Water quality test

The CIC recently identified a need for measuring the water quality within its various projects. Therefore, the Calafou Biolab is making a proposal to fulfill such need by developing the capacity for water quality measurements, which we could offer as a service to the CIC and beyond. We have made the initial research and started to build the basic equipment, while we are waiting for the CIC to discuss our proposal.

The Problem

Pollution of rivers and aquifers is usually due to uncontrolled garbage dumping, mining residues, heavy metals, detergents, pesticides, fertilizers, faecal matter, debris, untreated black waters, etc.

Polluted rivers and aquifers impact negativelly upon:

the landscape → A polluted river offers little landscape value

the biosphere → Excess of nutrients euthrophizes stagnant water and alters the balances form river and riverside communities; chemical pollution can also cause deformities and disease to animals and plants

health → Contagious water-spread diseases: cholera, typhoid fever, poliomyelitis, meningitis, hepatitis A, diarrhea, amoebiasis, etc. Poisoning. Heavy metals accumulate in the body after a long exposure (years), and can cause chronic health problems.

The Proposal

In order to avoid The Problem (see above), awareness of the state of your water is essential. A proper analysis must be done periodically around a year, on non-chlorated water, and repeated promptly every year or every other year. Analysis must be done within 6 hours after sampling.

This document aims to offer a general vision on the different methods of water analysis which can be done at Calafou's Biolab.

River analysis

See an example of how it's done: river

Physical parameters


Suspended particles are not dangerous by themselves, but they greatly increase available surface for harmful organisms to live on.


  • Turbidimeter

Chemical parameters


Knowing our water's absolute and relative alcalinity gives us valuable info on the wter's state and the type of organisms that can thrive in it. For instance, a very alcaline water can harm you if you have a kidney condition, and a very acidic one is prone to grow fungi. WHO recommends a pH between 6,5 and 8,5.

Free chlorine

In chlorated water bacteriological analysis is not needed, but it is interesting to measure free Cl- ions, leftover from the bleach treatment. This can be easily done, along with pH, with a regular swimming pool kit.


It is an indirect measurement of general salinity. It does not tell us which specific salts it has.

0 µS/cm = Pure H~2O

1 µS/cm = Demineralized water

10 µS/cm = Osmotized water

100 µS/cm= Drinking water

1 S/cm = Salty water

10 S/cm = Brine

55 S/cm = Sea water

Ion analysis

  • Sulphur, calcium, nitrogen (ammonia, nitrates, nitrites), potassium, chlorine ions


  • pH / Cl- swimming pool kit
  • Rephractometer

OPTION 1: UV spectrophotometer (220 and 275 nm)+ quarz or silicon trays Scales * Reactives * KNO3 * HCl 1N * Agua destilada

OPTION 2: * Selective electrodes

  • pHmeter with mV scale

  • Standard double-bond reference electrode

  • Magnetic shaker and magnets

  • Chronometer

  • Reactives:

    • Nitrate-free water

    • NO~3-

    • Buffer solution:

    • Al~3 (SO~4)~3 ·18H~2O

    • Ag~2SO~4

    • H~3BO~3

    • Sulphamic acid (H~2NSO~3H)

    • NaOH 0,1N

    • Reference electrode filling solution: (NH~4)~2SO~4


  • Liquid chromatography

Premium plus chemical analysis

  • Heavy metals: mercury, copper, lead, chrome III, chrome VI, nickel, zinc
  • Other: arsenic


  • Mass spectrometer / HPLC

Biological parameters

Basic bacteriological analysis

Escherichia coli is one of the most ubiquitous bacteria. It's not necesarily a pathogen, but it's easy tu culture, and its abundance tells us about total microbial mass. WHO advises to only drink water with 0 (zero) E coli colonies per 100 mL of water.

Equipment Filtering system Sterilization system Petri dishes [Incubator] * Culture media

  • 5€ coffee pot, smallest diameter 40mm
  • 0€ elastic pump (propipette)
  • 0€ small diameter plastic tube
  • 0€ pen
  • 0€ plastic square with a cross on it for the bottom of the tube
  • 0€ pH meter

Premium bacteriological analysis

  • Enterobacteria: Shigella flexneri, Citrobacter, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Proteus mirabilis, Yersinia pestis, Enterobacter, Enterococcus faecalis, Salmonella typhimurium
  • Gram+: Staphylococcus aureus, S. epidermidis
  • Proteobacteria: Vibrio cholerae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Yeasts: Candida


  • Kits (API-20, Enterotube) / specific culture media
  • Stains

See culture media


Ecokit del agua: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyJSKR7wkc8

Data sheet for river analysis: Andarrios / Junta de Andalucía