We get asked this a LOT. Quite a few people write in ask things like, “I have city water, but it tastes funny. Should we test it?” or “The water in my town tastes different on different days. Is that a problem?”
In both cases, and so many more, we would suggest getting a test kit such as the Water Quality Test Kit made by SenSafe or the City Water Test Kit made by WaterSafe… and doing some preliminary testing of their own.
In most cases people complaining about city water will have problems caused by contaminants such as dissolved metals (i.e. lead, iron, copper, etc.), chlorine content (free and/or total), total hardness (calcium and/or manganese), and/or rotten egg smells caused by dissolved hydrogen sulfide.
If you get unusual or questionable results, definitely seek the services of a certified water testing laboratory; preferably one not affiliated with a water filter system distributor.
What about bacteria?
We also get asked quite often about the likelihood of harmful bacteria showing up in tap water. Despite the efficiency of modern water treatment facilities and the exemplary track records most have when it comes to the quality of the water they produce, one must always remember two things:
1) Accidental machinery malfunctions can occur.
2) City water travels through lots and lots of piping before it gets to your tap… meaning it passes over thousands of joints where leaks in the pipes could allow the introduction of dangerous bacteria.
If you suspect for any reason that your water supply may contain bacteria, although home drinking water test kits work well as screening methods, times like this call for the services of a certified water testing lab.
You local health department can suggest a water testing laboratory in your area or you can use a mail order laboratory such as National Testing Labs.