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What Is Potable Water?

Updated: Mar 24, 2022

Potable water, is another term for drinking water. In the commercial sector, the term ‘potable water tank’ is used for systems that are designed to provide water intended for human consumption. In order for the water to be classified as 'potable', the quantity of dissolved microbes and salts must be significantly lower than that of water used in industrial and commercial settings. The dangers of non-potable water therefore include illnesses like Dysentery, Cholera and Typhoid, making human / animal digestion harmful and potentially fatal. Potable water is deemed as safe due to it's absence of threatening bacteria and substances, meaning it isn't classed as a health hazard.

How Can Non-Potable Water Become Potable?

The process of converting non-potable water into potable water can be achieved through the following methods:

  • Boiling above 70°c

  • Desalination (removal of sodium chloride) by distillation or reverse osmosis

  • Chlorine Bleach (approximately 1/8 teaspoon for every gallon of water)

  • Iodine Treatment

  • Purification Filters

  • Ultraviolet (UV) sterilisers

How Do You Check Whether Water Is Potable?

Potable water will always appear clear in colour and is absent of non-transparency. This extends to colour changes, abnormal smell or anything that appears to be floating in the water, as these all suggest harmful bacteria is present. In a controlled amount, tasting can also be used as a system of determining the safety of water.

Distinct bitterness will incline that the water is non-potable and thereby must be treated before consumption. The safest way to confirm whether water can be consumed or not would be through sufficient testing. Technology such as TDS kits and Strip Kits are capable of determining mineral and PH levels, indicating its use for consumption. Professional testing laboratory's are also available to answer whether samples are potable, where knowledge and expertise will be most prevalent.

What Types Of Water Tanks Are Classed As Potable?

Theoretically, any type of storage tank could be labelled as a potable water tank. Whether it's a GRP tank, Galvanised Steel Tank or even a Concrete Water Tank, the manner in which the tank is designed and installed should account for the intended use of the water inside. For example, the materials used that will come into contact with the water must be selected based on their inability to contaminate. Water tanks should be clearly labelled so that prospective users know whether they're potable or not. Bodies such as WRAS provide essential information necessary to determine how to design and install a water system that is suitable for potable water.


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