Drinking water is water that is intended to be ingested by humans. Water of sufficient quality to serve as drinking water is termed potable water whether it is used as such or not. Although many sources are utilized by humans, some contain disease vectors or pathogens and cause long-term health problems if they do not meet certain water quality guidelines. Water that is not harmful for human beings is sometimes called safe water, water which is not contaminated to the extent of being unhealthy.

Typically water supply networks deliver a single quality of water, whether it is to be used for drinking, washing or landscape irrigation; one counterexample is urban China, where drinking water can be optionally delivered by a separate tap. In the United States, public drinking water is governed by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).

The standard test for bacterial contamination is a laboratory analysis of coliform bacteria, a convenient marker for a class of harmful fecal pathogens. The presence of fecal coliforms (like Escherichia coli) serves as an indication of contamination by sewage.


International Drinking Water Quality Guidelines.
Word Health Organisation.

Common Tap Water Contaminants. Natural Resources Defense Council.

Water on Tap: What you need to know. Environmental Protection Agency. 

Nitrates in Drinking Water. By Lawrence J Walker and Eduardo Camisassa.

Arsenic Literature:

Treatment technologies for arsenic removal from water.
Environmental Protection Agency.
Arsenic in drinking water: Treatment Technologies for Arsenic Decision Tree, Variances and Exemptions. Environmental Protection Agency.
Arsenic in drilled wells - comparison of arsenic removal methods. Kahelin, H., Järvinen, K., Forsell, P. & Valve, M. 1998. 

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