Water is an essential nutrient. Without it human life cannot survive. Water serves as the body’s transportation system, it is a lubricant, it is vital to the body’s biochemical reactions, it helps defend the body against shock, and it regulates body temperature. Maintaining a healthy water balance is critical.
All water from natural sources contains dissolved substances. But drinking water does not need to be pure to be safe. The only way to know if drinking water quality is acceptable is through water testing. Water from a public or municipal supply is tested regularly and must meet federal and state guidelines for quality. Private drinking water testing and quality are not regulated by federal or state guidelines, but local county or city requirements may exist.
Situations in Nebraska such as tornadoes, floods, and winter storms can reduce or eliminate the availability of safe drinking water. It's a good idea to store an emergency drinking water supply.
Water use and conservation in the home varies, but most people use 70 to 100 gallons per person per day. You can become a more efficient water user by changing some simple practices and selecting efficient appliances and equipment.
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Information presented within the drinking water section of this Water Web site has been reviewed by University of Nebraska - Lincoln Drinking Water Team members Bruce Dvorak, Sharon Skipton, Wayne Woldt, David Shelton, Rachael Herpel, and Jan Hygnstrom.
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Cost of Testing a Private Drinking Water Supply
There is no single test to determine the safety of drinking water. It would be costly, and in most cases unnecessary, to test a private water well for the nearly 100 contaminants for which public water supplies are required to test. For example, the price for a complete water analysis at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services laboratory is currently $3,827.00. Users of private drinking water wells must decide which contaminants to test for and must order tests accordingly. A water-testing laboratory will only test for contaminants specifically requested.
At the very least, have the water tested for bacteria and nitrate. Keep in mind that tests for bacteria and nitrate do not guarantee the water is safe or desirable for domestic use, as other contaminants could be present. Have tests conducted for other substances when specific contaminants are suspected. Some laboratories offer multi-parameter packages that include tests for the most common contaminants of concern. In many situations, these can be good options.