supply systems also have their own standards. These requirements are determined by a variety of factors such as how much demand is placed on the water supply system for that contaminant, and what kinds of treatment processes are in place. 

A typical water treatment process is a reverse osmosis treatment, which removes most of the contaminants from the water before it can reach you. This ensures that you have safe, clean water for your use and prevents your family from becoming ill from the contaminants that can be in your water. 

The amount of time it takes to test your well water depends on the contaminant, the sample size and the laboratory you work with. The lab will provide a sampling bottle and instructions for how to collect a sample. 

To ensure the most accurate results, it’s very important to follow the instructions on the bottles and get them to the lab within the time specified on the labels. Some contaminants can degrade or change form in the time between the collection and delivery of the sample to the lab. 

If you notice a change in the appearance, smell or taste of your water, contact your local Department of Public Health to learn what is going on. Color changes can be caused by dissolved organic material, inadequate treatment or high disinfectant demands. Inorganic contaminants, such as metals, can also be responsible for color changes.