Common Chemical Tests
|Temperature||Acidity||Dissolved Oxygen (DO)||pH||Aluminum|
|Flow||Alkalinity||Total Dissolved Solids (Conductivity)||Iron||Manganese|
pH is a measure of the concentration of free hydrogen I water. For an in depth explanation of water pH is, see Acids, Bases and pH. The pH of water is extremely critical to the aquatic life; only a small range of variation will support life. Most streams in PA have a pH between 6.5 and 8.5, except for those affected by acid pollution. Rocks and soils containing calcium carbonate act as buffers and raise pH, causing groundwater to be less acidic than rainwater or storm water. Rainwater is usually around pH of 5.6, acid precipitation, however, has a pH of 4.5 or lower. A lower pH is normally found in streams during the winter and spring due to the high amounts of rain and snow melts. Summer and fall usually have lower pH levels, as groundwater is the major source during these seasons.
This pH test kit is very easy to use. Two samples of water are compared, a clear one placed behind a colored disk called a color wheel, and a second sample to which a pH indicator is added. The pH is determined by matching the color of the altered sample to the sample behind the color disk after so many drops of indicator are added.
pH may also be measured using a meter. pH meters are relatively common and inexpensive. It is important to make sure that any pH meter is properly calibrated before use and that the electrodes are stored properly to prevent dehydration of the membrane. To use a pH meter, simply place the test electrode into the water and watch the readout. Meters should come with directions for proper calibration and storage as each differs between specific meters.
HACH Company provides a catalogue of chemical water testing kits and supplies
Other tests, including and/or in addition to those described above, may be appropriate for the watershed in your area. The indicators the were chosen as points of study while making your monitoring plan are a good way to decide what tests need to be performed.