Water Quality Testing: What Do the Test Results Mean?

 
 
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The test results you receive from the lab may be accompanied with some information to help you understand what the test results mean. For example if the samples were being tested for drinking water quality, the results may be accompanied by the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality, outlining the parameters that exceeded the recommended maximum allowable concentration or aesthetic objective. Information contained in manuals, booklets, and guideline publications can also be used to interpret the significance of the results for your particular application. The results may indicate either a problem with your water source or the performance of your treatment system.

For your convenience this useful information has been incorporated into this program, the Rural Water Quality Information Tool (RWQIT), to allow for quick, user-friendly access to this information. RWQIT can be used to help find useful water quality related information and interpret the results you have obtained from the lab. It can compare the data you have received from the lab with established water quality guidelines, saving you the time and effort required in obtaining and organizing the water quality guidelines relevant to your particular use. This information tool can outline parameters exceeding these guidelines and provide some basic comments and interpretation based upon the data you have entered into it from the lab. The tool also provides the best available information for parameters that do not have guidelines.

Keep in mind that the interpretation of the water quality is only as good as the sampling and testing performed on the water and the accuracy of the data entered into the tool. The results from an unrepresentative sample or one containing a laboratory error can cause a misinterpretation of the water for its intended use when compared to the guidelines.

RWQIT can provide for a quick interpretation of your results when compared to the guidelines but does not replace the interpretation and advice of professionals. If you require further interpretation or have questions or concerns regarding the interpretation and information RWQIT provides please do not hesitate to contact your local department of agriculture, your provincial water/environmental agency, or your local health department for further assistance depending on the type of information you require. They may also be able to help you further interpret the results and provide advice on their significance.

If the results show that a serious health hazard exists, use of the water for domestic purposes such as cooking, washing food, brushing teeth and drinking should be discontinued immediately. The water should not be used until corrective action has been taken to solve the problem and/or the confirmation of additional tests show that a health hazard no longer exists.

 
 
 
 

Other Documents in the Series

 
  Water Quality Testing
Water Quality Testing: Agricultural Water
Water Quality Testing: Drinking Water
Water Quality Testing: How Do I Go About Getting My Water Tested?
Water Quality Testing: What Do the Test Results Mean? - Current Document
Water Quality Testing: Common Water Quality Terms/Parameters
Water Sampling
Water Sampling: Methods Based on Source
Water Sampling: Field Equipment and Techniques
Water Sampling: Shipping of Samples
 
 
 
 
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Shawn Elgert.
This information published to the web on November 16, 2006.
Last Reviewed/Revised on December 23, 2014.