Environmental Analysis - Water Sampling - Data Management
Telephone: (02) 6623 3888

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FAQs

1. Why should I test my water?

The answer always depends on what you want to use the water for, but generally speaking most people are concerned about the health and wellbeing of their family as well as animals and plants. Compliance issues may also come into play.

If you are on town water, your Council will safeguard your water, but if you have your own water supply, water health and safety is your responsibility. Please refer to our page Good reasons to get your water tested.

2. What should I test the water for?

If faecal contamination is suspected, an E.coli test is an ideal indicator. Chemical testing for rainwater tanks should only be required in exceptional circumstances, or if there are specific concerns, as analysis costs make wide ranging screening tests prohibitive.

Most tank and bore owners order our common testing suites for tank and bore water. Or you can order one or several specific tests.

3. How do I get rid of water contamination?

Remediation depends on the type of contamination. For example, if E.coli is present, water can be disinfected by chlorination, boiling, or irradiation by UV light.

Our laboratory analysts are happy to discuss your water test results with you and provide remediation advice if needed.

4. What levels are considered safe to drink?

The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines has been formulated in order to provide advice on the acceptable limits for drinking water. For more details, please refer to this fact sheet published by the NSW Department of Health.

5. Can we drink our bore water?

Most often, it is the saltiness of your groundwater that is most offensive and will prevent you drinking it.

Consider testing your groundwater for pesticides, organic chemicals, and heavy metals before you use it for the first time. And be aware of activities in your area that may affect the water quality, especially if you live in an unsewered area.

The quality of a bore is liable to change over time, so it is advisable to test bore water periodically if it is to be used for drinking. RWL have designed testing suites to make bore testing easier and more affordable.

6. Is my rainwater safe to drink?

If the roof, gutters and tanks are well maintained, rainwater is generally of a good quality. However, a number of factors can lead to rainwater quality being compromised.

Overhanging branches can lead to faecal contamination by birds, bats or small mammals.

Roofs near main roads or industrial or agricultural areas can be contaminated by airborne pollutants (e.g. lead and particles from exhaust emissions and chimneys, chemicals from agricultural sprays), which may render your water unfit for consumption.

As rainwater has a low buffering capacity, it can sometimes lead to elevated readings of metals dissolved from piping.

More information about rainwater tanks can be found in the NSW Department of Health rainwater tank brochure.

7. We are new tenants of a rural rental property. What do we need to know about using rainwater as our domestic supply?

As tenants, you are now responsible for ensuring the water is fit for purpose.

Untreated raw water can contain contaminants that may be harmful to your health. The water may look cloudy or coloured and may contain metals or faeces that can make you sick.

Make a plan to inspect your tank, roofing and guttering often. Refer to the NSW Department of Health rainwater tank brochure.

8. Is my water corrosive or likely to become corrosive?

By testing your water quality and evaluating the data, we can determine the water’s potential to be corrosive or precipitate scale. Ignoring the signs of corrosive water could result in aesthetic problems, increased levels of toxic metals, deterioration of household plumbing and a significant damage bill.

If you’re about to buy a home and are worried about corrosive water, consider having the water analysed before you make the purchase. This may prevent the expense and frustration of having to repair plumbing and water damage in future.

9. What services does RWL offer?

Richmond Water Laboratories tests a variety of physical, microbiological and chemical constituents in water. For a full list of tests refer to our laboratory pages on the official NATA website (accreditation no. 14914): Chemical lab tests and Biological lab tests and click on ‘View detailed scope’.

10. I’ve noticed blue water in the bathroom. What is causing this?

Please refer to our page Identifying Water Contamination Problems.

11. I have noticed black greasy particles in the water. What could they be?

Please refer to our page Identifying Water Contamination Problems.

12. I have small red ‘worms’ in my tank water. Do you know what they are?

Please refer to our page Identifying Water Contamination Problems.

13. I have algae on my farm dam. I have heard some algae are toxic. Can you determine if these are dangerous?

Please refer to our page Identifying Water Contamination Problems.

14. Is it safe to water our plants with bore water?

Without knowing the quality of your irrigation water, you can be inadvertently damaging or killing your plants. Plants thrive when the water is just right.

Monitoring simple things like pH and electrical conductivity at the source will allow you to make informed decisions about the water’s potential effects.

15. I want to know the quality of my groundwater for a baseline. What tests do you conduct?

We have put together a bore water testing suite that will give you an idea of the basic quality of the water.

16. How should I collect a water sample?

Please refer to our water sample handling and preservation guidelines.

17. When can I drop off water samples at your laboratory?

Samples are accepted Monday through to Friday from 8.30am to 4.30pm, with the exception of microbiological samples, which must be received before 4pm Thursday. Refer to our business hours.

18. How long does the testing take?

Testing can takes up to 10 working days, depending on the requirements. We will let you know when to expect results when you deliver the samples.

Other questions?

Is your question not here? Can’t find the answer anywhere on our website?

Feel free to ask your question via our enquiry form. We will get back to you as soon as we can.

Rainwater Tanks

While it makes sense to harvest the clean, purified water which falls out of the sky, there are a number of factors which can compromise the quality of this water. The following fact sheet from the NSW Department of Health may be useful for maintaining rainwater tanks

Water, water every where…

Overflowing tanks are often a welcome sight to those who rely on rainwater for their domestic use, especially as it often means no more timed showers! While extra flushing may improve water quality, it is still advisable to have drinking water tested on a regular basis.