Water Testing

Water in Cape Town is a contentious subject. Many Capetonians have been saving and storing water religiously only to hear that day zero will not come to pass. Robert Boucher, Jnr. (Adam Sandler’s Character in the Water Boy) would be poised at the top of Newlands Spring hailing to the cries of “Water Boy!” as we desperately call out from around Cape Town for our water respite! Alas, we do not have the luxury of calling for a water boy in our present Cape Climate. However, those of you who are thinking of Boreholes and Well points are on a much more successful trajectory – provided you follow the City of Cape Town’s parameters and subsequent rules regarding installation and the usage of your newly acquired water. Maybe, you might tap into that special aquifer and hit “quality h20.”

For those of you who are hoping to use this water for your garden as well as your home- you need to get the water tested. Similarly, you should test the water often. The water table rises and falls over various soil profiles, not to mention that many underground pipes filled with storm water as well as sewage run through or above the water table. Should one of these pipes burst your water quality may be adversely affected.

How should I test my water?

Firstly, a simple Litmus test or Water test can explain a lot at face value. Your water’s pH should be between 6 and 8.5. In some cases a little lower than 6 is adequate for your garden- not necessarily for you. The lower the pH the more acidic, which also could indicate higher levels of Iron within the water. The higher pH the more alkaline, which could also indicate the presence of salt in the water.  Sea water’s alkalinity is at 8.5. Whereas Milk is between 6.3 and 6.5. Vinegar is at 3. Varying pH causes water to be soft or hard. This determines its taste as well as its reaction to elements around it.

An awesome little invention is WaterSafe Test Kits® which can be bought directly from their website. These little kits highlight the presence of negative and positive elements within your water and focus on 10 aspects which affect your water. The Do-It-Yourself Kit is easy to use and you receive results instantly.

A solution tried and tested in the agriculture sector (I have not tried it before) is Organic Water Solutions (OWS). This product is said to reduce algae and sludge levels within large bodies of water to ensure cleaner and purer water.

Sending your water to a treatment plant is an ideal solution. Not only will you get a scientifically produced reading of your water you will also get direct information on various levels of: LEAD Nitrates and Nitrites, bacteria (E.coli), pesticides, Chlorine, Hardness/Softness, Copper and Iron.  The only negative is having to wait a few weeks for the results and often a little research may be needed to work out the quality of your water. Water can be tested at CSIR, Bemlab or at one of the local universities.

What makes up Quality H2O?

The ideal H2O, at surface level, according to the World Health Organisation would consist of the following quantities of elements:

Calcium (mg/L) 250; Iron (mg/L) 0.3; Zinc (mg/L) 3.0; Copper (mg/L) 1.0; Selenium (µg/L) 10; Fluoride (mg/L) 1.5;  Magnesium (mg/L) NA; Sodium (mg/L) 200; Sulphate (mg/L) 250; Chloride (mg/L) 250; Manganese (µg/L) 100- 500 ; Molybdenum (µg/L) 70; Iodine NA and Potassium NA.

[Italicised items are not essential elements and in many cases their readings will be low/non-existent]

So next time you sip down that deliciously cold glass of water pumped from your own garden well- you can exclaim: “Now that’s quality H20!”