Water Quality

How can you tell if your drinking supply is as good as it should be?

Multiple times a day you may take a glass or water bottle and fill it with water from your sink or refrigerator. Have you ever thought about the water you drink? Is it safe for you and your family? For well water drinkers, many of you periodically test your water source to ensure its safety. Others on public water supply may question the quality of their water as well. Robyn Joiner, laboratory director with Joiner Micro Labs, Inc., provided answers to some of these questions, and more information.

Joiner mentioned homeowners with access to a public water supply have their “water monitored by the utility under the auspices of the Virginia Department of Health.” She said, “You can feel confident public water is safe for drinking. There may be water quality issues that you don’t like about public water, for instance, chlorine, but that is easily removed by a carbon filter such as a Brita type pitcher.”

Owners who use well water, unlike individuals on public utilities, need to regularly monitor quality for health reasons. Joiner said, “At a minimum it is recommended to test for coliform bacteria and nitrates annually. A well that meets the criteria ‘absent of coliform bacteria’ is deemed safe for drinking. Test for lead, especially if your home was constructed before 1985.”  She also added, “If you have taste, odor, or color concerns you will want to check for common water quality parameters like hardness, iron, manganese, and sulfate.

Joiner noted, “The homeowner has the sole responsibility to assure their well water is safe for their family. The test for total coliform bacteria is the first place to start.” She also shared that conducting this simple test will “determine if the well is getting undesirable water, such as run-off water, into the well structure, and provides an umbrella of confidence that contaminants are not present.”

For those unfamiliar with the well drilling process, Joiner provided: “A drilled well is a closed structure that should only provide deep groundwater to the home, and not allow surface water to enter.”

“Another quality testing option to consider includes a complete comprehensive test that includes detection of all EPA regulated contaminants such as heavy metals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and pesticides. Homeowners should consider this type of testing if it has never been done. And remember to always use an accredited laboratory for your water testing,” shared Joiner. The National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (NELAP) provides certification to laboratories who follow strict guidelines and procedures at a local, state, and federal level.

Joiner Micro Labs encourages homeowners to utilize a quality water bottle and drink tap water with confidence instead of purchasing bottled water at a retail store. “Think of all the excessive plastic waste that could be reduced if we all would drink our own tap water,” Joiner said.

For those who wish to test their water, the process is simple. “Homeowners need to contact the lab for guidance and to acquire appropriate containers for sampling,” Joiner explained.
“Upon completion of the test the lab provides a confidential report of the analysis to the homeowner via email or mail. The bacteriological test takes one or two days, and the chemical tests have a 10 day turnaround time.”

To correctly monitor the status of your drinking water, contact an accredited water testing entity such as Joiner Micro Labs. Water is a necessity, so knowing if your water is safe for consumption is something all well water users should monitor annually.


Joiner Micro Labs, Inc. (joinermicrolab.com) is located at 77 West Lee Street, Suite 202 in Warrenton. For more information you may call 540-347-7212, or email info@joinermicrolab.com. Joiner Micro Labs is a Virginia NELAP Accredited Laboratory.

Debbie Eisele
About Debbie Eisele 62 Articles
Debbie Eisele is a freelance writer and the Community Outreach Coordinator for Hero’s Bridge, a nonprofit serving older veterans. She lives in Warrenton with her husband and twin daughters.

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