Understanding The Water Quality Standards For Drinking Water, & Non Potable Water

Freshwater can be used for drinking and tap water, but also for non potable uses such as irrigation in agriculture, and for cooling in electricity generation.

We’ve put together a short guide explaining the water quality standards for both potable and non potable water.

(Note – this guide contain general information only, and not professional advice)


Summary – Water Quality Standards For Drinking Water, & Non Potable Water

Fresh water comes from different sources

Drinking water generally comes from groundwater aquifers, or lakes, rivers and dams.

For other uses of water such as irrigation for example, water can come from dams, bores, wells, rivers, town water, channels and recycled water.

In some cities, water generation methods like desalination are used 

Every city across the world has a different quality of their fresh water sources (due to variables like water pollution and contamination), and also has different processes in place for regulating water quality at law, as well as treating and filtering drinking water, testing potable and non potable water, and so on

Drinking water usually has it’s own Drinking Water Act in developed countries

Non potable water used for irrigation in agriculture, or cooling at thermal power plants, usually has to pass different testing and regulation guidelines


*Note – A qualified expert is the only person who can give a professional opinion on whether a water sample shows safe results, or whether water is safe to drink, consume or use.

Additionally, people should make the decision to consume or use water at their own risk, and after doing their own due diligence


Quality Of Drinking Water/Tap Water

We already wrote a guide on researching drinking water quality in different countries and cities.

Some notes from that guide that are relevant to the quality of drinking water are:

Water comes from fresh water sources

Every city and country has a different quality of fresh water sources they extract drinking water supplies from

Every city and country has different guidelines and regulations for Drinking Water quality, codified in an Act

Every city and country has different treatment plant processes for Drinking water

Water can be tested independently separately to official water testing


All these variables, and other variables, lead to different tap water quality in different cities and countries.


Cities & Countries With The Best & Worst Drinking Water & Tap Water

Read more in this guide about the cities and countries with allegedly the best and worst drinking water and tap water supplies.


Water Quality Of Non Potable Water Used For Irrigation, Industry & Other Uses

For all other uses of water other than drinking water, there can be different testing and regulations guidelines in place.

If we take water used in agriculture for irrigation for example, it may be best practice to get the water quality assessed via chemical laboratory analysis by an independent and accredited laboratory.

Problems specific to water used for agricultural irrigation might include salinity, the water infiltration rate, specific ion toxicity, and other miscellaneous problems.

The water used for farming can impact the soil, yields and other factors.

The US and Australia both provide resources on irrigation water quality:

United States

Irrigation water quality (lenntech.com)

Water quality evaluation information (fao.org)



Irrigation water quality (dpi.nsw.gov.au) 

Water quality guidelines (agriculture.gov.au), and ANZ Water Quality Guidelines (waterquality.gov.au)


Solutions To Improve Water Quality Related Problems

Read more in this guide for general solutions to improving water quality related problems.



1. https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/433643/Irrigation-water-quality.pdf

2. https://www.lenntech.com/applications/irrigation/quality/irrigation-water-quality.htm

3. http://www.agriculture.gov.au/water/quality

4. http://www.waterquality.gov.au/anz-guidelines

5. http://www.fao.org/3/T0234E/T0234E01.htm

6. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/drinking-water-quality-in-different-countries-cities-how-to-know-if-tap-water-is-safe-to-drink/

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