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pH and Conductivity and Water




  • The pH of water indicates if it is acidic, basic, or neutral on a scale of 0-14. A value below 7 is acidic and above 7 is basic.
  • Drinking water with a pH below 6.5 may have a bitter or metallic taste and a pH above 8.5 may have a soda taste, deposits, and a slippery feel.
  • pH can contribute to aesthetic problems (bad taste) and cause corrosion of plumbing components, like pipes, and dissolving metals like lead, copper and zinc into the water.
  • To find the quality of your community drinking water, contact your water system provider. If you are on a private well, have your drinking water tested regularly.



  • Conductivity (also called specific conductance) is the ability of water to conduct an electrical current and can indicate the amount of minerals dissolved in the water. The higher the concentration of dissolved minerals and salts in water, the more electricity it conducts.
  • Chemicals in the water that may affect conductivity include: chloride, nitrate, sulfate, phosphate, sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and aluminum. Conductivity will be higher in higher temperature water.
  • Conductivity is a method to measure the hardness (similar to total dissolved solids (TDS)) of water. Water with conductivity above 840 is considered hard.
  • No state or national standard for conductivity exits, however the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends a value of less than 1,000 microsiemens per centimeter (mcg/cm) for drinking water. If you are on a private well, have your drinking water tested regularly.
  • Water with high conductivity can have an unpleasant taste and odor and cause mineral deposits on plumbing fixtures.

If you get your water from a public drinking water system, contact:



If you get your water from a private well, you should have your well water tested:

pH and conductivity are indicators of water chemistry and can help guide further testing or treatment.

Water with a pH below 6.5 may be corrosive so that metals in plumbing components are dissolved into the water. Therefore, low pH water should be tested for metals such as lead, copper, and zinc. High pH (above 8.5) can contribute to aesthetic problems such as bad taste and scale build up which may contribute to plumbing problems.

A water's conductivity may indicate further testing. Chemicals in the water that may affect conductivity include: chloride, nitrate, sulfate, phosphate, sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and aluminum. Conductivity will be higher in higher temperature water and is usually reported at 25 degrees Celsius.

Treatment of water can vary depending on water chemistry, including pH and conductivity, which can help you choose an appropriate treatment system for other constituents of concern. It is important to test your water before choosing a water treatment system. A licensed well contractor or water quality professional may help with choosing the right treatment system for your water chemistry. Learn how to hire a contractor from wellowner.org.

For additional guidance choosing a treatment system certified to remove manganese consult with the Water Quality Association or at 630-505-0160 or NSF international (formerly the National Sanitation Foundation) or at toll-free at 1-800-NSF-MARK (1-800-673-6275).

Learn more about testing

Learn more about private well water and treatment.
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Content updated: Thu, 4 Jun 2020 16:26:02 MDT