Perceptible Water Quality Issues
Your first diagnostic tools are your senses. You can, at times, see, taste, smell, and feel contaminated water. Water that is red, orange, yellow, brown, or cloudy can signal iron, rust, or other contaminants in the mains or your household plumbing. Tannins from decaying vegetation and leaves can also give water a yellow or brownish hue.
It’s bad enough to be able to see, smell, or taste a contaminant. But what if your water looks, smells, and tastes just fine — is it? Not necessarily.
Microbial and organic contaminants cannot always be detected by human senses. You might go years before realizing a problem exists. Many folks never become suspicious until people in the community start to get sick. Water near agricultural areas may contain harmful organic material from pesticide or fertilizer application.
Sometimes chemicals that had not previously been detected (or were previously found in far lesser concentrations) are discovered in the water supply. These chemicals are known as “contaminants of emerging concern” or simply “emerging contaminants.” Emerging contaminants are important because the risk they pose to human health and the environment is not yet fully understood.