When we were buying our small farm about four years ago, one of the key factors in the decision was making sure there was good, safe water to drink. We had the well water tested by a local lab, and the results were fine. Since then, some time has passed, and there’s been all the uproar about the toxic water in Flint, MI, and the lovely yellow Animas River in Colorado, among other places. Even though our water comes from a well, we’re in farm country, and along with lead-soldered copper pipes, there’s the potential for pesticides and other nastiness to get into the aquifer. Since we’ve also had a grandchild, and he’s going to be drinking that water too, we decided to have it re-tested. When the folks at 120 Water Audit offered the opportunity to evaluate their new water-testing service, we plunged in.
Using an accredited commercial lab, the 120 Water Audit service tests your water to see how it stacks up against the EPA’s maximum contamination levels for a few common contaminants. The lab tests for arsenic and lead in both well and municipal drinking water, with additional testing for nitrates in well water. None of those are included in MY top ten favorite water additives. They also check your water’s pH, to make sure your water isn’t too acidic. Once the testing is complete, the service sends an email with the results, along with any recommended actions based on the EPA’s standards.
Water – Testing, Testing…
Using the 120 Water Audit process is simple. From their website, just choose whether you want to test well or city water, and indicate whether you want testing done only for lead, or for other contaminants as well, and order the appropriate kit. You can also choose whether to order a one-time test, or sign up for a subscription at a discounted rate. With the subscription, your water is tested three times a year, or roughly every 120 days – hence the 120 Water Audit name. A few days after placing your order, a sturdy carton shows up in your mailbox, with an empty plastic bottle inside. Don’t throw anything away; you’ll be reusing the carton to send in your sample.
The instructions are clear and simple. Stick the bottle under the faucet and fill it up, tighten the cap, fill in the label on the bottle, slap on the prepaid shipping label, and drop it in the mail. One thing to note: To get the most accurate results, take your sample first thing in the morning, or after the water hasn’t been run for at least six hours.
When the 120 Water Audit lab gets your sample, their lab techs work their lab tech magic, and generate a report showing the quantities of undesirable elements in your H2O. Our well water got a sparkling bill of health – all levels well below the EPA’s “Be afraid” threshold. A gold star for the well!
120 Water Audit Tells You How To Get The Lead Out
Due to a technical glitch, there was a bit of a delay in getting the results of the well water test. The 120 Water Audit folks were very apologetic, and offered another complimentary water test to compensate. (The company’s CEO was very concerned over the issue, and said that after going through every other test result the company has performed, mine was the only one to experience this issue. That’s pretty typical of how I roll).
I used the second test to check out our municipal drinking water in Pittsburgh. The results for this test came back considerably faster. The results were mixed, though; the pH was fine, and the arsenic level was way too low to be useful in eliminating guests who overstay their welcome. Unfortunately, that pesky lead was a fraction higher than the 0.015 mg/L the EPA deems acceptable, coming in at 0.0159. No gold star for the home water supply. The only acceptable solution, unfortunately, is to tear out and replace all the plumbing.
Just kidding. Along with the test results, the 120 Water Audit report has a brief explanation of what the findings mean. They also provide links to help you figure out what steps are appropriate to take, if your findings aren’t quite what you were hoping for. Lead in drinking water can cause health problems in everyone, but children and pregnant women are at particular risk. In the case of elevated lead levels, there are several remedies you can employ short of gutting your home’s plumbing.
One quick and easy solution is to just buy bottled water for drinking and cooking. This is something you can implement immediately, and the cost isn’t too outrageous. Just make sure to get bottled water that has been certified by an independent testing organization to reduce or eliminate lead.
You can often eliminate at least some of the lead by simply running the tap water for a minute or so before using it to cook or drink. This flushes out lead particles that might have settled overnight. You can also get a water filtration system that can reduce the amount of lead in your water. Options range from a pitcher that filters drinking water to a plumbed-in reverse osmosis filtration system. The 120 Water Audit has links to sites with more information.
If you’re concerned about what might be coming out of your family’s tap, the 120 Water Audit service is a quick and convenient way to find out. It takes a lot of the hassle out of the equation, and can bring you peace of mind in the knowledge that your drinking water is safe. Their web site has a lot of current content relevant to safe drinking water, and has links to some good resources, in the event it’s time for YOU to get the lead out. Or the arsenic. Or the nitrates.
Current pricing ranges from $54 to $84 per test. Order a water test, or get more information from the 120 Water Audit web site: