Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority breaks down water testing process

Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority breaks down water testing process

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – After national concern over water quality and even some local concern over bacteria in the Grand Strand's ocean water, WMBF News wanted to look into the water running through the pipes in all local homes.

Tap water is an essential part of everyday life, whether people choose to drink it or not. Starting with a trip to Lowe's, the search was on for an affordable at-home water test that would check for everything from lead and copper, to bacteria.

What a WMBF reporter found, for under $25, was an H2O Plus complete water analysis kit.

Four kits were purchased for testing at four different areas: Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Conway and Socastee.

The kit included intensive instructions for 23 drinking water quality tests, including: lead, total coliform bacteria, pesticides, total chlorine, total hardness, iron, PH, total alkalinity, copper, iron bacteria, nitrates, nitrites and hydrogen sulfide.

Then, the local water was put to the test.

Some of these tests took seconds, others took minutes and the last test for coliform bacteria had to sit for 48 hours.

While each test for every location came out negative, WMBF News wanted to sit down with the professionals to see what it takes to make sure the water stays safe.

"Oh, because that's our job, we want to make sure our water's safe," said David Strickland, chief of field operations for the Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority.

Certainly the testing process at the Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority is much more extensive than any at-home water test. The authority takes hundreds of samples daily.

"We run those continuously, every day when the water leaves the water plant," Strickland said. "It's tested daily and then we pull distribution samples throughout the month. Every week, we're pulling, pulling those samples. We pull approximately 230 samples per month."

While this testing is for potentially hazardous bacteria, Strickland said chlorine and other elements to fight bacteria are added to local water.

Tests for lead and copper are also required every three years. The Grand Strand regional area is due for another test next year.

"Actually, for the last two testing cycles, we had no detection, zero, none, zero of lead," Strickland said.

The Grand Strand Water and Sewer authority tests for lead in three tiers. The goal is to get all 50 required samples from water in single-family homes built from 1982 to 1987, homes that were built before the ban on any kind of lead piping.

Tests coming out of newer homes would not be for lead.

"Lead service lines are not being used anymore, so newer homes after 1986 shouldn't have a lead problem," Strickland said.

All of these results can be found not only on the Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority's website, but also the EPA's and DHEC's websites under water quality testing.

This testing proves the water is more than safe to drink.

"We exceed all federal regulations, and not just by a little bit. Most of the time, it's by a lot," Strickland said.

If bacteria was ever found in the water, officials with the Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority said they would notify customers as quickly as possible.

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